A few wins…

Well, that was exciting!

On Saturday and Sunday, the 983 corkscrew auction lots came to an end with many corkscrews changing hands, with said corkscrews soon to be sent off to collectors across the world.

There were a few bidding wars, a few that snuck through, and a few that garnered attention after the auction was over.

I managed to win a couple (I guess technically 14) and I am quite pleased.

The first, is an interesting multi-tool that I have been hunting for a while. I actually already own this piece, but, it was missing the fold out blade, and I have after a complete one for some time–more on this piece soon!

And, I picked up another Sterling spoon with folding corkscrew.

And, after the dust had settled, I agreed to a fair price on a box of a dozen Greeley cork pullers. I don’t really need a box of Greeley cork pullers, but it will make for a nice display amongst the other cork pullers in the collection.

UWANTA LIGHTNING CORK EXTRACTOR

In Wally’s book on British Corkscrews, there is a drawing of J.E. Morris’ patented “Improved means for extracting corks or others substances from the interior of bottles or other vessels”

wallysclose

Interestingly, the patent number given in Wally’s book is No. 20,963, but in literature from the time, specifically an 1899 issue of The Engineer, it shows that that patent is No. 20,968.

1899

uwanta

20,968 October 20th.  J. E. Morris, Nottingham, “Uwanta lightning cork extractor.”

Of course you-want-a lightning cork extractor.

How brilliant!

Fortunately, I did want a lightning cork extractor, and when one turned up recently, I snapped it up.

puller

It’s even marked with the patent number…

morrispatent

 

 

 

“OUTYOUCUM” CORK EXTRACTOR

From an 1892 issue of Chemist and Druggist:

THE “OUTYOUCUM”
CORK EXTRACTOR.

F & S

Price per doz. 8s. This is One Thousand times better
than any that have gone before for the purpose.

outyoucum
Really?

One Thousand times better?

How bad were the previous ones that were intended for this same purpose?

F & S, would be W. B. Fordham and Sons, and in another issue of Chemist and Druggist, the advertisement for the OUTYOUCUM, also explains that the cork extractor is patented.

outyoucum2

One thousand times better than any that have gone before, for taking Corks and parts of Corks from Bottles, Jars, &c.

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!

milamad

 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.

milamscand

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.

milampat1

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.

milamsher

 

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.

 milamsher2

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.

milampair

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.

ark

(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

American Corkscrews with a Pivoted Lateral Projection

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

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!

 

 

“The extractors are stocked by all druggists’ sundriesmen…”

From the July 27, 1895 issue of Pharmaceutical Journal Supplement:

Mr. Fred Coates, chemist and druggist, New Barford, Nottingham, has registered a useful and portable little Cork Extractor, which instantly and perfectly removes corks from bottles and bungs from jars.

coates

Chemists will appreciate it when they have to extra a cork cut off close to the bottle, dispensers will find it indispensable, and it is certainly about the handiest little tool for these purposes one can possibly possess.   The extractors are stocked by all druggists’ sundriesmen, and are retailed at 9d.  and 6d. each, according as they are plated or not.

Do any of you have a Coate’s Cork Extractor?

Van Zandt Re-Vizited

While the deal for the Van Zandt patented cork pull was struck last week, the agreed upon price and subsequent payment needed to be completed through the U.S. Postal Service with a USPS Postal Order.  And, with holidays and Sundays, and then the lovely and I heading off  for a get away, the Van Zandt didn’t make it into my hands until yesterday.

Opening up the package, and looking at the piece, I am beyond pleased.  The mechanism works just as Van Zandt describes in his patent description, and oddly enough, functions very much like the Call’s Ideal that made my best 6 for last year.

I haven’t tried to clean the piece up (yet) but as mentioned the other day, this should make the best 6, and perhaps the best cork puller / corkscrew

of the year.

vpatentdate1867v1v2z3

I have done a bit of research into Van Zandt, and have yet to unearth anything other than the patent.  The hunt will continue, as will the hunt for antique corkscrews.

Stay tuned!

 

Best 1 of 6 of 2018…

It is early in the year, and there is much hunting and collecting to take place, but over the last couple of days a deal was struck for a cork puller that easily will make the best six of 2018.

If over the next 12 months, I manage to find 6 pieces that are rarer, and it doesn’t make the list, well…that would be a good problem to have.

As mentioned in the past, I spend lots of time looking at O’Leary’s tome on American patented corkscrews.  And, while I haven’t memorized every patent drawing in the back of his book, there are some that I indeed have.   Still, only going by a patent drawing isn’t really enough.  From drawing to manufacture things can change.  So, it really really really helps, when suddenly you are presented with a previously yet discovered cork puller that is clearly marked with a patent date.

The question of who?, what? when?,  is that really what it was intended for?, is answered pretty quickly with a quick  glance in the back of O’Leary.  This, of course, is often followed by visit to google patents.

Now, this very well may exist within another collector’s collection, but given it isn’t in O’Leary (at least the front) and given that it has yet to appear in any of the patent updates, I will say “new discovery.”   If it has been previously found, I will happily say, “it is a rare thing.”

“So, what did you find Josef?”  You are asking yourself

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the 1867 James D. Van Zandt patent for an Improved Cork Pull.

vanzandt7.jpg

vanzandt4

patentjuly301867

Marked “PATENT JULY 30, 1867,” within short order, I found the patent drawing on page 181 of O’Leary.

 

vanzandtpatentdraw

And, after checking on Google Patents, found even more…

Van Zandt’s patent description explains:

“The operation is as follows:  The cork-drawer being in the position indicated in Fig. I, it is forced down into the centre of the cork until the swing-bar has been pushed beyond the bottom of the cork, when, on drawing up the cork-drawer, the friction of the cork on the sliding prong d causes it to descend, b which the swing-bar is placed in a right-angled position to the prongs, and the cork follows the instrument as it is drawn out of the bottle.  The cork being drawn, it is easily disengaged from the prongs by sliding back the prong d by means of the thumb-piee and drawing it off, when the cork-drawer is again ready for use.”

The Improved Cork Pull will arrive in a couple of days, and I will add better pictures when it does.   Definitely a Best 6 candidate!  And, a fantastic addition to the collection.

In the meantime, the lovely and I are heading to Vermont for a quick getaway tomorrow… could the best 2 or 3 of 6 of 2018 be found in our adventures?

Stay tuned…