CORK SCREWS With Patent Bottle Stopper Openers

Found within the illustrated catalogue and price list of Thomas J. Conroy:



With Patent

Bottle Stopper






No. 96. Self-Pulling Cork-Screw, with combination crown opener, seal lifter and wire cutter, cherry handle, Flat screw.  Nickel plated. 

Price $, $ .35

No. 96 B. Same as No. 96.  With stag handle.

Price, $ .75

I will say here, that I have never found Murphy patented bell with cherry handle for thirty-five cents, nor have I found one with a stag handle for seventy-five cents.

But, fortunately, I still have found them!




a leg up…

Sometime around Christmas, I ran across an online advertisement for a Detroit leg corkscrew.  And, the person was asking $122.00.  That of course seemed fair enough given the photo.   I responded in short order, asking about other pictures and the like.

In response, the person said, that they would like a bit less than their original asking price, and explained that they decided on 122, as they needed to put something out there, and given the corkscrew was patented in 1894, at it being–when the ad was placed–2016, the 122 year old corkscrew was given a 122 dollar price tag.

After then exchanging phone numbers, I accepted their reduced price, and promptly sent monies.

After payment was made, and accepted.  It was the last thing I heard from the seller.

They promised to send pictures and tracking, and…

And, then nothing.

Being a (somewhat) patient person, I just waited.

And, I waited.

And, I waited.

And, I waited.

No emails, no phone calls, no tracking numbers…and, more importantly, no Detroit leg.

After a couple of weeks, I sent an email, which garnered no response.  And, I picked up the phone a couple of times, only to reach voicemail, and no return phone call.

I waited a bit longer.

Last week, closing in on a month later, I sent another email.  This one was a little more…shall we say, blunt and to the point.

The next morning, I received an email with apologies and explanations, and a promise that the leg would be mailed of that day…and, this was followed up by an email with tracking information.

Yesterday, the leg indeed arrived.  And, my faith in humanity restored.  This leg is the plain variety, and there is some areas of finish loss, but it is nicely marked, and has a nice snap to the corkscrew.


Thanks for the deal unnamed-detroit-plain-leg-corkscrew-sellers, and I hope that everything improves for you both.

This leg would be a double/duplicate for me, so feel free to offer up any trades you might have!  If you would like information on the Detroit Cork Screw Company, check out my Detroit Cork Screws page

let the bidding begin…

After writing the post about the folding Greeley cork puller, I received several inquiries asking to purchase the piece.

As the offers were pretty much the same, and not wanting to play favorites, I told the interested parties that I would put it up for auction, thusly taking favoritism and friendship out of the mix.

All the inquirers and offerers are indeed friends, and when you all are offering the same amount, or close to the same amount, how/who would I choose?

So… the Greeley is currently up on eBay, with a few bids already.

If  you are interested in tossing out a bid, or just want to watch the bidding action, you can link to the eBay listing here.

Stay tuned!


If you are only going to buy one thing at the local flea…

It was a fabulous week.  The lovely personal personal trainer and I were in Florida for the past seven days, and arrived back home yesterday.

We visited with John and Martha for the first few days, enjoying their hospitality, the beach, the boat, a bit of fishing, and some fantastic food and wine.

From Marathon, we headed north to Palm Beach where we spent a night on our own, before heading towards Orlando and ultimately The Villages with a wonderful visit at Barry and Marty’s new digs.  We also visited the Morse Museum in Winter Park, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass and other Tiffany creations.  It was mind blowing.

Of course, there are a few corkscrews at Barry and Marty’s place, and I got to see some of the new additions that have been added since the last time we saw the collection.

Laughs, wine, food, corkscrews…it was a great time, and in between, Barry, the lovely, and I headed to a (relatively) local flea market that given MLK holiday was going to be bigger than usual.


After our arrival, the lovely and I headed one direction, whilst Barry headed another, and we agreed to meet up at an appointed time.  There were a few things about, not a bunch of corkscrews, but a few.  And, largely they were the common variety–but fairly priced.

With still an hour before we were to meet up, I looked under a table where I found a small tin of buttonhooks.  At 6 dollars a piece, I was hopeful that there might be a folding bow with corkscrew with buttonhook.  Asking the dealer if I could dump out the tin to examine them closely, I flipped over the tin and rifled through.

No corkscrews and buttonhooks were present, however…

I know, the suspense is killing you.

There was indeed something worth buying within that tin–well what was previously within the tin and now was spread out over a small blanket.

And, it wasn’t a buttonhook.  But, it could easily be mistaken for one.

I do already own one of these, but to find one in the wild is rather exciting…

(Would you get to the point already?  What was it?)

While the lovely picked up a nice mechanical Anri stopper, what was amongst the buttonhooks was the only thing I purchased that day.  But, if you are only going to find one thing at the local flea, it is a nice thing to find.

Speaking of, while we were walking up to meet Barry, also at the flea was corkscrew collector (and carved alligator collector) Tom Staley.  It was nice to catch up, and perhaps we will finally make the trade we have been negotiating for 6 years.

He said he will bring the corkscrew I am after when he visits Brimfield (and then Maine) in May, and I will bring the corkscrew he is after.  We shall see if they finally change hands.

What was the purchase at the flea in Florida?

A folding Greeley patent, clearly marked with the patent date.  A great find, especially given the asking price!



Given the Greeley is a double/duplicate…I am guessing the trade or outright purchase offers will be pouring in shortly!

A great week away, and now we are back home in Maine.  A bit of snow on the ground, and it is back to corkscrewing around!

Folding Corkscrew

From a 1917 issue of The Spatula:


An inexpensive folding corkscrew has been invented which, if desired, can be placed on a bottle at the same time that it is sealed in the bottling works, so that the purchasers may have no inconvenience in opening the container whenever he wishes.  The upper end of the screw consists of a broad eyelet which serves as a pintle to hinge to each other the two halves of which the handle is composed.  These two halves are bent at right angles and fold down against the neck of the bottle.  If desired a sealing wire can be fun through the wholes and the handle tied down.  To use the corkscrew it is only necessary to remove this wire and turn the two parts of the handle up until they form a horizontal bar which can be grasped by the hand.

Combination Bottle Stopper and Cork Screw

In a March 1891 issue of Pharmaceutical Era, a combination bottle stopper an cork screw is introduced:

Write to the Rhode Island Novelty Works, 33 Potter street, Providence, R.I., for prices on their combination bottle stopper and cork screw, a cut of which will be found on page –-.  This is just the thing to draw the cork and use as a stopper to seal the bottle so as to prevent gas from escaping or the liquid from deteriorating.  This company also make a specialty of a tap which they call “The Silver Lined Champagne Tap.”  The tubes of this tap through which the wine passes are lined with coin silver, making it impossible poisonous element to enter the wine.

Interestingly, the page number upon which the “cut of which” was to appear isn’t given.

Luckily I found it…

on page XIII


Do any of you have a stopper on the side of a direct pull corkscrew?

Do you have The Silver Lined Champagne Tap?

And, a few more poison indicators…

Not that I have actually discovered any poison indicator corkscrews since we last spoke–not that I am speaking–but, I thought I would thumb through the back of O’Leary and check out the patent drawings (once again).

As mentioned the other day, the first mention in O’Leary of a corkscrew with a poison purpose, is the Bailey Safety Alarm of 1890.


That said, I found another reference on pharmacy history that has an illustration of the both the 1883 Stites Bottle Stopper and the 1890 Bailey Safety Alarm with the words “Stites Cross Bones Stopper and Corkscrew.” In visiting the patent, no corkscrew is mentioned in the Stites patent description, but it would certainly be cool if it actually had one–or if we could find one for that matter.


The Blake patent of 1914, mentioned the other day is the next poison related corkscrew illustrated in O’Leary.


In looking at the dates, and while no patent has been found, we then go into 1915 with the Hall’s Red Devil Skull.  And, the newly identified as a patent, so not pictured in O’Leary, Hudson patent of 1915.


In 1916, we see T.E. Higgins “Poison Alarm Device.”  Again, a piece that I have never seen in person, or pictured, and one that certainly should do its job, with a large skull hanging above a corkscrew inserted in a bottle.


In 1917, there is the Ketler patent for a “poison bottle indicator.”  Similarly themed, it has a skull and crossbones in a circular frame.  Again, as far as I know, this has yet to be discovered within our respective collections.


In 1921, we are introduced to the Teece patent “poison bottle top.”


And, finally in 1924, there is another Skull and Crossbones styles corkscrew: the Fleisher patent, with folding corkscrew attached to the top of the skull, and a spike to insert into the cork:


There are lots of other poison indicators without corkscrews.  Many patents, with largely the same theme, spikes and sharp edges.  Like the Hall’s Red Skull, where the horns are intended to serve as a warning in the middle of the night, and the sharp edges of the Blake (which we haven’t found) or the serrated disk, which is similar to, and could very well be the Bailey’s Safety Alarm, there are sharp edges, spikes, prongs, barbs, and the like which are intended to serve as a deterrent.

This is going to hurt you, so don’t drink this.

As far as I know, most of these patents haven’t been found in a real life form.  Do you have one of these poison related corkscrews?  Do you have a different poison related corkscrew?

Feel free to drop me a line.

Poison Indicators continued…

Not that I am obsessed or anything, but as I have been doing a little digging, I have run across a few more poison indicators, and poison indicator patents.  As mentioned, previously the little bell is the Mahalah T. Hudson patent of 1915.

Now, there is also the Bailey’s patent of 1890.  And, the corkscrew that turns up in advertisements from the time is a departure from the patent drawing.



It could well be, that his patent design was too costly to produce.  And, I have yet to see a Bailey’s Safety Alarm with the little bell attached.  The closest piece that has been discovered is a little spiked disk with a Clough corkscrew attached.


That said, there are a couple of other patented poison indicators that have a similar design.

Before, I share a recently discovered patent, I will add here that researching “poison indicator” does garner a few results that have proven helpful.  Searching “Poison Disk,” results in fewer results.  Mistyping “poison disc” however will result with many references to Bell Biv Davoe or the 90’s hair band, Poison.

But, I digress.

As I am prone to do.

So, as I am trying to wade through the Bell Biv Davoe or hair band results, I ran into this patent:


And, a description of said patent in a 1915 issue of Pharmaceutical Era

Bottle Attachment

This invention is brought forward as a new article of manufacture (Patent No. 1,121, 459) by Arthur E. Blake, It comprises single blank sheet of metal material having plurality of sides and slit at each corner to present substantially v-points at the corners intermediate bendable portions between the corners, bent downwardly and at right angles thereto lie at the sides of the stopper and terminating in relatively sharp points lying below the plane of the v-point corners of the blank, and a stopper attaching portion carried by said blank.  The stopper attaching portion is inserted or withdrawn from the cork by gripping the sides and straight longitudinal edges of the downwardly bent portions and rotating the blank.

In essence, the bent portions would also you to screw the piece in, and the spikes would prove as a deterrent should you mistakenly grab it for a quick drink.

In reading the Blake patent description, it does mention corkscrew, explaining that, “The member is provided in its central portion with a spiral-like portion or corkscrew 12, the latter being adapted to be engaged in the cork stopper 5, whereby to hold the latter and the indicating attachment operatively connected together…”

Do any of you have the 1914 Blake patent Bottle Attachment?

Interestingly, the patent description also mentioned that the top of the disk would have a a Skull and the word Poison upon it.  Did the construction of the Blake prove too costly, and perhaps the Skull Crossbones Poison corkscrew is a modified version of it.  One would have to include the corkscrew handle, as the little spiky edges would do a bit of damage to your fingers if you tried to screw it in otherwise.

I have no doubt that these recent discoveries will lead to an article about poison and poison indicator corkscrews.  If you have any information regarding these, or happen to have the Blake patent of 1914, please let me know.


Dead Ringer…

As mentioned on the Edward Leverich Hall post, there was mention that Hall (or his company) possessed the patent rights.  So…I started to look for a patent.  In doing so, I found several references to patents for poison indicators or poison warning devices, but one poison indicator, in particular, I was excited to find.  After a little more research, I ran into an article in a 1915 issue of Pharmaceutical Era


Many mechanical inventions have been devised for apprising individuals of the poisonous contents of bottles that they may be called upon to handle.  One of the most recent devices of this character is the invention of Mahalah T. Hudson, Kirksville, Mo. (Patent No. 1,131,839), shown in the pharmadrawaccompanying illustration.  It comprises a frame formed from a blank and provided with a central body, upon which are formed integral arms bent upward as to me at their end portions; a bell carried by the ends of said arms, integral plates formed upon said body and extending at right upper angles thereto, said plates being adapted to rest upon the upper portions of a cork of a bottle for retaining the frame in its correct vertical position, and spurs extending downwardly from the lower portion of the body for digging into the cork whereby the poison indicator will be held in engagement and rest evenly on the upper portion of the cork.

And, might be saying to yourself, “Okay, not so fast Josef, there isn’t a screw, there are two spurs…”

Yes, you would have a point there…  But, if you look at the other illustration from the patent drawing, that wasn’t shown in the Pharmaceutical Era blurb, there IS a corkscrew.


That little bell that you have in your collection, is indeed a patent.  And, a dead ringer for the patent drawing!


A patent for a poison indicator.  And, one that does not appear in the front or the back of O’Leary.

The 1915 Hudson patent #1,131,839…