Up for this week’s discussion are these diminutive oil cans used for typewriters, fishing reels, sewing machines and other mechanical devices requiring lightweight oil in tight spaces. The oilers are both distinctive and well made. When found in antique stores and flea markets, these little oil cans, like other “smalls”, are often priced far higher than their larger cousins.
The larger of the two cans stands at a whopping 3-3/8″ tall. The left oiler in the above picture was made for Shakespeare fishing reels. The right can may have also been made and sold for this purpose, but it could have been sold for use with typewriters or sewing machines. Both cans are stamped “MADE IN U.S.A.” on the bottom and are plated with nickel or chrome. No paper label remains.
Removing the cap reveals a long and slender spout and inside the cap is a sharp needle (always attached but sometimes hanging lose) that clears the spout when the cap is replaced. If you look very carefully in the picture above, you can see the needle. I’m not sure exactly how old these cans are, but I would guess they are from the 1940’s-1950’s. They could also just as easily be older. Either way, they are perfect for applying light weight oil in tight spaces.