William Painter, an Irish-born American, invented the crown cap for bottled carbonated beverages in 1891, and obtained patents 468,226 and 468,258 for it on February 2, 1892. He founded his own manufacturing business, the Crown Cork and Seal Company, in Baltimore and set out on a campaign to convince bottlers that his cap was the right one to use on their products.
In 1927, after a merger with New Process Cork Company, Crown Cork and Seal Company was established in New York City. Crown Cork International Corporation was established in the subsequent year in order to assist subsidiaries engaged in bottle crown and other cork business outside the United States.
By the 1930s Crown was selling half of the world's supply of bottle caps. Crown entered the tin can business in 1936 with the purchase of the Acme Can Company of Philadelphia, which led to the creation of the Crowntainer, a funnel-shaped beer can, the following year.
To address market changes after World War I and Prohibition, Crown then focused heavily on soft drinks. During World War II, Crown produced war products such as the Kork-N-Seal, the Pour-N-Seal, and the Merit Seal, as well as gas mask canisters. John Connelly took over presidency of the company and moved the headquarters from Baltimore to Philadelphia in the late 1950s.
In 2003, Crown restructured as a public holding company. In 2005 and 2006 Crown exited the plastics industry with the sale of its Global Plastic Closure and its cosmetics packaging businesses.