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Tin Grin

Tin Grin Smileys Button Museum
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Tin Grin button back Smileys Button Museum
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Illustration of a smiley face wearing braces on a yellow background

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No. 0-22; WENDELL'S, MPLS. 55406

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A “tin grin” refers to the mouth of a person who is wearing metal braces. Although dental technology has evolved and there are options for clear 3-D printed plastic aligners, the metal hardware option is still the most popular and cheaper option for young people and adults wanting to straighten the teeth in their mouth into a standard bite. When smiling in the sunshine, the metal gleams off of each bracket.

The classic yellow smiley face is comprised of a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes, and a black arc ending in serifs for a mouth. It was designed in 1963 by commercial artist, Harvey Ross Ball. Ball was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Insurance Company to create a happy face to raise the morale of their employees. His version was created in 10 minutes. The design was printed onto more than 50 million buttons. Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted this smiley, so it was continually used by other businesses in their promotions.
The design and concept is quite simple and was definitely used before Ball’s 1963 version. However, his has become the most iconic. Variations have been used for advertising campaigns and in popular culture ever since.


Tin Grin. (n.d.). In The Free Dictionary. Retrieved July 9, 2020, from grin

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