The most treasured tin in the UK revealed

A printed can produced to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935 has been selected as the UK’s ‘most treasured tin’ in a competition launched in April by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA).

The tin, submitted by Helen Huxley after she found out about the competition on social media, was selected from 100 entries by a judging panel.

The tin once belonged to Huxley’s grandmother who used it for storing her sewing kit.

“This tin belonged to my nan, and it was given to her as a young girl,” said Huxley. “She used it to keep all kinds of useful bits and bobs in it until she died. If you needed a button, it was in there and sometimes there might be a new hair ribbon for me when I was a little girl. I’ve kept the contents of the tin almost the same including my nan’s spectacles which have now lost their lenses.” 

The sewing kit also featured a rare needle tin made by Serpent Brand, measuring just under six centimetres, one of the smallest tins featured in the competition. The tin reads ‘English Made Needles’ and features different size needles which are accessed by twisting the lid. 

Entrants to the competition were invited to send in photos of their most treasured tins including a brief description of what it is currently used for, and how it originally came into their possession. The winner received a Fortnum and Mason hamper and was picked by a panel of judges, chaired by MPMA chief executive Robert Fell.

The oldest tin submitted to the competition was sent in by collector Kim Manning and is believed to date from 1911. This tin is known as ‘Three British Queens’ and was made by Cadbury Bourneville to commemorate the company’s royal appointment. The back of the tin reads: “Cadbury has been honoured with the appointment as Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturers to Her Majesty Queen Mary. They were similarly honoured by Her Majesty Queen Alexandra and her late Majesty Queen Victoria.” 

The MPMA recently conducted new research showing that more than half the UK population have been given or bought a speciality tin. Of those respondents who did have speciality tins in their home, the average number of tins being reused was three and are kept for more than seven years. 

Common uses for speciality tins once empty included: food storage 53 per cent; household items 46 per cent; DIY items 35 per cent; grocery items 26 per cent; toiletries 15 per cent; and jewellery 13 per cent. 

Fell added: “Historically ‘speciality tins’ have been welcome gifts filled with sweets or biscuits or produced to commemorate special occasions such as a royal wedding or anniversary – just like our winner’s tin. They have even been used for a wider range of products such as teas, wines and spirits, pastas and even non-food and drink items such as DIY tools. 

“One thing they all have in common though is that they are highly decorated and imaginative tins with clever finishes such as unique shaped embossing or spot varnishing. And they are all designed to be reused indefinitely, with many remaining treasured heirlooms.”