Some beautiful things have been created for very simple and practical purposes. Just think of all the wonderful treasures that now fill our homes as decoration that were once made to fill a need. Necessity has often been called the mother of invention, and the biscuit tin is one of those items that was made out of necessity, used and appreciated, and can now be found in our homes as a quirky container, a charming collectible, or a pop of color.
One of our magazines, The Cottage Journal, wrote about the history of the biscuit tin in their spring issue this year. I thought the history behind it was so interesting, and you know how my ears perk up when I hear a good entrepreneurial story. English biscuit maker Joseph Huntley had the advantage of owning a shop across from a regular stop on the stagecoach line, and passengers were often customers. The ride on the stagecoach in the 1800s was rough enough for people, let alone perishable little biscuits. Huntley realized the need for some kind of protective packaging for the biscuits, so he began placing them in metal tins. That simple idea led to the formation of two companies: Huntley & Palmer, a biscuit company, and Huntley, Bourne, and Stevens, a firm of biscuit tin manufacturers founded by Huntley’s son. Because of their great success, many imitators followed them into the biscuit tin business.
In the late 1870s, the tins started to be embellished with colorful decorations and formed into unique shapes. Even after the biscuits were eaten, the tins were treasured and used to store small household items. This was recycling before recycling was even a thought! These little tins started as a simple airtight storage solution and have turned into charming—yet still practical—collectibles for our homes.
Pick up the spring issue of The Cottage Journal to see more fascinating stories and, as always, stunning homes and gardens.
What are some other home collectibles you’d like to know more about?