Boiled Sweets Tin

Tonight we are looking at a British Army boiled sweets tin from WW2. Boiled sweets have long been issued to soldiers as they provide a concentrated energy boost for the man in the field, being made of sugar which the body can quickly and easily convert into energy. They are also helpful in keeping a soldier’s mouth moist without the need to drink water as they boost saliva production. The British army issued boiled sweets to troops in a variety of tins in a number of sizes, they all seem to conform to the same pattern though of a metal tin box, in various sizes, with light green lettering on a darker drab background:FullSizeRender

As can be seen this tin contained 5 ounces of boiled sweets made by J P Ltd and packed in September 1943. The tin is about the same size as many tobacco tins of the period and was designed to easily fit into a pack or pocket. At the bottom left hand corner of the tin is a combined ‘MB’ logo:FullSizeRender1This is the mark of the ‘Metal Box Company’, one of the largest manufacturers of pressed metal containers. The Metal Box Company Ltd could trace its history back to the nineteenth century and its antecedents had produced novelty biscuit tins and food containers. It had a convoluted history of mergers and acquisitions and it was only in 1930 that it became a limited company trading as ‘Metal Box Company Ltd’. When the Second World War broke out the company had just come out of the depression, but quickly geared itself up to make metal containers for the forces and various other munitions including Boyes Anti-Tank Rifles and Verey Pistols. By the end of the war the company had produced 140 million metal parts for respirators, 200 million items for precautions against gas attacks, 410 million machine gun belt clips, 1.5 million assembled units for anti-aircraft defence, mines, grenades, bomb tail fins, jerry can closures and water sterilisation kits, many different types of food packing including 5000 million cans, as well as operating agency factories for the government making gliders, production of fuses and repair of aero engines.

 This tin is made in two parts, a base and a lid which fit tightly together. Opening it up we can see that the inside of the two halves have been tinned to prevent rust:FullSizeRender2These tins are produced from one large sheet of tin stamped to shape in an industrial press to make each half without any joins or soldering required, this makes it much easier to ensure the tins are watertight. There are a number of similar tins available including one marked for boiled sweets, salt and matches and others for cigarettes. Larger tins are also available to be issued to a group of men. All these tins are quite scarce now and frequently fetch upwards of £40 each.

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