Full Chisel Blog

January 25, 2011

Vintage Varnish Can

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 1:43 pm

Why don’t they make finish cans look like this anymore?  Remindes me of a Dr. Bonner’s Soap bottle label.

I am not sure of the age of this can but it is full and never opened.

There is a stamp in the bottom that says: CANCO.

Even the top is attractive.  There is some bulging on the top and the lid is sealed and never opened.



  1. Has to be after 1893, Colombian Exposition in Chicago.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 25, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  2. Is there any slosh when you shake the can? Or is it now “solid” granite?

    Comment by Joe Cottonwood — January 25, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  3. Joe,

    It was liquid.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — January 25, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  4. What would a designer be paid today if you wanted similar logo development and packaging design?

    Comment by Tico Vogt — January 26, 2011 @ 7:31 am

  5. Your comments about the labels hit the nail, that happens to be my pet peeve, right on the head.

    Those pretty labels are long gone, never to return. Back in this can’s day, companies didn’t advertise their products like they do today. Advertising venues were few and far between and the venues that did exist charged a fortune compared to today’s rates. As a result, manufacturers spent more time and money designing their labels and packaging to entice consumers into buying an unknown brand. As “branding”, as we know it, didn’t exist back then, it also helped sales. The average consumer, standing in front of a retail shelf displaying similar products, choose their purchase based on how pretty the label was, thinking a fine looking label meant a better quality product. I am ashamed to admit it, but I buy wine today based on that theory, but according to my wife, the wine drinker in the family, it works.

    This label issue is similar to the change in architecture over the first 50 years of the last century. When a multi-use building is thrown up today, very little money is spent on architectural details and a whole lot of it is thrown at advertising to get it filled. At the turn of the previous century, it was the opposite; the money was thrown at the actual building with none being spent on advertising. Enhancing the building was done to attract attention to it. Advertising space for rent was not a standard practice back then and the look of the building was what brought in the tenants. Long-term leasing also did not exist back then and the average tenant might stay for a few months or a few years. The attractive building was an ongoing form of advertising for the landlord, used to bring in the replacement tenants.

    Sadly, your can’s label, like every other item we live with today, has been redesigned by advertising.

    Comment by Mitchell — January 26, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  6. Isn’t it the same with everything these days, I admit I’m a big fan of Victorian times but they put so much effort into the looks of just about everything they made, whether it was an oil can, biscuit tin, steam engine or industrial building. they all look like works of art now.

    Comment by Kev — February 22, 2011 @ 10:24 am

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