American Can Company Tin Manufacturer

American Can Company was formed in 1901 as a merger of many smaller competing firms into one large company that could cut costs with increased scale and lower competition, forming what would be known by many as the Tin-Can Trust. The Company was the dominant force in tin can manufacturing from its inception up until 1913 when the Government sued it to break it back into smaller pieces, the company still continued on after being forced to sell some of its parts, but was a major packaging manufacturer well into the 1970s and 80s before mergers and renamings.

With the original merger in 1901, some of the factories from the original companies were closed or sold off. Each of the remaining entities was given a company designation such as A.C.Co.##-A, marks on the tins produced, sometimes this designation is followed by another two digit number, which indicates the year produced so A.C.Co.50 A 16, would have been produced in the Hasker & Marcuse Factory in 1916.

Below is a list of Manufacturers and their American Can Company code (in use after 1901). If you have information about any of the missing American Can Co. Factories with location and their preceding company names it would be greatly appreciated if you would submit it to

  • Campbell Company (A.C.Co.2A) – Waltham, MA
  • S.A. Ilsley & Co. (A.C.Co.8-A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • Jos LeComte (A.C.Co.9-A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • Mersereau (A.C.Co.10A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • Somers Bros. (A.C.Co.11-A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • American Stopper (A.C.Co.12-A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • Wm. Vogel (Vogel Bros.) (A.C.Co.12-A) – Brooklyn, NY
  • Ginna & Co. (A.C.Co.14-A) – New York, NY
  • U.S. Can Company (A.C.Co.22-A) – Buffalo, NY
  • Art Metal Co. (A.C.Co. 25-A) – New Brunswick, NJ
  • Phoenix Metal (A.C.Co.27-A) – New Brunswick, NJ
  • C.P. Pole (A.C.Co.28-A) – Philadelphia, PA
  • Taite (A.C.Co.30-A) – Philadelphia, PA
  • Miller (A.C.Co.43-A) – Baltimore, MD
  • Hasker & Marcuse Mfg. Co. (A.C.Co.50-A) – Richmond, VA
  • Conklin Mfg. (A.C.Co.51-A) – Atlanta, GA
  • Beardsley Mfg. Co. (A.C.Co.52-A) – Cleveland, OH.
  • Breckinridge (A.C.Co.53-A) – Toledo, OH
  • Albert Fischer (A.C.Co.54-A) – Hamilton, OH
  • Wisconsin Can Co. (A.C.Co.56) – Milwaukee, WI
  • Clark Can Co. (A.C.Co.62-A) – Detroit, MI
  • Frank Diesel (Diesel Can Co.) (A.C.Co.69-A) – Chicago, IL
  • Illinois Can Co. (A.C.Co.70-A) – Chicago, IL
  • Norton Bros. (A.C.Co.73-A) – Toledo, OH
  • Horne/Danz (A.C.Co.82-A) – St. Paul, MN
  • Columbia Can Co. (A.C.Co.89-A) – St. Louis, MO
  • George R. Weed (A.C.Co.104-A) – Brooklyn, NY

Here are images of a few different American Can Company marks, if you have pictures of American Can Co. Marks please submit them to :

American Can Co. Factory 50 (Formerly the Hasker & Marcuse facility) dated to 1916 from a Vanko Cigar Tin

American Can Co. Factory 50 (Formerly the Hasker & Marcuse facility) spelled out, no date code from a Dill’s Best Pocket Tin

American Can Co. Factory 70 (Formerly Illinois Can Co.) with square symbol date code? From a Culture Pocket Tin

Hasker & Marcuse Lithographers

Hasker & Marcuse: Out of Richmond, VA like Ilsley, Hasker & Marcuse did a great business providing tobacco tins for many of the tobacco producers around Virginia. The company wasn’t formed until 1891, well after the likes of Ginna and Somers were well established. Hasker and Marcuse are well known for their excellent chromolithography as they never did the older style of one-color litho that made some of the earlier companies very famous.

Shown here is a mark from a Hasker & Marcuse tin:

S.A. Ilsley & Co. Lithographers

S.A. Ilsley & Co: Ilsley was featured somewhat in one of my previous posts about their humidor tins which were used not just by Cameron & Cameron, but can also be found for some other brands. Ilsley was based in Richmond, VA unlike Somers and Ginna who were in New York, but it was also merged into American Can Co. and it later used the  designation A.C.Co.8-A.

Below is an image of the Ilsley mark on a humidor tin:

Ginna & Co. Lithographers

Ginna & Company: Records are a little sketchy but I believe Ginna started producing tins in 1874 and is most well known for its intricate and elaborate 1-color lithography. These tins are often a base color on the tin in green, red, blue or other colors with black or grey laid over it. Ginna produced excellent fonts and images with a style that mimics an etching. Very few tins are actually marked as Ginna, although there are quite a few made in this style. Ginna was bought by American Can Co. and afterward used the mark A.C.Co.14-A.

Mark often found stamped in the bottom of Ginna tins:

Somers Brothers Lithographers

Somers Brothers: Somers Brothers was based out of Brooklyn, NY and operated starting in 1869 making metal tags for plug tobacco, and later moved into doing tins with a slightly different technique from many competitors at the time. Their business was later sold to American Can Co. and they were subsequently noted on tins as A.C.Co.11-A. Somers tins often feature excellent wavy fonts with a nice hand lettered type of look, and lots of pattern and texture, frequently with 2, 3, or 4 color schemes.

Below are a few different Somers Bros. produced tins as well as a picture of the Somers marking.

Detail of Somers Bros. identification on Princeton Mixture tin:

Tobacco Tin Manufacturers

Now that we’ve covered a few different tobacco companies, I think its time to focus on the manufacturers and artists who created the tins themselves. While the tobacco companies were focused on producing popular tobacco, these can companies were producing very elegant and detailed lithography to help a brand stand out on the shelves.

Collectors today know that tobacco tins are abundant and during the heyday of tins in the late 1800s and early 1900s tins were everywhere and served as packaging for everything from food, medicine, and yes even tobacco. Tobacco companies quickly adopted tins once they were being mass produced and affordable because they protected the tobacco from drying out and the colorful lithography available on them was the best way to differentiate brands in the highly competitive industry.

Some of the most well-known and desirable manufacturers are listed below and I’ll be doing blog posts about most of them soon in the future.

Somers Brothers
Ginna & Company
S.A. Ilsley & Co
Hasker & Marcuse
American Can Co

Humidor Tins

I recently acquired a huge lot of lunchbox tins, but in addition to those I also got some cool little humidor tins. These little guys are pretty neat and they have a dome lid that has a space to put a damp sponge. Once you were done with the tobacco that came with the tin you could use it as a humidor to keep your cigars fresh.

These two tins are nearly identical in construction, but only 1 is marked by the maker. The similarities cause me to believe that they were both produced by S.A. Ilsley & Co. of Brooklyn, NY. The company was later bought by the American Can Co, and after the buyout used the label A.C.Co.8-A. The company was in operation under the Ilsley name from 1865 to 1920, so these tins fall within that period.

The tin with the Ilsley mark is for Cameron & Cameron of Richmond, VA. The tin proclaims “Finest Grade of Smoking Tobacco”. It’s clear however that this was a generic brand produced by Cameron & Cameron and then distributed and retailed regionally or locally because on the side it has a space for a paper label.

This side panel reads “Quality & Grade Guaranteed As Indicated By the Brand” below which is a blank spot for the paper label of a brand, in this case Canuck Cut Plug.

Underneath the paper label you can see the small text which is “S. A. Ilsley & Co. Brooklyn, N.Y.”

The tin features great ornamental decoration and I have seen this design for Cameron & Cameron in many color varieties.


The other tin in this style that recently came in is for F. Abraham & Son “Boston Slice” brand. In addition to identical construction and design the tin features the exact same decorative graphics on the lid, although this tin is in red.

The main design of the tin features text reading “High Grade” “Cut Cavendish” “Boston Slice” “Will Not Bite the Tongue” “F. Abraham & Son” “25 27 29 Court St. Boston, Mass.” There is a great contrast between the red background blue stripe and glittery gold font. Additionally the Trademark logo for the brand is in the upper left corner (it looks to me like this design might have been used as a tin tag, but I’ve never seen that design and I don’t know tin tags well)

Lorillard Tobacco Company

The Lorillard Tobacco Company was one of the largest early producers of tobacco in the US and today is touted as the oldest as the oldest continuously operating tobacco company in America. Lorillard was founded in 1760 by Pierre Abraham Lorillard and by the late 1800s controlled a large portion of the American tobacco market in chewing and smoking tobacco, at one time owning or promoting over 160 different brands of tobacco with a marketing machine spending the equivalent of millions of dollars every year on advertising and promotions.

With James Duke’s revolution of the industry and machine-rolled cigarettes becoming prevalent, Lorillard merged with Duke’s American Tobacco Company in 1899. When the US government ordered American Tobacco to dissolve, Lorillard emerged back as an independent company with all of its brands.

Lorillard continued to be a powerful company and promoted many more brands after the breakup of American Tobacco Co. It’s most famous brands today are Newport, Kent, Maverick, and Old Gold (which was tremendously popular in the 1920s), but it’s most well known to collectors for tins which range from pocket tins to lunch boxes.

Here is a gallery of some Lorillard tins, it is not nearly exhaustive, but is just a sampling.

Prince Albert Tobacco Tins

It’s quite likely that the most common tobacco tin you will see is the Prince Albert tin. While there aren’t a whole lot of variations and any of these tins are going to be worth about $5. Still, it’s a tin seen in almost every collection because even though they are common tins, they still look good and it’s a great way to start building a collection for newcomers.

As we saw in the last post, the Prince Albert Brand was a major success for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco after being introduced in 1907. What is truly amazing is that the design of the tin has been very consistent with modern tins looking almost identical except for recent changes.

Below are a the most common tins you will see:

Tobacco Advertising and Baseball

As tobacco companies found that promotions and advertising could have tremendous positive effects for their market share they began to test ever more expensive, elaborate, and sophisticated techniques to encourage the public to buy their products.

By the 1880s-1890s baseball had already become the undisputed national past time. The game and its star players were well known and well followed. There were many efforts to tie-in to this type of success from branding efforts centered around baseball players to baseball cards placed in packaging for people to collect.

Of these only a few involve tobacco tins such as those below:

Of all the tobacco tins and promotions, probably the most famous is known at the T206 Card Collection. This is a set of baseball cards that were included in packaging of 16 brands made by the American Tobacco Company, mainly in cigarette packs, but also in the Ty Cobb tobacco tin, making it one of the most valuable tins in the collecting world. The set consists of 524 different cards that are a huge collecting category all their own. I highly suggest you check out which is the leading site for information about the T206 set.

Of all the cards in the set, the most valuable by far is the Honus Wagner card. This card has sold for over $3 million in good condition, but is so rare that even poor examples have sold for $400,000. An example is seen below: