This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 23 March, 2011.
here is nothing more exciting than seeing a project that took over a year of development come together into a final object. After seeing several of the lids being sold at various dealer sites, like the Horse Soldier and Dave Taylor, I started to research their origin. Owing to its pewter lid, relic huntes often times mis-identified it as a gun powder can. The name of the licensee of the can, New York based Wells and Provost was one of the largest preserved food processors of the period, from the 1850's onward. In 1854 one of Provost brothers moved to California, and established a branch of the company there. After the war, the California branch of the company expanded and combined with other growers to form CalPak, which marketed Del Monte products.
The main method of preserving foods at the time was in various glass containers, so much so that the glass houses could not keep up with demand. Spratt's patent can was offered as an alternative to glass, and was developed and sold for both commercial and home canning purposes. These lids are still widely excavated at Civil War sites, and if you google "wells & provost relic", will show up in Civil War sites all over the country.
Owing to their frequent discovery in military camps, this can represents a very important piece of social history of the period.Spratt's improved patent can, made to be used and resealed multiple times. Per the advertising, it is clear that a wide variety of foodstuffs were packed in these cans, from green peas to milk and other liquids.
It should be noted that each can is tested to be watertight, and carrying it in your knapsack should not be a point of concern. The lid must be finger tightened using the posts on the lid. In order to completely seal the can, there will be the need to give it another 1/4" of torque. By using some object, either a pencil or bayonet, one can create a pry bar to give the last small turn to completely seal the can.