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?


Rabbit 99

I have been considering what best 6 corkscrews should make the best 6 corkscrews for 2019, and this morning I am reconsidering what best 6 corkscrews should make the best 6 corkscrews for 2019…


as this morning at the post office what should I pull out of the box, but a rabbit.

No, not this rabbit…


A very cool lever corkscrew, it is faintly marked PAT. APLD. FOR.


And, interestingly, the levers are marked with 9 and 9.


A really cool addition to the collection…   Will the Rabbit Ear Corkscrew make the Best 6 of 2019?

Could be!


Corkscrew and Opener Flag

So, over the past week, there has been this interesting little flag / pennant lapel pin that was on eBay.  And, the there is a logo with four letters, and at the center of the four letters is what looks to be a crossed bottle opener and corkscrew.

With the letters:

O M I T.












Not having any reference point, other than this was sold by a UK seller, do any of you out there have an idea of what the four letter combination should be, and what does the acronym represent?

You can respond to this post with your ideas, and I have no doubt many of them will be hilarious.

That said, it would be great to actually know what the letters stand for, and what organization might have had a crossed corkscrew and opener logo.


Just over a decade ago,  I received an email with an offer of “two iron corkscrews.”  The images were promising, but also a little off-putting as the worm on one looked…wrong.

After going through the various books I had at the time, and sending off a couple of emails, I decided to go look at the corkscrews in person.

We were living in Massachusetts at the time, with the two corkscrews were in some random antique shop in Connecticut a few hours away.

Prior to starting the drive, I exchanged emails with the seller, and he confirmed that they would be waiting for me, and several hours later I was in the shop.

A group shop, the actual seller wasn’t present, and at first glance, neither were the corkscrews.  After a phone call to the seller, we came to find out that the corkscrews had been placed in a brown bag inside an armoire/hutch.

I pulled the two corkscrews out, and one was more of the common variety, and the other was a lovely early two pillar corkscrew with what ended up being a very nice  worm–it was just poor photography and lighting that gave it that off-putting look, and it was also marked J. PLANT.

Ultimately the signed J. Plant found its way into Barry’s collection in a trade we made that year at Brimfield–I believe it made his best 6 that year, and one of the corkscrews that he traded to me in exchange made mine.

So, the other day, I was again sent a few images of some corkscrews that were available.  And, one was most intriguing, as it was yet another two-pillar, but it looked like it might also be marked.p1.jpg

With a little brightening, it did look like there is some lettering on the collar.

And, with a little photoshop and enlarging the image, it does sort of look like PLANT…




After another email exchange, clearer photos came through…




A deal was struck.

Actually, a deal was struck before the clearer images came through…

And, the PLANT (and a few other corkscrews) will soon be arriving on the island.

Dr. Bull’s Cough Syrup




CONTAINS 4% ALCOHOL, and other valuable remedial ingredients

For Coughs, Colds, Hoarseness, Bronchitis, Grippe Cough, Croup, Whopping Cough and Measles Cough; also to relieve cough of asthmatic and consumptive patients in incipient or advanced stages of their disease.

(Revised Formula)

Originally prepared by the

Rev. Dr. J. W. Bull.


This Clough Cough corkscrew came up for sale the other day, and I had to add it to the collection!

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!


 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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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