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Author Topic: A History of Tinned Food  (Read 55475 times)

Chris Johnson

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A History of Tinned Food
« on: April 22, 2013, 02:59:34 AM »

Found this on the BBC website and thought it may be of interest to Forum users to understand the history of canning
 The Norwich City survivours left canned food at their shelter and remains have been found at the seven site.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2013, 09:47:10 AM »

The Norwich City survivours left canned food at their shelter and remains have been found at the seven site.
To be clear, we have a can from the Seven Site that probably once contained "roast mutton." We don't know where it came from.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2013, 01:52:38 PM »

Correct, my poor wording as it could have come from anywhere.

Well...probably not anywhere.  The size and proportions of the can are quite unique and match the size and proportions of at least one brand of roast mutton that was produced in New Zealand - but we don't know when.  If we could find out when St. George's used this style of label it might give us a clue as to how and when the can arrived at the Seven Site.  For example, if it turned out that roast mutton was only sold in this style of can prior to 1932, then the most likely source of the can would be the 1929 Norwich City cache.  That would argue strongly for the can having been brought to the site by the castaway.  If, on the other hand, roast mutton was sold in this style can beginning in 1932, we can eliminate the NC cache as the source.  Let's see what we can find out.
The photos of the Seven Site can are from 1996.  It's now just rusty pieces.

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Albert Durrell

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2013, 04:33:10 PM »

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2013, 06:07:37 PM »

St. George mutton roast can.  See http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/showitem.asp?itemRef=RL143

There was no image on that page so I don't know if the design is the same as the label we have, but the 1914 date is interesting.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2013, 06:56:21 PM »

Wait a minute. There's a thumbnail image at http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/ration-sub.asp?SubCat=1.  Looks like the same label we have, but of course we don't know what label was on the can at the Seven Site.  Roast mutton often had pieces of bone in it ("bone in for flavor") and we found several pieces of what has been identified as "small mammal bone, either goat or sheep" near the can.  We're quite sure there were never any goats or sheep on Niku.
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2013, 07:23:55 PM »

St. George mutton roast can.  See http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/showitem.asp?itemRef=RL143

There was no image on that page so I don't know if the design is the same as the label we have, but the 1914 date is interesting.

It's a rotating image, served up by Java.  It takes a little while to come up.  Here's snapshot of the page with the can's image.
LTM,

Bruce
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2013, 07:35:22 PM »

It's a rotating image, served up by Java.  It takes a little while to come up.  Here's snapshot of the page with the can's image.

Definitely the same label.  I wonder if the proportions of the can ever changed.  Is canned roast mutton still being sold (blechhh!)?
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Dan Swift

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2013, 10:23:58 AM »

http://natlib.govt.nz/items/23159787

Could it have been Gear Meat Co. from NZ that produced similar meats in similar cans and labels circa 1890 - 1920?   
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2013, 10:45:47 AM »

http://natlib.govt.nz/items/23159787

Could it have been Gear Meat Co. from NZ that produced similar meats in similar cans and labels circa 1890 - 1920?

That's an interesting website.  The labels tell us the proportions of the cans they went on.  So far we know that the size and style of can we found at the Seven Site was used for some New Zealand canned meat products up into the 1920s.  What did cans of roast mutton look like in the 1930s and '40s?
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Dan Swift

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2013, 07:15:13 AM »

http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23185517?search%5Bpath%5D=items&search%5Btext%5D=St.+George+Roast+Mutton+label+

They also had this label for the 'tapered' can (top smaller than bottom) that they used.  Not sure, but wondering if they produced this one later.  Era is too broad (beginning in 1890's) but does list to 1940's.  But I believe that is just the search window.  So it's possible the tapered can followed the can you have?  Unfortunately, that is a question not an answer.   
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Matt Revington

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2013, 08:30:41 AM »

Can the can itself be dated from the manufacturing process?  Early cans ( mid-19th century) sometimes used lead solder, (dependence on lead soldered cans was thought to cause lead poisoning during the Franklin Expedition and is thought to have played a role in its failure, its mentioned in the link in the first post on this thread).  Were there other changes in the can manufacturing process between 1890-1940 that could be detected in the can itself that could lead to a closer dating?
« Last Edit: April 24, 2013, 10:23:07 AM by Matt Revington »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2013, 09:57:32 AM »

Can the can itself be dated from the manufacturing process?

Good question.  We still have the can. It's now just a pile of rusty pieces but I don't see any sign of solder (lead does not rust).  We might be able to jigsaw-puzzle it back together in a matrix of rubber cement but it would be quite a job.  Fun though.
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Matt Revington

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2013, 10:32:38 AM »

This article:
http://www.sha.org/CF_webservice/servePDFHTML.cfm?fileName=15-1-07.pdf
goes into some detail about the changes in cans over the years, for example the way the tops and bottoms were attached and the metal content seems to have evolved over the first half of the 20th century. 

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Dan Swift

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Re: A History of Tinned Food
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2013, 11:41:10 AM »

Matt, Great article...interesting reading.  Some interesting dates of certain developments. 
Such as the statement below.  I wonder if there is a way to test for that with the remains of the rusty can? 

"The major trend has been decreasing its weight through
techniques such as the cold rolling of steel,
which reduces thickness, and electrolytic tin
plating, introduced commercially in 1937,
which uses less tin (National Canners Association)"
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