Speaking of Empire…

In August, I shared an advertisement from the Empire Forge Company that featured the Curley patent corkscrew.

This morning, in Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly from January 1895

I found an advertisement from Empire Forge that features the Empire corkscrew marked EMPIRE, although it is a little hard to make out in the advertisement,

For the lofty price of thirty cents…

I have some extra change in my pocket, if you have an Empire (or Curley) Corkscrew with which you want to part.

Empire Automatic Cork Puller No. 3

From an 1893 issue of The Iron Age:

The Empire Automatic Cork Puller No. 3.

The accompanying cut represents a cork pull recently put on the market by the Empire Knife Company, West Winsted, Conn.  

The Empire Automatic Cork Puller No. 3

The operation when pulling a cork is described as follows: The sliding nut sets the gauge for the distance the cork screw will pierce the cork, and the cork screw, released with the first tun in the cork, lifts the cork, without turning in the same, saving thereby so much power that the hardest and longest cork can be lifted easily by turning with two fingers.  The cork puller is made of forged steel and is designed for family use.

This, of course, would be the E.E. Brown patent of 1895.

That said, it makes me wonder what the Empire Automatic Cork Puller No. 1 and 2 might have looked like

The BIG L.E.B.

Over the years, I have shared information regarding the L.E.B. CO. tool kit; an interesting multi-tool that amongst other tools, includes a cork puller that would be used in the manner of a Greeley.

Appearing in advertisements in various publications from 1912 to 1915, we clearly can get a timeframe when the tool kit was produced.

And, there are variations as to what the kit was named; Premium Pocket Tool Kit, Sportsman’s Pocket Tool Kit, and Pocket Tool Kit, and The 47 Pocket Tool Kit.

In a 1912 edition of American Stationer, the tool kit was also featured:


The illustrations here shown are the 47 Pocket Tool Kit which is sold by the L.E.B Sales Company, of 115 Broadway, New York. This kit, true to its name

takes up but little space, being quite easily carried in one’s pocket. As can be seen by the list of tools it contains it is practically indispensable around the house, in the barn, garage or, for that matter, in one’s office. Besides the usefulness of its tool it has the added advantage of economy and price. The Kit being sold for a dollar, and the whole lot not taking up the room that one ordinary hammer occupies. Moreover, the tools can always be found because the Kit is at hand in which to replace them. There is therefore every argument in favor of the Kit for the ordinary run of uses.

As truthfully stated by the L. E. B. Sales Company: “No matter where one goes, or under what circumstances, some one or more of these tools will serve some useful or vital purpose. You have seen tool holders, tool chests, and other collections of tools, but never before a Pocket Tool Kit, a Kit that can be made your constant companion and servant to serve so many wants that cannot be enumerated.

“Some of the tools included in the Kit are: Hammer, screw driver, chisel, dividers, tweezers, compass, saw, protractor, file, round file, rule, bevel, universal chuck, tool handle, T square, tri square, scratch guage, depth gauge, slide calipers, reamer, countersink, brad awl, scratch awl, straight edge, ink eraser, tack claw, nail set, center punch, bag needle, sail needle, button hook, spatula, scraper, stiletto, and ten others. They are made on honor and sold on guarantee, price $1.”

Before we left on vacation, I managed to pick up a large version of the pocket tool kit. And, the size difference between the regular L.E.B. Co. tool kit, and the larger one is significant:

Unlike the regular version, where the base is sold, the larger version is cutaway, for ease of removing the tools.
And, they are marked differently. Looks like we have another name for the piece; the “AUTO POCKET TOOL KIT.” Both are marked PAT. PEND.
The cork puller tools, are also different in size. Not only in length, but also reflective to the chuck size into which they would be inserted for use.

A really neat addition to the cork puller collection.

moose, deer, turkey, fox, loons…

For the last week, the lovely and I were were up in Rangeley, Maine. It was a fantastic spot, with the fall colors just beginning to change.

On our first day, as we were driving in, we managed to spot a moose loping along side the rode.

That night, as we were sipping wine at our camp, we heard loons calling, and then again in the early hours of the following morning.

Each day, we set out on some sort of adventure, climbing Bald Mountain, hiking to Smalls Falls, visiting areas of Maine that we had never been, and just enjoying a week free of responsibility.

On the drive to get there, we did hit a couple of antique stores, but no corkscrews were to be found.

We drove back yesterday, and at the very beginning of our drive, a small fox walked across the road, turned to us, as if to say “have a safe drive,” and turned and walked back across the road.

A fantastic time away, and now it is back to corkscrewing around…

More news to follow.

In pursuit of Prindle…

Not that I am obsessed with door-securers…

…but, on August 13, 1907 George Prindle was awarded patent number 863,091 for his Combined Door Securer and Corkscrew.

Within his patent description, Prindle explains:

The tool embodying the invention comprises two flat plate-like members, one of which is shorter than the other, being about one-half the length thereof, and said members being pivotally connected together at one end so that when the members are folded to occupy parallel planes in contact with each other throughout their lengths the free end of the shorter member occupies a position about the center of the length of the longer member, and at the free end of the shorter member is located a cork screw stem or shank, pivotally mounted so as to be folded into position parallel with shorter member and adapted when extended to occupy a position perpendicular to the planes of the two members of the tool and at about the center of the length of the longer member, so that the folded longer and shorter members constitute a handle extending about equally upon the opposite sides of the line of the extended corkscrew stem or shank to form a suitable grip.

He later goes on to explain how the door securer part of tool works, but as importantly, takes the time to point out that with the door securer in place, securing the door, the corkscrew can be extended for use—in this manner like a wall-mount.

Prindle explains, It will be observed, moreover, that when the tool is in use as a door securer, the cork screw is exposed, so that it may be used by presenting the bottom and turning the latter to cause the cork screw to engage the cork, as indicated in the dotted lines in Fig.3, the tool being thus held rigid and stationary by its engagement with the door and frame.

Of course, in thinking about installing the door securer, and then twisting a bottle onto the helix, and then pulling with the force necessary to get the cork to release…how many of these would have survived that amount of force.

And, how many people, upon the release of the cork from the bottle, would have ended up across the room.

To my knowledge, an example of the Prindle has yet to be found, and while the hunt for the Prindle is ongoing, if any of you out there do have this, I would love to acquire it.

Let’s make a deal! Email me at josef@vintagecorkscrews.com

and, in brass too

As mentioned previously, the 1893 J.H. Matthews patent Columbian Door Securer advertisement, explained that it came in two versions:

“Lock and key combined with corkscrew, all in a nicely nickel-plated or polished brass case, to be carried in vest pocket.”

So, when the brass version came available, how could I not…

If you have a little tool marked J.H. Matthews South Bend with the 1892 patent date, I would be interested.

I would love to find an example of his previous patent, and compare it with these versions of his 1893 patent.

Little Korky

Over the last week, I have had my eyes on a corkscrew on eBay.

I know, big surprise..

And, I had placed a bid early, and said corkscrew lot ended yesterday.

Now, the corkscrew doesn’t have some fabulous function, nor is it made of some unusual materials, it is just cool, and fairly hard to come by…

There have been two of these that have sold on the corkscrewcollectors.com auction; one for a fairly high price, and one for a few dollars more than the bid that ultimately won the auction on eBay. And, there was one that turned up at the Dearborn CCCC meeting in 2012.

As the auction was winding down to the last two minutes, the corkscrew had jumped in price, and I had pretty much decided to let it go…

And, then with about 30 seconds left, I changed my mind, and threw out a bid.

I was the high bidder!

With 8 seconds to go, my bid was taken out.

With 5 seconds left, I went higher.

I won!

Literally…within seconds of the auction ending, I received a message from TC, which simply said:




Apparently he was one of the other bidders, and we had a good exchange about the scarcity of the little corkscrew, and how we both wanted it.


In 2014, when Fred Kincaid had put his up for sale, he referred to it as “Little Korky,” as it certainly seems to be part of the McDowell patent Korkmaster family…

A fun addition to the collection.  The next one is yours TC!


Andress Again

After a bit of sleuthing, I found the advertisement shared yesterday in an 1895 issue of Hardware Dealer’s magazine.

I have yet to find an advertisement where Empire Forge, actually shows the EMPIRE corkscrew, but I will keep up the hunt.

That said, within the same issue, I did find another advertisement for Thomas Andress and his glass cutters, and this one features the multi-tool that would be of interest to corkscrew collectors:


Of course, even though the piece turns up with Andress’ name and the patent date, we know that this is Frank R. Woodward’s August 24, 1875  Patent # 166,954.

And, when Woodward’s name is found on it, it is marked THE WOODWARD TOOL, with the patent date.




Empire v. Curley

Recently an advertisement for the Empire Forge Co., appeared, and shortly disappeared, from eBay.

Not that it really disappeared, but it was purchased.

No, not by me.

Said advertisement, features several of the items made by Empire Forge, but of interest, is that it is yet another advertisement for the Curley corkscrew that was produced by Empire Forge.


While the example shown in the advertisement carries the patent date, albeit the wrong one–as the patent is actually April 1884 NOT March 1884–that is the way the corkscrew was produced, with the wrong patent date.


Empire also made their own corkscrew, mimicking much of Curley’s design, but instead of the slot and screw that is present on the Curley, they created a removable worm corkscrew, and marked the handle EMPIRE.



When you compare the two together, Curley v. Empire the size and overall design are pretty close:


I am looking for a second example of the EMPIRE if you have one with which you would like to part.

Or course, I am open to any, and all, antique corkscrews, so feel free to send photos to josef@vintagecorkscrews.com