This week John stopped by to pick up a pile of books left over from the Handworks show and tossed me a bag packed with computer cords and a silver bullet.
“Uh dude,” I said. “You left some ammo in my bag.”
“Nope,” John said. “Someone gave me that to give to you.”
“Oh great,” I replied. “Another death threat.” (Note: This is an exaggeration. I haven’t gotten a good solid death threat in 20 years. However, people do regularly threaten to beat me up.)
I examined the curious ribbed capsule and turned it over. Yup – the base looked like a shotgun shell. OK, time to open it up and read the threatening note inside that is no doubt written in all capital letters.
I twisted the top. It came off and I laughed. Inside is a nozzle. It’s an oilcan.
It turns out to be a Perfect Pocket Oiler, patented in 1889, that was manufactured by Cushman & Denison of New York. The little gizmos were sold to dispense tiny drops of oil on household machinery, such as bicycles and sewing machines.
Unlike typical oilcans, the Perfect Pocket Oiler has some nice details.
- The oil reservoir is all one piece so it cannot leak. Most oilcans are made from a base piece that is folded together with the sides. And they leak.
- Instead of the oiler being just a reservoir and a nozzle, this has a clever spring-activated pump and seal. Nothing comes out of the tip until you press the ring around the nozzle down. Then capillary action dispenses a drop of oil.
- A lid. So you can put it in your pocket without getting your privates oily (I realize some of you will actually see this as a disadvantage).
I don’t know who pressed this oiler into John’s hand at Handworks, but thank you. It’s getting some good use already because I loaned my two favorite oilers to Thomas Lie-Nielsen.
— Christopher Schwarz