It is not difficult to find some of the smaller tins and they can be had, in good condition, for a little as 50p at a car boot sale to around £50 – £100 for something really special, such as a Mackintosh’s bucket tin or a nice example by Lyons.
Where should you start and what constitutes a collection? If you don’t want your home to look like a scrapyard you might want to concentrate on particular brands, or even one brand, such a Oxo or one of the other prolific manufacturers. You could also specialise in tins associated with a particular type of product, such as biscuits, tobacco, sweets or tea. Another idea would be to concentrate on tins on a particular theme, such as tins from the 1950s, pin-up girl tins etc.
Commemorative and tins depicting the Royal family are always popular, in which case you should try and find the well known gifts from Queen Victoria and Queen Mary to the troops in the Boer and First World Wars. This theme of collecting produces plenty of new material each year and in recent years there have been the Millennium, the Eclipse and the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday as well as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Another bunch of manufacturers’ tins that are very collectable are the ones made by Victory V, Fry’s, McFarlane and Lang, Jacobs, Cadbury, Rowntree and Mackintosh. Victory V were very inventive with their tins and the lozenges were often sold in packaging that took the shape of clocks, kitchen scales and picnic hampers. Having great cross-over appeal and obvious pictorial quality are the tins utilising Mabel Lucie Atwell illustrations – the money box tins produced for Crawfords are particularly desirable and may command a couple of hundred pounds.
As colourful reflections of changing social history the tin collector can indulge not only in the nostalgia of the past but the allure of the advertising image. When you associate these images with sweet and biscuit tins they create a vivid collection.