This unusual metal object, shaped like a small pitcher with a lid, becomes even more curious when the lid is raised and a sharp can opener is revealed in the lid’s underside. Called the “Tapster,” this device was made by Revere Copper and Brass, Inc., in Rome, New York, probably around 1934, after the repeal of Prohibition. Although it was never used extensively, the Tapster did offer consumers a somewhat refined way of serving canned beer: a can of beer is placed inside the device and, when the lid is closed, the opener pierces the can. The beer can then be poured out of the spout.
As its name implies, Revere Copper and Brass was the direct descendant of the company founded by Paul Revere in 1801. Through its long history, the company has manufactured a variety of copper, brass, and stainless steel products. As of 2015, the company is still in business under the name Revere Copper Products, with headquarters in Rome, NY.
This “Tapster” opener is part of a large collection of brewing material donated to the museum in 1967 by former brewmaster Walter Voigt, of Ruxton, Maryland, near Baltimore. Voigt’s collection consists of objects and archival materials reflecting the history of brewing in the mid-Atlantic region between 1870 and the beginnings of consolidation and large-scale, industrial production in the 1960s. His correspondence reveals an interest in preserving the history of brewing in America before brewmasters were “replaced by chemical engineers and highly trained chemists in modern laboratories.” Voigt’s papers are housed in the museum’s Archives Center, Collection #ACNMAH 1195, “Walter H. Voigt Brewing Industry Collection, 1935-1967.”
National Museum of American History
Location: Currently not on view
ID Number: AG.MHI-M-9466
accession number: 276730
catalog number: MHI-M-9466
Measurements: overall: 5 1/2 in x 6 1/4 in x 3 in; 13.97 cm x 15.875 cm x 7.62 cm
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Credit Line: Walter Voigt