As soon as I heard of the existence of this bottle opener adorned with the picture of Pope John Paul II, I wanted one. It is the perfect blend of a figure of eminence with a mundane item of everyday utility. Even its name reflects this dichotomy: the Popener. It has the same sort of oxymoronic charm possessed by the Chairman Mao cigarette lighter, but it's even better than that because of the way cool name.
For years, I could not find a popener anywhere, not even on eBay. In 2003, I discovered that a friend was headed to Rome, and asked her to keep an eye out for one in the souvenir shops. When she returned, she casually handed me the treasured item, and said, "there was a barrel full of them in a shop just outside the Vatican." The reverse side of the popener shows St. Peter's Square, which is part of the Vatican complex.
After Pope John Paul II died in 2005, more popeners showed up on the market. He's still the favorite among Pope memorabilia collectors. There's now a Pope Benedict XVI popener, but you will find that there's an image of Pope John Paul II on the opposite side. And, surprisingly, Popes from the distant past are showing up on popeners as well as Popes that aren't even Popes at all.
The Julie Mangin Popener Collection
You can view the full collection below. If you'd like to read more about my adventures collecting popeners, follow this link to my blog post Popener: The Vatican Bottle Opener.
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