D.F. Jones Cork Extractor

From a May 1926 issue of Northwestern Druggist

An Efficient Cork Extractor

By G.A. Bender

A CORK extractor of uncommon type which has yet to come into general usage, yet one of the most efficient tools of this type for practical purposes has been devised and in use for many years in the D.F. Jones store, Watertown.  The extractor was evolved by accident from a rather interesting and ancient source, the old time beer bottle wire cutter such as was in vogue before the crown cap came into existence.  It consists of a thin, flat spring steel bar about the thickness of a saw blade, five inches long, about a half inch wide at the outer end, tapering

Gradually to about 5/32 inch, then finished with a curved pointed probe at the business end.  Except at the very tip, the extractor retains practically a uniform thickness.  The handle is pierced conveniently for hanging. 

In use, the extractor is inserted, flat surface next to the cork, until sufficiently below the glass to give leverage.  Then with a twisting motion the extractor is given a quarter turn, bringing the curved, pointed end into the cork.  This motion is accompanied with an upward lever action, the lip of the bottle acting as a fulcrum.  Almost invariably, if the lever has been inserted deeply enough to avoid breakage, the cork is removed easily.  If may then be placed on the counter bottoms side up, the extractor remains in in place, ready for re-insertion; both operations may be accomplished without necessitating touching the cork with the hands, thus avoiding danger of soiling and dropping.  The extractor works equally well on both small and large corks, removing them a minimum of damage and disfiguration.

To give satisfactory results, however, the tool must be carefully made of spring steel, and correctly shaped (See diagram.)  A softer steel will not hold its shape, and will bend in the process of twisting, causing much annoyance.  The point must also be carefully formed; if too sharp and thin, it will tend to cut rather than lift the cork; if too heavy, trouble may be experience in securing proper performance.

Rightfully constructed, this devise is a most handy addition to the prescription department.  The cost of construction is not exorbitant, considering he amount of service it will give.  Daily use of a period of years has proven its value.

“Certainly if some corkscrews had tongues what tales they could unfold !”

From an 1890 issue of The American Stationer

Only a Corkscrew


And altogether insignificant looking, no matter from what point of view it is regarded.  Where as a manufacture, or article of utility, or indispensable aid to the enjoyment of ginger ale or Piper Heidsick, its importance is apt to be overlooked.  In fact a corkscrews is one of those commonplace littler articles which civilization has evolved to meet those requirements of comfort and convenience never appreciated until they are wanted and cannot be found.  After a person has spent half an hour in trying to dig a cork out of the neck of a bottle with a fork, and has succeeded in jabbing his thumbs and pushing the cork down into the bottle, his mind will, for the time being, undergo a change, a corkscrew will assume considerable importance in his estimation.

A corkscrew seems to be one of the simplest contrivances in the world and hardly deserving of a second thought as a manufacture.  If one were to ask the first person how he met how the little instrument is made the answer would undoubtedly be that a piece of steel wire was coiled round, a shank inserted into the handle end, and then a wooden handle put on a under a metal ferrule.  To all appearances that would be quite correct, which proves how little the world at large knows about the labor expended upon even the plainest contrivance intended to serve its convenience.  Really, however, corkscrews have to undergo about a dozen different operations before they are ready for the handles, the first of which is cutting the steel wire into lengths.  Then each piece of wire is put into a machine which draws out the part to be coiled, making its diameter considerably less than that of the upper part.  After this they are again cut to obtain uniformity of length.

The next two operations are pointing and drilling a hole for the insertion of a shank, after which comes the grinding and the annealing of the point, which must be very sharp of course.  Each wire is not put into a little machine and bent into an obtuse angle at the point where the coil will begin.  This bend makes a hold for the wire when it is put into the curler, which is the next operation it has to undergo.  Simply stated, the curler is a spindle, with a screw thread cut in it, working in a sleeve.  A pair of steel jaws hold the wire as it is caught by and drawn into the sleeve and thence around the spindle, following the screw threads.

Tempering and hardening follow, after which large numbers are put into what are called “tumbling barrels,” with a quantity of specially prepared powder, to be brightened.  The barrels revolve and the contents being continuallytumbled about, are brightened by the friction.  This process requires five days and three changes.  The corkscrews are then cleaned in an acid bath, from whence they go to the plating room to be tricked out with a nickel coat, after which they are burnished, and are ready for the handle.  If is this to be a common wooden one the operation of attaching it is too simple to need explanation.

If, however, the corkscrews are to be the new and neat novelties which can be carried in the pocket, considerable more manipulation is necessary, as the handle is molded out of white metal, the screw being put in a mold and the molten metal poured in to form the handle.  It then goes into a machine which removes the superfluous metal, thence to a lathe which gives the handle a neat and graceful shape.  It is then put into another lathe, which turns and smooths the outside of the ring at the end of the handle, and another machine bores the ring to the required diameter and smooths the inner surface.  The case is of brass and it seamless, being shaped in dies, and three operations being necessary to draw it into proper shape ; these, with the cutting, nickel plating, beading and burnishing, give seven operations for this alone.  When the corkscrew is used the case is removed and inserted in the ring at the end of the handle, thus giving the needed grasp for the fingers.

Here we have one of the simplest implements in common use which, nevertheless, has passed through about fifteen different operations, requiring the services of nearly as many persons, before it reached the handle stage, and that may require from three to a dozen manipulations according to the style being manufactured.  Inspecting, testing, carding, packing bring it on its course as far as the truck which consigns it to the tender mercies of the wholesaler and jobber, so that, after all, a corkscrew has achieved importance and experience ere it reaches the butler’s pantry.

With things of common use, as with the commonplace in nature, we are prone to let familiarity breed contempt, yet it is the grass and the trees, not the rose gardens and orchid houses, which make a pleasant landscape.  It is the small conveniences, conceived in the busy brain of the genius and laboriously fashioned by skilled mechanism and deft fingers, which save our temper and our strength and do a large part in smoothing life’s pathway.  Many people lack dignity, yet are very interesting, nevertheless.

A corkscrew is not a commanding object, yet its career, from the smelting pot to the dealer’s shelf, is full of interesting incidents, although some might say the modest creation has only begun to live at that point, and the real experience and adventure are only gained when it has passed into private ownership.  Certainly if some corkscrews had tongues what tales they could unfold !


I must admit, that I tend to focus too much on variations.

So, it absolutely delights me to know that I am not alone in this…

Not too long ago, I had picked up a COMBI opener corkscrew combination that is a Japanese patent.

And, knowing a fellow collector had just missed out on one, I sent him a message explaining that a COMBI was on its way from Japan.

Note, that this piece has COMBI into the handle and a mark of H.C STAINLESS STEEL.

When it arrived, I packed it up with another corkscrew and sent it off to the aforementioned collector.

The other day, I received a message that while he was cataloging the piece, he noticed something…

Apparently there are two versions of this, not that anyone cares about two 1976 patented COMBI corkscrews from Japan…but, the version that he had missed out on, and the version that is in SCREWBASE, has COMBI written in the reverse.

Not IBMOC mind you, but it is cast in the opposite direction.

COMBI with the C closest to the opener, and COMBI with the C opposite the bottle opener…and, no H.C. STAINLESS STEEL…

Two variations of the same patent…

And, there were some corkscrews in the mail…

I have been off island for several days, and made it back yesterday, and the post office box was in overflow…

Literally, there was a little note in my box that read, “OVERFLOW.”

A nice little collection of corkscrews:

A 1914 Sommers patent with advertising for the VENDOME HOTEL.

A Gottfried-Krueger type, but with blank celluloid (non) advertisement–marked PATENT PENDING on the side of the handle.

the Two PAT PENDING openers mentioned the other day; one with pie crimper

And, of course the Moses Hawk patent, also mentioned the other day…

Now, how can we get even more antique corkscrews to get my post office box overflowing….

Pie Crimper and Can Opener with Corkscrew…

In 2012, John Morris gave an O’Leary-update presentation at the ICCA AGM in Chicago. For those of you unfamiliar with John’s series of updates. Every few years, he puts together a presentation of new American corkscrew discoveries or patent variations that appear in the back of Fred O’Leary’s book on American corkscrews (fondly referred to at B.O.O., Back of O’Leary) which shows all of the known American patent drawings for corkscrews, cork extractors, wine openers, etc.

Now, there have been a few corkscrew patents that aren’t shown in the front nor the back of O’Leary’s book on American patented corkscrews, but Fred did capture nearly all of them.

And, of course, also in the back of O’Leary there is a section on patent wannabes; corkscrews with Pat. Pend., Pat. Applied For., or similar markings, but no patent has been found–although–sometimes later, a patent has been found.

There hasn’t been an update since 2016, but I know that John is keeping a list, as he mentioned it to me the other day.

That said, in his 2012 update mentioned earlier, there was a pie crimper with corkscrew that I have been after ever since first seeing his example.

5 years ago, I found a similar can opener lacking the pie crimper with a PAT APL’D FOR mark, but that somehow made its way into someone else’s collection at that year’s AGM–I am pretty sure it was Martha who picked it up for John.

Yesterday, a deal was struck for a matching pair or PAT APL’D FOR can openers, both with fold out corkscrews. And one with the pie crimper!

You just never know what will turn up next!

The hunt continues…

Moses supposes…

Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,
Moses he knowses his toeses aren’t roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!

For those unaware, that is from Singing in The Rain

A deal was struck for my first corkscrew purchase of 2022! A Moses L. Hawk multi-tool with the PAT. APP. FOR mark.

Our man Moses was granted multiple patents…

647,602 Apr. 17, 1900 for a Knife, Scissors or Skate Sharpener.
706,823 Aug. 12, 1902 for a Can Opener.
911,239 Feb. 02, 1909 for a Vegetable Parer and Cutter.
RE12,965 Jun. 01, 1909 for a Vegetable Parer and Cutter.

just to name a few…

I am not sure if this will make the best six of 2022, but with 363 days left in the corkscrew collecting fiscal year… you just never know.

Happy New Year!

The first cup of coffee for 2022 has been poured…

And, it’s January 1, and I have yet to find an antique corkscrew in 2022 that will make my best six of the year.

Perhaps something will turn up later this morning…

Happy New Year to you all! We wish you good health, happiness, and a year of good hunting!