Britain is a nation of biscuit-scoffers, with no other country buying or eating more. In the last month of lockdown alone it is reported that shoppers spent an extra £19m on biscuits.
Fancy packaging and containers do not cram the supermarket shelves of the 21st century but in the early years of the 20th the manufacture and marketing of novelty biscuit tins were a growth industry, with biscuit giant Huntley & Palmers in Reading topping the list.
Tins shaped like windmills, handbags, baskets and globes flooded the market with the designs becoming ever more decorative. They were an instant hit with biscuit-lovers and the empty tins were rarely thrown away.
The vintage look
Dealer Michael Saffell is based in Bath and has specialised in novelty biscuit tins for more than 30 years.
He says: “It’s all very quiet for me at the moment and I’m only opening the shop by appointment, although I’ve been surprised by people making more random purchases, as well as a few hardy collectors. In general I think the market for the vintage look – where condition isn’t as important as it is to serious collectors, with a commensurate lower price – is still there.”
Fairs and markets are all good hunting grounds for novelty tins and the Christmas catalogues which illustrated them are very collectable.
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