Lookout for Yeggs…

From a December 1932 edition of The Sierra Madre News

Lookout for Yeggs, Police Head Warns Local Householders

Chief of Police Gordon McMillan has issued the following warning to Sierra Madre householders:

“Look out for solicitors! Now on the eve of our greatest holiday the residents who do not want to be bothered by solicitors , peddlers and those selling everything from a patent corkscrew with an ivory handle, to a can opener, and who do not desire to be disturbed from their early morning slumbers or their noon-day naps, should place a card on their doors, stating “Agents, Peddlers, Solicitors, and Beggars Prohibited—No Trespassing.” In placing this card upon your door you will be cooperating with your police department.

“At the present time there is an influx of box-car tourists from the east going from door to door.

Soliciting and peddling are occupations used by sneak-theives, yeggs and crooks as an excuse to enter your premises, and if you chanced to be away from your home, what might happen? And, besides its 100 to one that the peddler is operating without a liscense, violating the law and you have no come back on their wares or representations.”

As an aside:

Merriam-Webster defines Yegg in the following way:
Definition of yegg
also : ROBBER

Thank you Photoshop…

I was going about my usual business today, when I hopped onto a non-eBay site, that had a corkscrew available for purchase.

The price was quite reasonable, but something about the piece caught my eye.

Stag handle, but with a fancy shank.

Often this is the shank that appears on a stag handle that has the Thiery and Croselmire Sterling overlay.

If it is a T & C, the price was more that quite reasonable.

And, doesn’t that look like a little brown showing through, as if there are two different materials?

I made the purchase, and grabbed a different photo from the listing, and lightened it up with Photoshop.

Definitely a Theiry and Croselmire piece, and a nice addition to the T & C collection!

I will shine it up a little when it arrives, and share better pictures then! Stay tuned!

“…can be made cheaply, and will not hurt the hand.”

From the July 31, 1884 issue of The Iron Age:

A new corkscrew is made of a twisted wire shank running out into a cast-steel hardened and tempered screw. The shank is bent and twisted upon itself down the screw, and is attached to the handle in the usual way.  This corkscrew, which has been patented by J.A. Smith of Deep River, Conn,, it is claimed, can be made cheaply and will not hurt the hand.

While not pictured, that would be Joseph A. Smith’s patent of June 3, 1884

Missouri Wine & Liquor Co.

The other day, DB sent me an email with an image of a Converse corkscrew extractor with advertising that doesn’t appear on my list.

And, well, I don’t have it so, in short order a deal was struck.


Of course, it will make a nice addition to the Converse cork extractor with advertising.

So… Who is the Missouri Wine and Liquor Co.

In 1885, the business was called the Missouri Wine Co., but added “Liquor” to their moniker in 1888. And, amongst their offerings they had their own label of whiskey known as “Art Hill Whiskey.”

“Art Hill” being area of Forest Park in St. Louis.

If you want to learn more about Converse cork extractors, and their use as a vehicle for advertising, you can read an article about them that I wrote a few years ago, A Two-Pronged Sales Approach: Converse Cork Extractors with Advertising.

Boxed Will & Finck

Not too long ago, I had exchange with someone about Swedish barrel knives with corkscrews. I have owned a couple, but had moved them on. And, in this exchange on FB, my new collecting friend, shared photos from his collection; lots of barrel knives, a few corkscrews, some wonderful things.

Then, the other day, I happened to be on instagram, and someone posted a Will & Finck carving set in the original box, that included a corkscrew. I reached out to the instagram-er, to inquire about the set.

After doing a little digging, and going through the other Instagram photos, I realized it was the same barrel knife collector.

I reached out via FB messenger, and he explained that the W & F set is not for sale, but did say yes that I could share the image on the blog.

A terrific looking set, and something that would make an awesome addition to the collection, should he change his mind (hint hint hint).

Of course, if you have a Will & Finck boxed set (that includes a corkscrew), or just a Will & Finck corkscrew without the box, I am interested!

Evr’Redy Bottle Opener and Cork Screw

From a 1932 issue of Hardware Age

Evr’Redy Bottle Opener and Cork Screw

The Knape & Vogt Mfg. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., makes the Evr’Redy combination bottle opener and cork puller.  It measures 5 ½ in. high by 1 ¾ in. wide and is complete with two screws.  Combination is made of cold rolled steel, finish in rust-proof silvery cadmium plating.  

Bottle opener is positive in action, while cork pulling device eliminates the need for jerking the cork from the bottle, as the cork removes itself as the bottle is turned.  List price is 35 cents each.  Display card, illustrated, is made of strong compo board with easel back.  Size is 12 in. by 9 in. high.

When found, this wallmount corkscrew is usually marked “Unis Mfg. Grand Rapids, Mich., Pat. Pend,” and of course it is actually the 1929 patent (#79,687) of Frank A. Topping for his “Design for a Combined Cork Puller and Bottle Opener.”

Topping, was also from Grand Rapids.

Not so sure about the, “…rust-proof silvery cadmium plating…”

Handy Cork Extractor

From a 1921 issue of Hardware Age

Many a cork gets stopped or broken in the attempt of removal and must then be fished out or pushed into the contents.  In this little emergency the U-Neek stopper remover made by the Unique Neccesities Corporation, 5011 Catalpa Street, Baltimore Md., comes to the rescue.  

This device fits over the bottle head and has three pins with large heads.  These pins may be set into the cork at an angle, all three pointing inward.  A twist of the handle of the device will then remove the most stubborn cork.

On the handle of the device is a hook that may be used for removing crown seals and milk caps.  This device does not ruin the corks but leaves them in the condition to be used again.

Of course, we are all aware of the U-NEEK; US Patent No. 1213452 awarded to Wilson Brady in 1917.

It is quite the handy cork extractor indeed.

The Missing Blantz…

As mentioned yesterday, I had a Blantz patent tool in the collection, but for some reason it had gone missing.

And, I knew that it didn’t make its way to the JFO meeting, and it was my hope, that when I said it was somewhere between Vinalhaven and Rockland, that it was indeed, NOT at the bottom of the Penobscot Bay.

So, yesterday, with a bit of time on my hands, I went through a box of corkscrews (common stuff) that was on the floor near my desk.

What was odd, was the Blantz came in a small lot of corkscrews, and some of the corkscrews from that lot had made their way into the same box–btw, if Ian H. is visiting you, be sure to offer up your “junk box.” He loves that!

Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw another small box. I picked it up, and there definitely was something inside. Actually, several somethings.

And, there was a small collection of corkscrews and openers, and star drill bits (how did they get in there), and amongst the somethings was the missing Blantz.

And, a missing Peter Pan wall mount opener, that WAS supposed to go to the JFO.

I did sigh a sigh of relief.

The Blantz is no longer missing!

Clayton H. Blantz

In May of last year, I picked up a small lot of corkscrews, and one piece was clearly a cigar box opener. TWJ and I had a back and forth about it, and discussed how the patent date that it is marked with, isn’t a real patent date.

In the latest issue of the Just for Openers newsletter, John explains this, but also by doing a different search (changing the date on the patent from 1915 to 1914) he discovered the patent, and that the little opener was a design patent for a “Tool,” and awarded to Clayton H. Blantz.

What TWJ also mentions in his write up is that no where in the patent description does our man Blantz, mention what the function of the tool is. The patent description reads as follows:

“Be it know that I, Clayton H. Blantz, a citizen of the United States, residing at Lebanon, in the county of Lebanon and State of Pennsylvania, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for Tools, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, forming a part thereof.

The figure is a perspective view of a tool showing my new design.

I claim :

The ornamental design for a tool, as shown.


I get it…it’s a tool. But, a tool to do what?

Clearly it had an opener, presto-lite key, cigar box opener… But, was this a cork puller…

As it happened, the example I found in May is somewhere in Maine between Rockland and Vinalhaven, as I can’t seem to find it. Still, I am always up for a research challenge, and following TWJ’s write up, I started to hunt down the Blantz tool.

And, with a couple of searches, I found a mention of Blantz in 1916 issue of The Billboard. That said, as often happens with archived material on the Internet, there were a few words, no images, but…

…there are other options, and knowing that Blantz appears in one source, there has to be another mention elsewhere.

And, after a bit of sleuthing, I found the advertisement for the 8 in 1 tool.

“BLANTZ’S COMBINATION HOUSEHOLD TOOL”. 8 in 1: Bottle Cap Remover, Label Cutter, Presto-lite Key, Hammer, Nail Puller, Cork Extractor, Nut Pick, and Ice Pick. This tool may be put to a hundred other practical uses. Agents make big profits. Sample mailed for 15c in coin.


So, it is a patent. And, it is a cork extractor.

Given that mine has gone missing, I hit up TWJ to see if he had an extra one (or two, as Tommy’s had one, but he can’t find his either), and of course he had a couple available.

And, a deal was done.

It cost more than .15 in coin each…

Two BLANTZ patents heading to the island.

Thanks for the deal TWJ. And, another patent to hunt down for those that collect American patented cork extractors.