Tin, biscuit; 1920s; 2002/070.08


South Canterbury Museum


Tin, biscuit

About this object

Both the lid and base of this rectangular biscuit tin are red with gold edges. The lid is further decorated with scroll designs and, inside an oval, a picnic scene featuring a family in 1920s clothing. Above the scene in each corner is a diagonal blue ribbon that reads ‘Bruce’s’ and underneath are the words ‘Carnival Assorted.’ Each side of the tin also reads ‘Carnival Assorted’ while the ends read ‘Bruce’s.’ All lettering is silver. The lid of the tin is tight-fitting and separate from the base.

Date Made


Medium and Materials



Height: 8 cm
Length: 23.5 cm
Width: 16.5 cm

Subject and Association Keywords

Bruce, J R, Ltd, biscuit factory, Timaru

Subject and Association Description

In 1915, James Russell Bruce, James Wilson, James Macaulay, and John Hutchinson formed the flourmilling firm J.R. Bruce Ltd. Bruce contributed the name and management while the remaining partners provided capital. Operations commenced the following year in a small mill in Timaru, the success of which led to the construction of a second mill in 1921.

1925 saw the erection of a biscuit factory that employed 30 people and produced 25 tons of biscuits per day, a rate which doubled two years later with the installation of a second oven. Bruce’s biscuits proved a success and during WWII the company sold over 4000 tons of biscuits to the armed services. Biscuit production stopped in 1955, although the company continued to produce flour.

J.R. Bruce Ltd. merged in 1964 with another milling firm, Evans & Co. Ltd., in an effort to create a company that could rival local milling giant Timaru Milling Co. Ltd., founded in 1884 by Bruce’s uncle, James Bruce. The effort failed and in 1966 Bruce Evans Ltd. merged with its rival. The Timaru Milling Co. Ltd. closed in 2005.

James Russell Bruce was born in North Otago in 1859 and worked in a Temuka flour mill before moving to Timaru, where he married James Bruce’s daughter, Annie Graham Bruce (c.1859-1935), in 1890. After founding J.R. Bruce Ltd. he served as manager until he retired in 1936 and on the Board of Directors until his death in 1941. In 1922, he became the first miller in New Zealand to install a plansifter system, which created higher-quality flour than the older real sifters and would eventually gain acceptance across the country.

Object number


Copyright Licence  

Attribution - Non-commercial - No Derivatives (cc) Attribution - Non-commercial - No Derivatives (cc)


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