Decorative antique milk cans are large metal containers, previously used for milk storage and transport, that are re-purposed as ornamental items or for an alternative use. Some are used with their vintage look intact, while others are re-plated for a new finish or painted decoratively.
Milk cans were commonly used to transport milk by dairy farmers from the 1860s to the 1930s, when bulk milk tanks became the normal method for milk transport. A typical milk can is made of steel or aluminum and holds between 5 and 10 gallons. The cans have narrow necks and flared mouths. This design allowed farmers to easily pour milk into the cans while still reducing spillage during transport. Larger cans usually sport two handles for easier lifting. Smaller cans more often have a single wire handle.
Some modern collectors prefer cans with their rusty vintage appearance. Others clean the metal and paint it. Some artists specialize in decorating antique milk cans with scenes or other images. A third option is having the milk can re-tinned for a shiny finish. Vintage milk cans can be used to decorate porches, or other indoor or outdoor living areas. Commonly, for display, the cans are used to make interesting lamp bases, umbrella holders, mailboxes and stools.