In the early 20th century, when the bottling industry exploded, soda and beer drinkers needed a tool to remove the metal bottle caps. The handy bottle opener was born out of necessity. Older bottle openers can sell for quite a bit of money on eBay. But you need to know what to look for since not all vintage bottle openers have value.
Vintage bottle openers come in different shapes and sizes and have specific names. For example, a churchkey bottle opener is a hand-held strip of metal with a pointed end used to pry the top off a glass bottle. (You probably have several of these floating around your kitchen drawers right now.) This instrument was invented in 1898 and the shape was similar to an actual church key.
In the early 1900's, wall-mount bottle openers appeared. These are rounded metal devices attached to a wall. Rumor has it that the wall-mount bottle openers alleviated the hand pain and fatigue experienced by bartenders opening hundreds of bottles a day. Wall-mount bottle openers also began to be used as an advertising vehicle - highly desirable bottle openers of this kind are imprinted with companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nehi Cola, and other beverage companies.
Around 1950, the "bar blade" bottle opener became popular in New York City bars. This was a flat strip of metal with a slit in one end, and a circle on the other. These were used for advertising purposes as well. Also be on the lookout for bottle openers in animal shapes (anything animal or breed specific sells well), with advertising for companies that no longer exist, and that are just unusual looking.
Look for vintage bottle openers at garage sales and estate sales. They will sometimes be dumped in a box with random kitchen utensils. The average person doesn't know that these small metal bottle openers can have great value and are highly desirable by collectors. For example:
Another plus to selling vintage bottle openers - they are small and easy to ship!
More cool vintage items to sell on eBay: