Powder Tin Vintage Hunting Tins

Hunters have used black powder in their muzzle-loaded rifles and hunting firearms for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1800s that they were able to buy their powder in tins. Vintage powder tins were available from several manufacturers, like DuPont and the Hercules Powder Company, and they came in a few different shapes and sizes.

What type of labels do vintage hunting tins have?

The different types of labeling for these metal canisters include the following:

  • Paper labels: Older vintage metal containers often have paper labels affixed to the front and sometimes the back and sides. Text can include the brand name, the product name, and information about the product. Some companies, like E.C. Smokeless and Elephant, added graphics that were emblematic of their brand. For other companies, it was common to have illustrations of hunting scenes.
  • Painted labels: Later versions have labels painted directly onto the metal. These labels tend to have only wording on them, sometimes with the company's logo. Bold colors, like green, blue, red, and orange, can be contrasted with white to emphasize the product's name and details.
  • Embossed labels: Raised lettering is often found on the cylindrical cans on the top and the bottom, with the lettering following around the curve of the can in an arc or a circle. Sometimes, the company logo is stamped into the metal as well.
What types of images are found on the paper labels?

The paper labels on these vintage tins often had illustrated graphics that depicted hunting scenes or commonly hunted wildlife. Examples are listed here:

  • A hunter with his gun, surveying the land for his desired game
  • Hunters racing on horseback with guns at the ready
  • Hunting dogs searching for wildlife
  • A slain buck with two hunters in the background
  • Two men on land hunting fowl over a pond
What sizes and shapes are hunting powder tins?

Vintage hunting canisters come in three basic shapes: oblong, cylindrical, and cube. The oblong tins resemble flasks and have a rectangular shape with rounded edges. They typically measure around 6 inches by 4 inches by 1 inch. Cylindrical tins, otherwise known as drum kegs, will have the hallmark ribbing that is found on regular metal cans, and they range in size from 4 inches high to 12 inches high. The cube styles are around 4 inches cubed.

What information can be found on the vintage tins?

Other than the company name, brand name with logo, and the city of origin, you can usually find the following types of information on vintage hunting canisters:

  • Weight: Most oblong tins contain 16 ounces of powder. Cube-type tins carry 11-13 ounces of product. Cylindrical ones come with varying weights of powder.
  • Powder type: Powder comes in both smoke and smokeless forms. Grain texture ranges from coarse to superfine and is usually denoted with Fg (coarse), FFg (medium), FFFg (fine), and HFg (superfine).
  • Instructions: Some vintage tins come with guidelines for usage, including any relevant warnings and regulations.
What's inside the vintage powder containers?

Most vintage powder containers are empty and used mostly for memorabilia and decorations. Originally, they contained black powder, a combination of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (also known as potassium nitrate) that hunters use as a propellant for projectiles in muzzle-loader-type firearms.