“…these little encouragers of profanity…”

From a 1907 issue of Marketing Communications


Do the men who make cork-screws take it for granted that their goods do not need advertising?  In the course of a long study of advertisements as I find them, I can truly say I have never seen this little article of daily necessity given any least attention.  Being so necessary in every house, and every house uses some sort of bottled goods, perhaps the makers and vendors off corks-screws may think it is quite superfluous to say a word about them.  They may suppose that people who sell drinks and other bottles goods will advertise cork-screws I their cuts.  But, they don’t.  There are cuts illustrating the convenience of a chafing dish for an after theater rarebit, but the young man in evening dress who is opening the ale bottle shows in his hands in the tense expression of his face, that the cork-screw he is using is of the old gimlet variety, and he must draw the cork by main strength

Some whiskeys are advertised by the picture of a bottle and a pair of hands on a background of black, and the hands are represented holding on grimly to the bottle and the old style, hard-labor cork-screw.

It makes one’s fingers ache and the wrist stretch to cracking only to look at these pictures, reminders, as they are, of days long gone when these little encouragers of profanity were all we had for the removal of corks, no matter how much we wished for the vinegar for the salad dressing, nor how frantic we might be for the catsup for the baked beans.

Now, when we have those beautiful, bright, easily managed cork-lifters (that’s just what they do) why not make an attractive girl opening a bottle of wine while she flirts with every man in sight?  It would be up with the times.  But, no doubt the vendor of drinks, and chafing dishes considers it up to the corks-screw man to advertise his own goods.

That the cork-screw is such a common necessity is no reason for not letting people know that there have been improvements in its architecture.  Thousands of things are the commonest kind of common necessities, but, still newspapers, magazines, car cards and even billboards are employed in advertising them.


From a 1905 issue of Hardware Dealer’s Magazine:

Corkscrew and Spoon Holder

A.M. Irby, Vernon Hill, Va., is placing on the market the Corkscrew and Spoon Holder, illustrated. 


This little device is made of copper wire formed to shape.  The object is to always have the spoon at hand when the contents of the bottle are to be used.  The corkscrews of course, is to be inserted in cork and left until the bottle is emptied.

The Irby is a patented corkscrew (#793,724), having been issued the patent on July 4, 1905.

At the Williamsburg ICCA AGM in 2008, each Addict was presented with a replica version of the Irby, and in the 2016 Update on American patents presented by John Morris, he showed both the replica from Williamburg and a genuine Irby that he had found.

The replica is on the right with the genuine Irby on the left.

I definitely would love to add an Addie M. Irby patent to the collection should any one out there have one!


5 years ago, I won at auction a fixed bell corkscrew on the collectorcorkscrews.com auction. And, it remained the collection for some time, but at some point it made its way elsewhere.

Petey has had a similar corkscrew for sale on eBay for a while, and his is stamped multiple times, J.H. BUETER… I gather this is not the maker, but rather the previous owner of said corkscrew, as the example that I did have, was unmarked.

And, recently I did acquire another example of this same corkscrew. And, it too is unmarked.

Do any of you out there have this corkscrew?

If you do, is it marked?

Is marked for J.H. BUETER?

Any information would be appreciated.

High Shipping volumed are causing some delays…

As mentioned yesterday, and as most of you have surely experienced as of late, the U.S. Postal Service is having issues with the volume of packages being shipped as of recent.

Part of this is due to the holiday season, but largely this is a result of COVID-19, and packages the normally would take 2-3 days to ship within the US using priority mail, are taking weeks and longer.

The image above is a screen shot for USPS tracking for a corkscrew lot that I won on eBay in mid-December, and according to the tracking, as of this morning, the package is still in the possession of the post office in California…

That would be 19 days since the package was accepted…

I know that eventually the package will make it to Vinalhaven, but 2-3 day priority shipping is apparently 2-3 weeks at this point.

Patience, Josef, patience…

On another corkscrew note, I did pick up a couple of corkscrews yesterday… Who knows how long it will take these to arrive


While it is indeed true, that on New Year’s Day, I did NOT buy a corkscrew, in the week leading up to New Year’s, there were a couple of purchases made, and with the wackiness that is the postal service these days, a package arrived today with a piece the has the potential of making the best six of the year.

And, why not start the New Year right by adding the 1927 Walter B. Ballou patent to the collection.

Not especially interestingly mechanically with this patent, but a lovely addition to the American corkscrew patent collection.

I will add here, that the bottom jigger-like piece only holds on to the little nib at the base of the cork closure section, which is probably why it is often missing–not that the Ballou often turns up.

So… we have one best six contender… Let’s see what else we can add to the collection.

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year!

The coffee is brewing, and 2020 is behind us…

And, I am hopeful for what the new year will bring!

Of course, there will be corkscrews, and at some point…

some point…

we will be able to travel again.

Although, if the projections are correct, this thing is going to be with us through Fall of 2021–and most likely beyond.

I don’t know what this will mean about our corkscrewy friends being able to meet up in person, but I will remain optimistic that eventually we will be able to raise a glass together and enjoy some convivial corkscrewing around.

It is also that time of year, that collectors from around the world are circulating their best sixes. And, it is amazing (and motivating) to see what wonderful fantastical corkscrews found their way into their respective collections.

Of course, it is January 1, and I have yet to acquire a corkscrew this year that will make the best 6 for 2021.

Better get back to the never-ending search…

a year of corkscrewing around…

With 2020 being the year of COVID-19, not a lot of traveling took place.

The ICCA Annual General Meeting was held via ZOOM, and of course all three Brimfield shows were cancelled, as were the JFO and CCCC meetings.

Still, there were corkscrews to be found, corkscrews acquired, corkscrews traded, and we added a few corkscrews to the collection through various avenues.

Hopefully, at some point, we will be able to get back to normal–whatever that will look like–and once again hit the road in pursuit of twisted treasures.

That said, given our continued remote-ness, if you have a corkscrew with which you would like to part, feel free to send pictures to josef@vintagecorkscrews.com .

Happy New Year! And, let’s hope that 2021 brings us the ability to move from social distancing to socially embracing once more…

Let the 2021 hunt begin!

Over the past few years, I have published a best six wishlist. And, while there is no way to really anticipate what will come into the collection over the next year, you can always hope to add some fantastic corkscrews to the collection.

Here was my wishlist for 2020:

Frary Sullivan
Something from the back of O’Leary
Frary with can opener
Jenner patent (I do have one, but it is in horrible shape)
Philos Blake patent
Zeilin patent: pictured on page 63 of O’Leary and marked, “ONE TEASPOONFULL PARRISHS HYPOPHOSPHITES, J.H. ZEILIN & CO. PHILA, PA”

Of course, as you all know, two Blakes found their way into the collection, and there was indeed a new find from the back of O’Leary with the Matthews patent of 1893.

So, we can cross the Blake off the wishlist, but I will still keep the “something from the back of O’Leary,” on the list, as it is so fun to unearth a previously unknown patented corkscrew.

So… Given that I missed out (twice) on a Shelley patent this year, I think that definitely should make the wishlist for 2021…

Frary Sullivan

Something from the back of O’Leary

Frary with can opener

Jenner patent (I do have one, but it is in horrible shape…still)

1879 Shelley patent multi-tool often marked “LADIES FRIEND.”

Zeilin patent: pictured on page 63 of O’Leary and marked, “ONE TEASPOONFULL PARRISHS HYPOPHOSPHITES, J.H. ZEILIN & CO. PHILA, PA”

Of course, there are many many American corkscrews and cork pullers that I would love to add to the collection, and you never know what might turn up next!

Let the corkscrewy hunt continue.

Best Six for 2020

  1. 1860 Philos Blake patent #27,665 with floating “lever nut,” using the language from the patent description, that, “…bears directly against the cap…and is entirely separate therefrom…” marked MARCH 27-60 (O’Leary, p. 32-33).
  2. 1862 Abraham T. Russel patent #34,216.  Marked faintly on the cam with PAT, but the rest of the marking too faint to read (O’Leary, p. 33).
  3. 1860 Philos Blake patent #27,665 with fixed “lever nut,” that “revolves within and is connected to the cap,” marked MARCH 27-60 (O’Leary, p. 32-33).
  4. 1893 Jeremiah Matthews patent #496,887 for a Door Securer, with peg and worm type corkscrew.  Marked across the handle COLUMBIAN, PAT. APL’D. FOR, and MATTHEWS SOUTH BEND, IND., and on the door securer / peg PAT. NOV. 1, 92.  This is Matthews’ 1892 door securer patent combined with his 1893 patent where the case and corkscrew were added.  As explained in the most recent issue of The Bottle Scrue Times and at our ZOOM 2020 AGM Show & Tell, this is a new discovery from the back of O’Leary (O’Leary, p. 208).
  5. Will & Finck Ivory handled corkscrew with blade, brush, and hexagonal shaft—marked on the shaft Will & Finck.
  6. 1875 Frank R. Woodard patent #166,954 in plier form, unmarked (O’Leary, p. 39). 

Merry Christmas!!!