A CORKSCREW FACTORY ON A NEW HAMPSHIRE FARM

From a 1903 issue of Hardware:

A CORKSCREW FACTORY ON A NEW HAMPSHIRE FARM

“Can’t find the corkscrew!”

This remark startled a party of campers among New Hampshire hills, for everybody knows that a corkscrew is one of the very necessary articles to a camping party.

“Never mind,” said the guide, “we’ll have some made.”

So he got a buckboard, and surprised the campers by starting for a corkscrew factory in the New Hampshire hills, and the only shop of its kind in the country, too.  A lively drive over mountain roads brought the party to an old New Hampshire farm on the outskirts of Alton, and a little, weather-beaten on-story shop several miles from the railroad, it was located in the place of the usual barn.  The old oaken bucket hung in a well beneath an elm tree.  A sheep bleated a greeting, and the factory superintendent stood in the doorway of the shop, and pleasantly welcomed his visitors.  In this quaint little shop, situated and managed in the midst of rustic beauty and artistic expression that would delight a Roycrofter, it is claimed all the machine-made corkscrews of this country are produced, a half-ton of wire being daily converted into corkscrews to pull the stoppers of the world.

Ten ingenious machines, each a little bigger than a sewing machine, do all the work, and half a dozen men and girls feed their hungry jaws with sufficient wire and pack for shipment their finished product.  The wire, on spools, is fed into the machine much as thread is run into a sewing machine.  Swiftly, a sharp knife cuts off; leaving a sharp bevelled edge, a piece of wire the desired length for the corkscrew, and just as quickly a revolving core catches the end of the wire, twists it around a fixed post, and then twirls it into the mould of the core. Into the crooks of the corkscrew.   Then the machine ejects the wire, a finished corkscrew.  The bevelled edge is the sharp point of the screw, and the ring, for the pulling finger, was made by the loop around the post.

All day these little machines are busily working, and all night, too, if neccessary to fill orders.  Each one of them is capable of making 150 gross of corkscrews a day.  With slight manipulation they will make any size corkscrew desired, and a change of wide and of the mould of the core being alone necessary to make the finished corkscrew greater or smaller.  Some of the machines spin corkscrews on wooden or tin handles, perhaps with an advertisement of a medicine stamped upon them. Twenty-five thousand gross, or 3,600,000 small corkscrews are taken every year by a Western medicine manufacturer.  Forty bushels in bulk of large corkscrews were being packed for shipment to Germany the day the campers visited the factory.

The ingenious machines are working in interest of the brains and as the energetic ally of Rockwell Clough, wo might be called “The Corkscrew King,” were he not too patriotic a native of rock-ribbed New Hampshire to care for such empty honors.  Rockwell Clough, is however, a Yankee genius.  He made corkscrews by hand in New Jersey, as they still do there to-day, and eventually worked out his ideas for the ingenious machines that do the work to-day.  When he got his machines perfected, he went back to the old Clough homestead, high up on the hills of New Hampshire and in the village of Alton, and he set up his machines in the barn.  For years, nobody was allowed inside the factory, securely guarding the patents on the machines, as they were of great value.  Mr. Clough to-day claims to control all patents of corkscrew making machines in this country, and in most of the countries of Europe.  He is now at the age of three score years, and is contentedly enjoying life, either at the old homestead or in travelling, while his machines spin out corkscrews for the multitudinous public and dollars for himself.

The superintendent generously gave the visiting campers corkscrews of many styles and sizes for souvenirs, and for use.  The campers, having registered their names on the factory visitors’ book, drank from the old oaken bucket, petted he sheep, bade the genial superintendent goodby, and whirled down the mountain road in the springy backboard, and sped back to camp with the corkscrew.