The first exemplars of decorated tin boxes for confectionery products date back to 1830, when Thomas Huntley, a baker from Reading (UK), began selling his biscuits in hand-painted tin boxes. Afterwards, papers with lithographed logos were glued on boxes; then, passing through various processes, chromolithography was introduced. The first “industrial” production of tin boxes began in 1868, when Huntley & Palmer became the official suppliers of Queen Victoria and of the English crown. Boxes have the function of containing, preserving, enhancing and advertizing their content. Meant for varied uses and especially for sweets, tin boxes were widespread in Italy between the end of the XIX century and the Fourties and Fifties of the last century. Except some models with drawings by Cappiello, Dudovich or Mauzan, most of lithographies on tin containers in Italy were conceived by anonymous authors.
In Piedmont, and especially in Turin, there was a rich and varied choice of boxes, due to the extraordinary industrial and artisan local production. The 205 people employed in the sector in 1890 grew to more than 1.500 in 1906. In 1924 the chocolate and confectionery production unities in Turin were 49, with 2.300 employees; in 1934 the confectionery brands were 71 and the personnel counted more than 4.000 people, without forgetting the lively activity of hundreds of artisan confectioners.
Today, the memory of many producers can be traced back only through these charming containers. To make a collection of boxes means not only indulgence in nostalgia or curiosity, but it is also a way to appreciate the raising expressions and the design evolution, the different forms of business communication, the perception of content and the implications of a sometimes minor history, impressed with a charming delightfulness that can be appreciated even by those chancing upon them.
A small example of the ancient tin boxes collection
which is part of the Study Center of “Pasticceria Internazionale”