After much deliberation, here are the best 6 corkscrews for 2012. These may not be the rarest, or most valuable, but to me they are some of the most interesting finds and discoveries.
What will make the best 6 for 2013? Let the hunt begin…!
1. In Bob Nugent’s 1990 article, Robert Murphy, New England Corkscrew Maker, he mentions, albeit briefly, that he had an Ivory handled Murphy. In describing the corkscrews, Nugent (1990) explains, “Most are secured by peening the end over a copper or brass washer but an ivory handled one I have has an imbedded round nut on a threaded shaft.” Marked, R. MURPHY BOSTON, a walrus Ivory handled Murphy finally made it into my collection (see Nugent, 1990).
2. Marked on the end of the tin case PAT. MAY 28-07, this is James B. Dodge’s patented (#854,812) 1907 Cork-Extractor. The spur between the prongs, according to the patent description, is intended to pierce the cork, “…at the same time that the arms…are thrust between the cork and bottle neck, to assist in holding the same, and to increase the efficiency of action.”
(see O’Leary, 1996, p. 124).
3. At first glance, one may wonder exactly how this would pull a cork. And, when I first found this, I thought it might be an ice pick. However, what makes this unique and an appropriate addition to the best 6, is the message that is written on the side of the handle. It reads: “EAGLE LIQUID MALT, The Better Malt In The Orange Can, Please Use This Special Tool To Remove Cork, Call Washington 3993.” The end cap, is also marked with WILLIAMSON, NEWARK, N.J. I am still researching this one.
4. Interesting variation of the Lucien Mumford Cork Extractor. This example has shorter prongs, with the springs visible upon turning it upside down. And, instead of the normal markings with the two different patent dates on the collar that surrounds the two prongs, this one is marked underneath with PAT. MAR. 4-79 -PAT’S PENDING. (see O’Leary, 1996, p. 84)
5. In Watney and Babbidge (1981) they discuss the corkscrew maker Clark from Chester Connecticut. A simple direct pull corkscrew, the handles are generally a telltale sign of a Clark, however they rarely turn up with the signature. A while back, I acquired two Clarks from the Homer Babbidge collection–one of which was signed CLARK. Despite looking at every corkscrew with a similarly shaped handle, I had never found another marked one. This year on my way to Brimfield, I stopped in an antique store, and in the last booth saw a simple wood T. The tag said “Old corkscrew, signed.” I asked for the case to be unlocked and much to my delight it was a signed CLARK, this time in a half size. It is shown next to my other signed CLARK for a comparison. (see Watney and Babbidge, 1981, p. 97-99).
6. Maschil Converse’s 1899 Patent prong puller. This example has a Sterling handle. Marked PAT. MAY 9, 99 and STERLING 2208 with the maker’s mark for Simon Bros., & Co. Philadelphia (see O’Leary 1996, p. 101)