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tin type public typography of the twentieth century



tin type public typography of the twentieth century

writtEn, photographed, and designed by mallory von wiegers





public typo graphy at home INS GIVE A HOMELIKE FAMILIARITY. FROM STORAGE in my dad’s garage to decoration in my mom’s kitchen, tins have served both functionally and aesthetically in my home. I recall following suit and taking a small candy tin to keep treasures: smoothed stones, foreign coins from WWII, pendants with no chains. The exposure to this form of packaging has led to an acute awareness of typography.




“A lot of these tins are things that i actually bought CRACKERS AND COOKIES IN. specifically knowing that i was going to be keeping the tin afterward.” ACKAGING IS PREVALENT IN HOMES­ —CLEANING


products, food boxes, soda cans, shampoo bottles. However, my mother, Diane Wiegers, shopped for groceries with an aesthetic eye. “A lot of these tins are things that I actually bought crackers and cookies in specifically knowing that I was going to be keeping the tin afterward.” My mom has tins for Ritz crackers, Hershey’s Cocoa, Morton’s salt, Biscotti, several other food products. She takes each of them and organizes in a pleasing display atop our refrigerator, rearranging what she wants in the foreground each time she cleans.


“I never placed a monetary value on them, rather if they provoked good memories from me or what I thought was pleasing is what I’d look for.”


VERY TIN HAS SOME SORT OF MEANING OR SENTIMENTAL value to my mother. This led me to being searching at a young age for tins to gift her. I’ve made several trips to antique malls, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets and even scouted out things my friends were throwing out. I thought attempt as finding something she loves was something that would please her. Little did I know that these quests allowed me to develop a love for typography and hand craftmanship.


>> i really love the hand-drawn quality of this tin. it’s very reflective of my hand-drawn style.


“when I look at that tin I can hear my grandmother’s broken English. I can hear her singing.” 12

>> the leopard pants, the mustache, the bright yellow typography: This is my favorite tin as well. seriously, what’s not to love?

F ANY TIN STANDS OUT IN MY MIND THE MOST, IT HAS TO BE THE ONE with a man in leopard underwear and the yellow block letters screaming “SPAGHETTI” across the front. “The spaghetti guy is my favorite. He makes me laugh. He reminds me my heritage. I feel like living here in Kansas City, Missouri has made me lose a lot of my feeling as an Italian and as an American. That’s my family and heritage and when I look at that tin I can hear my grandmother’s broken English. I can hear singing.” My mother’s knowledge on typography is little to none, but he assessment of the tin surprised me. “Spaghetti is like a staple and for a long time it’s what I had two or three times a week growing up. I try to make it every Sunday. The contrast between the colors makes me notice it more. And it’s designed to hold spaghetti and it made it convenient for storage.”



>> the texture in these two tins are quite wonderful. normally i don’t use ornate details but i find them done really well around the hershey’s logo. the illustrations are a great component as well, adding a lot of color and interest to the product.



“I like to use tins in my home for decorating. I like the illustrations and the colors and how they bring a vintage feel to the kitchen.” >> i’ve been very influenced by my mother’s aesthetics. even though she’s not much of a designer, she really enjoys decorating her home. i like to think my appreciation for detail stems from her.






public typo graphy FOR SALE AWRENCE, KS IS THE HOME FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF Kansas and is ranked as one of the top college towns in the United States. Not only is it thriving for 20-somethings and families, but Lawrence has a long history dating back to 1854. Proclaimed as free state, Lawrence survived the Civil War and has been known for being liberal and having a distinctive culture since. Many stores on Massachusetts street sell antiques from the Kansas and Missouri region. Amongst the antiques, tins are easy to come by.



AINTED LETTERS ON TINS step away from a feeling of mass production. Although irregularities are present in this particular tin, I find that the detail in the craftsmanship is lovely. The ornamentation provide a nice balance against the bold and outlined letters.





>> tobacco




appear to be the most common tins in the store.




>> the





section were photographed at antique bazaar.

NTIQUE STORES APPEAR ON MASS ST. ON NEARLY every block. Antique Bazaar, located at 8th and Mass, has a plethora of items from costume hats to lamps and from postcards to toys. Upon entry, an entire wall of tins are to the right of the store. Some contained in a glass door, some displayed high out of a reach, and a few stacked neatly on the wood counter. The woman behind the register happily unlocked the glass case to allow for a closer look at tins. The price tags reveals high dollar amounts around $75 for each tin—clearly indicating the high value the owner of the store had for these tins.



>> i am inspired by typography such as this. i often use drop shadows in my work. it gives more depth to the surface.


ANDMADE TYPOGRAPHY IS PREVALENT ON TINS. This Haufmann’s tin shows the irregular quality of handmade typography. A drop shadow is utilized for an added emphasis. Differences in lettering can be seen when comparing the As in the word “handmade”. The bold and detailed structure of the typography carries the interesting appeal of the tin without using any illustrations.





>> i respond to the orange and black color combination and slanted style of the package. the bounding box around the name is also appealing.

HE STORE CLERK AT ANTIQUE BAZAAR CHATTED FOR A LONG WHILE, sharing her reasoning for acquiring the tins and why they were highly priced. She shared that her family used to keep tins to store everything. She shared about her father keeping nails in a faded red tin and how her and her brother used to get in trouble for using it. She shared her love for finding tins and her hopes of pricing them highly that someone who truly values the tin will be the one to purchase it­. The clerk told me she couldn’t simply give them away because they were too beautiful.




public typo graphy wrap-up NLIKE MY MOTHER, THE STORE CLERK AT ANTIQUE Bazaar had tins that were almost completely typedriven. My mother has an appreciation for illustrations and most of her tins feature a balance of illustrations and typography. I believe my mother’s taste has influenced me as a designer and the constant exposure has allowed me to develop a great fondness for vintage typography. Tin type will continue to circulate through homes and stores and will hopefully provide inspiration and memories to others as it has for me.




credits SPECIAL THANKS TO MY MOTHER, DIANE WIEGERS & ANTIQUE BAZAAR Content comes from informal interviews with my mother and the store clerk at Antique Bazaar in Lawrence, KS. SOURCES: / TYPEFACES: DIN Regular / Deming EP / Mensch PHOTOGRAPHS: All pictures were taken with an Olympus PEN E-PL1 and processed in Adobe Lightroom 3

mallory von wiegers designer as author / patrick dooley / fall 2011


Public Typography  
Public Typography  

Tin Type: Public Typography of the 20th Century