Products and Properties

tin toy cars, tin boxes and tin buckets

Tin Plate: One of the most important uses of tin was to coat or ‘plate’ other metals. 

This helped to protect surfaces from rust and corrosion.  Since the 19th century, tinplate has been used to make a large variety of tins, including cosmetics, tobacco and medicine tins. 

Tinplate factories in South Wales produced sheets of tinplate, mainly for the food and canning industry.

Tin Glaze

Tin has been used to glaze pottery for hundreds of years all around the world. It forms a white-ish clear glaze. A lot of Mediterranean and European pottery such as maiolica and delft used tin glazes but it became unfashionable in Britain in the 18th century.

Tin Toys

Toys made of tin were very popular from the late 1800s until they began to be replaced with plastic in the 1960s.

Organ pipes

Organ pipes are made from lead and tin. For centuries Cornish tin has been used because there is a very small amount of copper in Cornish tin, which adds strength to the organ pipes.

Bronze Jewellery

Bronze was also used for jewellery. Metal smiths in the Bronze Age (1000BC) developed a high level of skill in bronze working using twisting and forging methods in the production of wrist and neck jewellery called torques. This was to supply the increasing demand for jewellery and body adornment.

Bronze Tools

The discoveries of tin, copper and other metals thousands of years ago changed how people lived. In the Bronze age, about 4000 years ago, tin was added to copper to make bronze.  Bronze was a much harder metal than bother copper and tin.  It was very good for making tools and weapons.

The earliest bronze artefacts in Britain were axes, daggers and awls.  Many of these early metal tools and weapons were never used or sharpened.  They seemed to be used as status symbols.

The technology was relatively simple:

·       The shape of the axe or dagger was cut in a suitable stone

·       the metal was melted in a crucible

·       tipped into the mould

·       covered and allowed to cool

the casting could then be taken out and hammered to get rid of rough edges and the cutting edge could be sharpened by hammering or grinding.


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Pat Comber

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