Other Dairy Antiques

Milk and cream cans are some of the most common dairy antiques.  Until the adoption of farm bulk tanks and tanker trucks in the 1940’s and 50’s milk was stored, cooled and transported in cans.  Of course the problem with milk cans was their lack of insulation.  On warm days the milk in the cans also became warm and started to sour.  Companies did sell canvas jackets for milk cans to help insulate them but they were not commonly used.  Milk cans came in 5, 8 and 10 gallon sizes with the 10 gallon being the most common.  They were available with plug covers or umbrella covers.  The plug covers had a handle in the middle but also had a depression that could hold milk and water.  The umbrella covers were smooth on top.  Typically the umbrella covers cost a little more.  Usually a sheet of vegetable parchment was placed under the lid to help seal the can and keep cream from slopping up under the lid.  Since the cream rose to the top of the can during shipment and it was the most valuable part of the milk any leakage was very costly.  Extra heavy milk cans were available to stand up to the wear and tear of rail shipment.  Early cans had riveted seams and handles while later milk cans were welded.