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More Than a Liquor Tin

by Kay Lewis

(originally printed in the TIN FAX, August, 1994)

    What do you see when you look at a liquor tin? These are some of my favorite tins because of the craftsmanship, the colors, the hinged lids, embossing, unusual shapes, and the elegance of gold and silver. But I have one very special liquor tin that has all of those characteristics, and something far more important to me.

    I'm sure many of you have this same tin and may not have noticed or recognized the significance of the pictures that represent encouragement, inspiration, bravery, and perseverance to me. So, have I aroused your curiosity? Which liquor tin could possibly impart all of those positive qualities to my life? It's the silver Chivas Regal Scotch tin! If you have, go get it, and take a closer look. If you don't, then add it to your want list!

    It's a silver coffin-shaped tin with rounded corners and a hinged lid. The pictures are embossed on all sides and on the lid with black outlines. The lettering "CHIVAS REGAL" is white on a red background, as is the "12" in the "AGED 12 YEARS" statement. The ends depict the Bruce Coat of Arms, and the lid shows an enlarged view of the segments in that Coat of Arms. The front and back have three pictures of Robert Bruce; on the left, as a young man during his early career; on the right as an old man, after his final battle; and in the center, as a disillusioned, defeated Scottish patriot.

    Who was Robert Bruce and what do these pictures on a Scotch tin really mean? Robert Bruce was born in Scotland in 1274 and spent the last years of his life trying to free Scotland from English rule. As Earl of Carrick, he had sworn allegiance to Edward I, King of England, and they remained friendly until 1306. At that time, he began to crusade for Scotland's independence. His battles against England all met with defeat, until he and his countrymen won the battle at Bannockburn, Scotland in 1314.

    The battle was fought against the English troops of King Edward II, who had 60,000 men, and Scots only 40,000. The Scots stopped the English advance by digging pits along the line of attack.

    The English lost 10,000 foot soldiers and 200 knights while the Scots lost only 4,000 men. Robert Burns wrote a poem about the battle, "Bruce to His Men at Bannockburn.

    This victory saved Scotland from English rule and won the throne of Scotland for Robert Bruce. It took England 14 more years to finally recognize Scotland's independence and the right of Bruce to the throne, as King Robert I. This happened in 1328 under the rule of England's King Edward III. King Robert died about a year later in 1329.

    The legend that's told, and shown on the tin, was during the time that Bruce was hiding from his enemies. While lying in a cave, he saw a spider swinging by one of its threads. It was trying to swing itself from one beam to another. It tried six times and failed. Bruce realized that he had fought the same number of battles against the English, and lost. He decided that if the spider tried a seventh time, and succeeded, he also would try again. The spider's seventh attempt was successful; Bruce took it to heart and went forward into victory at Bannockburn.

    Now that you know the story behind this beautiful tin, I hope will see it as I do - not just another pretty liquor tin, but a symbol of hope.

Editor's Note

    The accounts above are very different from those shown in the movie "Braveheart" with Mel Gibson as the Scottish patriot, William Wallace, though the timing seems to correspond. The movie begins in 1280 AD as King Edward the Longshanks (the 1st ?) has a number of Scottish noblemen slain. William is a young boy then, as must be Robert Bruce. The movie picks up about 15-20 years later as William returns to Scotland and starts a rebellion against the English caretaker Lords.

    The movie doesn't give you a real good idea of how much time elapses, but it's probably over a period of years. The "Bruce" as he was called in the movie doesn't get involved in battling the English until after Wallace is betrayed by the Scottish nobles and is executed by the English tyrant. Hollywood and history don't always jive, but Kay's accounting and the movie are both very interesting.

Some Chivas Regal Tins to Collect

Chivas Regal, Chivas Brothers Ltd., Distillers, Aberdeen, Scotland, silver and black embossed pictures on all sides and cover, red/white logo, coffin-style cover, hinged, tin contains a plastic form that cradled bottle, UPC paper label on bottom, marked 6500105 on bottom,  4 1/2 x 4 3/8 x 10 1/4.

Chivas Regal - round gift tin, silver with heavy embossing.

Chivas Regal - round tin, same as above, much smaller, depicts many of the same pictures as the coffin-style tin does. 9 1/8" H x 4 1/2" Dia.

Chivas Regal - big square gift tin - w/silver heavy embossing.


Learn all about Chivas Regal and the company history behind it.


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