In Watney and Babbidge’s seminal work Corkscrews for Collectors, they discuss Clark corkscrews, explaining, “…it is doubtful whether even common corkscrews were manufactured in the United States prior to the work of Robert Murphy in Boston from 1850, and that of Joseph L. Clark and Charles L. Griswold in Chester, Connecticut.
Clark and Griswold appear to have begun in similar but separate businesses in Chester in the mid nineteenth century: Griswold manufactured bits starting in 1850. His neighbor, Clark, patented a unique corkscrew in 1864 which may represent the first use of the steep-pitched worm, and a year later sold his corkscrew business to Griswold”
I have yet to see an example of Clark’s patent. It doesn’t appear in Fred O’Leary’s book on American corkscrews, nor has it turned up in his 2009 update, nor John Morris’ most recent presentation on American patented corkscrews.
Was it ever produced? Have any survived. The hunt for this particular corkscrew continues.
What have been found, are Clarks attributed by Watney and Babbidge to the Clark Bros. of Chester Connecticut. On page 99 of Corkscrew for Collectors there are two Clarks shown. With text that explains, “a Clark corkscrew in mint condition, found in the Clark homestead, still in its original wrapper. “ And, the second, “a product of Clark brothers of Chester.”
As mentioned in my Best 6 for this year, two Clark’s from Homer Babbidge’s collection are now in my own. One is signed, CLARK and the other, came with an interesting description. The tag that accompanied the corkscrew reads, “Manufactured by Clark Co, Chester, Conn. Found in the home of a Clark founder in Chester, CT. The Gilbert family who were witnesses for another Clark patent lived across the street from the Clarks”
You may look at the simple wooden direct pulls your collection, and say, “I have a Clark.” And, you very well may, but having a signed example is not common. I have literally picked up and examined hundreds of t-pulls that have a similar shape, and it wasn’t until this year that I had actually found one—in the wild–that bore the Clark signature. And, what is even more exciting was that it was a half-sized corkscrew, with a different handle than the two that were from the Babbidge collection.
Now, I appreciate some of this is repetitive, as I have discussed Clark corkscrews in the past (more than once at least).
However, I really would like to see other collector’s examples of the signed Clarks that they have. What other sizes are there? Any other unique shapes? Do you have a signed Clark with a brush perhaps?
Of course, I would be interested in trading for, or buying, any Clarks that might be made available. And, while I will continue the hunt for Clark corkscrews, let’s see what others are out there!!!