"An English engraver, Thomas Kensett, who came to the U.S. in 1812 is responsible for the huge tin can industry. When Nicholas Appert invented a method of preserving sterilized food in air-tight bottles, Kensett visualized the possibilities of food in cans. He got a patent in 1825 and set up a factory, sold canned food to masters of sailing ships. His cans really were of tin; but today, though the name has clung, they are 98 1/2% steel with a thin coating of tin."
You might also like to read about the necessity of tin can recycling during W.W. II.