Etsy Shop

1899 Rare Opium Tin with Labels

Hello and Welcome.  Here we are at the great exhalation after Christmas and before the next deep breath getting ready to party in the New Year.

Today I have a very interesting item newly listed in my shop, an 1899 Opium Tin.


That’s right, I said opium.  Opium was legal until 1914 and until then it came in on the same ships as the wave of immigrant Chinese who came in mass to work the Gold Fields.


This tin is actually made of brass as many of them were at the time.  There were three or four main companies who made the majority of the opium coming into the US and though there must have been uncounted tins of opium that were processed through the docks very few items related to the opium trade have survived the ban in the early 1900’s when almost anything and everything related to this drug was destroyed in the hopes of it’s complete removal from the American society.


Most of the tins wound up in mining or more primitive sites and when empty these items were disposed of by burning or burial in trash pits – very few tins retain their original labels or shapes.

This label is part of the customs labeling which shows that this tin came into the port at San Francisco October 2(4)?, 1899.


It crossed the ocean on the Hong Kong Maru which was a ship which made many trips back and forth between China and the West Coast of America.  The name H.G. Playfair is the well documented agent at the time this item went through customs.


Even the label on the bottom of this tin is largely intact – amazing!

The cut diamond pattern was made so labels could not be misused or reused – an effective procedure but also is responsible for many labels not passing through time as well as this one has.


I purchased an entire lot of Antique Collectibles from China nearly site unseen as they were all packed into a small box with only a couple of pictures.  When I received my purchase I was very happy with the chance I had taken.  These are all amazing bits of early Western US history and most are dealing with Chinese medicine (even the opium).

I will be listing each one of these items separately but this time I’m selling through my eBay shop ravenstash.  I’ve found there are some items that sell better on the eBay platform, so I’ll give these a try there first.  Here’s the link, the auction ends on this item in 7 days.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and that you’re ready to ring in the New Year with joy! – Kriss



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