Somsou & Bruneaux

The other day, on a non-ebay antique site, an interesting cork extractor had just been put up for sale.  As I looked closely, I saw the markings Bruneaux and S.G.D.G.  Or, at least most of what was supposed to be Bruneaux.


The Somsou & Bruneaux patent dates to 1863, and has shown up (not often) but with a variety of handles.  A pretty neat cork extractor, but given it is French and not American, anyone want to make a trade?



Happy Days versus Val-Ber Pull

After the Happy Days Are Here Again opener purchase, and the Vallandingham comparison, in doing a bit of research,  I found a picture of the Vallandingham cork extractor as an opener, in a 2007 issue of the Just For Openers newsletter.


It does have a similar look to the recent purchase, but it is definitely the Vallandingham, as not only does it an advertisement for VAL-BER PULL Co., OSKALOOSA, IOWA, it also carries the patent date PAT APR 7-08

The Val-Ber Pull extractor was available in 1914 in the catalogue of Iowa Drug Company, Drugs, Chemicals, Staple–Druggist Sundries, and Specialties


For $1.50 per dozen, to the local drug store.



There clearly are differences between the two pieces, but both seem to be a both a bottle opener and cork extractor:


If you have the VAL-BER-PULL opener with cork extractor, I would be happy to trade for it, or offer to buy it.

Also, TWJ is on the hunt for the Happy Days opener.  If you have that  one, drop me a lines and I will forward your contact information to Tipped Worm Johnny.

Happy Days are here Again!!!

It is that time of year!  Spring has arrived.  Baseball season is about to start.  The auction is just around the corner, and happy days are here again!!!

Not that we were having sad days, but out here on the island the skies are blue, the snow is gone, and while still chilly, Spring definitely is in the air!!!

Speaking of Happy Days, yesterday, I spotted an odd bottle opener in a lot on eBay.  And, it looked vaguely familiar.


This one…


There was a buy it now on the listing, so I snapped it up.

And, as I am want to do, I started to thumb through O’Leary, as I was going through the pages, I thought to myself…you know, it kind of looks like a 1908 Vallandingham patent.

Now, the Vallandingham patent usually turns up as an attachment to a knife kit.  So, you would think that it couldn’t be a Vallandingham.


However, when you read the 1908 Vallandingham patent description, it explains that:

“This invention relates to a cork extractor for withdrawing cork stoppers from the mouths of bottles, the object of my invention being to produce a simple, cheap, and convenient article that can be carried in the pocket, or on a key ring, and used for extracting corks from stopper bottles.”


Later, in his description here refers to the drawings explain that, “A hole 10 in the head 2 enables the extractor to be attached to a key ring or hung up in some convenient place.”

Of course, as mentioned, the Vallandingham is an 1908 patent.  And, “HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN” as the piece is marked, seems to date to post prohibition.


This opener is marked PAT PEND., could this be another patent closer to the 30’s?  What do you think?


One Quick Pressure and the Cork Is Out

From  Popular Science Monthly. v.92 1918

One Quick Pressure and the Cork Is Out

The corkscrew has at last found a rival in the cork-puller, invented by John Sheridan, of San Francisco. Two thin scissor-like blades, having upwardly inclined serrations, are thus into the cork body. When you close the blade handles, the serrated members open in wedge shape, and the cork can be pulled instantly. The inclined teeth draw the sides of the cork inward, making it smaller than the bottle mouth, so that it is easily drawn out. The puller can easily be withdrawn by again separating the handles. It leaves only a small hole.


The blades are thrust into the cork,

the handles pressed together and the cork extracted.


As the article explains this is the invention of John Sheridan, who was granted his patent ( # 1,240,610) in 1917 for his cork puller.

Within his patent description he explains the objectives of his invention:

First, to provide an improved cork puller;

Second to provide an improved cork puller arranged to engage the cork throughout the entire length thereof;

Third, to provide an improved device of the character described that will tend to draw the sides of the cork away from the sides of the orifice when the device is pulled away from the orifice;

Fourth, to provide an improved cork puller having blades with serrated edges arranged to engage a cork while inserting the deice into the cork; and

Fifth, to provide an improved device of the character described having means arranged to preserve the alignment of the blades while being inserted.



Do any of you have Sheridan’s September 18, 1917 patented cork puller? If you do, I would be interested in trading for it!

Drop me a line!

American Corkscrews with a Pivoted Lateral Projection

For your reading pleasure, I have added an article to the corkscrew research page of

Originally published in 2018 in The Bottle Scrue Times, it is now also online for those of you that haven’t seen it yet.

Check it out!

American Corkscrews with a Pivoted Lateral Projection…

And, if you have any of the cork extractors or cork pullers illustrated in the article, drop me a line!



Another Chinnock corkscrew…

About a dozen years ago, I received a message from Mark W., who had found a corkscrew in the wild, but was unsure of what it was.  He sent a picture, and it looked vaguely familiar.

Given I was at home at the time, I grabbed Ferd’s book on mechanical corkscrews, and there it was.

I texted back.  “Buy it!”

He did.

What he had found was a rare Chinnock.  In the World Class Corkscrews book, a similar one is pictured, upper right, page 114.


Mark’s was slightly different, with wooden handle, and unfortunately with some minor damage.  Still, it was a very cool find.

Mark’s find, nor the piece pictured from the World Class book, is marked with Chinnock’s patent information, but it is shown as a Chinnock in the Russell & Erwin catalog, as the text from the book explains.

Still, having had that exchange, and noticing that the small metal handle from the example in the Mechanical book,  I took note.

The other day, the two pillar type of Chinnock turned up on a non-eBay site with a familiar looking handle.  The same handle that is on the Chinnock in the Mechanical books and the World Class book (I should note, the the Chinnock that appears in both books is the same corkscrew)

Unmarked, it appears to be the missing link between the Chinnock that bears the patent date on the handle, and the squat version with the same same handle.


That said, I have three other variations of the Chinnock.  The same two-pillar frame with a wooden handle incised with the patent date, a barrel with an oval opening with the patent date, and a barrel with a rectangular opening with the patent date.

The latest Chinnock, is a nice addition to the collection…

Of course, if we could add the squat barrel example with brass button, it would make for a great fivesome!

If you have any corkscrew marked Chinnock or Chinnock’s with patent information, feel free to drop me a line

And, if you have the squat barrel Chinnock with a metal OR wood handle, let’s make a deal!

Research Pays Off

As many of you know, I spend a fair amount of time hunting for antique corkscrews.  And, when the time to hunt isn’t available, you will often find me digging into various research avenues in an attempt unearth histories, images, catalogs, etc., that might shed light on an patentee, inventor, or perhaps an old advertisement that features the twisted treasures we covet.

In October of 2016, I posted just a simple illustration for a “Kentucky Cork Extractor”  with information from a 1901 issue of The American Angler, which explained:


This cut represents the most novel invention of the age—THE KENTUCKY CORK EXTRACTOR. The simplicity of its construction and practicability of its use recommends it to the public. Instead of twisting and screwing, you merely push the points into a cork, and, by the natural position an action of the hand in drawing it out, the points open and their barbed edges engage the cork, and the same is easily drawn. Close the points by separating the handles, and the grip is loosened and the cork relieved. A glance at the cut will satisfy one of its many advantages. Price 30c. EACH, post-paid.

W.H. HATHAWAY, P.O. Box 2156, New York

It is such an odd looking device, but then of course, the question the crossed my mind; why is a Kentucky Cork Extractor, being advertised for in The American Angler?  A publication about fishing.  There are no other corkscrews or cork pullers shown in the magazine.

That said, it is also one of those unusual looking devices, that if one was to run across this, it is doubtful that you suspect that it was for pulling corks.

Still, I filed away the image my internal-something-to-look-for-rolodex, and got back to hunting for more information.

Yesterday, after building a wine display, I happened to do a corkscrew search on a non-eBay site, and I saw something that looked familiar with a description that read:

“Vintage Antique Metal Corkscrew J. W. Milam Frankfort Kentucky Fishing Tool?”

With this image…


Wait a minute….


With a very fair asking price, I quickly purchased the item, and figured I would come to understand how they got “corkscrew,” out of this piece, after procuring said, Vintage Antique Metal Corkscrew J. W. Milam Frankfort Kentucky Fishing Tool?

And, in short order I did.

The seller explained in her description of the piece, that the tool is marked, “J.W. Milam, Frankfort Kentucky” and “PATAPPLIEDFOR,” and further explained, “I am not 100% positive this is a corkscrew, however, I purchased it in with a box that had some other vintage corkscrews in it.”

It was a good educated guess, and she is right.

While it isn’t a corkscrew, it certainly is The Kentucky Cork Extractor, and the Milam marking certainly seals the deal.


With the Milam name, it also explains the previous advertisement in The Angler, as B.C. Milam was a well-known fishing reel maker, and his son John W. joined him in the family business.

And, as it happens, his son, John W. Milam, on October 9, 1888 was awarded a patent for a Cork Extractor!



There clearly are variations in how J.W. was going to potentially produce this, as shown in the various  designs in the patent drawing, with the extractor looking more like a combination of figure 3 and figure 5, but the J. W.Milam Kentucky Cork Extractor is spot on his illustration that appeared in the periodicals from that time…

Not ironically, the three ads that I could find for the Kentucky Cork Extractor, all appear in fishing / nature publications.

This should arrive on the island in a couple of days, and I will publish better pictures then.

A fantastic addition to the collection.

For those wondering, the patent drawing is pictured in the back of O’Leary (BOO) on page 201.

Pat’d May 13th, 1913

I recognize I have blogged about the Finsel patent cork puller in the past, but I really want one.

So, I thought I would just throw it out there.

Does anyone have an extra one of these?

Marked, “PAT’D MAY 13th, 1913,” the wooden block that protects the prongs is original.

That said, I would take one missing the wooden block if one turns up.

Do you have this unusual American cork puller?  Drop me a line at