Old Spice Tins, Coffee Cans Can Generate Cash

How many of you hide cash in an old vintage coffee can? Or maybe you have several old coffee cans being put to good use storing bolts, nails and small tools in the garage. And that large spice tin – makes for a great planter, right?

What you may not realize is that your vintage coffee can hiding $20 of singles could be worth a few hundred bucks at auction.

Why? Antique and vintage advertising tins, cans, canisters, toys and other collectibles are in demand in the secondary market, especially if the brand name is legible, the piece is considered to be scarce and it’s in good condition.

The big draw for bidders on the hunt is the brand name, the product being advertised and its description, and any other clues revealing the age of the tin and where it was manufactured. Paper, or stenciled labels, for example, are older and more scarce than the mass-produced lithographed tin labels that were produced after 1914.

Collectors are seeking these antique and vintage advertising items in all forms. And, it’s not just the big brand names, like Coca-Cola, Campbell’s, Pillsbury and John Deere that are commanding the highest prices. You’d be surprised at how much a collector will pay for a brand name you never heard of.

Recently, we auctioned nearly 2,000 antique and vintage advertising items all from one estate. Originally from Iowa, the couple had spent several decades collecting spice tins, coffee cans, mugs, cookie jars, canisters, beer steins, vintage toy trucks and other mercantile advertising collectibles from small towns and cities nationwide. Sadly, our consignor’s husband passed a few years ago, and she was selling the collection to make space for a sewing room.

For me, seeing the collection was a trip down memory lane. For example, I remember being a kid opening up peanut butter out of a tin, not a jar. And my younger staff got a big kick out of seeing some of the odd items, like canned lamb livers and root beer syrup.

Leading up to the auction, we had a lot of interest online, particularly from bidders on the East Coast and in the Midwest, where many of these items originated. Live bidders at the auction house helped to drive up the prices, and several pieces did well. A vintage Mayflower tea tin box manufactured by Beckham McKnight & Co. in Kansas City hammered at $400. A vintage Dwinell-Wright & Co. coffee tin litho store display realized $350. The stoneware also did well. For example, a C. B. & G. high gloss groceries stoneware jug realized $200.

So take another look at that vintage coffee can that’s hiding the cash or the stoneware jug that you’re using to store loose change. They may be worth a lot more than you think.


Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Consignment in Glendale.

Contact: erik@ejsauction.com, www.ejsauction.com or call (623) 878-2003.


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