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LIVE 24-SEVEN


A BUY E R’ S GUIDE OH CRUMBS…


THE ART OF THE BISCUIT TIN


In today’s modern world, advertising and packaging are at the centre of every business model tempting shoppers with ever more creative ways to part with our hard earned money. This Christmas was no different with shelves laden with beautiful tins, boxes and displays created to add that little bit of magic for our time together with family.


So now that Christmas has passed, the decorations are down and everything packed away for another year, what have you done with those seasonal containers that held the biscuits, crackers and chocolates now long gone? Well hopefully you’ve kept them safe, as collectors have been seeking out rare examples for years.


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Will Farmer is our antiques & collectors expert, he is well known for his resident work on the Antiques Roadshow, he has also written for the popular ‘Miller’s Antique Guide’. Those in the know will have also come across him at ‘Fieldings Auctioneers’. We are delighted that Will writes for Live 24-Seven, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.


It’s hard to imagine that the humble biscuit could be an intrinsic part of our nation’s imperialist past, but the 19th century expansion of the British Empire owes much to the humble biscuit with the likes of Ginger Nuts and Bath Olivers. Many famous expeditions were fuelled by such delicacies; Henry Stanley set off in search of Dr Livingstone with supplies of them and Captain Scott’s hut at Cape Evans on Ross Island still contains tins of Huntley & Palmers biscuits, specially developed for the expedition, that were left there in 1911.


Biscuit tins may not seem efficient today, they are bulky and occupy precious kitchen cupboard space, easily come undone and aren’t altogether practical, but they deserve a place of honour in the history of food packaging and they illustrate the evolution of travel and the art of branding. Today the biscuit tin is not just a vessel to hold our sweet treats; they are big business being collected around the world and while new collectors can get started for just a few pounds, there are many rare examples out there which can change hands for many thousands of pounds.


Airtight and reusable biscuit tins were invented during the 19th century. Recognising the importance of advertising the brand and keeping the fragile biscuits fresh and intact, many of the leading brands began to use these metal tins and opted for increasingly inventive designs to catch the buyer’s eye and entice them to purchase their brand.


Credit for introducing biscuit tins goes to Huntley & Palmers, a Quaker firm in Reading; by 1900 they were the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world, employing more than 5,000 people. In the 1800s, the tins


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BUYERS GUIDE THE BI SCUI T T IN


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