No48 NS General Omnibus XN3854 biscuit tin (Crawfords Biscuits)

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No48 NS General Omnibus XN3854 biscuit tin (Crawfords Biscuits)

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Arch Two , Area 9
Biscuit Tins (display)

A pair of lithographed tinplate biscuit tins modelled on an NS-series No48 General Omnibus open-top London double-decker bus, NS883, made for Crawfords, probably in the mid-1920s, as the NS-series entered service in 1923. The General Omnibus company was superceded in 1933.

The bus

The bus bonnet is marked NS 883, and its numberplate is XN3854. Comparison with photographs of the real NS883 show that it's actually a pretty good likeness, capturing distinctive details such as the five inward-facing advertising top-windows per side and the proportions of the rear stairwell.

The biscuit tin

The top surface of the tin is a flat lid showing the view looking down on the open-top bus' seating.

One apparent departure from authenticity is that the original bus shown in the photograph linked below has ten-spoked wheels, while on the tinplate version it seems that rather than screenprint the spokes, they've punched a series of six round holes around the edge of each wheel so that the remaining material gives a spoke-like appearance. However, this odd-looking and rather toyish six-hole wheel type does actually show up in diagrams of some of the real NS buses - so it appears to be authentic!

Since we have two of these tins on display, we've pointed them in opposite directions so that both sides are visible. The main banner advertising is for Crawford's Bonnie Mary Shortbread on one side, and for Crawford's Cream Crackers on the other.


At least one auction site attributes the original maker of these bus-shaped tins as being Huntley, Boorne and Stevens, an attribution that may be based on the picture of the bus (sans stairs) that appears on page 68 of the excellent "British Tin Toys" book by Margaret Fawdry. However, this identification may be a publisher's layout error as the caption identfies the bus as a "London Bus No.11E" ... which we also have in the collection ... but since the bus in the photo is clearly a number 48, something seems to have gone wrong somewhere in the production of the book. Our notes say that it's a Wells of London piece.

We'll investigate further and update this page when we know more.

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