John Steinbeck's short story, "The Chrysanthemums" was written in 1937 and published in a collection of short stories in 1938, which was entitled The Long Valley. While there is little in the story to indicate the precise year of the setting, it seems rather safe to assume that the story takes place in the late thirties as well, a setting in other narratives of Steinbeck. The fact that the tinker has a wagon drawn by a horse and donkey indicates that the automobile was a relatively new convenience that only someone like the successful rancher, Henry Allen, could afford.
Again, pointing to the tinker as a barometer of setting, the time of the story is probably not much after the Great Depression as people are economising by having their old pots repaired, scissors sharpened, etc. For, in a more prosperous time, tinkers were no longer to be seen going across the country.