Peter Durand

Peter Durand

British trader, inventor
Country: Great Britain

  1. The Invention and Process
  2. Experiments and Achievements
  3. Contributions and Legacy

Peter Durand: The British Inventor Who Revolutionized Food Preservation

Peter Durand, a British merchant and inventor, is best known as the holder of the first patent for preserving food using tin cans. He obtained this patent on August 25, 1810. The patent, issued by King George III, attributed the invention of the method for preserving animal and plant food, as well as other perishable goods, using various vessels made of glass, ceramics, tin, and other metals, to Peter Durand, a merchant from Hoxton Square, Middlesex.

The Invention and Process

According to the description in the patent, the preserved products were to be placed in a tightly sealed vessel. Animal products could be placed in a raw or semi-raw state, while plant products were to be placed only in their raw state. The vessel was then to be heated using a stove, oven, or steam bath. The exact heating time was not specified and seemed to depend on the size of the vessel. The effectiveness of the described method was not detailed in the patent but it was stated that properly processed food would be preserved for a long time.

During the heating and cooling process, the vessel could be opened, but it was to be sealed airtight afterward using a cork stopper, a screw-on lid with a rubber gasket, or another airtight method. In his patent, Durand mentioned that he received the idea for the invention almost a year earlier during a conversation with a foreign friend. Historians discovered that the mysterious friend was the French inventor Philippe de Girard after extensive research in the 19th century.

Experiments and Achievements

Peter Durand initially approached the invention with skepticism. However, he conducted a series of careful and methodical experiments using various types of products such as meat, soups, and milk. Unlike the author of the original method, Durand decided to work on a fundamentally different scale, demonstrating that 13.6 kilograms (30 pounds) of meat could be preserved in a single vessel.

For reasons known only to him, Durand chose not to use glass vessels and opted for tin containers instead. Several experimental vessels were sent on Royal Navy ships, where the preserved food remained intact for several months. Upon arrival, the experimental vessels were scrutinized by members of the Royal Society and the Royal Institution, who confirmed that the food had been preserved almost perfectly.

Contributions and Legacy

Although Durand's patent relied more on technique than on the type of vessels used, it was his use of tin cans that differentiated his application from the patent of the Frenchman Nicolas Appert. Appert described a similar technique but exclusively worked with glass jars. After obtaining the patent, Durand did not pursue further development of the promising idea. In 1812, he sold the patent to Bryan Donkin and John Hall for £1000.

In 1808, Donkin began producing tinned iron, which proved to be extremely useful in the food industry. The canning factory established by Donkin and Hall started supplying canned goods to the British army as early as 1813. In 1818, Durand obtained his patent in the United States. By the 1820s, canned foods were well-known in Britain and France, and two years later, they experienced similar success in the United States.