Dating evaporated milk cans

This workshop is intended to offer a practical approach to recording and analyzing tin cans.

The workshop will focus on how to recognize the most common tin can types and how to identify their chronologically diagnostic characteristics.

Function: Fruit/vegetable How to record: No need to measure instead note that the can is single serve if less than 5 inches in diameter or multi-serve if more than 5 inches in diameter. Date Range: 1904-present Resources for dating: Description: Cylindrical can with double rolled end seams and an double or interlocking side seam. Note: Aluminum top or soft top beverage cans are not the same. Date Range: 1935-1970s Resources for dating: Description: Cylindrical can with double rolled end seams and an internally rolled side seam.

Function: beer, juice, soda How to record: Measurements aren’t known to help date or type these cans. These cans have a distinctive cone top that was topped with a crown cap.

Seams were soldered to reinforce early hole-in-cap cans and other cans.

Solder was applied by hand to the side seam and ends of the can.

Machine soldering, introduced in the 1880s, is usually uniform and stops short from the top and bottom edges of the can (Rock 1987:8).The earliest cans had plumb side seams which were lead soldered. Lapped side seams have been around since the 1840s. Locked and double side seams followed in 1859, but lapped seams remained common until the introduction of the Sanitary can in 1904 (Rock 1989b:37-42 and 65).Note: you can refer to locked and double side seams as crimped because it is difficult to tell the difference between the two.Recording data on the way the can was made and lithography is more important for dating and typing. Date Range: 1903-1960s Resources for dating: Busch, Jane 1981 An Introduction to the Tin Can.Date Range: 1935-1970s Resources for dating: Description: Upright oval can with a hinged friction lid. Function: Tobacco How to record: Photograph lithography and tax stamps if present. Measurements not required, but if you do measure (l x w x h) Date Range: 1901-1988 Resources for dating: Description: Cylindrical cans with crimped side seam, key strip opened. Function: Ground Coffee How to record: Photograph lithography. Historical Archaeology 15(1):95-104 This article appears to be the first article in Historical Archaeology that discusses tin cans as artifacts worthy of study.