Arthur’s Patent Air-Tight Self-Sealing Can

Provenance: Jerry McCann Collection

This museum specimen in our Jar Gallery is interesting as it is a can or vessel and not glass like most jars we are familiar with. The Arthur’s Patent Air-Tight Self-Sealing Can was developed for preserving fresh fruits and vegetables and intended for use by housekeepers, hotel and boarding-house keepers, and fruit growers.

Our example is beautiful in its own right as the tin is raw and delicate that features a gold foil, solder applied seal depicting a large bowl of fruit, and the product name.

On January 2, 1855, Dr. Robert Arthur, of 252 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received Patent No. 12,153 for an “Improvement in Self-Sealing Preserve Cans.” Actually, when he received his patent he was living in Washington, D.C. in 1852. The can was already being used and advertised in 1853. During the patent period, he would remove to Philadelphia. His can was constructed with a channel around the mouth near the top, into which the cover fits loosely. The channel was filled with an adhesive cement that was prepared for the purpose and allowed to harden In order to seal the vessel hermetically. It was only necessary to heat the cover slightly and press it into place. It could be opened with as much ease as it is closed, by slightly warming the top.

The can was manufactured and for sale, wholesale and retail, by Messrs. Arthur, Burnham & Co., No. 60 South Tenth Street, Philadelphia in 1853. By 1860, the company name had changed to Arthur, Burnham & Gilroy who were located at the northeast corner of Tenth and George Streets, Philadelphia.

The tin cans came in pint, quart, half-gallon, and gallon sizes. The company also made and sold Fire-Proof Stoneware Jars, White Queensware, and Glass Jars.

See our museum example of an Arthur’s Patent – Arthur, Burnham & Gilroy glass jar.

Support: Reference to Arthur, Burnham & Gilroy – A Study of Unlikely Relationships in Early Fruit Jars, Bill Lockhart, Beau Schreiver, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsey

Support: R. Arthur glass examples from the Jeff Vanaman collection.

Support: Reference to Red Book #11, the Collector’s Guide to Old Fruit Jars by Douglas M. Leybourne, Jr.

Support:  Reference to Fruit Jar Annual 2020 – The Guide to Collecting Fruit Jars by Jerome J. McCann

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