And, a few more poison indicators…

Not that I have actually discovered any poison indicator corkscrews since we last spoke–not that I am speaking–but, I thought I would thumb through the back of O’Leary and check out the patent drawings (once again).

As mentioned the other day, the first mention in O’Leary of a corkscrew with a poison purpose, is the Bailey Safety Alarm of 1890.


That said, I found another reference on pharmacy history that has an illustration of the both the 1883 Stites Bottle Stopper and the 1890 Bailey Safety Alarm with the words “Stites Cross Bones Stopper and Corkscrew.” In visiting the patent, no corkscrew is mentioned in the Stites patent description, but it would certainly be cool if it actually had one–or if we could find one for that matter.


The Blake patent of 1914, mentioned the other day is the next poison related corkscrew illustrated in O’Leary.


In looking at the dates, and while no patent has been found, we then go into 1915 with the Hall’s Red Devil Skull.  And, the newly identified as a patent, so not pictured in O’Leary, Hudson patent of 1915.


In 1916, we see T.E. Higgins “Poison Alarm Device.”  Again, a piece that I have never seen in person, or pictured, and one that certainly should do its job, with a large skull hanging above a corkscrew inserted in a bottle.


In 1917, there is the Ketler patent for a “poison bottle indicator.”  Similarly themed, it has a skull and crossbones in a circular frame.  Again, as far as I know, this has yet to be discovered within our respective collections.


In 1921, we are introduced to the Teece patent “poison bottle top.”


And, finally in 1924, there is another Skull and Crossbones styles corkscrew: the Fleisher patent, with folding corkscrew attached to the top of the skull, and a spike to insert into the cork:


There are lots of other poison indicators without corkscrews.  Many patents, with largely the same theme, spikes and sharp edges.  Like the Hall’s Red Skull, where the horns are intended to serve as a warning in the middle of the night, and the sharp edges of the Blake (which we haven’t found) or the serrated disk, which is similar to, and could very well be the Bailey’s Safety Alarm, there are sharp edges, spikes, prongs, barbs, and the like which are intended to serve as a deterrent.

This is going to hurt you, so don’t drink this.

As far as I know, most of these patents haven’t been found in a real life form.  Do you have one of these poison related corkscrews?  Do you have a different poison related corkscrew?

Feel free to drop me a line.

Dead Ringer…

As mentioned on the Edward Leverich Hall post, there was mention that Hall (or his company) possessed the patent rights.  So…I started to look for a patent.  In doing so, I found several references to patents for poison indicators or poison warning devices, but one poison indicator, in particular, I was excited to find.  After a little more research, I ran into an article in a 1915 issue of Pharmaceutical Era


Many mechanical inventions have been devised for apprising individuals of the poisonous contents of bottles that they may be called upon to handle.  One of the most recent devices of this character is the invention of Mahalah T. Hudson, Kirksville, Mo. (Patent No. 1,131,839), shown in the pharmadrawaccompanying illustration.  It comprises a frame formed from a blank and provided with a central body, upon which are formed integral arms bent upward as to me at their end portions; a bell carried by the ends of said arms, integral plates formed upon said body and extending at right upper angles thereto, said plates being adapted to rest upon the upper portions of a cork of a bottle for retaining the frame in its correct vertical position, and spurs extending downwardly from the lower portion of the body for digging into the cork whereby the poison indicator will be held in engagement and rest evenly on the upper portion of the cork.

And, might be saying to yourself, “Okay, not so fast Josef, there isn’t a screw, there are two spurs…”

Yes, you would have a point there…  But, if you look at the other illustration from the patent drawing, that wasn’t shown in the Pharmaceutical Era blurb, there IS a corkscrew.


That little bell that you have in your collection, is indeed a patent.  And, a dead ringer for the patent drawing!


A patent for a poison indicator.  And, one that does not appear in the front or the back of O’Leary.

The 1915 Hudson patent #1,131,839…