Erie Specialty Mfg. Co.

I will preface this by saying, I don’t really collect bar screws.  I mean, I do have the Frary Fifth Avenue, and I would happily add the Frary Sullivan, but usually bar screws that find their way to the island, ultimately… find their way into other collections.

That said, the other day a really cool looking Walker patent bar screw came up on eBay, and I just couldn’t help myself.

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I really dig the the red advertising place that reads “”ERIE SPECIALTY MFG. CO. ERIE, PA, PAT APLD.”

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Wishlist for 2020

It is New Year’s Eve, and as we are about to ring in 2020, as is tradition, I figured I would throw out a corkscrew wishlist for the coming year.

As mentioned previously, it was a great year of collecting, and one of the corkscrews that has been on my wishlist for years, found its way into the collection.  And, actually, since I managed to find two different versions of the Sperry, they made their way into the collection.

Here is my wishlist from a couple of years ago:

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Frary Sullivan Bar Screw

Something from the back of O’Leary

Frary with can opener

Jenner patent

Philos Blake patent

Sperry patent

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So… the Sperry is off the list, and I did manage to find something from the back of O’Leary!

Still, finding something in the back of O’Leary, or a patent that doesn’t appear within his book, is always on the wish list.

And, while someone, I am sure, will be adding an 1862 Russell patent (albeit a broken one) to their corkscrew collection this year, amongst others the piece I would really like to add is another Zeilin.

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So, here is the list.  Of course, I would love to add all kinds of corkscrews, but let’s see if we can’t knock a couple of these off.

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”

Let the hunt continue!

What is on your wishlist for 2020?  

Feel free to email your corkscrew wishlist for 2020 to me.  Maybe some of our readers have doubles or are up for a trade!

 

 

A year of corkscrewing around…

While the best six will be published in the next day or so, it is the day before Christmas, and looking back, it has been yet another fantastic year of corkscrewing around.

I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you, to all of you, for your friendship (and readership).

Merry Christmas!  And, good hunting in the New Year!

Dirty Dozen of 2019

As I have done in the past, I have narrowed the list of possible best 6 candidates to 12.  And, over the coming days, I will narrow the list that much further.

It would be really cool if something suddenly knocked something off the list.

And, that very well could happen.  We do have 10 more days in the fiscal corkscrew collecting year, after all.

But, feel free to weigh in, what do you think should make the list?

 

From the Inside Out

From the Inside Out:

The Cork Extractors of John W. Milam and John Sheridan

Originally published in The Bottle Scrue Times – 2019

As many of you know, I love to research the corkscrews and cork extractors that we each covet.  And, as mentioned in the past, the continuing digitization of old periodicals and documents has netted out a plethora of information to dig through…albeit virtually.

This ongoing hunt can often turn up with very little, as not all past periodicals are readily available.  There can be other times when a search for “cork extractor” for example, can garner an old illustration with a description of a yet-to-have-been-found patent.

Better said, we may have known about the patent itself, thanks to Fred O’Leary and the inclusion of all the patent drawings that appear in the back his book on American patented corkscrews—affectionately referred to as the “Back of O’Leary or BOO—but a real-life example has yet to have been discovered within our respective collections.

Still, when you find an article about a patented cork extractor, or when you find an advertisement for a patented cork extractor, you would have to imagine that it would have been produced at some point.  We just need to find it!

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 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 and action of the hand in drawing it out, the points and their barbed edges engage the cork, and he same is EASILY DRAWN.  Close the separating handles, and the grip is loosened and the cork relieved.  A glance at the cut will satisfy one of its many advantages.

Several years ago, I ran into such an advertisement for “The Kentucky Cork Extractor,” appearing in an 1891 issue of The American Angler; a magazine about fishing.   The same ad also appears in a periodical entitled Nature.

There were several questions that occurred to me in finding the advertisement.   One, does this appear in the back of Fred’s book.  Two, why is this appearing in a magazine about fishing?  And, finally as a cork extractor, would this work?

As is often my practice, I turned to the back of O’Leary and started examining the patent drawings.

What I found, were two patents that function similarly.  Each utilize serrated or barbed edges to grab the cork.  Each was intended to be inserted into the middle of the cork, and once engaged, the serrated teeth grab the cork from the inside.  Having bitten into the cork, the cork would be withdrawn out of the bottle.  These are the Milam patent of 1888 and the Sheridan patent of 1917.

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I will add here, that the only cork extractor that operates in a similar fashion that is shown in the World Class Corkscrews book, is the rare N.P. Samuelson cork extractor; patented in Demark in 1903, Sweden in 1904, Norway in 1904, Germany in 1904, England in 1904, and Austria in 1905.

That said, in examining the patent drawings—now using Google Patents to look at them in a larger format—neither really matched up exactly with the Kentucky Cork Extractor, although the Milam of patent 1888 comes close.

On October 9, 1888, John Milam was awarded patent number 390,691 for a Cork Extractor.

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As described in his patent, “This invention relates to a device for extracting corks from the necks of bottles: it consists of pivoted levers having piercing prongs or fingers adapted when lying side by side, to be driven into the cork, where they may be separated and forced into engagement therewith, after which they, with the cork, may be withdrawn.”

One should also note from his patent drawings and description that his intention was to create three versions: the standard version as shown in Figure 1, a bar mount version, and a pocket version.

milampat2“In Fig. 4 I have shown my invention combined with an operating-lever and stand in a manner useful in constant or frequent use, as in bar-rooms.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

milampat3“In Fig. 5 I have shown a convenient form of the invention for carrying in the pocket.  In such form the handles are provided with finger-loops K, while one or both of them are jointed, at k, to permit them to be folded down by the side of the prongs to lessen the danger of cutting or piercing the person so carrying the implement.”

 

 

 

In 1917, John A. Sheridan, was awarded patent number 1,240,610 for an Improved Cork Puller.

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The Sheridan patent has certain similarities to the Milam, with the use of serrated edges on the blades being inserted into the cork.  His patent explains his intentions;

“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 device 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.”

And, the following article appears in a 1918 issue of Popular Science Monthly:

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.

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The blades are thrust into the cork, the handles pressed together

and the cork extracted.

 

As previously mentioned, neither patent drawing was an exact match to the Kentucky Cork Extractor as pictured in the advertisement in The American Angler magazine.  The pocket version of the Milam bears the most similarities, but it clearly wasn’t the Sheridan.

So, at the time, I was unable to answer the three questions mentioned earlier. Does this appear in the back of O’Leary?  Why was it in a Fishing Magazine?  And, would this work?  Still, I filed away the advertisement of The Kentucky Cork Extractor into a research file on my desktop, and also into my something-to-look-for-internal-rolodex.

Three years after finding the advertisement, I found some answers.

As it happened, I ran across a familiar looking tool, with the most interesting description from the person selling it, on a non-eBay website; described as “J.W. Milam, Frankfort, Kentucky, Fishing Tool Corkscrew.”

In their description of the item, the seller explained how they came to believe it was some sort of corkscrew, explaining, “I don’t know if this is a corkscrew or not, but I found it amongst a box of other vintage corkscrews.”

As I glanced at the image, I knew it looked familiar, but it had been a few years since I had run across the advertisement.  Still, I promptly paid their asking price.

After securing the deal, I returned to the back of O’Leary.  Yes, the 1888 patent was J.W. milammarksMilam.  And, while the Kentucky Cork Extractor as shown in the advertisement, does not exactly look like the patent drawing, it does come close to a combination of Figure 1 and Figure 4 in his patent drawings.  Further, it is marked “J.W. Milam, Frankfort, Kentucky,” and “PATAPPLIEDFOR.”  And, it is spot on in comparing it with the advertisement.

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Answer to question one: Yes, it does exist within O’Leary, but in a slightly different form.

milamreelAs far as the appearance in a fishing magazine question.  J.W. Milam, was the son of B.C. Milam, who made fine fishing reels.  B.C. Milam & Son (that son being J.W.) fishing reels were the reel of choice of three American Presidents, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt, and were awarded four international first prizes and medals at the Chicago World’s Fair, Fisheries Exposition in Bergen, Norway, at the World’s Exposition in Paris, France and at the St. Louis Exposition in Saint Louis.   Today, a B.C. Milam & Son fishing reel can fetch from the hundreds of dollars well into the thousands to fishing reel collectors

Given that the Milam brand was already a presence in fishing magazines of the time like The American Angler and Nature, it makes sense that the Kentucky Cork Extractor would be advertised in these publications.

Answer to question two:  The manufacturers of the Kentucky Cork Extractor produced fishing reels as their primary business.

Finally, does it work?

The short answer, would be yes.   When you insert prongs of the Milam into a cork, and then pull on the handles, the serrated prongs do bite into the cork.  So, with a little extra pulling effort a cork would be able to be extracted.

While I have yet to actually pull a cork with it, perhaps if I find an older 375 ml of Sauterne with a softer cork, I might give it a go.

This would be a “new” discovery from the back of O’Leary, and a wonderful addition to the collection.  Now, we just need to find the Sheridan patent!

 

 

Do you have a similar cork extractor?  Drop me a line at josef@vintagecorkscrews.com

 

Clever Combination Cork Screw and Cork Extractor

From a 1919 issue of Electrical Examiner:

Combination Cork Screw and Cork Extractor.

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(316) Dan Lingo, Huntington Ark., submits an idea of a combination cork screw and cork extractor, and our illustration shows the idea which consists of a handle, cork screw on one end and beaded wire ends with the ring, at the other side. The modus operandi is shown in Fig. No 2. With a device of this kind as is well-known the cork can be extracted very readily once it is pushed inside the bottle.

A. The idea is a good one, and while there is of course nothing new as far as the two utensils are concerned, the combination of the two into one is undoubtedly a good feature. To our mind, if the wires could be pushed inside the handle, out of the way, it would be an added feature of merit. We believe a patent can be obtained on a device of this kind

Three Bows

About a week ago, or so, whilst working the deal for the Sperry, I also managed to swing a deal for three folding bow corkscrews.

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The three are indeed interesting, although two are doubles.    The doubles are both Williamson, with one being marked with the 1883 patent date, and the other that is referred to as the apple bow.

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The third, I find most interesting, as the metal piece that serves as the hinge as a hard snap to it.

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It is shown in a Simmons Hardware Company catalog from the 1890’s, along with a few others…

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Of course, if anyone needs the Williamson bow with patent date or the Williamson apple bow, I am always up for a trade…

And, along came Murphy…

There were a couple of arrivals on Monday, and I am quite pleased with the additions.

The Sperry is quite handsome, with a full helix, and marked with the 1878 patent date.

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And, as much as I have wanted to add a Sperry patent to the collection, a fantastic R. MURPHY BOSTON corkscrew also arrived yesterday; this version with a blade and a brush.

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While I have no doubt that the Sperry will make the best 6 of the year, the Murphy will also be in the running, as it is the first example I have with a brush and blade.

murphydisplayfromboston

Years ago, when we put together the Murphy display for the Boston CCCC meeting, there were Murphys with brushes and Murphys with blades, but not both.

A couple of nice additions to the collection!