🔎 UNIDENTIFIED Help identifying can opener

Pecky

Newbie
Jan 23, 2022
3
9
Perth, Western Australia
G'day all,

I found this can opener about 10km west of Cue, in Western Australia, whilst metal detecting and I reckon its probably worth more than the 0.21 gram nugget that I found after 10 days there
argh


I have found many images of Bully Beef can openers on the internet which seem to be a simialr style. But I was only able to find one image with a Ducks head, and it was on an auction site in the UK that you needed to log onto.

I have tried an Australian Prospecting Forum and local historical society, and neither were unable to help me.

1638953589_img_20211021_174625346.jpg


1638952735_img_20211021_190341812.jpg


It weigh 66 grams, is 11mm thick, and 130.5mm overall. The beak to handle is 122.5mm.
It is magnetic and I'm assuming cast iron as there appears to be a casting mark on the forehead and a line running down the centreline of the beak.

Any ideas on where to look would be appreciated.

thanks
David
 

Red-Coat

Silver Member
Dec 23, 2019
3,293
9,965
Surrey, UK
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Welcome to Tnet. Very nice find.

It is for sure a can opener, not a hoof-pick (although nothing to stop you improvising and using it for that purpose). I’ve seen pretty much identical examples with a bull/cow head (associated with prime usage for opening cans of “bully beef”) and fish heads (associated with prime usage for opening cans of sardines/pilchards/salmon) but haven’t seen that particular duck head design before.

If you can provide a link to the UK auction site where you saw an identical example, it may be one of the sites for which I have an account/subscription.

I would think this is probably going to be second half of 1800s to early 1900s. Canned foods have been around since 1811 when Donkin Hall and Gamble of Bermondsey, London purchased the original 1810 patent and also produced by Robert Ayars in the US from 1812 onwards. Initially canned foods were very expensive. The main markets were for military use and specialist needs such as long exploration expeditions. By the mid 1800s they were regarded as ‘status symbol’ novelties by the upper classes and only began to be available at affordable prices to working class folk in the later second half of the 1800s, including use by pioneers, prospectors, miners, loggers and such.

When you say there’s a “casting mark” on the forehead, do you mean a maker or foundry mark? Could we see a sharp close-up of it please? It may be possible to attribute or approximately date it.
 
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Pecky

Newbie
Jan 23, 2022
3
9
Perth, Western Australia
  • Thread Starter
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Welcome to Tnet. Very nice find.

It is for sure a can opener, not a hoof-pick (although nothing to stop you improvising and using it for that purpose). I’ve seen pretty much identical examples with a bull/cow head (associated with prime usage for opening cans of “bully beef”) and fish heads (associated with prime usage for opening cans of sardines/pilchards/salmon) but haven’t seen that particular duck head design before.

If you can provide a link to the UK auction site where you saw an identical example, it may be one of the sites for which I have an account/subscription.

I would think this is probably going to be second half of 1800s to early 1900s. Canned foods have been around since 1811 when Donkin Hall and Gamble of Bermondsey, London purchased the original 1810 patent and also produced by Robert Ayars in the US from 1812 onwards. Initially canned foods were very expensive. The main markets were for military use and specialist needs such as long exploration expeditions. By the mid 1800s they were regarded as ‘status symbol’ novelties by the upper classes and only began to be available at affordable prices to working class folk in the later second half of the 1800s, including use by pioneers, prospectors, miners, loggers and such.

When you say there’s a “casting mark” on the forehead, do you mean a maker or foundry mark? Could we see a sharp close-up of it please? It may be possible to attribute or approximately date it.
Thanks for the welcome, this is an interesting forum with lots of info :)

I have gone back to look for the one image I found at the UK auction site and can't see it anymore. I was trying all different search engines but can't remember where I found it, and didn't take note of the web address.
I have subsequently tried a reverse image search but that only showed the image I posted.

Thanks for the info on the history of the cast iron can openers of the time, I never realised that canned food was a status symbol!

What I meant by the casting mark was the protrusion of metal along the centreline of the forehead from the top of the beak to just before the pointy bit on top of the head. There are no markings anywhere on it apart from the 'feathers' and the eyes.
I'm sorry the picture is a bit dark but it shows the rectangular casting mark the best.

thanks
David
 

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Rob Evans

Tenderfoot
Jan 22, 2022
8
12
G'day all,

I found this can opener about 10km west of Cue, in Western Australia, whilst metal detecting and I reckon its probably worth more than the 0.21 gram nugget that I found after 10 days there
argh


I have found many images of Bully Beef can openers on the internet which seem to be a simialr style. But I was only able to find one image with a Ducks head, and it was on an auction site in the UK that you needed to log onto.

I have tried an Australian Prospecting Forum and local historical society, and neither were unable to help me.

1638953589_img_20211021_174625346.jpg


1638952735_img_20211021_190341812.jpg


It weigh 66 grams, is 11mm thick, and 130.5mm overall. The beak to handle is 122.5mm.
It is magnetic and I'm assuming cast iron as there appears to be a casting mark on the forehead and a line running down the centreline of the beak.

Any ideas on where to look would be appreciated.

thanks
David
That thing is sweet.
 
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