what say you???

I am in the process of narrowing the list for what will be the best six of 2020.

And, there are 3 that are definitely going to make the best 6.

So, feel free to weigh in on what also should make the list.

Here are a few to choose from, that aren’t in the top 3…

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.

Clough Advertising Corkscrews for Clough Advertising Corkscrews

As mentioned he other day, I picked up a few corkscrews on my adventure down, and back up, the coast.

Two of the corkscrews acquired were wooden sheath Clough’s.

What is cool about them, is both carry different advertising for Clough, but they are also different sizes.

The smaller one reads:

CLOUGH
Corkscrew Company
ALTON, N. H. U. S. A.

SOLID STEEL ADVERTISING CORKSCREWS
PRINTED TO ORDER BY THE 1000
CLOUGH’S PATENTS 337,309 & 441,137

The larger one reads:

Rockwell-Clough Co.
ALTON, N.H. U.S.A.

THE CLOUGH CORKSCREW WAS THE FIRST WIRE CORKSCREW AND THE ORIGIN OF ALL THE PATENT MEDICINE CORKSCREWS NOW BY THE MILLION ALL OVER THE WORLD

And, it is clear that the smaller one is made for a smaller Clough wire corkscrew, as the thicker version wouldn’t fit. A pretty cool little pair of Cloughs.

Andress’ Glass Cutting Novelties

From the April 10, 1897 issue of Hardware:

Andress’ Glass Cutting Novelties

Thomas J. Andress, No. 821 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, Pa., is indentified with the manufacture of a line of glass cutting novelties, one of the best known being illustrated below.

andresscut

This is a good selling line of useful specialites, and embraces in its variety combined glass cutters and putty knives, glass cutters, can openers and knife sharpeners, glass cutters, knife and scissors sharpeners, and the same combination having a gas burner plyer attached, and another having a corkscrew attached. These conveneient appliances are reasonable in price and deserve to meet with a ready sale. Catalogues will be mailed upon request to the manufacturer.

 

Of course, when the Andress “…having a corkscrew attached.” shows up, it looks nothing like the woodcut from the 1897 issue of Hardware, and is marked THE ANDRESS TOOL, PAT. AUGUST. 24. 75.

andress

 

 

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.

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Marked PAT APL’D FOR

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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

 

Brimfield Day 1 and 2

The lovely bride and I made our way to the airbnb we rented for the May Brimfield Show.

On the drive down, I did manage to do a little antiquing, and at one particular shop (where there are almost never corkscrews) a dealer had apparently discovered a small collection, and corkscrews could be found amongst a myriad of bottle openers they must have dominated the collection.

And, the dealer had decided he had three ranges of openers and corkscrews: the 7 dollar range, the 9 dollar range, the 15 dollar range, and the 19 dollar range.

The best of the 19 dollar range, was the purchase of the day; a hard to find  German piece that made for an excellent pre-Brimfield find!

With the little folder marked D.R.G.M No 54268 on one side and GERMANY (Edmund Jansen, circa 1896) in hand, the adventure continued.  And, the drive south and then west continued.

In the weeks before our adventure, we had kept an eye on the forecast, and were prepared for the rain that had begun to fall.  Still, the next few days that the show would be open, there was no rain in the forecast.   Getting the rainfall early, surely would make for a lovely Brimfield opening day…

The morning of day one, at the appointed time (in the wee hours of the morning), I made a couple of cups of coffee, and threw on a few extra layers, as while it wasn’t going to be raining,  it was 38 degrees!  A little cold for May.

Pulling into the parking lot, and seeing the ruts that the other cars were leaving in the field portended the future.  It was going to be a sloppy mess at Brimfield, and for the next few hours, besides hunting for corkscrews, much of the time was spent trying not to lose a shoe in the inches of mud.


The crowds were still there, but the dealers weren’t.  At Dealer’s Choice, it was a smattering of dealers, with many tables left resting on their side.  And, at Brimfield North, the field management ended up letting attendees in for free, as they too had a fraction of the normal number of dealers, and some of those being towed out, after finding themselves stuck in the mud…quite literally.

Still, there were a few corkscrews about.  But, given the lack of dealers, the plentifulness was less than plentiful.  And, running into Barry, who was also on the hunt, he too mentioned the lack of corkscrews in the fields.

So, there were no legendary finds on day one.  But, by the end of the day one, I had amassed a small pile…

In one booth, I noticed a small pile of bung corks.  Fairly large, I thought they would make nice corkscrew stands.  After a bit of negotiation, or more accurately put, surprise on the dealer’s part that I would be so willing to buy all of them, a deal was struck and 30 of these were soon in my backpack.  As we were stowing them away, the dealer reached over and handed me another bag of them.

About 2 inches in diameter at the base and tapered at the top, I plan to add metal washers to the base, so the stand won’t tip over, and it will add some height differentiation to the corkscrews in the case.

For day 2, rain was, again, not in the forecast, but we expected to be sloshing around a bit, and we dressed accordingly.  Again, it was cold, and most buyers were wearing multiple players, gloves, hats, big jackets, scarves.

When the 9:00 field opened, the sun was trying to peak through the cloud cover, and by early afternoon, while not warm, with the sun breaking through, we all seemed to sigh in collective relief and warmth.

And, while it seemed many the dealers from the two all but abandoned fields decided to descend on Heart of the Mart and Hertan’s, corkscrews worthy of purchase were few and far between.  I did pick up a couple of folding spoons with advertising, and another folding piece as well as a mechanical Anri dog stopper.

Of course, there are lots of other interesting treasures to find at Brimfield…

This woman with the snowman, seemed quite thrilled with her frosty friend!

This morning May’s field opens, and I will set out again on the hunt for the (apparently) elusive corkscrew.

You never know what might turn up next.

 

 

Suitcase of corkscrews

A week or so ago, the lovely lovely personal trainer was on the mainland, and I was on the island.  And, she sent me a message with a picture of the exterior of an antique shop, and asked if I had ever been there.

Surprisingly, I hadn’t.

I responded with that bit of information, and we made plans for a visit when the next opportunity presented itself.

Yesterday, was that opportunity.

After spending the morning working on the house on the mainland, we headed off to Camden for lunch, and then following lunch, headed further north.  As we turned off the main road, after a mile or so, there was the antique store.  And, as it was Sunday, it was closed up.

Oh well, we shall try another day.

We kept driving, and decided to explore the environs.

After a bit of driving and exploring, we looped back around, and suddenly there were two vehicles in front of the antique store.  We pulled in, and the owner opened up the doors.  He apparently had an appointment to meet with someone, but given we pulled up, he decided to open for business.

The shop certainly looked promising!

We meandered the shop, and there were some interesting items.  And, eavesdropping on his conversation a bit, it was clear he sold on eBay, and had been in business for sometime.

As I was searching, I managed to find a small pile of corkscrews and openers, and while they were mostly common, there was a Noyes patent amongst them.  I kept that one in my hand, and continued the search.

About 5 minutes later, I came around a corner, and there was the owner, asking if I had yet found any treasures.  I responded with, “one so far.”

I followed up with, “I see you have some corkscrews over there, do you have any others.”

His expression changed.

He grinned a little, and said, “well, yes…and no.”

He then proceeded to tell me the story of how years ago, someone had asked him to find some corkscrews for him, and he amassed a sizable collection.

He told me of his “Sarracho Gold Armor” corkscrew with the head that comes off, that he sold on eBay for 1800, the 5 pair of ladies legs, and how selling corkscrews got him through a long winter one year.

After a few more stories, he explained that he had a suitcase filled with them, and asked where we were from.  I explained, and he said, come back any day but Wednesday, and he would unearth them for us.

I inquired as to how far away was this suitcase.  About 700 yards, he responded.

Wishing to finish up with his other customers, he said, “Give me 5 minutes, and let me think about it.”

Then, “Okay, let me close up the doors, and then follow me.”

He climbed into his truck.  And, we climbed into our own, and followed him to his house.

In the garage, after moving a couple of chairs, and stepping over a lawnmower, under a workbench was a large suitcase.  If it was full, it would be pretty heavy.

He picked it up with little effort, and then handed it to me.  “Go put that on the tailgate of my truck,” he said.   “That will be our office.”

I put the suitcase down, and clicked one half of the lock.  He clicked the other, and with anticipation I opened the lid.

Yes, it was a suitcase of corkscrews!


I went through the corkscrews, and we discussed how he amassed the collection, and how he has sold off the best stuff.   Still, there were a couple of treasures within the suitcase.  And, I did buy four.

We also exchanged information, and he promised to call when he finds others.

A fun adventure, and a terrific find by the lovely lovely.

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.

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

 

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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…