Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daryle Lambert: Antique Advertising Tins From Times past

Our history has been recorded in many way but would you have thought that one of the best ways was through advertising. Yes, that is the truth and when paper items had limited life spans due to the very nature of paper there were other forms of advertising that have last through the years. The ones that I would like to discuss today are the antique cans and canisters.

These tin advertising pieces were produced to not only safeguard their contents but to also remind the buyer to purchase the brand advertised on the can again. Often the graphics on these can where fabulous and true works of art. The tin cans and canisters were first used commercially in the United States in 1819. I was surprised to learn how many collectors there are for these advertising pieces and also what values they put on them.

Believe it or not through my research I have learned a greater respect for this type of collecting and may even become a new collector myself. First a collection can be started very inexpensively in this area and this should be the first consideration for the new collector. The true collector is the one that does his research and adds the more expensive items to his collection as his knowledge increases. I don't consider a person a true collector just because he has the money to purchase the better pieces but has very little true knowledge of what he has chosen to collect.

I will give you an example in my own years of collecting. Very early in my quest to become knowledgeable in the art world I was fortunate enough to find a fabulous painting by an English painter Frederick Morgan. You can see the whole store in my book “31 Steps to Your Millions in Antiques and collectibles” . At the time I discovered the painting I didn't feel that I deserved to have a painting of this quality hanging on my wall because I simply didn't know enough about art. I was able to sell it for a handsome profit and now many year later and through much study it has made me more knowledgeable on the subject of art so hopefully I can find a painting of equal quality now and I would be proud to hang it in my home.

But back to the tins and your question where might I find them? As you visit older home for garage and estate sales be sure to look in the basements and garages. Check every sack and box that you see because often these items aren't thought to be worth much so they are just thrown in with a lot of junk. These particularly items are more frequently found in older communities so as you travel check the small shops that are selling collectibles and antiques. Another great place is online. Yes often as your knowledge grows in this area of collecting you will discover great buys on sites like and My newest site is and I believe that these sites will produce some great finds for you.

I usually give some example of the more expensive items and I will list a few of these for you but there are hundreds if not thousands of others that sell for $100 up to many thousands. This is an area of collecting that doesn't lack for material.

First lets look at the Bambino Tin that featured the silhouette of Babe Ruth, it contained smoking tobacco, measuring 4” X 2” todays price could be as high as $5000. Even out doing that one the Gray Dunn's Biscuit tin with spoked wheels measuring 7 ½ inches could put up to $10,000 in your pocket if you came across one of these in mint condition. Nor bad for something that the company thought would be throw away after the contents were used. The funny thing about these tins is that often they were used for storage for things such as buttons, screws and pins after they were emptied and these items can often still be found in them when they are discovered.

This is a fun area of collecting but still can bring you big dollars so I would advise you to get a guide from Abebooks or Amazon because Tins should be added to your list of items to search for.

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