Collecting the Best
A review of what's hot in the world of collectibles

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By Kathy Bryant Spicetins

BACKGROUND: Hundreds of brand-name spices vied for the attention of consumers during the golden age of spice-tin design, which lasted from around 1900 until the 1940s and left behind some colorful kitchen-themed collectibles.

The boldly decorated containers were part of a new era in processing and packaging ushered in by the Industrial Revolution. The invention of offset lithography made it possible to print images right onto a can. In some shops consumers might have found just one brand--featuring the store's owner-designed label. In other places there were a lot of kinds to choose from, all with good-looking graphics.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Some of the most sought-after brands are Busy Biddy, which shows a chicken; Colonial, with its Early American home; Folger's Golden Gate, adorned with sailing ships; and Dove Brand, with a turkey.

PRICE RANGE: Prices start at around $15, and unusual items can go for $100 and up.

EXPERT SOURCES: Jerry Jankowski, author of "Shelf Life" and owner of more than 500 old containers; Al Bergevin, antique-tin collector (he has close to 500) and author of "Food and Drink Containers and Their Prices."

BUYING INFORMATION: Busy Biddy Brand Tins from Al Bergevin, 612-436-8010.

--From Bon Appétit, June 1995
  photo credit: Mark Laita

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