“Corks, at such times, seem endowed with an amount of sagacity…”

From an 1871 issue of Scientific American

The removal of a cork from a bottle into which it has driven, is often a work of some difficulty.  The implement shown in the annexed engraving, is designed to meet this difficulty.  It is the invention of C. Rosenberry of Chicago, Ill.  It consists of a wire grapple, made of four wires twisted together to form a handle, leaving four ends projecting and hooked to seize the cork.  The hooks are made to engage the cork, by sliding a ring with a wire handle which slides through the ring of the handle of the grapple.  When in taking out the cork, the grapple meets the neck of the bottle, the latter holds it firmly to its work.

We have often, in the laboratory, felt the need of such an instrument as this, when waiting time endeavoring to ensnare a cork with a string.  Corks, at such times, seem endowed with an amount of sagacity which enables them to elude a noose almost as surely as a Sixth Ward rough in New York.  Had such an implement as this been within our reach, we have no doubt we should have been saved many a trial to a temper not the best adapted to withstand severe strains.

Kistner’s Combination Tool

From an 1883 issue of Scientific American:

A novel combination tool has been patented by Mr. Harry U. Kistner, of Bordentown, N. J.  This implement is one of those useful articles which almost every person has occasion to use very often.  The same handle accommodates a number of tools, among which are a cork screw, gimlet, skate sharpener, etc.

Interesting. I wonder what that might look like. With a quick Google Patent search… We have Kistner’s Combination Tool.

Well, the fold out corkscrew would be reason enough to add it to the collection! Do you have an 1883 Kistner Combination Tool?

…any mix-master will receive with open arms…

In a 1954 issue of the Washington Post:

4-in-1 Bar accessory



Four-in-one bar accessory gadget that any mix-master will receive with open arms.  This handy gadget crushes ice right iin the glass, breaks ice in a bowl, and has cork screw and bottle opener attachments.  Gift packaged.

W&L—Gadget Shop, 1st Floor, Housewares, 1st Floor, North Building….also Chevy Chase and Alexandria

Magic Markings

Knowing that the square Mumford is heading to the island, yesterday I grabbed the existing Mumfords in the collection, and looked at them closely (yes, there are four of them).

And, in looking at them closely, I remembered that each one is different.

Different handles, endcaps versus no endcaps, and different markings.

Marked between the two prongs “PATD, MAR. 4, 79 MAY 10, 92”

This example has endcaps, and is marked on the collar above the prongs, “MAGIC CORK EXTRACTOR PAT. MARCH 4,-79 MAY 10 92”

Marked between the prongs, “PAT’D MAR. 4 79 – PAT’S PENDING”

Nicely turned handle, marked on the collar above the prongs “MAGIC CORK EXTRACTOR PAT. MARCH 4,-79 MAY 10 92”

Do you have a Mumford with still other markings? Drop me a line.

a little magic…

Every once in a while, a little magic happens…

And, this cork extractor found its way to a friend, who has since dropped in the mail to the island!

Faintly marked:



and with the dates of Lucien Mumford’s patents of 1879 and 1892, this will be a nice addition to the cork extractor collection.

Of course, there is a folding example of the Mumford patent out there somewhere, that I would love to add to the collection if anyone has it.

Drop me a line!

From Gray to Blue to Epic

On Wednesday, the skies were gray when I headed to Brimfield, and then by 10:30 the clouds had broken, the sun had come out, and suddenly the corkscrew gods were shining upon a small table amongst some midcentury modern furniture and some assorted items.

Now, before I tell you about the corkscrew, I will add that finding a corkscrew at a flea market, antique market, estate sale or similar, is hugely satisfying. The late Don MIschke created a fantastic collection that way, never going online to make a purchase. Of course, before the Internet and eBay, that IS how it was done. EIther into the wild you would venture, or to auctions (like Christie’s) where corkscews were presented before you, and to your fellow collectors.

And, venturing into the wilds of Brimfield is not for everybody. Pre-COVID during the May show, I usually put in about 13-15 miles going from booth to booth, field to field, and dealer to dealer. The following day it is more likely 10-12 miles. And, it is a hour ferry ride and a 4+ hour drive to get there. Tolls, gas money, hotels or airbnb costs, parking fees, entry fees…

It is an investment, both in time, wear and tear, and money. And, on those days where you don’t really find anything noteworthy, you hope for a better show tomorrow, or in July, or in September. And, there is always next year…

And, as disappointing as this year’s Tuesday rainout was, I am already booked for the next show in May.

There may not always be super finds at Brimfield, but there ARE ALWAYS corkscrews to be found.

And, while the story goes, that Tommy once drove from Chicago to Pennsylvania for the Renninger’s Antique Show to come away with nothing but a Chip Chop, on the first day of one Brimfield show, he found a mini mother of pearl pair of legs within the first hour–for a song, mind you.

And, that is why we put in the miles: miles driving, miles walking, miles hunting…

You just never know what will turn up next…

…which brings me to a table near the exit of the Heart of the Mart field at Brimfield on Wednesday.

As I approached, I spied a corkscrew laying on a table, and it looked weirdly familar. I asked how much, as I picked it up, and they named a price.

I handed over a bit of cash, and headed for the next booth, pausing briefly to snap the photo that follows, and quickly turned to an internet search to confirm my thoughts…

No markings on the piece, so it was all about the shape and the handle.

But, it is what I thought…

An epic day at Brimfield, but also a reminder, that when you go to an antiques show and find little, the corkscrew gods may be shining upon you at the next one, or the next one, or the next one.

Persistence. Determination. And, the simple law of averages:

The more you look, the more you are going to find.

Day two was better…

Yesterday morning, I awoke to NO RAIN!

After packing up, as I would be heading back to Maine following the noon field opening, I made my way to Brimfield, and after parking my car, there was a palpable excitement from the dealers and buyers.

Lots of talk about the rain from the previous day, and lots stories of how much this person slogged it out, or this person braving the weather. And, of course, this was from dealers and buyers.

The sky was still gray, and there was a forecast of potential rain at 11:00 in the morning, but it never came. Instead, by 10:30 it was blue skies, the sun was out, and it started to be quite a nice temperature.

And, there were treasure to be had everywhere.

Who doesnt need an asparagus buncher!

This blue enamel over steel pail became my shopping bag of choice into which corkscrews and other treasures would be placed.

That said, none of the following (nor the motorcycle) made it into the bucket, nor my car, and remain in the fields.

If you have never been to Brimfield, it is amazing at what turns up.

And, yes there were more corkscrews. A few “bits and bobs,” as Barry would say, but then a pretty darn good one that was discovered mid-morning.

But, that is a story for another day…

Stay tuned.

Pretty much a rain out…

Okay… I know what 100% chance of rain means, but I left my little airbnb feeling pretty optimistic this morning.

I grabbed a baseball cap, to keep the rain out of my eyes, backpack, flashlight, iphone, and made the 3-mile trek (it is a really terrific location) to the fields of Brimfield.

And, yes. It was pouring. Still, I parked, grabbed my required gear, and made my way towards the first tents.

This isn’t so bad, I thought to myself.

Then, as I meandered about, I kept on noticing how many dealers hadn’t opened their tents yet. There would be one open, and then the next several closed.

I decided to give them some time, and decided to walk to the far end of Brimfield, and work my way back.

Same thing on that end.

Still, I managed to find a couple of things; nothing of great value:

But, its hard to buy corkscrews when the dealers haven’t opened up.

Giving myself a bit of time, I decided to the reverse. It was now nearly 9:00, and the fields basically open at 6…surely there will be some more dealers open.

There were, but not that many.

When it came time to got Dealer’s Choice; a field that on it’s signage states “400 dealers.” It was clear the the field was almost empty, with the exception of the jewelrey area which always has dealers, but not 400, more like 30.

The field opposite, that usually opens at 1:00, and once was teaming with dealers (and buyers) is almost a completely vacant field. Without exaggerating, it looked like maybe 5 dealers…

After braving the pouring rain, and dodging as many mud puddles as possible, I decided to call it a day.

The rain is supposed to end by tomorrow, and word on social media was that many dealers considered today a rain out, and they will instead open tomorrow.

People! A memo would be nice!

That said, you never know what might turn up tomorrow, however.

On another positive note, I picked up an Eldrege Brewing Williamson Roundlet on eBay. Always good to have in anticipation of the upcoming JFO in a couple of weeks.

I am thinking the Brimfield news, will NOT about closed tents and 100% chance of rain tomorrow.

At, least I hope so. It is still currently pouring!

Stay tuned!

And, it’s raining

Yesterday, I made the drive down to Brimfield, and did hit some antique stores along the way. There were indeed corkscrews, but nothing that I had to have.

And, while the drive did include some rain, last night it started pouring, and currently it still is, with 100 % chance of rain for the next 24 hours–at least.

So, at daybreak I will forge ahead, dodge puddles, and see what I can turn up on a soggy Brimfield opening day!

Off to Brimfield

This morning, I will be slowly meandering down the coast of Maine.


…as every time I try to get down to Brimfield on Labor Day, there seems to be a million other people that are ending their summer vacations, and heading out of the state.

A couple of years ago, when I made that trek, it was going rather smoothly until I reached the last few miles leaving Maine.

And, that is where traffic stopped…


Fortunately, given that I live here, I did know a few optional routes.

Of course, one those routes has lots of antique stores along the way.

Having had this experience, I will opt for the antique stores route. So, what might provide a more rapid rate of travel, will undoubtedly take just as long, as I will probably stop at each one.

If there are any finds along the way, I will share pictures.

And, of course, I will provide a full Brimfield report each day–well for the first two days anyway, as that is when I will be there.

Stay tuned!