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Tin Metalware

Tin is a silvery-white metal commonly used to create alloys, including bronze and pewter. Due to its low toxicity level, tin has long been used to create food storage items, such as cans and containers, as well as metalware used for food preparation, display, and decorative purposes.

Historically, the main sources of tin are England, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, and China. Archaeological and textual records indicate that countries across the world acquired tin using extensive trade networks. Because of its rarity in regions without natural sources of the metal, tin was highly prized as a valuable metal. In ancient Greece, for example, tin was worth seven times more than copper and used to create elaborate jewelry and sculptural works of art.

Perhaps the most important historical development for the use of tin occurred during the 14th century with the invention of tinning. The tinning process involves coating thin sheets of iron or steel with tin to create tinplate, a malleable yet strong material. The use of tinplate reached its peak during the 20th century, when factories mass-produced tin cans using the tinning method. Tinplate is still widely used today to create objects for daily use including teapots, dishes, cookie cutters, candlesticks, centerpieces, figurines, and many other decorative pieces.


Quick Facts

  • On October 16, 2015, Christie’s London sold Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista (1961), a tin can containing the artist’s excrement, for $282,328
  • On February 27, 2010, Morphy’s sold a Masudaya battery-operated Target Robot with its original pictorial box and sealed bag of accessories circa 1960 for $52,900
  • In Classical Greece, Athenians imported tin in units of 4,000 kilograms to help build the monumental statue of Athena Promachos housed within the Parthenon

Recommended Items at Auction

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Antique Tin Donkey Mechanical Cigarette Dispenser
Aug 02, 11:00 AM EDT
Antique Tin Donkey Mechanical Cigarette Dispenser
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $10,000
$227 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$304 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$603 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
Group of (4) Huntley & Palmers Book-form Biscuit Tins
Jul 24, 12:00 PM EDT
Group of (4) Huntley & Palmers Book-form Biscuit Tins
by South Bay Auctions Inc
Est: $300- $500
$3003 Bids
Huntley & Palmer English Tole Book Biscuit Tin 2pc
Jul 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Huntley & Palmer English Tole Book Biscuit Tin 2pc
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$752 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
Antique Tea Tinware Container
Aug 02, 7:00 PM EDT
Antique Tea Tinware Container
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $10,000
$51 Bid
PAINTED TIN CAKE/BREAD PANTRY SAVER
Jul 29, 4:00 PM EDT
PAINTED TIN CAKE/BREAD PANTRY SAVER
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Large horse and rider tin cookie cutter
Jul 31, 9:00 AM EDT
Large horse and rider tin cookie cutter
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $140- $240
$701 Bid
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
Jul 25, 9:00 AM EDT
(4) Vintage Tin Beer Cans
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Tin Metalware


Apple Tree Auction Center

Apple Tree Auction Center

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.

Atlee Raber Auctioneer

Atlee Raber Auctioneer

South Bay Auctions Inc

South Bay Auctions Inc