About a week ago, a simple direct pull corkscrew with a blade on the side was listed on eBay with a pretty low buy it now, in the grand scheme of things.


And, the seller explained that was a bit of wear on the piece, and that “IT HAS SOME LETTERS ON THE BIT BUT I CAN’T MAKE THEM OUT.”


The handle looked pretty familiar, and well…it looked like here might be an M and U, and that might just be an R that follows…so I guessed R. Murphy Boston…

It arrived today, and wouldn’t you know, it is a Murphy with blade…

Yes,  i know there are some chips on the handle, but for all the Murphys that I have found whilst traipsing around New England, finding one with the blade is quite unusual, and this would be the 4th Murphy with blade in the growing R. Murphy corkscrew collection!

This does need a little cleaning… We shall see how it turns out later today!

The Peerless Peerless

As mentioned the other day, I picked up a Peerless corkscrew that isn’t marked Peerless.  Rather, it is marked PAT. APL’D FOR instead.


And, while it is clearly a Peerless less the Peerless marking, there are a few differences in construction as well–with the double riveted handle versus the single bring the most obvious difference.


A bit different where the shank is riveted to the arms as well…


And, actually the frame that is on the base of the piece are two different sizes/shapes as well…


An interesting addition to add to the collection!

Compound Cork Screw…

In 1885 Marshall Arthur Weir was granted patent number 330,357 in the United States for his compound corkscrew.

(Somehow from the patent drawing to the production of this corkscrew, things changed a bit).

Here is the patent drawing, which looks quite similar to the 1884 patent he received in England.


When his corkscrew turns up with the U.S. patent date, it would appear that those producing it for him took the design in a little different direction.

The 1885 Weir does turns up somewhat occasionally carrying the patent date of 1885, but in two variations; The Reliable, and the much harder to find, Peerless, with the addition of the frame at the bottom of the lazy tongs.



But what accounts for the difference in production from patent design?

While I have yet to find an answer, I did recently run into an 1893 article in The Iron Age that does provide images of the two corkscrews, and does explain that Francis H. Loss was putting the two different corkscrews out amongst his wares:

Compound Lever Cork Screws.

Francis H. Loss, Jr., 33 Murray street, New York, is introducing the Reliable 


Fig. 1 – Reliable Cork Screw

 and Peerless compound lever cork screws, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2.


Fig. 2 – Peerless Cork Screw 

Fig. 1 illustrates the Reliable pattern and shows it in its most compact corm. In this position the closed levers are used as a handle and afford an opportunity for inserting the screw in the cork. When this is accomplished the drop handle is grasped and raised until the cork is withdrawn. The levers are made of steel. When closed the greatest width is 5 ½ inches; extended, it measures 8 ½ inches. Emphasis is laid on the ease with which the most stubborn cork is extracted. Fig. 2 represents the Peerless pattern in operation, the difference being the length of the socket, the longer socket having a tendency to steady the cork while it is being withdrawn.

While we have both the Reliable and the Peerless (with the Peerless making the best 6 in 2009) the other day on eBay a seller listed an 1885 Weir Patent that I had seen before, but had a different marking.

Clearly we can see the difference between the Reliable and the Peerless, but I have seen on the Auction that there are further variations in the Peerless where there is a single rivet where the handle attaches and alternatively  a double riveted example—these both carry the 1885 patent date.

The piece listed on eBay indeed has two rivets, but more importantly, instead of the patent date of NOV. 10 1885, it instead reads PAT. APL’D FOR.

With the piece also carrying a Buy It Now option of several hundred dollars, I considered snapping it up, but went back to all of the previous auction listings I could find. Not a single one has a PAT. APL’D FOR marking—and all of them carrying the patent date and PEERLESS.

Now, as with many corkscrews, the price for a PEERLESS has come down a bit. So, given the seller also included a best offer option, I revisited the listing..

and, I made an offer.

He countered.

I submitted a counter offer to their offer.

They countered to my counter offer…

I submitted yet another counter offer

S0, my offer was countered, to which I countered, to which they countered, to which I countered, and eventually…after my last counter to their counter, they agreed.

And, so, a rare example of a nice American patent, which very well could make the best 6 of the year, will soon be arriving on the island.



More pictures to follow once it arrives!


Of Meissen Men

Whilst in Toronto, one of our adventures was to visit the Gardiner Museum wherein we found a fantastic collection of Meissen pieces.  As we wandered through, I mentioned to the lovely personal personal trainer that there are some wonderful Meissen corkscrews.

I described them to her, and she seemed intrigued.  And, while the collection is decidedly focused on American corkscrews, I knew that we needed a Meissen figural corkscrew for the lovely’s collection.

Knowing this, the search began.

Although, it didn’t take long as the is a seller on eBay who has sold three Meissen corkscrews in the past, and had just recently added two more.  The two auctions ended today.

And, while I did bid, I was promptly outbid.  And, they both are being shipped to Romania…

But, as fortune would have it, what should appear on another antique collectibles website this afternoon but yet another Meissen!

For a very fair price, and without any bidding competition!

A handsome little piece!

And, it will soon be arriving on the island!


As you regular readers know, I have a thing for Converse cork pullers.  Sure, they turn up with some regularity, but that only adds to the excitement of finding a variation that you don’t have.

And, just the other day, a Converse patented cork puller was put up on eBay with a very low Buy it Now.

At all of about 12 dollars, had it been a normal Converse, it still would have been snapped up, but this one–once again–carries advertising across its sheath.  Moreover, it happens to be an advertisement that we don’t have in the collection.

12 dollars…don’t own it?  How could I not?

So, I clicked, paid, and awaited its arrival.

And, yesterday the “MURRAY HILL CLUB, WHISKEY, JOS.A. MAGNUS & CO, CINCINNATI, O.” Converse arrived.

This makes the 13th different advertisement that appears on the Converse sheath, or alternatively the handle, within our collection–although I know of at least still two others in other collections.

Interestingly, Jos. A. Magnus is now being produced again by the great grandson of Jos.A. Magnus…  You can link to an article about that venture here.

Not coincidentally, another package arrived today, and it too contained a Converse!  This time it has the original box and some instructions–in French.


Soon enough, these will be added to the Converse page.

If you have a Converse cork extractor with advertising, drop me a line!

Well, if you have any old, antique, vintage, or unusual corkscrews feel free to drop us a line…




Planes, trains, and automobiles…and shuttles, and taxis…and boats…

We just returned from our Toronto adventure, and while it was a wonderful time, it started off a little rough.

As it happened, the plan was for the lovely to go over on an early boat, and I would work at the wine shop until the afternoon and catch the 2:45 over. Around 1 o’clock an email came through that both the 1 and the 2:45 were cancelled. Now, the winds were pretty high, but I had checked the latest conditions, and the wave height was fairly low. A little panicked, and knowing that often if the 2:45 is cancelled the final boat will be cancelled, I called the ferry service.

Unless conditions worsened, the last boat would run, as the middle boats were cancelled for a mechanical issue rather than high winds and seas.

Okay… I would still be able to make it.

At the appointed hour, I managed to get the Xterra onto the ferry, with Philos in the back seat. And, as soon as I got across the lovely personal personal trainer was there to meet me. She hopped in, as we hightailed it to Coastal Dog, where Philos would be boarded for a few days.   The staff at the boarding place, fortunately agreed to a late check in, and after dropping him off, we headed down to Portland to our hotel—in anticipation of the next morning’s (early early) flight.

That next morning we headed down, having consumed a fair amount of coffee, and hopped on the hotel’s shuttle to the airport. And, upon reaching the ticketing gate were told that our plane (due to high winds) didn’t land the previous evening. So our flight to Toronto would be delayed from a morning flight, until 4:00 or later in the afternoon. And, with connections and layovers, we wouldn’t reach Toronto until fairly late in the evening. We inquired if there were any other options.

Well, the desk agent said, we can get you a flight from Boston to Toronto direct.

Fantastic, but how would we get to Boston?

They suggested Concord.

For those that aren’t aware, there is a bus that travels between Maine and Boston, and apparently the best option is to hop the bus, and make it down to Logan in time to catch a flight to Toronto…

Okay, for those playing along, that doesn’t really equate to a “direct” flight.

We decided to go for it. So, with the assurance from the gate agent that they would change our tickets—no small feat, as it is Delta who is partnering with WestJet—we hopped in a taxi, and headed to the Concord Bus Station with 5 minutes to spare.

Once on the bus to Boston, we felt that things would be okay.

Until we got to the WestJet desk in Boston

The agent there, doing her best, could not “ticket” us, as the aforementioned Delta agent did not print out a ticket for us in Portland. Of course, he couldn’t print out a ticket for us, as he is an agent for Delta.

This all had my mind spinning, as we stood at the ticket counter for 45 minutes, and our flight was soon to be boarding. Finally, our bags were taken, and we were given our boarding passes.

Now… time to get through security (with only a few minutes until the plane leaves).

Now, a year or so ago, the lovely bride and I went through the process of establishing ourselves as “known travelers”, through the global entry program. This allows us to scoot through TSA rather quickly, but of course West Jet in Boston isn’t hooked up with TSA and it is through regular security we were sent.

In Boston…with 6 minutes to catch our plane.

With the gate fortunately still being open, and rushing rather quickly, we made it!

Still, you just never know…and, I whispered to the lovely that I will feel comfortable once we are off the ground—and landing in Toronto, given a recent flight that got turned around and returned to the origination point, on a recent adventure.

After about an hour we were beginning out descent into Toronto, and all seemed right in the world. And, as we taxied, the lovely and JP were messaging back and forth. He was at the airport waiting for us, and in short order we were greeted by Joe.

We headed to the garage, and attempted to use the elevator to get to the fourth floor. There were some weary travelers already in one elevator car desperately punching buttons, the car was staying on the bottom level—with no signs of moving. We grabbed our bags, and headed for the stairway.

Finally, we made it to JP’s car, and were heading out of the airport and towards the house. Sharing our travel adventures and discussing our plans for the coming days the ride went fairly quickly, and soon enough we were pulling into the driveway of our temporary digs.

With our travel hiccups behind us, it was time for our Toronto holiday, and we were fortunate enough to be welcomed into Joe and Monika’s home and got enjoy their kind hospitality.

Conversations, fantastic wines, wonderful food, we were wined, dined, and entertained the entire time we were there.

And, of course, there were corkscrews!

A bunch

A myriad.

A plethora

A cavalcade

Okay, let’s just say there were lots of corkscrews.  Here are a few…

In between the wonderful meals prepared by Monika (which started with Chicken Paprikash, accompanied by a 1967 Chateau St. George)


there was indeed a bit of corkscrewing around, and conversations ranged the ICCA and the Bottle Scrue Times to recent acquisitions, to our plans to visit Ron and Marilyn in the coming days.

Once in the corkscrew room, we went through drawer after drawer, case after case, and I oohed and aahed over a few pieces, and grabbed a couple and placed them on the table…asking each time if these were available.

A few that I inquired about, of course, were not.

And, we still hadn’t gotten to the “good” stuff…

For three days those corkscrew that I had selected from the corkscrew room remained on the table, with JP saying he would get back to me on the deal.

On Monday, after a walk to the lake with the lovely, we headed off in the snow (apparently the largest snow in April in Toronto in three decades) to Ron and Marilyn’s house.

I have known Ron for years, and we have made many many trades, but this was the first time I had ever seen his collection. And, his too is a sight to behold.

There were indeed lots of corkscrews!

A bunch

A myriad.

A plethora

A cavalcade

And, I had my eye on one piece in particular. As it happened, it was the same piece that Joe has his collection of which I was desirous; the 1918 J.J. Lyons patent cork extractor.


Neither of the Lyons (Joe’s nor Ron’s) will be leaving their collections anytime soon. Still, it was really cool to see the piece that I have been eyeing in O’Leary all of these years in person. And, better still to handle it, and become familiar with what to look for should a similar piece turn up at Brimfield (or online).

Following the corkscrew viewing, there was a fabulous lunch prepared by Marilyn, and the conversation (and the wine) flowed.

No trades were made at RM’s place, but I did leave behind an interesting Clough advertising piece to add to his collection.   With his love of Clough, it really belongs with him.

The adventures, over the few days, continued with dinner at the Mississaugua (yes it is spelled differently) Country Club, a walking tour of Toronto with Monika, where we ended up having a fabulous lunch at Cluny in the distillery district, a lovely filet mignon prepared on the grill at the house accompanied by yet another vintage red, and of course we eventually got to the “good” stuff.

Seeing another collector’s collection is always fascinating, and in this particular case really educational, as JP has some really unusual pieces and given his background as an engineer he loves to examine, share, and explain the functionality of the pieces.

On the morning of our departure, the lovely headed downstairs to grab some coffee, and upon her return, told me that there were 5 corkscrews on the kitchen table with a post-it next to them. Knowing that Joe had an appointment that morning, and thinking there may be some negotiations needing to happen, I headed down myself.

And, there they were—the four plus one that I had set on the table in the corkscrew room. With prices already established my Joe; I tallied the numbers and readily agreed. It was very fair, and I was pleased with what would be heading back to Vinalhaven.

Of course, over the course of the last few days I had come to understand the pieces Joe valued most, that his love of mechanicals (and prong pullers) outweighed his affection for direct pulls, so why not go for one more.

I described a piece sitting in his display case, and he told me to go get it. I retrieved the little direct pull, and brought it back upstairs. The Joseph Smith patent, and one that was formerly in Bob Nugent’s collection, with Joe sharing is love of the piece, a deal was not going to happen.

Not to worry, it never hurts to ask.

Following his appointment, Joe returned and after goodbyes, thank yous, and see-you-soons, he whisked us off to the airport where fortunately, there were no additional taxis, busses, shuttles, or boats involved.


Thanks for the adventure Joe, Monika, Ron, and Marilyn!

What were the four corkscrews you ask?


  • A signed Murphy corkscrew with button and knife; this could make the best 6 of the year.
  • An unusual Patent Applied for Can opener with corkscrew marked, “FOUR IN HAND.”
  • A faintly marked can opener with corkscrew which looks to be the Cummings patent.
  • A Frary oblong handle with henshall button with grippers underneath—I think this might be a double for me, but want to compare the size of the piece when I got back home.
  • And, the fifth, a Williamson Flash—which Joe said was for Tommy.

This morning, I hopped on the first boat back to Vinalhaven in time to open the wine shop for the day.

As it happens, listing on the latest Collector Corkscrews auction opens tomorrow! Who knows what corkscrews will turn up.  And, then bidding starts on the 15th.

Bid high and Bid often, and should you have a corkscrew that you want to send my way, drop me a line.