Following breakfast and a requisite mimosa, Tommy and I hit the road for a couple of antique stores 30 or so minutes away from where we are staying.
The drive was filled with corkscrew conversations, and in short order we pulled into the first antique mall. And, it was huge!
So, I ventured right, and TC ventured left, and after scouring the entire place, he came away with a small bag of knives without corkscrews, and I left empty handed.
There were a couple of corkscrews to be had, but they were either rather common, or too pricey.
With mall #1 scoured, we headed to mall #2. Same as before, I went right, TC went left, and as much of the spaces were empty, we walked out with nothing.
Then, it was on to mall #3; same. Except, towards the back of the mall, after seeing a couple of Cloughs, and a English brassy, there was a Woodward tool in pretty nice shape, and a flared frame DRGM marked Columbus. Nothing to write home about (although I am writing about it), but both with low prices, and I did purchase both.
With our appointed rounds complete, it was time to head to the JFO meeting.
Getting to the meeting space, corksrews and openers were again set up, and we each made the rounds, to see if anything new had put out for sale. And, of course, for the seventh time, I rifled through all of Tommy’s corkscrews, and picked up a patented can opener, and from TWJ’s boxes, a Mumford.
And, as often is the case, as more JFOers arrive, there is fresh merchandise put out, and at one table there was the smaller (not patented) Walker peg and worm for 10 dollars, and I grabbed that.
Then it was back to manning my table, talking corkscrews, talking openers, and just engaging in conversation.
At some point, I decided to make another round of meandering the room, and on a table just sitting there, looking like they didn’t care, were two corkscrews. I grabbed the one of them and inquired about the price.
As it was a very fair deal, I paid up, and headed across the room to share my purchase with TC–who has had terrific show with attendees picking up box after box of advertising Clough sheath corkscrews, and looking at every one for their hometown, home state, or something that relates to themselves, their friends, their extended families.
This person is buying 30 or them. This person is buying 25. This person is buying 8. And, each methodically went through the four large boxes of Cloughs.
With the lovely having been at the condo we had rented cooking dinner, at our appointed time, we needed to depart the meeting, and just before we did, TWJ came down with a couple of corkscrews that he hadn’t showed yet.
One was a can opener, with a neckstand, and I liked the look of it. From the Joe Young collection, Joe identified it as the Sowers patent of 1917 (#1,213,034). In looking at the patent drawing, there are some slight similarities, but with no markings, I will dig around to see if I can’t find a reference for it for clarification. That said, a trade was made, and it will be coming home with me.
With the new finds in hand, we headed back to the condo for a fabulous evening of food, wine, conversation, and wine.
This morning, there is to be a visit to a local collector’s home to view his collection, then it is back to the meeting where there surely will be lots more openers, corkscrews, and conversation.
Stay tuned. You just never know what might turn up next.
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.
From the June 5, 1875 issue of Scientific American:
NEW SHARPENING INSTRUMENT.
The utility of this invention, shown in our illustration, is so
self-evident that say description is hardly necessary. Those who have struggled over a piece of tough beef with a dull knife , until worked into a state of actual ferocity doubly intensified by the pang of hunger and a large number to carve for, know that a good steel, which will stay in respectable condition and not wear moth in a fortnight, is something very akin to a treasure. Therefore, we introduce an ornamental implement which will sharpen knives at a mere touch, which pulls out skewers, cuts cork wires, and which has a convenient corkscrew hidden away in the handle, always at hand at the right time and in the right place, we feel we are doing a large portion of the community a service.
This device shown herewith does all this. The implement consists of six blades of very hard and tough steel, one of which is shown in No. 4, Fig. 2, as represented in Fig. 1, around a central rod, No. 5, Fig. 2. The ends of these blades are secured in a socket, No.3, Fig. 2, and by a suitable screw they are held tightly in placed. The handle, No. 1, Fig. 2, is hollow, and is made of polished corrugated metal. It incloses a corkscrew, No.2, Fig. 2, and holds the same by screwing upon a thread formed on the bolster. At the end of the steel portion is a short knife for cutting cork wires; and just inside the blade is a notch is made which affords a ready means for grasping and extracting skewers.
The arrangement of radial blades is entirely novel and is very effective in use. Though especially designed for family use, the device is suited for sharpening the largest knives.
It is the subject of several patents obtained in this country and in Europe through the Scientific American Patent Agency. For further particulars address the manufacturers, the Radial Steel Company, 221 Pearl Street, New York city
Also, within the same issue of Scientific American, there is an advertisement for The NABOB:
If you can’t make the text out, due to the digitization, I have transcribed it below:
IS A STEEL, WITH MORE THAN THAT NAME IMPLIES.
Being a handsomely plated, beautiful, detachable bladed, Radial Steel, with Pat. Reflecting, Corrugated Handle; particularly designed for family use, but a wonderful sharpener of the largest knives; a Skewer and Cork Extractor, &c., &c.; very pleasing to admirers of the elegant ingenious and novel. Will last a lifetime. Every family can afford it, and will have it.
SOLD by first class Jewelers and all Cutlery Dealers. IT is one of the most universally needed, scientifically constructed, and perfect and salable of modern inventions, purchased at sight by those having no previous intention to do so, and who would not buy any other steel at any price. Sample Steel by mail. Send for Illustrated Circular. Address
This morning, I received an email regarding a “…sterling silver and gold gilt folding medicine spoon and corkscrew.”
Of course, given my fondness for medicine, poison, and dosage cup corkscrews, I responded that I was interested.
And, after a bit of sleuthing around managed to find the seller on various social media platforms, and their etsy seller’s page.
But, given that emails sometimes get missed, I simply reached out, and over the course of a fun messenger exchange we managed to “virtually meet,” share a humorous engaging exchange, strike a deal for said “…sterling silver and gold gilt folding medicine spoon and corkscrew,” and she had it already wrapped up with postage printed before we signed off.
Now, I know you are wondering why “spoon and spoon and spoon and corkscrew.”
Because, it has three spoons and a corkscrew!
Of course, it will fit in nicely into the spoon / dosage cup corkscrew collection, and I can’t wait to get it into my hands to see how it all folds together.
Well, I know how it folds together, as there was a photo of that too in the email….
Still, I can’t wait to get it into my hands!
The sleuthing into the silversmith that made this has already begun!
Thanks Jillian! I look forward to our next deal!
More photos, and any other details about the triple-spoon-corkscrew when it arrives in a couple of days!
I will preface this by saying, we have been in Holland, MA for two days already, having escaped the island for a few days before the Brimfield show would be starting.
Given this is July, we expected to have a small dealer turn out, as is often the case in July. Still, I arrived around daybreak and started the search.
In short order, I was flagged down by a dealer friend that had happened upon a zig-zag without the caplifters; a deal was struck in short order, and I was off again.
Then there was a Watkins Glen flash for 5 dollars.
And, then a Niagara flash for 3 dollars
At one booth, there was a familar looking direct pull, and after closer look, it was indeed an advertisement for Bartholomay Brewing out of Rochester, and at 10 dollars, I couldn’t not buy it.
Around 10, the lovely lovely was going to arrive at the fields for a bit of hunting, and I focused the hunt near where she would be parking. And, in one booth, was a Chippendale patent cigar cutter / corkscrew.
Now, I already have a Chippendale in the collection, but this is not a corkscrew that often turns up, and the price was beyond fair…and it is the first time I have seen one available in the wild.
Thus far, it was the best corkscew at the show.
After meeting up with the lovely, we sauntered down to a couple of fields that would be opening shortly, and there was a purchase made of a Sterling handled opener with corkscrew and a Heiring patent that advertises Golden Wedding Whiskey…
This trip is going to be short, and while we will be at the fields tomorrow, we will be heading back to Maine in the late morning.
Still, a great couple of days, and a Chippendale! A good trip to the Brim…
Oh… there were some other things to buy at Brimfield:
The Erie Specialty Co., Erie, Pa., makes a specialty of of the manufacture of Walker’s Cork Screws and Cork Pullers.
We illustrate some of their latest patterns of cork pullers, which are standard goods by the trade.
The “Quick and Easy” cork puller has
an improved bottle holder, which avoids breaking the bottles, being provided with a rubber socket to hold the bottle. A forward movement of the lever draws the cork.
while the reverse moment throws the cork off
Fig. 2 shows the crown and seal lifter at-
tachment and position of the lever after the cork is drawn. This style cuts the wires when pulling the cork. Walker’s improved cork puller is espe-
cially adapted for family use, its low price and easy operation making it a popular seller.
This cork puller is now furnished with their new, quick, three-turn screw. They are supplied either with or without table clamp as desired.
The “Samson” Cork Puller is well and favorably known to the trade, having stood the test of years. This style is also now furnished with their new quick screw, and other improvements, which will still further commend it to the trade.
I know it is a little early, as there are another 6 months ahead of us in the corkscrew collecting fiscal year, but I am starting to consider what corkscrews could make the best 6 at this point.
Of course, with 6 months ahead of us, the list could be entirely different come December, and undoubtedly it will. But, you just never know.
July Brimfield, September Brimfield, random amazingness, trades, clandestine deals, JFO meeting…there will be opportunties in the near future do acquire a few more twisted treasures, but here are a few that would make the list at the halfway point in the year:
Of course there have been others, but as of July 1, I would probably lean towards:
Bigelow & Brown aluminum bottle roundlet
Pie Crimper / Can Opener with corkscrew (PAT APL’D FOR)
Matching Can opener wihout Pie Crimper with corkscrew (PAT APL’D FOR)
I will add that this list is subject to change for a variety of reasons: something shiny, some new discovery, a second cup of coffee…
Still, What are your best discoveries in the first six months of this year? Feel free to send pictures!
Or, what is your best find so far this year. I will happily throw them on the bloggy blog.
Originally Published in the Spring issue of The Bottle Scrue Times
On May 19, 1903, William J. Lowenstein was granted patent number 728,735 for a “Bottle Attachment.” His intent, was to create a space on the surface of a bottle where a corkscrew would fit behind the label. His patent description explains, “The object of my invention is to provide a means for utilizing the label of a bottle for holding a corkscrew or other tool, thereby dispensing with rubber bands, strings, wires, &c., for this purpose.”
Later on his patent description, he adds “The corkscrew C is first placed within the recess B, and then the label is pasted on the bottle, with its upper edge extending across the ring-shaped portion B’ of said recess and preferably about the middle thereof, and as the upper central portion of the label adheres to the portion D of the side of the bottle the corkscrew will be securely in the pocket formed for it by the recess and the label, thereby dispensing with the need for rubber bands, wires, &c., for securing the corkscrew to the bottle. Moreover, it will be impossible to use the corkscrew without defacing the label, which renders it impossible to refill and use a bottle a second time without detection unless it shall have also been relabeled.”
And, of course, as the patent drawing shows us, he provides an illustration of the corkscrew with advertising hang tag, explaining in the patent description, “In Fig. 5 I have shown in side elevation a view of the corkscrew adapted to be used with my bottle and have shown the ring-shaped portion of the same provided with an advertising tag, such as is usually made of tin, but may be made of any preferred material.”
Beyond the corkscrew, which would be of interest to all of us, is Lowenstein’s use of words “my bottle.” Further, the corkscrew illustrated in the patent displays an advertisement for “Old Harvest Corn Whiskey.”
As it happens, Dr. Julius Lowenstein was a dentist from Rochester, New York, who moved with his brother-in-law M.W. Meyer to Statesville, North Carolina in 1884 where they started Lowenstein & Co., a wholesale liquor distributor and producer. And, one of Lowenstein’s brands was Old Harvest Corn Whiskey. So, when he mentions “my bottle” in his patent, he literally was speaking of the whiskey he himself produced.
During this time, Statesville was dubbed the “whiskey capital of the world,” as they were the last southern stop on the railroad before trains would head west, and in 1880’s, 450 distilleries were shipping their products through Statesville.
The title of “whiskey capital” and Lowenstein’s company would be short lived, as with rising taxes and the anti-liquor and prohibition movement being strong in North Carolina, Lowenstein closed in 1896.
On June 16, 1896, as reported in the Statesville Landmark, “It has been an open secret that Messrs. Key & Co., so long in the wholesale liquor business here would go out of that business entirely. Messrs. Lowenstein & Co. have also decided to go out of the wholesale business. The closing of these two houses ends the wholesale liquor business in Statesville.”
Lowenstein then headed to Atlanta where he gained ownership of the Norris Candy Company. But, this also adds to the story. Lowenstein’s patent of his bottle attachment came after his departure from Statesville and the closing of his wholesale business. And perhaps that is why we have yet to find a Lowenstein patent advertising a Lowenstein product.
Of course, there are variations that do NOT advertise a Lowenstein & Co., product. And, to my knowledge there are a dozen variations of advertising that appear on the Clough-like wire corkscrew with the advertising hang tag.
I will add here, that none of the examples I have seen carry any type of patent date, but based on the illustration in Lowenstein’s patent drawing and an advertisement for Pearl Wedding Rye, we begin to see what Lowenstein was suggesting—or perhaps suggesting avoiding.
The following are the known examples of the Lowenstein patent, with several coming from a collection within our collection.
Bailey’s H & C Pure Rye
Bailey’s Pure Rye Whiskey was a product produced by Huey and Christ in Philadelphia, and in 1875 took over the production of Dr. Stoever’s Tonic Herb Bitters, German and Cock-Tail Bitters, and were an importer of wines, brandies and gins.
CLARK, CHAPIN, AND BUSHNELL’S EXTRACTS, NEW YORK:
Clark, Chapin, and Bushnell were importers, wholesale grocers, and tea jobbers with a location at 177 and 179 Duane Street, New York City.
FRANCIS H. LEGGETT & CO. NEW YORK:
Francis H. Leggett joined his father’s grocery at the age of 18, and after becoming partner a few years later, started Francis H. Leggett & Co., a grocer, jobber, and distributor. Within the next decade his operation became one of the largest in New York.
While Leggett distributed a myriad of products, the reverse of the hangtag on this Lowenstein is marked “PURE SPICES, FINE FLAVORING EXTRACTS”
WESTHEIMER & SONS, PLANET, SOUR MASH, ST. JOSEPH, MO:
Ferdinand Westheimer & Son’s was a distiller in Louisville, Kentucky whose brands included Boston League, C.C. Bond, Clover Brook, Manhattan Reserve, McAllister, Number One, Old Hutch, Planet Sour Mash, White House Club, and Pullman Rye, but had their greatest success with their Red Top Rye.
HANCE BROS. & WHITE, PHARM’CL CHEMISTS PHILADELPHIA
Hance Bros. & White was a pharmaceutical chemists company in Philadelphia. One of their many products was Frog in Your Throat lozenges.
HUMPHREY & MARTIN’S FINE WHISKEYS PHILADPA (found in yellow or tan)
Humphrey & Martin were distillers and wholesale liquor distributors in Philadelphia producing the brands Anchor Rye, Bouquet, Clyde, and Golden Lake.
LEWIS 66 WHISKEY
Lewis 66 Whiskey was a product produced by Strauss Pritz & Co., distillers out of Cincinnati, Ohio. They also made a myriad of brands: 1875″, “A. Lewis & Sons Pure Hand Made Sour Mash”, “Bon Ton Rye”, “Bouquet Rye”, “Cream of Anderson”, “Durham Distilling Co. Rye”, “Durham Rye”, “Edge Cliff”, “Flower of Kentucky”, “Flower of Maryland”, “Fountain Run”, “J. M. Walker’s Anderson County Hand Made Sour Mash Distilled Spring 1868”, “Lewis 66”, “Mercer Co. Kentucky Pure Small Grain Bourbon”, “Mountain Brook”, “Old Bon Ton”, “Old Winchester”, “Planet Rye”, “Roanoke Rye”, “Small Grain Bourbon”, “The Celebrated Longfellow”, “The Famous Lewis 66”, “Winchester “, “Winchester Rye”, and “X & S P Co. X.”
PEARL WEDDING RYE and PEARL WEDDING SELECT RYE WHISKEY
Pearl Wedding Rye, and Pearl Wedding Select Rye Whiskey were produced and distributed by the United Wine and Trading Company in New York.
And, they even featured the corkscrew attached to the bottle in some of their advertising. Look closely at two bottles on the right in the advertisement here.
THE GREAT A&P TEA CO’S EXTRACTS (found in red or tan)
That would be the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company that ultimately would become the A & P grocery chain; at one point the largest retailer in the United States with 15,000 locations nationwide in the 1930’s.
WEISS-EICHOLD LIQUOR CO. MOBILE, ALA
Changed their name to Weiss-Eichold in 1901 from Eichold Bros. & Weiss.
Weiss-Eichold was a wholesale dealer of Liquors, Cigars, and Tobaccos, and apparently a self-proclaimed, “Rectifier of Spirits.”
They produced brands such as Big Hit whiskey, Golden Cream whiskey, and blended brands such as Belle of Mobile, Rag Time, and Simon Suggs.
If you have a Lowenstein patent, that is different than the ones shown in this article, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com
From the 1885 Illustrated pattern-book of furniture, carpets, rugs, linoleums, floor cloths, curtains, window blinds, table linen, towellings, blankets, etc. Vol. I published by Silber & Fleming (London).
No. 2852. – Patent Lever Cork Drawer, bronzed or nickel plated, complete, with six screws.