Best Six for 2021

  • 1. Benjamin N. Shelley patent (#219,313) awarded September 2, 1879 for his “Improvement in Combination-Tools,” marked “PATD. APLD. FOR” and “LADIES FRIEND.”  In his patent description, 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 a 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.”  (See O’Leary, 1996, p. 189).
  • 2. J.T. Haviland patent (#104,453) awarded June 21, 1870 for his “Improved Instrument in Removing Twine and Wire from Bottles” it is marked “PAT APPLIED FOR and J.T. HAVILAND,” on both sides.  An intriguing piece, as the patent drawing is titled  “Cork Screw,” even though the title of the patent explains the purpose of the tool, with the patent description explaining, “This invention has for its object the production of an instrument for cutting wires and or twine by which corks are secured in champagne and other bottles…” This is a new discovery from the Back of O’Leary (See O’Leary, 1996, p. TK).
  • 3. PAT PEND multitool with interesting fold out, and lock in place corkscrew.  Other tools include can opener, screwdriver, and small tack hammer.  The hammer features a raised section into which the corkscrew locks in place for use.  No patent has been found.
  • 4. George B. Adams patent (#564,356) awarded July 21, 1896 for his “Badge Pin or Button,” marked on the back of the celluloid pinback, “THE WHITEHEAD & HOAG CO., NEWARK, N.J. PATENTED JULY 17, 1894, APRIL 14, 1896, JULY 21, 1896,” and on the edge of the celluloid “JULY 21, 1896.” An advertisement for Mangels & Schmidt’s High Grade Bread; it should be noted that Mangel & Schmidt was also located in Newark.
  • 5. Walter W. Wilkinson patent (458,087) awarded August 18, 1891 for his “Corkscrew,” marked with a maker’s mark for Gorham Sterling on the inside of the folding arms, and on the reverse an additional mark denoting the year of production: 1900. (See O’Leary, 1996, p. TK)
  • 6. Atwood Combination Six, marked “ATWOOD COMBINATION SIX, PAT APL’D FOR. MADE IN USA.”   The advertisement below appears in a 1932 issue of Boy’s Life.   In 1907, John King of Oakland, Maine was awarded patent #854,745 for his “Combined Fork and Spoon.”  The Atwood Combination Six is also from Oakland, Maine and looks to have taken King’s 1907 original patent, and included a few more tools…including a corkscrew.  No later patent has been found.

three Murphys


As mentioned in the Brimfield post, I picked up the early example of the “challenge-type” Murphy corkscrew.   It is a welcome addition to the collection, and soon enough will be added to the Murphy page.

But, for kicks, I thought I would show three Murphys together.  Each has different markings.  Two with the arched frame, and one with the squared frame.  The one on the right has marking on the handle as well.



As you all know, I like Murphy corkscrews!


And, while I would love to add another Ivory handled one to the collection…



what I am really after is an unusual Murphy that has little teeth below the button.


Do any of you have this?  I would love to trade!

Best 6 for 2015

I know that we still have a couple of weeks until the year ends, but given that several Addicts have been sending out their Best Sixes, I went back through the many many corkscrews I have acquired this year, and narrowed the list from 16, to 12, to 8, and to 7.

After thinking about the best fit in the collection, along with some pieces that I have long been after, I finally got it to 6.

I will add here, that there have been many many great corkscrews that have come my way this year, and let’s hope 2016 is similar!

And, here are the best 6 for 2015!


1 – James D. Frary nickel-plated decorative handle corkscrew with bell assist and spike, but with no hammer. This makes the 21st variation within my collection of Frarys (see L’Africain, 2010 and L’Africain, 2013 )

2 – Empire corkscrew, made by the Empire Portable Forge Company of Lansingburgh, NY. Advertisements from the time, explain that Empire Forge was making Curley’s corkscrews, but clearly they adapted the design as well. Note there is no movable bell or moveable screw. Instead of utilizing that principle of Curley’s designs, the screw present on the Empire allows for the worm to be replaced. The resemblance to the Curley with the patent date, however, is remarkable. Embossed EMPIRE across the handle, with no other markings.


3 – 1933 William S. Elter’s patent (# 1,906,454) Culinary Tong; a combination tool with canning jar lift hooks, a serrated jar wrench, can opener, crown cap lifter and wire helix, marked “VISE-O-LIFT INC. PAT PEND DAYTON, OHIO U.S.A.” (See Morris, 2012 )

vise-o-lift mark

4 – 1882 J. Henry Zeilin patent (#254,760) Dose Cup Bottle Stopper. In his patent description he explains, “The cup may be made of metal, glass, or any other suitable material…” I think the glass cup on this one is quite suitable. Unmarked, except for a line on the glass denoting how high to fill the cup (See O’Leary, 1996, p. 63).


5 – Oversized Walker Bell. As mentioned in my 2010 Best Six, which included the oversized Williamson, at the 2010 ICCA AGM, Paul Luchsinger presented evidence that the oversized Walker and Williamson were designed to pull a cork from a demijohn of Welch’s juice—note that the bell and shaft on the Walker is one solid piece.

6 – 1914 Josephine M. Spielbauer patent (#1,116,509) Cap Remover. In doing research into Miss Josephine, little information has come to light. What we do know, is her father owned a boarding house and saloon, and perhaps an improved cap remover (with corkscrew) could prove useful in her father’s bar. Marked “Rainier BEER” and “PAT. PEND” (See O’Leary, 1996, p. 244 and Morris, 2012, )


Here is to a great year of corkscrew collecting!

Good Hunting Everyone!

dirty dozen

We are still a few months out from the end of the corkscrew-collecting-fiscal-year, and as is tradition soon enough collectors will be sorting through this year’s corkscrew acquisitions and selecting their best 6 of the year.

While Don Bull’s corkscrew sales and the latest auction (bidding opens on Friday) will surely throw a wrench in the works, I have been taking a look at what are the potential candidates for my best 6 of 2015.

There are a myriad of approaches to what makes up one’s best 6.  For some they use their best 6 to illustrate variations on a theme.  For others, it is the most valuable pieces, or the most sought after pieces, or the best deals made.

For me, it is less about value, and more about appropriateness of fit within the collection.  Perhaps it is a new discovery, or that one particular corkscrew that I have coveted for years and it finally made it into the collection.

So, at this point–and we know this will surely change given the aforementioned Bull sale and CC Auction–here are the 12 that have the potential of making the cut.  Of course, I am also including a poll at the end.  Feel free to weigh in on which corkscrews you think are the best of the 12.

The Wire Frame:


The Spielbauer / Rainier


The Klages “Non Plus Ultra” Roundlet:


The Glass Zeilin Patent


The Embossed Curley:


The Oversized Walker:


The Kahlen and Jordan Patent “Bottleking”


The Nickel-Plated Frary with decorative handle and spike:


The Folding Greeley:


The Gessler Patent:


The Silver Knight:


Of course, with two months and a couple of days to go, anything could happen.

But, what do you think? Pick the 6 that should make the list!

Another nice grouping, and a best 6 candidate…

The other day reader, PW, sent in a photo of his obsession (and a collection within his collection) that of Thomasons. Fabulous collection PW!


Keep those photos coming!

On another corkscrew note, or cork puller note rather, I came home the other day from the wine shop, and there was a voicemail from BT, he had run into a hard to find cork puller, but since it was a double for him, wondered if we might work out a trade over a brief phone call.

On the voicemail, he laid out what he was looking for.  It all sounded fair to me, so I picked up the phone, in a couple of minutes, the deal was done (trading with Tommy or RL takes a bit longer than that, months sometimes).

So, in short order a nice cork puller will be heading to the collection. It is a pretty hard piece to come by, and a patent. Kahlen and Jordan’s design patent of 1948. When found, the sheath is marked BOTTLEKING.








Kahlen and Jordan’s patent description explains that, “…we respectively, Fritz Kahlen, a citizen of Germany, residing at New York, in the county of New York and State of New York, and Peter P. Jordan, a citizen of the United States of America, and residing at Jackson Heights, in the county of Queens and State of New York, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for a Combined Bottle Opener and Cork Remover, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, forming a part thereof.”

In the patent drawings they provide several illustrations.

Figure 1 is a front elevational view of a combined bottle opener and cork remover, showing our new design,



Figure 2 is a side elevational view of the device shown in Figure ‘1,


Figure 3 is an exploded view of the device shown in Figure 1,


Figure 4 is a side elevational view of the device as shown in Figure 3.



A great addition to the collection!

Thanks for the trade BT!

The Bottleking Cork Puller, could very well make the best 6 of the year!


what’s your favorite?

Every once in a while, someone will come over and visit the house, and at some point will notice that there are a couple of corkscrews laying around.

And, while there are often questions like:

How did you get started collecting?

What is the oldest one you have?

What is the rarest?

What is your favorite?

What is the most you have ever spent?

I think it would make for an interesting survey to find out from each of you (those countless readers that have been wondering why I haven’t blogged in a few days) what your favorite corkscrew is.

I assume that there are probably lots that you love, enjoy, utilize, still bask in the glow of, ogle, admire, or reflect in delight over as you reminisce about the way that you acquired them.

But, is there one? A favorite one?

In the past, when people have asked, I have responded with the fact that I have lots of favorites.

But, if you could only choose one from your own collections, what corkscrew would it be?

Feel free to reply with your favorite. It could make for an interesting list.

No doubt you are wondering, do I indeed have a favorite?

I do.

And, I will add mine to the list alongside yours.

So, what one corkscrew is THE corkscrew?

one from the Patent Wannabe section

In Fred O’Leary’s book on American patented corkscrews, he included towards the back of the book, a section on patent wannabes. These are corkscrews where, at that point, no patent had been found, but the corkscrews had markings with either patent pending or patent applied for–or some variation thereof.

One of the patent wannabes that I have never found–or seen other than in the book–is pictured on page 294.

(Actually, the page isn’t numbered, but it is in Appendix A, and would be page 294 had it been numbered–but I digress).

And, pictured in the upper left of of the page, is a pocket knife with a corkscrew blade. Made by Boker, in O’Leary, it explains that it is marked BOKER and PATENT APPLIED FOR.

Now, there are plenty of pocket knives that have fold out corkscrews, but this one is a bit more interesting. One, as it is in the patent wannabe section of O’Leary. Two, it has a bottle opener blade that then ends in a corkscrew. And, three, in 17 years of collecting corkscrews, I have never seen another; not in another collection–perhaps I wasn’t looking closely–nor an overpriced one out in the wild.

That said, last week, in an arbitrary search on eBay, an example of the patent wannabe Boker knife was listed. With an opening bid that was a fairly decent price, I put it on my watch list.

Over the course of the week, it received no bids.


Now, it does have some issues. There is some material missing from the stag handle, and the knife blades are not quite as sharp as one would like, but it is indeed a hard to come by corkscrew. And, with that in mind, I watched to see where it would go, and knew that towards the end of the auction, I would throw out a bid (or several).

With just over an hour to go, and knowing that I had to be somewhere when it would end, I placed a bid–being the sole bidder at that point–and headed off to my appointment.

Now this particular item was not listed within the corkscrew section of eBay. And, within the title of the listing and the description itself, corkscrew or cork screw is not mentioned. I am guessing, that lacking this is why it was not on everyone’s radar.

On my way back the house, I noticed that I could still catch the end of the auction, and up my bid if necessary.

It wasn’t necessary.

And, the patent wannabe Boker is heading to the island.




Best 6 material? Not to sure as of yet, but it will make an excellent addition to the collection.


As soon as this was published, I received an email from Don Bull with an image of his Boker Patent Applied For knife with corkscrew, and it is in fabulous shape.


And, in doing a little research, one did sell on the collector corkscrews auction in 2014. And, that one too, was in fabulous shape. I don’t know how I missed it, as I would have definitely gone after it.

Looks like this one will be a place holder until a pristine one comes along!


Best 6 (almost) midway through…

As we are closing in on the halfway mark of the year–which in itself is a little hard to believe–I was going through the corkscrew case, and started looking at what might be the Best 6 thus far.

For me, when I select my Best 6, is isn’t always the most valuable, or even the most scarce. Often it pertains to those that have the most appropriateness of fit in the collection. And, given the focus on those corkscrews patented in the United States of those that find their origins in the United States, an unusual Curley may make the list over an interesting Thomason for example.

That said, there have been several acquisitions that would definitely make the list, had I not already had an example; Tucker, Barnes bow without cutters, Frary with Hercules frame, for example…




Still, given that these (most likely) won’t be staying in the collection, they (most likely) won’t be making the list.

So, at this point, I am thinking the following are the Best 5 thus far.

And, I have no doubt some of these will indeed make the list by the end of the corkscrew-collecting-fiscal-year. Of course, I have no doubt there will be still others added over the next 6+ months that will make the decision that much harder (or easier).

1.Over Sized Walker Bell

2.Nickel-plated Frary with decorative handle and spike

3.Silver Knight

4.Vise-O-Lift (no surprise here)

5.Curley with embossed handle

We are still early in the year, with much hunting to be done. And, who knows what will show up in Spain and Romania at the AGMs? Or, what will turn up on my next trip to the mainland. Or, Brimfield. Or Union, Or, Montsweag, or….

Stay tuned.