Rin Tin Tin

I’ve been tidying or late and moving stuff from one place to another. Whilst tidying it came to my notice quite how many decorative tins we have around the house.

Now I’m a collector,  so pretty vintage tins always appeal to my eye

So I thought I’d look into the interesting history of biscuit and chocolate tins.

Wikipedia has a great article on the history of biscuit tins, if you want a detailed read . I found it interesting to learn the British tinplate industry was so important and large then how it pretty much died after the Second World War, most probably due to austerity.

I love the idea of that they were made intentionally to be reused long term, not just for their as storage capability but also as decorative items in their own right.

Possibly one of the most expensive tins ever was found in an attic in 2019. It was designed by Huntley and Palmer and is the shape of a bus with clockwork mechanical parts. Similar ones have sold on eBay for over £2000 recently!

One of the most amusing stories, is an innocuous looking tin from the 1980’s inspired by the artist Kate Greenaway featuring a Edwardian Tea Party. However, the artist sneaked in a couple extra scenes in the background-the most saucy being a couple having sex in the undergrowth!

Here’s s little selection of ones I have:


I like the stylised 50’s Dutch (?) Ladies tin, I wonder if this might have contained Dutch Butter Biscuits? Nowadays it’s full of buttons! by Parkinson’s Biscuits of Preston

The train one is cute and previously contained the very British sweet selection ‘Quality Street’ a selection of individual tinned or boxed toffees, chocolates and sweets. They were first manufactured by Mackintosh’s in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, in 1936. and are most often eaten at Christmas time. Sadly the ‘tins’ are now made of plastic and seem to shrink in size every year!

I adore the one on the left which is by Huntley and Palmers for their Cocktail Biscuits. I’m undecided if they were going for a sophisticated look with the cocktail shaker and a couple of martinis or just went with the obvious design!.  I’m also amused by the fact it has a picture of the tin on the tin, therefore causing the infinite cocktail biscuits tin! Nowadays, its home to all my silks for cross stitching.

The one on the right is a cute puppy Red Setter, the relevance for my partner is that he grew up with Setters. Both were owned by his Grandmother.

The final 2 were purchased by me years ago on my charity shop wanderings. The one on the left is so cute with cartoon Geisha Girls -the print gives the impression of it being textured like a tapestry. By Carrs of Carlisle Ltd

The one on the right appears to be an advertising tin, I just loved the fact it was designed to look like a spool of thread with the needle stuck in the side!

Well I hope you enjoyed a little potted history of tinplate and tins!If you have a deep interest in tinplate tins, the The Museum of Readinghas one of the largest collections of biscuit tins in the UK!

Do you have any stuck away in cupboards at home?


  1. I have no tea towels and no tins 😥
    These are your dream because they serve multiple purposes, are recyclable and have fabulous history attached to them!
    I love the Irish Setter one but really the tea and chocolate tins are very posh!!
    Speaking of silk got your cross stitch ..,🤗❤️❤️❤️


    1. you know what, I was meant to send you a tea towel with my last package and I completely forgot! I have a special one for you!
      yeah the Red Setter is very sweet, beautiful animals


  2. Lovely tins!
    That one tin with the ladies is not Dutch, Mr Esther and mini-Esther agree. We were thinking more like Swiss or Austrian, Czech or Hungarian.
    I think we may have a tin or two around the house but only one special one. It’s a Victorian tin that looks worn. The tin is one of the few things I inherited from my grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh cool, tbh I didn’t research the traditional dresses…just thought they looked Dutch lol!
      I found another tin whilst tidying yesterday full of lead toy miniatures!
      Theyre just nice things and I love the history!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have got some tins at my house. One is a Quality Street tin from the 60’s and contains buttons, it’s been my hubby’s moms tin. Then I’ve got one with William and Kate (full of ribbons for crafting) and one four-cornered slim tin by Anthon Berg (chocolates) for my crafting pics. Oh and some smaller ones for sewing thingies and ink pen tips.

    I agree with Esther that the tin you call Dutch is probably from Eastern Europe, the decoration looks that way. It’d be from Czech or Poland imo, probably Hungarian too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. they sound lovely! and yes buttons…always buttons!
      i did have a loo at national costumes but didn’t find anything that was spot on…i need to take some more pics and maybe ask twitter!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The sewing thread tin would’ve contained sewing materials – I’ve still got one.

    I’m still kicking myself for not buying an old tin in India – they were for sale at our hotel in Mumbai, for some reason. But we do have a fair few besides, mostly full of craft/sewing stuff. The fanciest one is a Fortnum’s music box tin, which looks like a carousel and plays a tune; it came full of biscuits and gets reused at Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

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