Ladies Friend…

On Sep. 02, 1879, Benjamin N. Shelley of Anderson, Indiana was awarded patent number 219,313 for his Improved Combination Implement for Domestic and Other Uses.


When the Shelley turns up, it is usually found with a PATD APLD FOR marking (with the two D’s in superscript) as well as the mark “LADIES FRIEND.”

In Shelly’s patent drawing, he explains:

My invention consists of a combined implement for domestic and other purposes, which presents in a single device and compact form the functions of hammer, screw-driver, cork-screw, can-opener, ice-pick, glass cutter and breaker, stove-lifter, tack-drawer, saw-set, knife-sharpener, wrench, steak-tenderer, and putty-knife.

That is a lot of uses.

And, a lot of hyphens…

That said, when the “LADIES FRIEND” turns up, they almost always have damage to the corkscrew.  Odd turns, broken tips; it makes you wonder what material Shelley used for the corkscrew, or perhaps people in 1878 opted to use the corkscrew as the stove-lifter or steak-tenderer…

Still, it is fabulous combination multi-tool with corkscrew that I would love to add to the collection…

If you have a “LADIES FRIEND” laying around, feel free to drop me a line at Josef@vintagecorkscrews,com

Of course, feel free to email regarding any antique corkscrews with which you wish to part.


“A good corkscrew is necessary in every household…”

From the publication: The book of household management : comprising information for the mistress, housekeeper, cook, kitchen-maid, butler, footman, coachman, valet, parlour-maid, housemaid, lady’s maid, general servant, laundry-maid, nurse and nurse-maid, monthly, wet, and sick-nurse, governess : also, sanitary, medical and legal memoranda : with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort.


174. Corkscrew. –a good corkscrew is necessary in every household, and the Tangent Lever Corkscrew, illustrated in page 80, possesses manifest advantages over the ordinary corkscrew, especially for the woman’s use. The screw is twisted into the cork in the usual way ; the socket at the end of the lower arm of the instrument is then placed over the top of the neck of the bottle and the curved projection, which terminates the upper arm, through the hole in flat piece of metal to which the rom or screw is attached. By exerting pressure on the thin end of the arm, which acts as a lever, the cork is withdrawn from its position, and lifted out of the neck of the bottle.  The price of the Tangent Lever Corkscrew, complete is. 4d.  Extra screws may be had at 6d, each.  The Rack Lever Corkscrew, in bronze, at 4s. 6d. and 6s.6d., or in polished steel at 11s. 6d. : and the Thumb Lever Corkscrew at 5s. 6d. or 7s., nickel plated, are excellent corkscrews, by which the most obstinate corks may be drawn without trouble or exertion to the drawer.


1954 McGill

From the 1954 publication Inventor’s Handbook

Under the Patent Office’s category of “Cork Extractors” we find this familiar-looking device of 1867.  Can openers of this style have, of course, become obsolete, but there are several contemporary corkscrews based on this principle.



The 1867 corkscrew described (and pictured) in Inventor’s Handbook is, of course, the 1867 McGill (#61,080) patent.




Interestingly, the McGill has still yet to have turned up with the frame and can opener, mirroring the patent drawing, and instead, when found, is a simple direct pull, with a can opener end; usually marked PATENT:

That said, I would love to find a spring mechanism frame corkscrew with can opener attached to the handle…that looks like the 1867 patent!


Lavin & Kitchen ~ Lavin & Lauer

5 years ago today, I received in the mail from TC, the top of a bar spoon jigger (without the jigger spoon part) that included a corkscrew.  He apparently had intended to send it to me as a b-day gift, but couldn’t find it until a few months after said b-day had occurred.

His note, at the time read:

“Knew what I wanted to give you but couldn’t find it… Found it! Happy birthday Brother. See you in a few weeks.”


It has been sitting in the corkscrew collection since, and was a welcome addition.

The missing spoon would look something like this:

However, there are several versions of the spoon with jigger, and finding the right one appropriate to the corkscrew top has proven somewhat difficult.  Actually, the jigger spoons show up from time to time, but it is difficult to figure out which jigger spoon should be the appropriate fit.

Until recently!

For those of you that receive The Bottle Scrue Times, thanks to DC, we have come to learn that the little bar tool with jigger spoon is actually a patent.  And, was made by Lavin and Lauer.

The patent was granted to James A. Lavin and Edgar M. Kitchen for a design patent for their “Bulk Measuring Device” # 84,090 on May 5, 1931.

Following a bit of sleuthing, after reading Dick’s article, and having my much appreciated b-day gift from Tommy at the ready, the other day I finally managed to find the appropriate spoon to which the corkscrew is supposed to be attached.

Thanks again TC!  And, thanks DC for the fabulous write-up and discovery!







Matthews’ 1893 patent arrives…

Yesterday, the Matthews patent door securer with corkscrew arrived, and it didn’t disappoint.

Nicely marked, it is in fabulous condition with a sharp helix, and it is an awesome addition to the collection.









Note: the door securer is threaded, and screws into the center piece.


As mentioned previously, it is marked for Matthews’ 1892 patent, as his 1893 patent is a combination of his 1892 patent with the addition of the case and corkscrew in 1893.


And, the corkscrew does function as a peg and worm, with the door securer serving as the peg.


I haven’t tried this out yet…as a corkscrew NOR as a door securer…

Some Old Cork Extractors

From a 1913 issue of Scientific American:

Some Old Cork Extractors.

The necessity of some form of cork extractors is experienced by all, and it may be interesting to review some of the well known implements shown in the accompanying illustration, all of the devices pictured being found among expired patents.


A selection of old cork extractors found among expired patents.

In A we find a device pierced at its lower end to penetrate the cork, and provided with a short pivoted cross bar for alining with the shank as the last is forced through the cork, but turning at a right angle to withdraw the cork.

The corkscrew B has a handled pivoted to the corkscrew part and a prop is also pivoted oo the handle and it may be rested against the bottle lip to form a fulcrum for the handle so the last can operated as a lever and pull the cork; while C illustrated a simple wire cage for withdrawing the corks that have been forced down into the bottle.

A double lever in scissors shape is presented in D, and this can be used in connection with any handled corkscrew. The sketch E shows a stand to rest upon a bottle, and having threaded a shaft carrying the screw and a separate nut operating on the threaded shank to pull the cork.

Simple extractors having blades to project down on opposite sides of the cork, are represented in F and G. Sketch H shows an extractor in which a stand mounted on the bottle neck has at its upper end a windlass connected by a chain with the corkscrew, so that it can exert force to pull the cork.

In I is shown an extractor adapted to be secured to a bench of counter and supplied with a hand lever, whose rack segment operated when moved in one direction to force the corkscrew into the cork, and when reversed, to pull the cork out of the bottle so as to free the cork from the screw.

J represents a novel form of corkscrew which can be folded as shown in the smaller engraving to conveniently carry in the pocket, and can then be opened as shown in the larger one, to operate first as a handled corkscrew in turning the screw into the cork and then as a lever in extracting the cork from the bottle: and K represents a bench or counter extractor in which as screws turns into the cork and a spring when compressed aids in the drawing the cork from the bottle.


As mentioned the other day, I recently added a couple of Noyes patents to the collection that carried advertising OTHER than the Green River version that often shows up.

And, now there is yet another example heading to Maine.

This example carries advertising for LADD & CO, LIQUOR DEALERS


Ladd & Co, was a California based company, the that amongst other products, sold Old Alexander Whiskey.



A fun addition to a growing collection of variations of advertising on the 1906 Noyes patent corkscrew.



Blank / No Advertising







I would like to add the Olympia and Menstell to the collection!


Still, what other versions are out there?  Drop me a line!

on the dollar table…

The past week, I have been on vacation.

Yes, it’s true.

I took a week off from developing curriculum, and while some of that time was dedicated to new lighting in the corkscrew room, landscaping the yard behind the Vinalhaven house, and a few more requisite chores that needed tending, the last few days the lovely bride and I headed off on an adventure to Southwest Harbor, Maine.


For those unfamiliar, Bar Harbor is a pretty popular place, even in these times, and on the OTHER side of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, is Southwest Harbor.  This non-Bar-Harbor-ish area is known as “the quiet side.”

So, we packed up the kayaks, a fair amount of wine, and headed up.

And, we enjoyed some quiet time kayaking various waterways, going out to eat again, as restaurants are allowed to re-open for dine-in eating (albeit with a fair amount of restrictions) and doing a bit of hiking and running along backroads of Maine and the trails of Acadia.

On our last day, as we headed back down to the midcoast, we hit a couple of flea markets–most of the dealers and shoppers were wearing masks–and in one tent, I found three corkscrews.

On the dollar table.

Technically, each of which was worth the asking price of $1.00, but I only grabbed one.

A simple T-pull, nicely marked for R. Murphy.


Actually, it’s marked twice for R. Murphy Boston

After getting back to Rockland, and the lovely picking up Philos from boarding, we headed out in the Penn-Yan; taking a spin around the Rockland harbor.


A fantastic week of getting away from it all, whilst still staying in Maine.






In 1906, Harry Noyes was awarded patent # 824,807 for his cork extractor.

And, while not rare, it is a neat little corkscrew, that often turns up with advertising for GREEN RIVER WHISKEY, THE WHISKEY WITHOUT A HEADACHE

And, underneath the lever, they are marked with Universal June 27, ‘05-July 3, ‘06,” as he had an earlier patent–and actually later patents as well.

Noyes was awarded another patent in 1908 Patent for a Pocket Cork Extractor.


Anyone have the 1908 patent?

That said, there are other examples other than the Green River, with the blank version being a little harder to find.

Still, there are others that utilized the Universal Lever Cork Extractor as a vehicle to market their products.


In 2017, Jack had a foursome of Noyes-es for sale, two with advertising for Green River, one blank, and one that featured advertising for WM. MENSTELL, 465 LENOX AVE. N.Y.

I have several examples of the Noyes.  Both the Green Whiskey and the blank



And, recently picked up a Noyes that has advertising for OLD JERSEY WHISKEY, WILLIAM FRIES


In the JFO (Just for Openers) handbook, they have a listing for the NOYES (known in JFO speak as a P-041) carrying an advertisement for OLYMPIA YES! IT’S THE WATER.

But, this leads me to a question for all of you.  Do you have a Noyes with different advertising.  Feel free to drop me a line, and let’s see what we can come up with!



Blank / No Advertising






Pearl Wedding Select Whiskey

One of the coolest aspect of collecting, is that over the years, as you develop friendships with other collectors, your collecting friends will make trades with you knowing that they have something you want.  And, of course, you are well aware of corkscrews that will also fit within their collections.

And, as word has gotten out that I am on the 1903 Lowenstein patent hunt, TC offered up his Pearl Wedding Select Whiskey example as part of a trade.


In doing research into Lowenstein and those that used his patent as a vehicle for advertising, Pearl Wedding is key, as within their advertising at the time, they actually feature a corkscrew attached to their bottle.


On the two bottles on the right, the Lowenstein is shown…



Hmmmm… reduce the size of the image, rotate clockwise, erase the background…

Looks like it should fit…






A really cool addition to the collection.  Thanks for the deal TC!

If you have a similar corkscrew, with different advertising, I am interested!