a year of corkscrewing around…

With 2020 being the year of COVID-19, not a lot of traveling took place.

The ICCA Annual General Meeting was held via ZOOM, and of course all three Brimfield shows were cancelled, as were the JFO and CCCC meetings.

Still, there were corkscrews to be found, corkscrews acquired, corkscrews traded, and we added a few corkscrews to the collection through various avenues.

Hopefully, at some point, we will be able to get back to normal–whatever that will look like–and once again hit the road in pursuit of twisted treasures.

That said, given our continued remote-ness, if you have a corkscrew with which you would like to part, feel free to send pictures to josef@vintagecorkscrews.com .

Happy New Year! And, let’s hope that 2021 brings us the ability to move from social distancing to socially embracing once more…

Let the 2021 hunt begin!

Over the past few years, I have published a best six wishlist. And, while there is no way to really anticipate what will come into the collection over the next year, you can always hope to add some fantastic corkscrews to the collection.

Here was my wishlist for 2020:

Frary Sullivan
Something from the back of O’Leary
Frary with can opener
Jenner patent (I do have one, but it is in horrible shape)
Philos Blake patent
Zeilin patent: pictured on page 63 of O’Leary and marked, “ONE TEASPOONFULL PARRISHS HYPOPHOSPHITES, J.H. ZEILIN & CO. PHILA, PA”

Of course, as you all know, two Blakes found their way into the collection, and there was indeed a new find from the back of O’Leary with the Matthews patent of 1893.

So, we can cross the Blake off the wishlist, but I will still keep the “something from the back of O’Leary,” on the list, as it is so fun to unearth a previously unknown patented corkscrew.

So… Given that I missed out (twice) on a Shelley patent this year, I think that definitely should make the wishlist for 2021…

Frary Sullivan

Something from the back of O’Leary

Frary with can opener

Jenner patent (I do have one, but it is in horrible shape…still)

1879 Shelley patent multi-tool often marked “LADIES FRIEND.”

Zeilin patent: pictured on page 63 of O’Leary and marked, “ONE TEASPOONFULL PARRISHS HYPOPHOSPHITES, J.H. ZEILIN & CO. PHILA, PA”

Of course, there are many many American corkscrews and cork pullers that I would love to add to the collection, and you never know what might turn up next!

Let the corkscrewy hunt continue.

Best Six for 2020

  1. 1860 Philos Blake patent #27,665 with floating “lever nut,” using the language from the patent description, that, “…bears directly against the cap…and is entirely separate therefrom…” marked MARCH 27-60 (O’Leary, p. 32-33).
  2. 1862 Abraham T. Russel patent #34,216.  Marked faintly on the cam with PAT, but the rest of the marking too faint to read (O’Leary, p. 33).
  3. 1860 Philos Blake patent #27,665 with fixed “lever nut,” that “revolves within and is connected to the cap,” marked MARCH 27-60 (O’Leary, p. 32-33).
  4. 1893 Jeremiah Matthews patent #496,887 for a Door Securer, with peg and worm type corkscrew.  Marked across the handle COLUMBIAN, PAT. APL’D. FOR, and MATTHEWS SOUTH BEND, IND., and on the door securer / peg PAT. NOV. 1, 92.  This is Matthews’ 1892 door securer patent combined with his 1893 patent where the case and corkscrew were added.  As explained in the most recent issue of The Bottle Scrue Times and at our ZOOM 2020 AGM Show & Tell, this is a new discovery from the back of O’Leary (O’Leary, p. 208).
  5. Will & Finck Ivory handled corkscrew with blade, brush, and hexagonal shaft—marked on the shaft Will & Finck.
  6. 1875 Frank R. Woodard patent #166,954 in plier form, unmarked (O’Leary, p. 39). 

Merry Christmas!!!

That is some tight wire…

As many of you are aware, Don Bull is selling off a collection, and every Sunday…or so, a new batch of corkscrews, champagne taps, and wine antiques have been added to his website. You can see what is currently available by visiting his site here.

On this most recent Sunday (yesterday) a new group of corkscrews was made available, and at the appointed time, I hopped online and quickly went through the pages.

And, being quick is key here, as there are other collectors hopping on at the same time.

In short order, I copied the code on one that I wanted, and emailed it off.

]And, within a minute, saw another one I wanted, and emailed that off.

The early bird gets the worm, don’t ya know…

At some point later on, I got confirmation from Don, that I was first on those two corkscrews, apparently narrowly beating out TWJ.

I really like this little wire T. Now, that is some tight wire work!!!

The other corkscrew that is heading to the island from the collection is a Williamson Powercone marked Williamson across the wires–technically a duplicate of one that we have in the collection, but always good to have some good tradebait!

Thanks for the deal DB. I will be looking forward to news of the next offerings!

$ 2.14 each…

Last night, for some reason, I hopped on eBay, and came across an interesting corkscrew lot. 7 corkscrews, for $14.99…

…which works out to just over $2.14 each…

Now, of the 7, at $2.14, you might say, “Josef, you clearly overpaid.”

And, I would agree with you.

But, with one of them, at $2.14, it was definitely a good deal. And, at $14.99 it was definitely still a good deal.

Yes… that is a Frary and a Haff in the upper left hand corner.

Not a best six contender, but Frary (and Haff) corkscrews are always welcome additions to the collection.

the sixth…

Okay… I have narrowed the list. I do have the best five figured out, unless something incredible turns up in the next two weeks. So, let’s try this one more time. What single corkscrew should make the list?

The Will & Finck and the Matthews patent are in… And, based on your previous votes, I have narrowed the other options.


In 2008, the lovely and I were in Paris for a fancy food show. She had been there for several days, and I flew in for a long weekend. And, the little apartment we had rented for the week, was adjacent to a lovely little restaurant that became our hangout for the ensuing days.

As it happened, a friend had recommended it, and on our first night as we ended up closing down the place having copious amounts of wine with the owner and his friends. It became our favorite restaurant in Paris.

And, when somehow we connected with Ian and Sue Hunter during that trip, we made reservations at L’Épouvantail for four, and had a fabulous time.

The last time we were in Paris, we found our way to L’Épouvantail, only to find it closed…

This afternoon, a corkscrew arrived in the mail, and it served as a reminder of those fond memories; of drinking wine until the wee hours of the morning with the owner, of him holding court with his friends and having them all nod in agreement to literally everything he said. Of evenings that followed, where wine would be shared, stories would be shared, and even though it would be a repeat performance, how we loved the conviviality.

L’Épouvantail = The Scarecrow…

gotta start compiling…

Already, there have been several best sixes (fantastic ones, btw) that have found their way into my email box from various collectors from across the globe.

And, for those of you that participate in this requisite behavior every year, it is time to start compiling, sorting, photographing, and documenting your best six corkscrews of the year.

I am close to making a decision on our best six, but I am still holding out hope that something in the coming three weeks will push a current best candidate off the 1st through 6th place corkscrew podium.

Not that there is an actual corkscrew podium–although I am considering building one.

Nor will there be a an official best six ceremony or anthem.

Although…there will probably be some adult beverages involved.

Let the best six building commence! What are your best six?

What’s next…

The lovely and I were driving up the coast yesterday, and after a requisite stop at The Big Chicken Barn–that’s an antique mall, for those wondering–she asked, “Now that you have the Blake, what’s next? What’s the next corkscrew that is on your list?”

I thought about it for a moment, and responded with, “the White patent…”

Now, I actually owned the White patent for a brief time.

For long time readers, you may recall the story of “the Church” in Iowa, which lead to a collection within which the White was found. It was quite an adventure.

Unfortunately, the White was missing the little wing nut that attaches to the helix.

And, while there were several collectors that offered up suggestions of how to fix it, I sold it “as is” (or more aptly put “as was,” given this was nearly a decade ago) to a collector who was willing to take up the task of casting a new wing nut handle to fix the piece.

Patented on July 3, 1883, the White is cool lever corkscrew. And, what makes it especially cool, is it was designed to rest on the shoulders of the bottle rather than on the neck, as a Tucker or Sperry would.

And, it was adjustable, and you would use the other wing nut, that connects the lever to the neck-stand, to adjust for varying bottle sizes.

Of course, there are lots of what’s next-es, on my what’s next list (not that I actually have a list) but the White would definitely be a welcome addition to the collection…


In 2012, at the JFO, I managed to pry a Davis patent with blade away from TWJ.

As we were in Las Vegas, it took me winning multiple hands of blackjack to come up with enough chips to match his asking price…

It was a needed addition to the growing Detroit / Davis / Puddefoot collection, as in short order–a couple of months later–I wrote and published an article on the Davis Cork Screw Company that was presented at the 2012 CCCC AGM.

You can read that article here

And, while I really don’t need another Detroit / Davis / Puddefoot corkscrew, yesterday another Pabst Brewing Davis was ending on eBay, and since it is the non-bladed version, I decided to place a bid. The finish is rough on this one, but it is a version that I don’t have.

When it arrives, it will find itself a place amongst the others…