Continental's original business consisted only of packers' cans for fruits and vegetables. Given the seasonal nature of this work, the company decided to expand to general canning in 1912. By 1913 the company had acquired all of the interests of a New Jersey corporation also called Continental Can Company, as well as the Export & Domestic Can Company and the Standard Tin Plate Company. The same year, Continental was incorporated in the state of New York.
During the 1920’s, Continental expanded rapidly, purchasing almost twenty competing companies. It opened its first West Coast plant in 1926. In 1928 Continental acquired the third-largest can company in the country, the United States Can Company. By 1934 Continental and its rival, the American Can Company
, were producing approximately two-thirds of the 10 million cans made annually in the country. At this time, the company was operating thirty-eight plants in the United States and Cuba. Continental suffered a drop in its income during the Depression; even so, by 1932 the company had never reported a money-losing year.
In the 1940’s, Continental expanded through acquisitions, as the company entered the fields of paper and fiber containers, bottle caps, and synthetic resins. By the end of the 1940s, the company had sixty-five plants, including eight plants producing fiber and paper containers, four plants producing crown caps, and one plant producing plastics.
During the company's first fifty years of existence, it had purchased and absorbed twenty-eight independent can companies, as well as other concerns producing fiber drums, paper containers, and bottle tops. In 1956 Continental acquired Hazel-Atlas Glass Co., the third-largest U.S. manufacturer of glass containers. Continental then became the first company with a full line of containers in metal, paper, and glass. It also purchased Cochrane Foil Company, a manufacturer and distributor of aluminum plates and rigid foil packages for the frozen-food industry and other food suppliers. The company also bought Robert Gair Company, a leading producer of paperboard products, that same year.
The introduction of the easy-to-open metal can top in 1963 led to an increase in the use of metal cans rather than glass bottles for beverages. By the end of 1966 over 45 percent of U.S. beer and over 15 percent of U.S. soft drinks were packaged in metal cans.
By 1973 the metal can industry was in a crisis due to oversupply and tough competition. Both Continental and American Can were said to have made the wrong decisions in the previous decade by adding capacity for both tin plate and tin-free steel production while the aluminum can was gaining popularity. Another problem was growing public opposition to throwaway cans. The company then closed many old-style integrated manufacturing plants in favor of large automated metal-processing centers and separate can-assembly operations situated near its customers' plants. In 1973 the company developed a system for the ultraviolet curing of inks and coatings on metal plate, and installed a number of such systems.
In 1976, CCC changed its name to the Continental Group
, a conglomerate with operations in many countries, but kept "Continental Can" as its packaging unit within Continental Group. In 1987, the remnants of Continental Can became part of the United States Can Company (a subsidiary of Inter-American Packaging). Continental Group was dismantled in 1991.
Close Up of Vignette:
Common Stock Certificate, specimen, 1970’sPrinter: Security-Columbian Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: NY-New York Subject Matter: Manufacturing and Production
| Consumer Products
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Male Subject
| Unique Theme Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole and stamp cancels in the signature areas and body, and some toning and edge faults from age.