|Roly Poly Tobacco Tins|
|Part I: A History|
Around 1912 the Tin Decorating Company, aka Tendeco, produced round colorful tins to hold tobacco for for the American Tobacco Company. American Tobacco controlled Tindeco, as well as the four brands of tobacco sold in these tins. Each container held about 1 lb of tobacco with the brand names Dixie Queen, Mayo, Red Indian and U.S. Marine. Apparently the company suggested that the tins be used as brownie containers after the tobacco was used and designed them accordingly.
The six original tins were Satisfied Customer (reproduction called Businessman), Storekeeper, Singing Waiter (reproduction called Singer), Mammy, Dutchman (reproduction called Cowboy), and Scotland Yard. According to "The Tin Can Book", the Satisfied Customer, Dutchman and Scotland Yard are the hardest to find. But for those collectors that want complete sets, six tins would not do it! A complete set would be eighteen tins. Mayo and Dixie Queen tobacco was packaged in all six designs and while Red Indian and U.S. Marine were only packaged in three different tins. One way these tins were identified was by little packages of tobacco shown on some of the packages. E.g., Mammy had a tiny tin in her front pocket.
According to "The Tin Can Book" by Hyla Clark, the patent for the design was applied for (and issued) in 1912 by W. Tuttle of Baltimore, MD and assigned to the American Tobacco Company. The first patent was issued for a "blank" container, but a patent issued a few months later showed the painted design.
It's very hard to find these antique tins, especially in good condition, and when they are found -- expect to pay anywhere from $300 - $650 and up for one tin.
An inexpensive, alternative are the tins produced around 1980 by Bristol Ware. The 1980 tins made by Bristol Ware included a Businessman, Cowboy, Singer, Santa Butcher and Chef. All are shown except for the Singer.
Butcher, Businessman, Cowboy, Santa and Chef.
Closeup of Reproduction Businessman
A Visual History, excellent Web Resource.
Reference books include:
Markings on the bottom of tin.
Other Roly Poly tins have been made, including a Caroller, Mrs. Claus, at least two more Santas and a rabbit.
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Photographs (c) 2002 Barbara Crews, licensed to About.com, Inc