Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Tin “LITERATURE” – 1901

Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Tin “LITERATURE” – 1901

This biscuit tin was made to simulate eight books with a simulated leather bindings and marbled end papers, bound by an imitation leather strap.

The British biscuit tin came about when the Licensed Grocer’s Act of 1861 allowed groceries to be individually packaged and sold. Coinciding with the removal of the duty on paper for printed labels. It was only a short step to the idea of printing directly on to tinplate. This development is first credited to Owen Jones who was a consultant designer to the stationary printers, Thomas de la Rue. He designed the first biscuit tin, transfer-printed and issued in 1868 for the firm of Huntley & Palmers. Other firms were quick to respond and a whole new industry was born. The new process of offset lithography, patented in 1877 allowed multicoloured designs to be printed on to exotically shaped tins.

The most exotic designs were produced in the early years of this century, just prior to the First World War. In the 1920s and 1930s, costs had risen substantially and the design of biscuit tins tended to be more conservative, with the exception of the tins targeted at the Christmas market and intended to appeal primarily to children. The designs, generally speaking are a barometer of popular interests.

The advent of the Second World War stopped all production of decorative tin ware and after it ended in 1945.

Victoria and Albert Museum

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