Little Korky

Over the last week, I have had my eyes on a corkscrew on eBay.

I know, big surprise..

And, I had placed a bid early, and said corkscrew lot ended yesterday.

Now, the corkscrew doesn’t have some fabulous function, nor is it made of some unusual materials, it is just cool, and fairly hard to come by…

There have been two of these that have sold on the auction; one for a fairly high price, and one for a few dollars more than the bid that ultimately won the auction on eBay. And, there was one that turned up at the Dearborn CCCC meeting in 2012.

As the auction was winding down to the last two minutes, the corkscrew had jumped in price, and I had pretty much decided to let it go…

And, then with about 30 seconds left, I changed my mind, and threw out a bid.

I was the high bidder!

With 8 seconds to go, my bid was taken out.

With 5 seconds left, I went higher.

I won!

Literally…within seconds of the auction ending, I received a message from TC, which simply said:




Apparently he was one of the other bidders, and we had a good exchange about the scarcity of the little corkscrew, and how we both wanted it.


In 2014, when Fred Kincaid had put his up for sale, he referred to it as “Little Korky,” as it certainly seems to be part of the McDowell patent Korkmaster family…

A fun addition to the collection.  The next one is yours TC!


Andress Again

After a bit of sleuthing, I found the advertisement shared yesterday in an 1895 issue of Hardware Dealer’s magazine.

I have yet to find an advertisement where Empire Forge, actually shows the EMPIRE corkscrew, but I will keep up the hunt.

That said, within the same issue, I did find another advertisement for Thomas Andress and his glass cutters, and this one features the multi-tool that would be of interest to corkscrew collectors:


Of course, even though the piece turns up with Andress’ name and the patent date, we know that this is Frank R. Woodward’s August 24, 1875  Patent # 166,954.

And, when Woodward’s name is found on it, it is marked THE WOODWARD TOOL, with the patent date.




Empire v. Curley

Recently an advertisement for the Empire Forge Co., appeared, and shortly disappeared, from eBay.

Not that it really disappeared, but it was purchased.

No, not by me.

Said advertisement, features several of the items made by Empire Forge, but of interest, is that it is yet another advertisement for the Curley corkscrew that was produced by Empire Forge.


While the example shown in the advertisement carries the patent date, albeit the wrong one–as the patent is actually April 1884 NOT March 1884–that is the way the corkscrew was produced, with the wrong patent date.


Empire also made their own corkscrew, mimicking much of Curley’s design, but instead of the slot and screw that is present on the Curley, they created a removable worm corkscrew, and marked the handle EMPIRE.



When you compare the two together, Curley v. Empire the size and overall design are pretty close:


I am looking for a second example of the EMPIRE if you have one with which you would like to part.

Or course, I am open to any, and all, antique corkscrews, so feel free to send photos to


Andress’ Glass Cutting Novelties

From the April 10, 1897 issue of Hardware:

Andress’ Glass Cutting Novelties

Thomas J. Andress, No. 821 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, Pa., is indentified with the manufacture of a line of glass cutting novelties, one of the best known being illustrated below.


This is a good selling line of useful specialites, and embraces in its variety combined glass cutters and putty knives, glass cutters, can openers and knife sharpeners, glass cutters, knife and scissors sharpeners, and the same combination having a gas burner plyer attached, and another having a corkscrew attached. These conveneient appliances are reasonable in price and deserve to meet with a ready sale. Catalogues will be mailed upon request to the manufacturer.


Of course, when the Andress “…having a corkscrew attached.” shows up, it looks nothing like the woodcut from the 1897 issue of Hardware, and is marked THE ANDRESS TOOL, PAT. AUGUST. 24. 75.




Ladies Friend…

On Sep. 02, 1879, Benjamin N. Shelley of Anderson, Indiana was awarded patent number 219,313 for his Improved Combination Implement for Domestic and Other Uses.


When the Shelley turns up, it is usually found with a PATD APLD FOR marking (with the two D’s in superscript) as well as the mark “LADIES FRIEND.”

In Shelly’s patent drawing, he explains:

My invention consists of a combined implement for domestic and other purposes, which presents in a single device and compact form the functions of hammer, screw-driver, cork-screw, can-opener, ice-pick, glass cutter and breaker, stove-lifter, tack-drawer, saw-set, knife-sharpener, wrench, steak-tenderer, and putty-knife.

That is a lot of uses.

And, a lot of hyphens…

That said, when the “LADIES FRIEND” turns up, they almost always have damage to the corkscrew.  Odd turns, broken tips; it makes you wonder what material Shelley used for the corkscrew, or perhaps people in 1878 opted to use the corkscrew as the stove-lifter or steak-tenderer…

Still, it is fabulous combination multi-tool with corkscrew that I would love to add to the collection…

If you have a “LADIES FRIEND” laying around, feel free to drop me a line at Josef@vintagecorkscrews,com

Of course, feel free to email regarding any antique corkscrews with which you wish to part.


“A good corkscrew is necessary in every household…”

From the publication: The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress, housekeeper, cook, kitchen-maid, butler, footman, coachman, valet, parlour-maid, housemaid, lady’s maid, general servant, laundry-maid, nurse and nurse-maid, monthly, wet, and sick-nurse, governess : also, sanitary, medical and legal memoranda : with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort.


174. Corkscrew. –a good corkscrew is necessary in every household, and the Tangent Lever Corkscrew, illustrated in page 80, possesses manifest advantages over the ordinary corkscrew, especially for the woman’s use. The screw is twisted into the cork in the usual way ; the socket at the end of the lower arm of the instrument is then placed over the top of the neck of the bottle and the curved projection, which terminates the upper arm, through the hole in flat piece of metal to which the rom or screw is attached. By exerting pressure on the thin end of the arm, which acts as a lever, the cork is withdrawn from its position, and lifted out of the neck of the bottle.  The price of the Tangent Lever Corkscrew, complete is. 4d.  Extra screws may be had at 6d, each.  The Rack Lever Corkscrew, in bronze, at 4s. 6d. and 6s.6d., or in polished steel at 11s. 6d. : and the Thumb Lever Corkscrew at 5s. 6d. or 7s., nickel plated, are excellent corkscrews, by which the most obstinate corks may be drawn without trouble or exertion to the drawer.