Q: Can you tell me what this is and what it does? I think it says “tool steel tempered.”
A: This is a lever can opener. The claw-shaped can opener was common before electric can openers and pull-top cans were invented. The pointed part in the middle is used to puncture the can. Then the large blade, called a sickle, is used to remove the lid by starting in the hole and sawing around the top edge of the can. The top part of the can opener acts as a guard to keep the sickle from going too deeply into the can. This opener can also be used to pry off crown bottle caps or open a can of beer. The first can opener was a claw-shaped opener invented in 1855 by Robert Yeates in Middlesex, England. Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut, invented and patented an improved can opener with a guard in 1858. The first electric can opener was made in 1956. Pull-top cans were invented in 1966, almost eliminating the need for a can opener. Can openers like this are still being made, sometimes advertised as “ergonomic” manual can openers or as camping equipment. Some have a corkscrew attachment. You can buy new can openers like this for under $5.