Research Pays Off

As many of you know, I spend a fair amount of time hunting for antique corkscrews.  And, when the time to hunt isn’t available, you will often find me digging into various research avenues in an attempt unearth histories, images, catalogs, etc., that might shed light on an patentee, inventor, or perhaps an old advertisement that features the twisted treasures we covet.

In October of 2016, I posted just a simple illustration for a “Kentucky Cork Extractor”  with information from a 1901 issue of The American Angler, which explained:


This cut represents the most novel invention of the age—THE KENTUCKY CORK EXTRACTOR. The simplicity of its construction and practicability of its use recommends it to the public. Instead of twisting and screwing, you merely push the points into a cork, and, by the natural position an action of the hand in drawing it out, the points open and their barbed edges engage the cork, and the same is easily drawn. Close the points by separating the handles, and the grip is loosened and the cork relieved. A glance at the cut will satisfy one of its many advantages. Price 30c. EACH, post-paid.

W.H. HATHAWAY, P.O. Box 2156, New York

It is such an odd looking device, but then of course, the question the crossed my mind; why is a Kentucky Cork Extractor, being advertised for in The American Angler?  A publication about fishing.  There are no other corkscrews or cork pullers shown in the magazine.

That said, it is also one of those unusual looking devices, that if one was to run across this, it is doubtful that you suspect that it was for pulling corks.

Still, I filed away the image my internal-something-to-look-for-rolodex, and got back to hunting for more information.

Yesterday, after building a wine display, I happened to do a corkscrew search on a non-eBay site, and I saw something that looked familiar with a description that read:

“Vintage Antique Metal Corkscrew J. W. Milam Frankfort Kentucky Fishing Tool?”

With this image…


Wait a minute….


With a very fair asking price, I quickly purchased the item, and figured I would come to understand how they got “corkscrew,” out of this piece, after procuring said, Vintage Antique Metal Corkscrew J. W. Milam Frankfort Kentucky Fishing Tool?

And, in short order I did.

The seller explained in her description of the piece, that the tool is marked, “J.W. Milam, Frankfort Kentucky” and “PATAPPLIEDFOR,” and further explained, “I am not 100% positive this is a corkscrew, however, I purchased it in with a box that had some other vintage corkscrews in it.”

It was a good educated guess, and she is right.

While it isn’t a corkscrew, it certainly is The Kentucky Cork Extractor, and the Milam marking certainly seals the deal.


With the Milam name, it also explains the previous advertisement in The Angler, as B.C. Milam was a well-known fishing reel maker, and his son John W. joined him in the family business.

And, as it happens, his son, John W. Milam, on October 9, 1888 was awarded a patent for a Cork Extractor!



There clearly are variations in how J.W. was going to potentially produce this, as shown in the various  designs in the patent drawing, with the extractor looking more like a combination of figure 3 and figure 5, but the J. W.Milam Kentucky Cork Extractor is spot on his illustration that appeared in the periodicals from that time…

Not ironically, the three ads that I could find for the Kentucky Cork Extractor, all appear in fishing / nature publications.

This should arrive on the island in a couple of days, and I will publish better pictures then.

A fantastic addition to the collection.

For those wondering, the patent drawing is pictured in the back of O’Leary (BOO) on page 201.

Pat’d May 13th, 1913

I recognize I have blogged about the Finsel patent cork puller in the past, but I really want one.

So, I thought I would just throw it out there.

Does anyone have an extra one of these?

Marked, “PAT’D MAY 13th, 1913,” the wooden block that protects the prongs is original.

That said, I would take one missing the wooden block if one turns up.

Do you have this unusual American cork puller?  Drop me a line at


Herring, Haddock, Sardines, and Mackerel

In 1918 William H. Moore was awarded patent # 1,258,035 for a Can Opener.


And, fortunately, Mr. Moore was thoughtful enough to include a corkscrew in his patent.

When these turn up, they are often marked with advertising for sardines, herring, etc.  And, there are two versions of the Moore; one version includes a little bottle opener hook on the hinge where the fork folds out (this is the version in the patent drawing).  The other version lacks the bottle opener.

In our collection, we have one Moore patent marked:

“B.M. SHIPMAN IMPORTER NEW YORK” on the back of the fork, while one side of the frame is stamped “BON ACCORD HERRING” and the other side “BON ACCORD MACKEREL”

And, another Moore patent is marked:

“CHR. BJELLAND & Co. STAVANGER, NORWAY” on the back of the fork, while one side of the frame is stamped “BJELLAND”S CANNED GOODS”, and the other side “KING OSCAR SARDINES.”

In recent purchase from Don Bull (taking advantage of his current 30% off sale) I picked up another advertising Moore patent.

foxheadThis one is marked:

““B.M. SHIPMAN IMPORTER NEW YORK” on the back of the fork, while one side of the frame is stamped “FOX HEAD HERRING” and the other side “FOX HEAD MACKEREL”

But, are there other Moore patents out there with other advertising?  Do you have one that has a different advertisement?  Do you have one with no marking?  Just curious…

Feel free to drop me a line at .  It would be really cool if their were still others out there.


Turquoise, Arrowhead, Beads….

Okay… I am pretty sure the decorations are aftermarket, but yesterday a snuff box with foldout corkscrew came up on eBay with a smokin’ buy it now price.

The corkscrew, knife, and snuff box seemed to be in nice shape, but somewhere along the line, some one decided to add some turquoise pieces, what looks to be an arrowhead, and surrounded the arrowhead with red beads…


Embellishments aside, it is a cool corkscrew.  And, as mentioned, it was cheap.

After making sure the corkscrew was all there, I snapped it up.

When it arrives, I will provide better pictures…  Perhaps this should end up in a collection located in the South West…  Any takers?  Feel free to send trade offers : )

Lifting shallow mustard bottle corks…

From a 1908 issue of Home Furnishing Review

The “Best” Can Opener and Cap Remover

This Tool is a most complete kitchen necessity, is made of steel, and is highly finished. The blades are of crucible tool steel, carefully tempered and the instrument


includes five tools in one. It is a can opener and cork puller, and has in addition a fixed tongue, which is exceedingly handy in removing crown caps, lifting mil bottle seals without spilling milk, and extracting small, flat corks from condiment bottles in the manner shown in the illustration. It is a very handy tool and one that will fine almost every day use in the household. This is one of the many specialties made by the W. G. Browne Manufacturing Company, Kingston New York

When the Bird patent turns up, it is marked “PATS 3-28-07 & PENDING.”  and “THE BEST / CAN OPENER / CAP REMOVER / BOTTLE OPENER”

Of course, this particular can opener from W.G. Browne, is the 1909 Benjamin J. Bird patent # 913,191.  The ’07 patent refers to Bird’s previous patent # 854,979 (Thanks Mark Woodard for the information!).


I am on currently hunting the Bird, if you happen to have one!

Interesting to note that one of the Bird’s appendages was intended to open condiment bottle corks!!

Frary Arrival

As mentioned recently, I picked up an oblong handle Frary corkscrew with the Henshall-type button.  This one has a little plus sign underneath that serves as a cork grabber.

And, given I have several of these in different sizes, with different worms, I had hoped that it would be a variant.

It arrived the other day, and the size of the handle, shank, and button, pretty much look the same; not that I pulled out my micrometer to check the exact measurements.


Okay, I haven’t used a micrometer since my days as a machinist, but…

..they look to be the same, until you compare the worms.

Both are complete length, with no breakage or damage to either, but clearly one is longer than the other.


So, technically not a new variation for the collection, but pretty cool nonetheless.


If you have a Frary corkscrew with which you would like to part,

feel free to drop me a line.  I will happily add it to the collection!


On another note, the lovely personal personal trainer and I are off on a road-tripping adventure for a few days.  If any corkscrews are discovered, I will provide updates here!

Stay Tuned!