Can opener from Theodore Roosevelt’s African expedition, Nairobi, British East Africa, 1909

This fish-shaped can opener went to Africa with Theodore Roosevelt. A keen enthusiast of “vigorous blood-stirring out of doors sport,” Roosevelt began planning his African safari well before he retired from the presidency in 1909. Roosevelt specified the contents of each provision box, as he had for his hunting trips in the Dakota Territory as a young man. He ordered up cans of Boston baked beans, California peaches, and tomatoes, all “in memory of my days in the West.”
An essential tool from the journey that Roosevelt had long imagined, the can opener is of cast iron, inset with a steel blade. The original finish appears to have been golden paint, worn by heavy use.
Smithsonian African Expedition, 1910
Object Name
can opener
associated date
associated person
Roosevelt, Theodore
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
overall approximately: 5 in; 12.7 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Government, Politics, and Reform
Souvenir Nation
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Souvenir Nation
Souvenir Nation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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