Where Do We See Antique Tin?
Antique tin is almost the only kind of tin we see these days. Even nearly forty years ago when Dustin Hoffman's young character from "The Graduate" was advised that the future was in plastics, tin was already on its way out. Today, those interested in a vintage look may occasionally return to items made of tin, but it certainly has not returned to its lofty height of being a commonly used mainstream product component. Consider all of the places tin was once used.
Antique Tin above our Heads
Tin was once the material of choice for ceilings. Although it was a bit heavy, tin ceiling panels were an attractive and sturdy means of bringing an attractive (and often ornate) look to a ceiling. This is one area where lovers of antique tin have concentrated their focus-original tin ceiling titles are still a relatively popular decorating item.
The ceiling was not the only place tin was used. In many parts of the world, including the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, tin was used for roofing. One might think of the proverbial "hot tin roof" often associated with the south, courtesy of Tennessee Williams, but tin roofs were actually used in a variety of locations. Today, some of those roofs are still in use and others that have fallen into a state of disrepair have been targeted by restoration experts who are dedicated to maintaining them.
Antique Tin in the Toybox
For many decades, tin was a favorite substance from which to build toys. Tin toys, particularly in the form of cars and airplanes, were quite popular. In time, the efficiency and flexibility of plastic destroyed the tin toy industry. Nonetheless, these tin toys remain popular with a small but ardent group of collectors today.
Antique Tin on the Storefront
Tin signs were used for advertising for an extended period. Tin signs were used to hawk everything from chewing tobacco to automobiles. They were perfect because they offered some resistance to the elements and, at the time, were relatively cheap to produce. Vintage tin signs remain a collectible today with many in the antique community.
Antique Tin in the Cupboard
If one talks about tin cups, tin plates or tin flatware today, he or she is probably referring to an old beat up collection of camping gear. When tin was in its heyday, however, many cupboards featured tin cooking utensils and accessories. Again, we can blame technological improvements and plastic for a decreased reliance upon tin. Today's kitchens feature products made from aluminum and more complicated metal alloys and plastic/resin accessories.
Today, tin is an aberration. It is a rarity. It is a reminder of the past. It is not, however, a truly commonly used material. If one encounters tin items today, they are probably not dealing with something that just rolled off an assembly line. If you find tin today, you will probably find antique tin.