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Tindeco Tins: Vintage Tins for Collectors

Collecting has been a lifelong passion for Virginia and her collections range from ephemera to tins and Hall china.

Vintage Tindeco Tin on my bookshelf.

Vintage Tindeco Tin on my bookshelf.

Tin Collectors Fall in Love with Tindeco Tins from the 1920s

I loved the first Tindeco tin that I stumbled across in my flea market excursions. The vintage design and sleek styling were so appealing. I started hunting for these in the antique shops, auctions and flea markets around Maryland and Pennsylvania.

People kept these long after the original contents were gone. Tindeco tins held candy or talcum powder or tobacco. In their second life, they became storage containers for buttons and sewing tools or held momentos. Then sixty odd years after their manufacturing in Baltimore, Maryland, these were showing up in estate sales and even yard sales.

Some Tindeco tins were in pristine condition, but others showed the dents and scratches of their long and useful life. It's amazing that they survived at all, but it shows that people valued these vintage tins and kept them over the years.

(part of my collection - photo by Virginia Allain)

Peacock Tin - Tindeco - Photo by Virginia Allain

Isn't this peacock design fabulous!

Isn't this peacock design fabulous!

The marvelous art deco style graphics on the tins appeal greatly to me. Isn't this one with the peacocks simply beautiful. Being almost 100 years old, the tin has some wear on it, but still thrills my shabby chic heart.

The Tindeco Factory Building - now converted into apartments

A brief video tour showing the building exterior from different views. The building is located in Baltimore's Inner Harbor with scenic views across the water towards Fort McHenry.

Here are some of the features added to the old factory building to turn it into luxury apartments: 24-hour attended front desk, copy, fax notary and package service available, pharmacy on premise, Boat slips available, Interior courtyard, Restaurant on site, Garage parking-secured, Fitness center on-site 24 hours

In the lobby they display a lovely collection of original Tindeco tins that were made right in that building when it was a factory.

A Lovely Tin from Tindeco - Photo by Virginia Allain

I consider this one my best tin. The shape, the colors and artwork, the condition are top notch.

I consider this one my best tin. The shape, the colors and artwork, the condition are top notch.

The shimmering colors don't show up very well in a photograph. It's sort of like a moire ribbon, an amazing effect.

How to Collect Tindeco Tins

The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore made decorative tins for candy, tobacco and other products starting in 1914. The colorful vintage tins are much sought after today with some designs selling for $75 to $95.

To find the tins at a modest price, check persistently at yard sales, estate sales, and flea markets. People often kept the tins after the original contents were used up and filled them with buttons, sewing supplies or other items needing storage. Ask an elderly relative if they have any old tins around.

Read all you can find about the tins online to know what to look for. There's a book written by Kristin Helberg called The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore. It's less than 100 pages and came out in 1986. It's out-of-print, so search Amazon and eBay regularly to catch one when it shows up. Watch for the tins on eBay. They show up regularly, but prices vary quite a bit. Tindeco tins with holiday themes (Easter, Halloween, Christmas) are more expensive as the tin collectors are competing with those who collect vintage holiday items. As your collection grows, refine your Tindeco collecting philosophy. Do you want to specialize in tobacco tins? Maybe you really like the signed tins by artists like Harrison Fisher, a noted illustrator. Pay attention to

Tindeco tins with holiday themes (Easter, Halloween, Christmas) are more expensive as the tin collectors are competing with those who collect vintage holiday items. As your collection grows, refine your Tindeco collecting philosophy. Do you want to specialize in tobacco tins? Maybe you really like the signed tins by artists like Harrison Fisher, a noted illustrator.

Pay attention to condition. Since Tindeco tins can be 70 to 95 years old, most show a little wear. The colors usually stay bright unless the tin has been abused or left out in the weather. Scratches are a problem if a tin was used roughly over the years. Tins stored in hot attics may exhibit bare patches as the paint starts to flake off. Rust around the base or the lid can detract from the tin also. All these problems reduce the value of the tin.

Are You a Tin Collector?

How to Collect Tindeco Tins

The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore made decorative tins for candy, tobacco and other products starting in 1914. The colorful vintage tins are much sought after today with some designs selling for $75 to $95. Instructions

To find the tins at a modest price, check persistently at yard sales, estate sales, and flea markets. People often kept the tins after the original contents were used up and filled them with buttons, sewing supplies or other items needing storage. Ask an elderly relative if they have any old tins around.

Read all you can find about the tins online to know what to look for. There's a book written by Kristin Helberg called The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore. It's less than 100 pages and came out in 1986. It's out-of-print, so search Amazon and eBay regularly to catch one when it shows up.

Watch for the tins on eBay. They show up regularly, but prices vary quite a bit. Tindeco tins with holiday themes (Easter, Halloween, Christmas) are more expensive as the tin collectors are competing with those who collect vintage holiday items.As your collection grows, refine your Tindeco collecting philosophy. Do you want to specialize in tobacco tins? Maybe you really like the signed tins by artists like Harrison Fisher, a noted illustrator.

  • Pay attention to the condition. Since Tindeco tins can be 70 to 95 years old, most show a little wear. The colors usually stay bright unless the tin has been abused or left out in the weather. Scratches are a problem if a tin was used roughly over the years. Tins stored in hot attics may exhibit bare patches as the paint starts to flake off. Rust around the base or the lid can detract from the tin also. All these problems reduce the value of the tin.

1980s Reproduction of the Roly Poly Tobacco Tins - Made by Tindeco

The original ones from 1912 sell at prices ranging from $175 to $480 at auction. The ones shown here are reproductions but are faithful to the originals. (photo used with permission)

The original ones from 1912 sell at prices ranging from $175 to $480 at auction. The ones shown here are reproductions but are faithful to the originals. (photo used with permission)

Keep Checking eBay for This Informative Booklet (The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore)

It's a bit hard to find.

Here's what you are looking for:

The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore: and the subsequent acquisitions by Owens-Illinois Can Company and Continental Can Company 1914-1965 : a short history

"Ms. Kristin Helberg wrote a wonderful short history of The Tin Decorating Company of Baltimore in 1986 to celebrate the rehabilitation of the old Tindeco property. This small book has many factory pictures, and includes the memories of former employees." (book summary by collector, James A. Shaw)

This is a must-have for collectors of the colorful advertising tins.

Sometimes issues of the company magazine show up on eBay.

Check the Bottom of the Tin for the Tindeco Imprint

The Tindeco imprint.

The Tindeco imprint.

How to Identify Tindeco Tins

Not all Tindeco tins have the mark on the bottom. Some have the name Tindeco in tiny print on the back where the lid hinges.


Some Tins Even Have Decorative Touches Inside - Christmas Tindeco Tin

The inside of a Christmas tin.

The inside of a Christmas tin.

Harrison Fisher's Designs on Tindeco Tins

Tindeco used a number of Harrison Fisher's lovely ladies on their tins. Fisher was an extremely popular illustrator of the era and his artwork appeared on many magazine covers.

This video shows examples of Harrison Fisher's paintings. These are not the ones on the Tindeco tins, but gives you an idea of those.

The Tindeco Harrison Fisher designs include "His Pledge," "Yachting Girl," "Dancing Girl," Girl in a red hat, and girl in a mask. The first and the last one are small heart-shaped tins.

Check eBay Auctions to Find Harrison Fisher Tindeco Tins

I'm lucky to have several Harrison Fisher Tindeco tins in my personal collection. I have the small one called Yachting Girl and several of the large ones.

Read More about Tindeco and the Tins Online

Early days in Baltimore Harbor.

Early days in Baltimore Harbor.

Read More about Tindeco and the Tins Online

History of the Tindeco Company

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The People at Tindeco

  • William Reginald Watkins
    WR Watkins (William Reginald Watkins, b.1890 - 1985) was known as the dean of Baltimore artists. WR Watkins exhibited at major galleries and museums across the United States during his lifetime. During the 1920s and 30s, Watkins was a top designer an

Vintage Spice Tin Made by Tindeco - Photo by Virginia Allain

Tindeco Spice Tin (Ginger)

Tindeco Spice Tin (Ginger)

I collect spice tins, but only the ginger ones (because my nickname is Ginger). In particular, I like to find Tindeco ones like this one.

Read about My Spice Tin Collection

  • Showcasing My Spice Tin Collection
    Over the years, I collected decorative tins, particularly from the Tindeco Company of Baltimore, Maryland. At some point, I branched off into collecting spice tins. It wasn't just any spice, it had to be ginger. The reason for that is my nickname...

I found Some Tindeco Magazines on eBay -

Recently the eBay auction brought up Tindeco Magazines from the 1920s. Wow, what a find. These are the monthly company magazine. I'd love to peek inside them. They were out of my price range though.

Keep your eyes open for this kind of find.

Want to Get Started Collecting Tindeco Tins? Click on any photo to see it larger and read the description - I am selling Tindecos that are duplicates or that I

A small Tindeco tin with a signed Harrison Fisher design.

A small Tindeco tin with a signed Harrison Fisher design.

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Tindeco tin showing their marbelizing technique. Amazing!

Tindeco tin showing their marbelizing technique. Amazing!

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© 2010 Virginia Allain

Do you collect vintage tins or new advertising tins?

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on December 28, 2019:

Kelly Ann, I lived in Baltimore for 15 years so it's likely the tins were more prevalent there as that's where the TinDeco factory was. I grew up in Kansas and remember well my grandmother's tin filled with buttons. I doubt that it was a TinDeco though.

Kelly Ann Christensen from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas on December 28, 2019:

My late mother and brother enjoyed searching and collecting antiques, but I never did learn much about it. Your tins are something else, just gorgeous. I certainly remember the days of tins filled with buttons or other gadgets. The roly poly tobacco tins are very unique to me. I've never seen anything like it. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on October 02, 2019:

Sounds quite unique. There's a Facebook group (small one) that is called Tindeco Collectors. It would be great if you could post a picture there and get their input. If you are looking to sell it, there might be some interest.

Bill on October 02, 2019:

I'm a auction buyer and found in a old collection a 10.5" Square window that has TINDECO on side and embossed on the front says "Southern" Looks like a display of some kind. Looks like patent date on side says April 15 1924. I assume it's a cigar display. Or maybe something from Southern Pacific Railroad. Not sure. I can't find anything like it. I can send you a picture if you like

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on October 20, 2018:

That's really unusual. Check on eBay to see if anyone has one like it.

Where was the Tindeco name on the tin (on the bottom, on the lid, etc.)?

Donna Conte on October 19, 2018:

Just found this can and kept it because of it's beauty. Now I am researching it and found that it's a tindeco. I know nothing of these and am becoming fascinated. It has a b/w nude woman with Airplane and Sayings such as "Fine gold 1 ounce Troy" and "Residents are pract... Japanese but no one knows"

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2015:

Thanks for the education regarding Tindeco tins. I have a few old tins that my grandmother used to save buttons. Now I am curious and will have to see what type they are. I also have some old cigar boxes. It is interesting how these things were often repurposed and now have become collectable. Your images of the tins you have are lovely! Up votes and happy to share.

poetryman6969 on April 08, 2015:

This is the kind of collecting I could go for. I love old boxes with ornate designs. It is interesting to imagine some secret thing hidden away in an old box.

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on March 31, 2015:

These pictured tins are so distinctive. I've saved several of the newer tins and use them for storing craft items.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on March 08, 2014:

@9grandchildren: Tindeco was bought out in 1935 so if it says Tindeco on it, the date should be before that.

Be aware that some reproductions such as the roly-poly tobacco tins were made in the 1970s and 80s.

9grandchildren on March 07, 2014:

I recently purchased a Red Oval U of N TinDeco tin for my son for his birthday.. he is a Huge University of Nebraska fan .. was wondering if anyone new when these tins might have been produced , it measures approximately 8 x 6

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on September 24, 2013:

Neither, but you've done a marvelous job of introducing me to them with your superb photos and informative and engaging writing. Thanks for sharing!

blue22d on April 22, 2012:

Neither. Just had to come check it out. I collect vintage Lady Head vases. I also collect marbles. Very interesting lens on tins. Thanks!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on September 13, 2011:

I have collected tins of a more recent period, those manufactured by The Tin Box Company, and designed by Daher. I have quite an extensive collection...none of which are valuable, but they are beautiful on top of my kitchen cabinets, and draw a visitors eye upward. I think these Tindeco tins were most probably an inspiration somewhere along the way for Daher. Thanks for sharing these beautiful collectibles.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on June 14, 2011:

I love the roly poly tobacco tins. They are adorable yet I have never heard of them before. Wonderful lens.

anonymous on October 09, 2010:

I love anything vintage and I have a lot of old tins and odd bits. I'd completely forgotten about tins with handles until I noticed one in your pictures. I remember treasuring one as a child.

Tammy Winand from McleodGanj HP India on April 10, 2010:

I love tins and if I had a permanent home I'm sure I'd collect them! I grew up not far from Baltimore and never heard of this company though...pretty neat