A collector of old or unusual beer cans is hoping to snap up rare British examples on a visit to Croydon at the end of April.

Jeff Lebo, who lives in America, has 80,000 beer cans - the largest collection of its kind in the world.

Mr Lebo is hoping to contact former employees of the Metal Box Company which was based in Acton and used to make beer cans in the 1950s and 60s including the famous Tennents cans, which featured photographs of glamorous women and picturesque scenery.

He said: “Sometimes when people are doing building renovations they come across old beer cans which were inside the walls, under a porch or in the attic of a house. I would love to hear from anyone who has found old cans in this way.”

He started collecting when he was 13. He said: “My father worked for American Can Company, which I believe was a sister company of Metal Box in the UK. Back then in the US there were, for some reason, a lot of teenage boys who collected beer cans as a hobby. I was one of them.”

The most the enthusiast has ever paid for a can is US$1,300 and once spent US$33,000 on a collection of up to 35,000 cans. He said non-US cans were not as highly valued by collectors, most of whom are based in America, but added: “There are probably over 1,000 British cans that I would value at $50 or more.”

The oldest can he owns was made in 1935, the first produced, by the Krueger Brewing Company in New Jersey.

British beer cans were first produced in 1936 and had a cone top shape. The first brand to be canned was Felinfoel from Llanelly, Wales. Mr Lebo has documented almost 100 different British cone top cans produced until the mid-1950s. The reason the cans are so rare is because they were melted down to provide steel during the Second World War.

The collector is also planning to visit Scotland where he is organising a scuba diving expedition in some of the country’s lochs.

He said: "It sounds crazy, but I read an article years ago about a beer can collector from the US who found hundreds of cans from the 1940's and 50's around old boat docks in some lakes where people did recreational boating in the US.

"He used scuba gear and portable dredging equipment to get the cans out of the silt. Surprisingly, the cans were still in good condition after 50 years under water. Evidently, oxidation can't take place under water, so the cans didn't rust.

"I'm hoping to do the same thing in the UK. If anyone has any recommendations of places where there may be large numbers of old beer cans from mid-1930s to the 1960s under water, I would like to hear from them."

If you have an unusual can you can email jefflebo@aol.com or through his website at www.cansmartbeercans.com.