Elaborate Corkscrews

From a 1904 issue of The Druggists Circular and Chemical Gazette


Elaborate Corkscrews
Globe Trotter

In these days of artistic design in almost every line of articles the cork screw is not forgotten. Artists have undertaken and succeeded well in the production of some unique and useful corkscrews in recent years. The accompanying illustrations will give an idea of some of the designs seen by the writer while traveling in various parts of the world.


The Spanish have some very well designed corkscrews, calculated to attract notice, even if the deice is weakened by the fact of its many decorations and carvings. The Japanese have some finely engraved corkscrews, some of which are inlaid with luxurious design work, at considerable outlay of labor. The Filipino, the Hindoo and the people of the Hawaiian island use some fantastic screws for opening bottles.


In America, as in England, one finds some very good examples of what may be done in the line of engraved cork screws, where one is inclined to pay the costs of expensive stock, the carving and setting.
A type of odd corkscrew is exhibited in Figure 1. This is made of ivory, bone, composition, and even of hardwood. I saw it in several forms. The practiced corkscrew designer makes this type entirely of hand work as the chance for using mechanical contrivances is small.


The body portion is one of chosen stock. The eyes are pearls or imitation stones. The teeth in most instances are dog teeth or bone filed to proper size and shape. Various decorations are added. These corks screws when made by artists bring several dollars. When made cheaply, by apprentices or cheap workmen, the same effect is obtained for a dollar or so, if inferior stock is used.


In Figure 2 is still another form of corkscrew used both in foreign countries and here. The Turks use this type. I also saw some similar styles of this pattern in Nagasaki. The handle is made of several different speices of stock. Exceeding hard wood fiber is chosen, or the stock of water-buffalo horn. Bone is also employed. I saw some of this design made from stone. The handle is strongly made up. There are some points described at either end of the handle, the purpose of which no one


seems to know. The flourished work in the middle of the ball of each end of the handle is made by carving with the point of a sharp tool for which much patience is required.
The so called snake-handles are also peculiar in combination and design. One of these snake-handles is exhibited in Figure 3. It is made in wood, stone, bone, and several other grades of stock. The handle is remarkably strong for its kind. One would supposed that it would break under strain. I tried some of these corkscrews and found them to be quite substantial.


The snake head is usually set with glistening stones to get the desired effect in the eyes. The body of coils is highly polished, and with the glistening eyes makes quite an exhibition.

The corkscrew in Figure 4 is made on other lines. The handle is a straight piece of shaft, bone ivory, horn, wood, or other stock rounded and smoothed with tedious work to get the proper results. There are three rings of pearl-set portions adjusted around the handle. In these rings the gems are inserted. I saw some corkscrews in the possession of the sultan of Sulu and the have even found their way into the northern markets. Their value is from $4, the cheapest I saw, to $25, the highest priced one I saw.

One of the knuckle types of corkscrews is the next shown. These are admired by the Asiastic races. I have also seen corkscrews of this class in San Francisco. Metal is often utilized in designing of the rings, and this assures strength. The rings are soldered. I saw soe of these handles made from silver. The rings are arranged so as to insert four fingers; they are usually small and only fingers of a small person can pass in. The corkscrews is more for ornamental purposes than anything else.

Spanish ladies often use the single ring corkscrew, a drawing of which is presented in Figure 6. One of these also attracted by attention in Honolulu. There are not many in use in America, although a druggist tells me that he has handled them in the past. The ring corkscrew is so made that it can me carried readily in a small case or loose. It seemed to me that the owners of these ring corkscrews work them chiefly as ornaments. I saw some set with studdings and gems like ordinary flower rings. The effect is odd. To see a common ring fitted with a corkscrew spiral seems peculiar.

The final cork screw in the cluster is marked Figure 7, and it is intended both for purposes of ornament and for service. The ring cylinder is set with a head piece which is engraved on. Bone, ivory, ebony, hardwoods, metals, horn, etc., are employed in making this type of ring screw. There is appoint supplied to the end of the ring opposite the spiral point.

Syroco Corkscrew Book update

I will be building a website for the SyrocoWood Corkscrews & Decorative Accessories book in the coming days, but for those that have expressed interest, I thought I should provide an update.


While a few copies were published in time to introduce the book at the ICCA and CCCC Annual General Meetings, the book will go into real publication in January.

10.JPGSome copies will be sent to the states after they are published in Romania, and will be available for distribution from Tommy Campnell, and of course, they can be ordered directly from Ion Chirescu.

That said, I have been taking contact information from those that are interested in purchasing a copy, and will forward that information on to Ion.

So, feel free to drop me a line at josef@vintagecorkscrews.com , and I will add your contact information to the growing list.


mostly migrated and a lumpkin

Well, the website is mostly migrated to the new server, and much of it is up and running. And, now that we have that taken care of, it is back to corkscrewing.  Most importantly, the latest round of collector corkscrews.com auctions will be open for listings on October 19th.

Who knows what might turn up?

On a personal corkscrew note, the other day I picked up one of those odd REG. US. PAT. PEND. DETROIT – B. BRO CO – 8062 LUMPKIN  double levers…


Little information has been unearthed about this piece, or who B. BRO.CO. was.  Still, I will see what I can’t turn up.  And, I will update if any information comes to light…



patented in Rockland Maine

For those of you that found yourselves traipsing around Maine last month searching for corkscrews, there is a corkscrew that was patented in Rockland Maine in 1882.

And, while I have blogged about the Aaron M. Austin patent (#266,073) previously (5 years ago or so) the other day, I managed to find a second example.


According to  Leading business men of Bangor, Rockland and vicinity: embracing Ellsworth, Bucksport, Belfast, Camden, Rockport, Thomaston, Oldtown, Orono, Brewer published in 1888, ““Austin’s Toilet Novelty,”  “gives but a very imperfect and inadequate idea of the many uses to which that truly wonderful combination tool can be applied…””

Marked with the patent date of  PAT 10-17-82, it is a very cool little combination tool.

That said, given that I already have one in the collection, perhaps a little trade could happen.

Anyone need the 1882 Austin patent?

Drop me a line.