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The tin as a means of packaging

The Dutch decorative packaging tin is stored in our collective memory. After all, who doesn't know the red/yellow shopping tins for Van Nelle's coffee and tea, designed by Jac. Young people in the 1930s? Or one of the many nostalgic cookie jars that used to stand on the table at home and that still evoke a feeling of coziness today, almost 100 years later? They form our Look of Recognition.

The tin as a means of packaging has not always been there. However, every village or place had a tinsmith or coppersmith who specialized in making household products such as salver trays, jugs, tobacco boxes, sulfur tins, candlesticks, lamps and birdcages. These tin or coppersmiths were united in a guild and provided a form of practical industry. 

Napoleon's decree
During the French period, Napoleon Bonaparte had enormous influence on the development of the Dutch tinplate industry. First of all, he had already abolished the guild regime and, with the amendment of the constitution in 1798, every citizen was free to " establish such a factory or traffic or to enter into such an honest business as he may choose ". In addition, Napoleon and his troops traveled through Europe on many campaigns. Scurvy was a common problem among the troops. The food taken on the campaigns was pickled or preserved and was transported in glass. This was of course quite fragile, meaning there was insufficient vitamin-rich food to feed the troops. Napoleon therefore issues a decree calling for the development of a new way of packaging.

The invention
Since 1804, the Frenchman Appert has had a factory outside Paris where he exposes nutrients to high heat in order to destroy the causes of spoilage or render them harmless for a long time. He also prefers glass as the best packaging, but is becoming more and more convinced of the benefits of tin. In England, around the same time, in 1810, Peter Durand received the first patent for his company for airtight packaging of prepared foodstuffs in glass or cans. The quality of English tin is excellent and its production is world leading. With the promulgation of the Continental System, which prohibits imports from outside, the supply of English tinplate dries up and Appert also starts producing packaging tins in France. At the World Exhibition in London in 1851, canned Australian mutton could be seen and America also showed its support. From that moment on, the rise of the can industry focuses on both the canning industry and the decorative packaging can.

View into the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the development of the Industrial Revolution is taking place at a slower pace than in neighboring countries. From about 1870 to 1880, the first decorative packaging tin was made in the Netherlands in various small tin factories. It is striking that it is mainly the cocoa factories and the rusk and biscuit factories that give this industry an important boost from then on.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the highest quality tin plates came from South Wales in the United Kingdom. Tinplate is tinned sheet iron. A look is taken of the untinned iron plate (black plate). The inside is then tinned to increase its resistance. The tin layer seals the iron from the air and therefore prevents the rusting process. The strength and flexibility of the iron are combined with the inviolability and shine of the tin during the manufacturing process, so that both materials are shown to their maximum potential.

Around 1860 it became common practice to package food in cans. By using special types of lacquer, corrosion phenomena could be avoided and the tin layer thickness, the tin-iron alloy layer thickness and structure no longer determined the storage time.


The first rusk tin from Verkade

On Sunday, May 2, 1886, Ericus Gerhardus Verkade opened his Steam Bread and Rusk Factory “De Ruyter”. With a staff of 15, Verkade is the first to focus on the factory production of bread and rusk. This made him the first in the rusk industry and, a few years later, the first to pack his rusks in tin cans. Until then, rusk was sold loose and generally became stale quickly. By affixing the name Verkade to the buses, the cans became a means to promote and market the branded product. The Verkade family name becomes the Verkade brand name.


The very first rusk tin from Verkade is an example of a tin made from untinned iron sheet. The flat seam of the bushing is lead soldered and the inside is not tinned. This meant that only dry foodstuffs such as coffee, tea, cocoa, rusk and tobacco can be packed in these first packaging tins. If moisture reaches the sheet metal, the rusting process begins and the lead used also causes lead poisoning. The experience of the former coppersmiths does contribute to the fact that in this case a perfect cylinder has been hammered, with the lid placed on it so tightly that when pressed down, the excess air escapes and the rusks packed in it remain brittle. The can was then sealed with a paper wrapper bearing the name Verkade.

The application of the paper wrapper created an opportunity for the companies that used the tin packaging to generate awareness for the products. In addition to the brand name, the concept of advertising is also entering our economy.

The cocoa industry
As mentioned, the cocoa industry is also developing into a major consumer of tin cans as decorative packaging for its products. It is known that the Van Houten company in Weesp stopped packaging cocoa in glass around 1870. Van Houten is switching to tin cans that are provided with a label with a gold print. Until 1914, the company had its own tinsmith's shop located on the factory site. Only since the creation of the United Can Manufacturers in 1912, in which several small can manufacturers unite, has the making of cans been increasingly outsourced.

The decorative packaging tin
Developments in the can industry ensure that it is soon possible to paint cans and provide them with a transfer print, a so-called decalcomania print. After applying the ground color, this transfer print is applied to the can, after which a layer of transparent varnish protects the can and the image. With the rise of lithography or lithography, it is also possible to print cans with multi-color prints. Each color of the image has its own stone and the tinplate sometimes goes under the stone printing press up to 12 times to build up the image color by color. A particularly labor-intensive process that produces beautiful results, many of which are still preserved in good condition.

The so-called shopping tins, which were used in the shops for colonial goods and cometibles, came directly from the factory and were filled with freshly roasted coffee or tea. Initially packed loosely, later pre-packed in small packages. These cans remained the property of the factory and were frequently reused. A deposit was also charged on the smaller biscuit tins that were fitted with a glass weighing lid in the store. The tin turned out to be a sustainable packaging and a great advertising medium.

A very strong position
Although England has always been considerably ahead of the Netherlands, both in the field of production techniques and in the field of the tin as an advertising medium, we have also managed to build up a very strong position in our country, especially with cocoa and chocolate tins. we were among the makers of the most beautiful tin advertisements. The branded items from Verkade and Van Houten are the first. They are quickly followed by many other brands and items. The tin industry is developing at the same pace and for a period of about 100 years the most beautiful packaging tins have been on the table at home or adorning our kitchen cupboard.

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