bjmhome.gif (3447 bytes) lib.gif (982 bytes)


The development of the can was initially for packaging food. Today the two piece beverage can is a highly efficient, technically advanced, lightweight container for carbonated soft drinks and beer.


Napoleon offers a 12,000 franc prize for a method of preserving food for his armies which had such long, vulnerable supply lines that hunger began to tax their fighting strength.


An Englishman, Peter Durand, received a patent from King George III for a tin-plated iron can as a food container. At that time, cans were made of iron and coated with a thin layer of tin. But even the best craftsmen could only produce up to 60 cans a day, whereas today's modern beverage can making lines are producing over one million cans a day.


Nicolas Appert's "Book for All Households" was translated and published in New York.


Peter Durand introduced the tin-plated can in America.


Thomas Kensett, Sr. and Ezra Daggett of England canned oysters, fruits, meats and vegetables in New York City.


Kensett patented the tin-plated can in America.


Henry Evans invents a die device for making a can in a single operation. His invention enables the production of cans to be increased from 6 to 60 per hour.


Allen Taylor, an American, patented a machine-stamped tin can with extension edges.


Henry Evans was granted a patent for the pendulum press which, combined with a die device, could make a can end in a single operation. Machinery increased individual worker production from five or six cans per hour to 50 or 60 per hour.


Gail Borden was granted a patent on condensed milk.


Techniques are perfected for sealing tin cans with various types of soldering processes.


E. M. Lang of Maine was granted a patent for sealing tin cans by casting or dropping bar solder in measured drops on can ends.


Arthur A. Libby and William J. Wilson developed the tapered can for corned beef in Chicago.


The Hume "floater" was introuced to "float" solder onto the ends of cans as they rolled along “the lines.”


The simplified "side seamer” for cans appeared.


Sees the first automatic can-making machinery introduced in Britain. Its development made cans a serious contender for preserving foods and liquids.


"Condensed" milk is first canned in the United States.


The "sanitary" open-top can is developed in Europe for food. The process greatly increases manufacturing speeds. Can lids, however, are still soldered by hand after the food has been put into the can.


Continuous ovens for drying print on tinplate cans are introduced.


Developments in the improvement of the can linings are introduced to lengthen the life of the contents, using zinc compounds.


American invention for "crimping" lids onto cans is introduced in Europe. This results in faster can manufacturing speeds.


By the 1930s the technology had advanced to a stage when drinks could be packaged in cans. Continental European producers introduced beverage cans shaped like bottles. These cans are constructed from three pieces of metal and have a cone-shaped top closed by a "crown" cork.


The first flat-top can of beer appeared for sale in Richmond, Virginia. Canned beer is introduced to the UK by Felinfoel Brewery in Wales, using steel cans with cone-shaped tops.


Flat topped beer cans are introduced in Britain.


Ernie Fraze, an American, of the Dayton Reliable Tool Company, working with Alcoa, invents the aluminium easy-open end.


This development had a dramatic effect on the growth of sales of cans as containers for beer and carbonated soft drinks, since it brought a new level of convenience to the consumer. Until that time, beverage cans relied upon a triangular steel opener to puncture holes in one end.


The two-piece can, made from an aluminium impact extrusion, is developed in the United States. This is an important step forward, since it uses less metal than the traditional three-piece can.


Tin-free steel cans using coatings of chromium metal and chromium oxides are developed in the United States.


The two-piece "drawn and wall ironed" (DWI) can is developed in aluminium in the United States.


The first tin-free steel cans are made in Britain using materials supplied by the British Steel Corporation.


Tinplate two-piece DWI cans are launched in Britain followed later in the 1970s by aluminium two-piece DWI cans.


Two-piece cans dominate the drinks can market, accounting for virtually 100% of UK beverage can production.


Three European steel producers form tri-partite technical agreements for steel easy open end development.


Introduction of equipment for on-line nitrogen injection allows use of beverage cans for still drinks.


Introduction of the "206" diameter can for carbonated soft drinks.


Introduction of the "206" diameter can for beer.


Introduction of retained ring-pull ends for carbonated soft drinks cans.


Introduction of retained ring-pull ends for beer cans.


Introduction of "202" and "204" diameter cans in the USA.


"Widget" technology introduced for draught beer in cans.


Eco-top steel ends introduced into the UK market.


"Widget" technology extended to lager in cans.


Coloured tabs used for promotions.


Introduction of coloured ends to co-ordinate with can body decoration.


"Widget" technology extended to cider in cans.


Introduction of shaped cans.


Introduction of Large Opening End into UK beer market. The aperture on these cans is 45% bigger than on a standard can.


Introduction of Large Opening End into the UK beer market. The aperture of these cans is 45% bigger than on a standard can. Introduction of embossed cans for take home beer.



The story begins in the early 19th Century.

In 1810 Peter Durand was granted a patent by King George III of England for his idea of preserving food in "vessels of glass, pottery, tin, or other metals or fit materials." Behind this idea lay a treatise published the same year by a Frenchman, Nicholas Appert on "The Act of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances."  ค.ศ. 1810 ปีเตอร์ ดูแรน ได้รับสิทธิบัตรจากกษัตริย์ จอรจ์ที่สามของอังกฤษ สำหรับแนวคิดในการเก็บรักษาอาหารใน ภาชนะแก้ว ดินเผา กระป๋อง หรือ โลหะอื่นๆ ในปีเดียวกันนั้ นิโคลัส แอปเปอร์ท ได้เผยแพร่ตำรา "วิธีการเก็บรักษาเนื้อสัตว์ และ ผัก"

In 1795, the five-man French Directory offered a prize of 12,000 francs to anyone who could present them with a new, effective means of preserving food. Appert, an obscure Parisian who had worked as a candy maker, chef, brewer, pickle maker and vintner, had an idea: Why not pack food in bottles like wine?

For the next 15 years he worked on his idea. Finally, after partially cooking food, sealing it in bottles with cork stoppers, and immersing the bottles in boiling water, he arrived at his theory: If food is sealed in an airtight container and the air inside is expelled, and if it is sufficiently heated, the food will keep.

Appert's theory was demonstrated by the samples he submitted. Whether or not Napoleon actually said that an army travels on its stomach, he had learned through hard experience that it does. Scurvy and hunger had disabled more of Napoleon's soldiers than combat itself. Appert's samples were sent to sea for four months and ten days — partridges, some vegetables, and gravy — "When opened, eighteen different kinds of preserved foods were tasted," Appert wrote, "Everyone of which had retained its freshness, and not a single substance had undergone the least change at sea." Appert was awarded the 12,000 francs by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte himself.The British responded directly to this development.

If Napoleon's troops were to extend their marches by carrying preserved nutritious supplies, His Majesty's forces must be prepared to do likewise. Durand wanted to surpass the Frenchman's invention. Like glass, tin could be sealed and made airtight. Tin was not breakable, much easier to handle. So, for the breakable glass bottle and less than dependable cork stopper, he substituted a cylindrical tin cannister which was fashioned out of tin plate — iron coated with tin to prevent rusting and corrosion.

Durand himself did no canning, but two other Englishmen, Bryan Donkin and John Hall, used Durand's patent. After experimenting for more than a year they set up a commercial canning factory and by 1813 were sending tins of food to British army and navy authorities for trial. In 1814, some of their tinned foods were sent to British military bases. On the list, ironically, was the island of St. Helena, to which Napoleon Bonaparte was destined to be exiled.

A great international search which had been on since the 16th Century (and which was to go on until the 20th) did much to encourage the newborn canning industry. Explorers off to look for the elusive Northwest Passage were eager to make use of canned foods. In 1815, the Russian explorer Otto von Kotzebue, who heard of a "discovery lately made in England" which seemed "too important not to be made use of," took some preserved meats with him on his exploratory voyage. He was delighted by the "tin boxes" and found their contents in excellent condition.

When Sir William Edward Parry sailed for the Northwest Passage in 1819, he carried Donkin's provisions, again proving eminently satisfactory. The same necessity that had mothered the invention was now fostering it.

As the products of the new industry were being transported to other parts of the world, so was the industry, itself. In Germany, tin plate had been manufactured for 200 years, as far back as 1620. There, the new cans were made by plumbers — in those days the artisans who worked primarily in lead, zinc, tin, and other metals.

Englishmen who immigrated to America brought their newfound knowledge with them. One of these was Thomas Kensett, who might fairly be called the father of the can manufacturing industry in the United States. In 1812 he set up a small plant on the New York waterfront to can the first hermetically sealed oysters, meats, fruits and vegetables in the United States. (The word "hermetic" comes from the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, literally, "Hermes thrice greatest," Olympian god known as the father of alchemy. It means "made perfectly airtight so that no gas or spirit can enter or escape.")

In the beginning Kensett used glass jars, but he soon discovered that glass was expensive, easily broken, and difficult to pack. With his father-in-law, Ezra Daggett, Kensett applied for a patent for preserving food in "vessels of tin," granted in 1825 by President James Monroe.

The Gold Rush of 1849 and later the Civil War created an urgent need for food that could be preserved for long periods of time and transported over great distances. Travelers heading westward to open new settlements took with them foods that had been packed in metal cans by canners in the East. Settlers in rugged and remote parts of the country began to see the advantages of having canned foods on hand for nutrition and variety in their diets. So did frontiersmen on scouting trips and fortune hunters panning for gold. Canned seafood, fruits, and pickles were among the foodstuffs migrants brought with them. Some came to the Gold Coast of California by way of sailing vessels around Cape Horn.

A technical advance by canners achieved just before the outbreak of the Civil War enabled them to speed up production. Adding calcium chloride (a salt) to the water in which cans were cooked raised the water temperature. During the Civil War metal cans filled with wholesome foods served men on far-flung fighting fronts with dependable ration. At war's end, these soldiers and sailors returned home with praise for the safe, portable, and storable foods. The canning business boomed from a pre-war annual output of five million cans to 30 million annually in post-war years.


Thanks for reading, by TGC Doc.