The History of the Paint Tube

In 1841, a brilliant American portrait painter and inventor by the name of John G. Rand revolutionized the world of art by introducing a ground breaking method of packaging oil paints. He ingeniously devised flexible zinc tubes, which allowed artists to conveniently store and use their paints. This remarkable invention forever changed the way artists approached their craft, making paints more accessible and portable than ever before.

John Goffe Rand, United States Patent Number 2,252


John Goffe Rand, born in 1801 in Bedford, New Hampshire, was a man of many talents. Throughout his life, he resided and worked in bustling cities such as Boston, London, and New York. However, it was during his time in London that Rand truly made his mark.

While in London, Rand not only continued his passion for painting portraits but also had the incredible opportunity to capture the likeness of members of the royal family and other renowned figures. His artistic skills were highly sought after, and his work gained recognition far and wide.

But it wasn't just his artistic prowess that set Rand apart. It was during his stay in London that he had a stroke of genius and invented something truly revolutionary - the collapsible paint tube made of tin. Before Rand's invention, artists had to mix their pigments with oil in small quantities and store any excess paint in animal bladders. This method was not only inconvenient but also led to the paint drying out quickly.

Rand's tin tube changed everything. It allowed artists to store their unused paint without the fear of it drying out. This meant that they could return to their work later on and continue seamlessly, without any compromise in the quality of their paints. It was a game-changer for artists everywhere.

John Goffe Rand's legacy lives on through his incredible contributions to the art world. His invention revolutionized the way artists worked and paved the way for countless masterpieces to come.

Back in 1841, Rand was granted a U.S. patent for his brilliant creation of the collapsible tin paint tube. What makes it intriguing is that he managed to secure a patent in the U.S. despite residing in England at that time. Surprisingly, he never introduced his tin tubes to the American market. Although Rand continued to innovate and invent, his subsequent ideas didn't gain the same level of recognition, and unfortunately, most of them didn't bring him financial success.

John Goffe Rand - Biography

In 1873, Rand died, just before his 72nd birthday. Only The National Museum of American Art has one painting by Rand, his self-portrait.