tin/can opener

Marjan found the old tin opener that was used by my parents for so many years. My brothers will immediatly recognize it. It has opened many tins. And opened a lot of skin too ! It was important to keep the cut in the metal as smooth as possible!

It was made by Crosse and Blackwell

I found some info about it on the internet :

Research among 19th century patents has revealed it was a Ryde man who invented the classic tin opener: a basic design which has since generated many variants. tin opener
It is not always the big inventions that cause the greatest changes in our lives and, yes, canned food was around long before the tin opener. For decades the instructions for opening cans involved a hammer and chisel. The process of preserving food in cans was developed early in the 19th century but initially they were handmade of wrought iron. By the middle of the century lighter materials had speeded up production but it was not until the 1880s that the first automatic can-making machinery was introduced in Britain. Lighter materials also created the opportunity for a tin opening device.
In 1881 Henry Knight patented his tin opener, a design which has probably opened more tins (and caused more cut fingers) than any other. He was the owner of the Arcade in Union Street, Ryde and described himself as an importer of Italian sculpture. He sold the patent to Crosse and Blackwell who brought it into common use.
He had several patents under his name, including an automatic weighing machine and a horse clipping machine. A controversial member of Ryde Town Council, he earned little from his inventions and was declared bankrupt in 1890 following the failure of his import business.

tin opener Henry Knight died in 1895. He could hardly have guessed the next century would see an age of convenience foods in which his adapted tin opener would become one of the world’s most familiar kitchen implements.

Posted in: family, photo

8 thoughts on “tin/can opener Leave a comment

  1. I viewed your tin opener with interest. I represent the Isle of Wight Industrial Archaeology Society and it was I who wrote the article you reproduce. This is the only example of the original implement we have ever come across. I realise it has a nostalgic value for yourself but we wondered if you would be prepared to part with it as it would naturally be an important item for our own local archive.


    1. Sorry Roger,

      I thought my daughters would agree with me that something unique like this tin opener should belong in your local archive.
      But they like to keep it in our family since they realize it is a tool that their grandmother has used many times with her own hands. They both have sweet memories about the times they spent at grandmothers little house and there fore the tin opener is a special object .


  2. Hi
    Wim – thanks for the blog – most entertaining.
    Roger – I have a C&B can opener without emotional content. You are very welcome to it as an addition to your museum.


  3. Wim,
    As anticipated, I was only too pleased to take up Nick’s offer. The tin opener has now arrived and it’s great. A fine addition to the local archive. My thanks to Nick for his consideration, and yourself for keeping the subject alive.


  4. Very interested in all of the above as Henry Knight, who invented this tin-opener, was my Great Great Grandfather. His son was Charles Knight (a well-known photographer on the Island) and one of Charles’ daughters was Lily Knight. She married Sidney Harland and they were my maternal grandparents. Henry was born in Worthing but moved to the IoW with his wife, Harriett, and their family around 1850.


  5. Hi
    I also have a old original Henry right tin opener its a bit tatty as mother in-law put it through the dish washer, but is still used on occasions, & with a good clean of blade & top part could look ok, I would be willing to part with it as I have others which I can use


  6. Jean,

    I’ve somewhat belatedly seen your offer of another Knight opener for our collection. We would indeed be very pleased to receive it. Let me know if the offer is still open.



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