This can was used by The American Rocket Society (ARS) for pouring in liquid oxygen (LOX) into their experimental rockets and motors in the 1930's. The accompanying tongs were used for picking up the can that was extremely cold to the touch since it carried the super cold LOX. LOX provided oxygen for the combustion of the fuel.
The ARS was formed in 1930 in New York City. During 1932 to 1934, they attempted four launches with rudimentary rockets, two of which succeeded. But it was decided that more could be learned of rocket construction and performance by conducting static tests that were undertaken between 1935-1941. These objects were donated to the Smithsonian in 1968 by G. Edward Pendray.