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COM: November 2010

Cans with a Second Life

Beer cans were often used for things other than holding beer. I've already shown some cans that breweries made into things such as banks for promotional purposes in my January 2010 COM. Sometimes can companies took already printed metal sheets that had been originally intended to make beer cans and repainted them to make cans for things like brake fluid. I showed one such paint-over as my May 2009 COM.

Beer cans also sometimes get a second life instead of being thrown away after they're used. People turned them into all sorts of things, both useful and decorative. Here are a few example from my collection.

Seed Spreader

This Krueger quart can from 1951 was turned into a grass seed spreader. The bottom was cut out and wire mesh/screen was placed inside. A buddy of mine found this at a Virginia garage sale some years ago.

FYI, I discussed the label design as my April 2006 COM.

Krueger quart. Krueger quart.


Brewers sold these cans as souvenirs, but you could also buy kits to make your own.

2 beer can lighters.



2 beer can lighters.

Pencil/Pen Holder

Cutting the lid out to use the can to store stuff like pencils, paint brushes, nails, etc, is pretty common. A few years ago some rare 1930s cans showed up as pencil holders. A lady out west saved some pretty cans she found as a little girl, cut the tops off, and used them for pencils and pens and such.

This one was a conetop before the cone was cut off.

Bavarian cone pencil can.


Large cans were turned into lamps as long as there have been cans big enough to hold a bulb and shade.

Left: My Dad made this German gallon can and an Old Frothingslosh pull tab into a lamp for me when I was in college.


Right: This lamp was made as an advertising piece in 1948. That's a quart Krueger can. You can see more about this design at my November 2008 COM.

Beer can lamp.

quart lamp.


A friend gave me this for Christmas. You see this type of folk art at a lot of shows.


Drinking Mugs

Breweries often used cans as mugs to be given away to customers, but people also made cans into drinking mugs themselves. This quart is part of a series of designs used by Newark's Ballantine Brewery before World War II. I discussed them as my January 2004 COM.

Ballantine Quart Mug. Ballantine Quart Mug.

A Shaker?

I dumped this in 2010. I'm not sure what it was meant to spread, but it was in a farm dump that dated from about 1956-1964.

I discussed the Naty Boh Colt can as my December 2008 COM.

Colt can. Colt can bottom.


OK, so this isn't much of a "second life" but it's sure a popular use for old beer cans.

Here are two cans I found in 2010 (right) and a video (left) of an exhibit of target cans that Matt M. created for the BCCA's Canvention in 2010. (Click the photo of the display to watch a somewhat shaky video).



2 target cans.

Taregt can display.


When conetops were popular it was a common household project to paint them over and make them into water sprinklers for ironing clothes. These cans were usually decorated in the country primitive or Pennsylvania Dutch motif. This example was painted plain black. Someone stripped off some of the paint and you can see part of a National Bohemian label underneath.


toleware. toleware.


Other stuff!

Cans also have been turned into ashtrays, fishing bobbers, etc, etc.

Do you have one to show off? Send me a photo and I'll post it!



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