Collection on Continental Can Company, circa 1916-1940  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Title
Collection on Continental Can Company
Dates
circa 1916-1940 (inclusive)
Quantity
1 box, (.21 cubic feet)
Collection Number
2003.43
Summary
Photographs, business records, canning machinery catalogs and technical manuals from Continental Can Company and its acquired companies, Seattle-Astoria Iron Works and Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company
Repository
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
98108
Telephone: 206-324-1126
Fax: 206-780-1533
library@mohai.org
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.

Languages
English.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Edwin Norton and T.G. Cranwell founded Continental Can Company in 1904 with $500,000 in startup capital. The newly formed company purchased canning machinery patents and established factories in Chicago and Syracuse, New York. They began shipping cans in April 1905. Food packing cans at the time were 98.5 percent steel with an outer coating of tin plate to prevent rusting. To assure a steady supply of tin, Continental Can bought the Standard Tin Plate Company in 1909. Initially, Continental Can Company’s production consisted of seasonal packer cans for fruits and vegetables. In 1912, the company entered the field of year-round general canning. Acquisition and diversification were largely responsible for Continental Can Company’s growth. In its first 50 years, the company purchased and absorbed 28 independent can companies.

John Fox founded Seattle-Astoria Iron Works in 1881, then known as Astoria Iron Works. The company designed and manufactured innovative machinery and tools used in the Columbia River salmon canneries. In 1906, Nelson Troyer joined Astoria Iron Works as vice president. Troyer was well known in the canning business and formerly associated with American Can Company, Continental Can’s main competitor. In 1913, Astoria Iron Works opened a large factory in Seattle at 601 Myrtle Street and became the Seattle-Astoria Iron Works.

During the 1920s, Continental Can moved its headquarters to New York and expanded rapidly by buying competing firms. In 1928, the first west coast plant was acquired in Los Angeles, and a second one opened in Seattle the following year. Continental Can Company purchased the Seattle-Astoria Iron Works in 1928 and the name was changed to Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company. In 1932, Continental Can Company of New York dissolved Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company and absorbed their assets.

By 1934, Continental Can was operating 38 plants in the United States and Cuba and had never experienced a money-losing year. Net income reached a new high of 10.7 million in 1934. During the Great Depression, Continental Can employed nearly 12,000 workers. Continental Can’s extensive acquisition program continued into the 1940s and it entered the business of paper and fiber containers, bottle caps and synthetic resins. In 1940, Continental Can operated three machine shops in Seattle, Chicago, and Syracuse, New York where engineers and machinists designed and built specialized equipment. Continental Can Company leased can-sealing equipment to customers and also manufactured all the machinery for their own can-making operations.

In the early 1970s, annual sales reached $2 billion and Continental Can ranked as the number one U.S. can manufacturer. In 1976, Continental Can became part of the Continental Group, a conglomerate with operations in many industries. At the end of the 1980s, the remnants of Continental Can Company were acquired by the U.S. Can Company, headquartered in Chicago.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The series of photographs consists of 8x10 black and white photographic prints depicting canning machinery, machinery parts and employees working with equipment on factory production lines. The technical booklets and manuals include machinery operating instructions, parts catalogs, schematic diagrams and blueprints of machinery. The business records consist of a 1931 Troyer-Fox organizational chart, the Continental Can Company 1940 Annual Report and a Washington Press Association information booklet about John Fox, President of Seattle-Astoria Iron Works.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Collection on Continental Can Company, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Photographs, circa 1926-1935Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder
1 circa 1930
2
2003.43.3-7:  Troyer-Fox horizontal retort machines
4 photographs
1 information sheet
Retorts are canning vessels designed for cooking and sterilizing under steam pressure.
1928
3
2003.43.8: Machinery and employees on salmon canning line
Continental Can Co., Inc.
Caption on border: Typical salmon canning line
1935 September 19
3
2003.43.9: Can washer, clincher and vacuum closing machine on salmon canning line
Continental Can Co., Inc.
1935 September 19
3
2003.43.10: Equipment for can flattening at Continental Can Co. Seattle plant
Caption on border: Method of handling flattened can bodies at the Seattle can plant
1934 July 27
3
2003.43.11: Employees at weighing machine and patching table in salmon canning line
Continental Can Co., Inc.
1935 September 9
3
2003.43.12: Vacuum closing machine, can washer and retorts on salmon canning line
Continental Can Co., Inc.
1935 September 19
3
2003.43.13: Exterior view of Continental Can Co. Seattle plant and water tank
Caption on border: New water tank at Seattle plant - looking east
1935 November 2
3
2003.43.14:  Woman with box of flattened cans at Continental Can Co. Seattle plant
Caption on border: Method of handling flattened can bodies at the Seattle can plant
1934 July 27
4
2003.43.15-21: Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company machinery
7 photographs
Photographs of fish cleaning and flanging machines with parts labeled.
1926-1928
5
2003.43.22-28:  Canning plant interior
7 photographs
circa 1930
5
2003.43.29-33: Troyer-Fox Manufacturing machines
5 photographs
circa 1930
6
2003.43.34-40: Drawings of Troyer-Fox factory floor plans and can assembly lines
7 photographs
circa 1930

Business records, circa 1918-1940Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder
7
2003.43.41: Continental Can Company Annual Report
24 pages
1940
7
2003.43.42: Organization chart for Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company
Chart showing hierarchy of employee positions within the company
1931 September 24
7
2003.43.43: Promotional booklet on John Fox, President of Seattle-Astoria Iron Works
Booklet with brown paper cover includes a photograph of John Fox, biographical information, and professional history up to 1918.
circa 1918

Technical manuals and catalogsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Folder
8
2003.43.44: Repair list and instructions for operating double seamer can closing machines, Seattle-Astoria Iron Works
circa 1916
9
2003.43.45-50: Blueprints of retort and seamer machinery
5 blueprints
circa 1930
10
2003.43.51-52: Operating instructions and parts list for vacuum closing machines, Continental Can Co.
2 booklets
circa 1930; 1942
11
2003.43.53: Operating instructions and parts list for vacuum seamer machine, Continental Can Co.
1937
11
2003.43.54: Operating instructions and parts list for forming machine, Continental Can Co.
circa 1930
12
2003.43.55: Operating instructions and parts list for weighing machine, Continental Can Co.
1937
12
2003.43.56: Operating instructions and parts list for body machine, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co.
circa 1930
13
2003.43.57: Operating instructions and parts list for compound applying machine, Seattle-Astoria Iron Works
circa 1925
13
2003.43.58: Parts catalog for compound applying and drying machines, Seattle-Astoria Iron Works
circa 1930
14
2003.43.59: Troyer-Fox Can Making and Cannery Machinery general catalog
circa 1930
2003.43.60: Troyer-Fox Can Making and Cannery Machinery can filler catalog
circa 1930
15
2003.43.61-62: Operating instructions and parts list for double seamer machines, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co.
2 booklets
circa 1930
16
2003.43.63: Parts catalog for Troyer-Fox high speed can body machine, Seattle-Astoria Iron Works
circa 1930
17
2003.43.64: Operating instructions and parts list for rotary can filler, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co.
circa 1930
17
2003.43.65-66: Operating instructions and parts list for can clincher, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co.
2 booklets
circa 1930
18
2003.43.67-68: Parts list for double seamer, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co.
2 booklets
circa 1930

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Can industry--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Canneries--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Food processing machinery
  • Machinery
  • Machinery industry--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Retorts (Equipment)
  • Personal Names :
  • Fox, John, b. 1849
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Catalogs
  • Photographs
  • Specifications
  • Technical illustrations
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Continental Can Company (creator)
    • Seattle-Astoria Iron Works (creator)
    • Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Co. (creator)