Registered Figural Corkscrews

Some Conclusions from Frank Ellis

Registered British Figural Corkscrews

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a corkscrew? Is it a toasting fork or a door knocker? - Well the answer is probably "Yes - it could be all of them".

In the Quarterly Worme of March 1998 I raised some points and questions about British Figural Corkscrews with registration numbers. Now after some correspondence with fellow members of the CCCC and a year of research from Barbara and myself I can give you a much clearer understanding of what is registered and what is not.

Much of the research is incomplete and because of the size of the task it never will be complete. But what I have discovered is certainly a representative assessment of the whole picture I think. Designs for the figural handles of corkscrews started being registered in the second decade of this century, gaining popularity in the 1920s and peaking in numbers in the early 1930s.

However the first one that I am aware of is from 6th May 1895, Registration Number 254376. It is slightly atypical though having a silver salmon as a handle and one recently sold at Christie's (22 September 1998; lot 507; 1150). It was stamped with the registration number, the makers mark HW and hallmarked for Birmingham 1896. The markings all fit because it was Henry Wells of High Street, Shrewsbury who registered the design.

As I described last March, British Registered Designs range from the 1840's with the entries from Robert Jones and Cotterill (W & B pages 59 to 63) to the present day. Some of these designs are wonderful like the Cotterill which is rare and expensive.

Some have probably never been made, and some like the Surprise of 1884 are very common. The attraction of this area of research is that the Design Registers show a picture of the corkscrew and gives its date of registration and the name and address of the designer. There is a wealth of information, some of which you can seen in my best Sixes for 1997 and 1998.

But it is important to realise what a Registered Design means. It is specifically that. The Design is placed in a Register and copyright protection is granted for a period of years. This is normally 5 years for the period that we are covering here but it could be extended for an additional fee for any successful design. I am aware of some designs that were extended for a further 2 sets of 5 years. It is the actual design that is important - not the construction nor function. In this respect it is different to a patent. For a patent to be granted the invention had to be "new". For example, once Thomason patented his novel mechanism in 1802 no-one else could have protection for the same mechanism again. However someone could register a host of designs for new fancy styles of Thomason barrels. They didn't - but that's beside the point.

You can maybe start to see why there could be many designs registered for corkscrew handles. The worm and shank could not be granted protection because they are as old as the hills, but any new style of handle could be granted copyright protection.

There is a major consequence of this. Many of the handles of figural corkscrews that have got Registration Numbers on them were not originally drawn in the Register as corkscrews. Some were indeed corkscrews, but a number were door knockers, one that we are aware of was a toasting fork and some were just the handle with nothing attached.

Apart from the atypical salmon that I've already mentioned the first brass figural that I am aware of is a stag with a raised front foot. This has the Reg. No. 637421 and is known on a corkscrew as the Lynton Stag. This image was in fact registered on 18 May 1914 as a door knocker by John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham. You may remember that Soho was the area of Birmingham where nearly 120 years earlier Matthew Boulton made a corkscrew patented by a certain Samuel Henshall (Obstando Promoves Soho Patent).

In 1922 John Jewsbury also registered a series of dog breeds also as door knockers (at least I interpret them as door knockers - the registration document gives no clue) These dogs figure as corkscrews using the same design but with changes in the moulding to allow for the attachment for a shank and the addition of an eyebrow pull and a hanging ring in the middle of the dogs' backs. Sadly for the dogs the tree stump was removed. There is no doubt that these are genuine corkscrews but the original design was depicting another purpose.

Similarly, a fairly rare corkscrew depicting a "Black Boy" is derived from another door knocker, Reg. No. 707063 of 17 July 1924, also from John Jewsbury. Once again the moulding has been changed but interestingly the sprig at the back for the original hinge has been retained as a hanging ring holder. 

Another early manufacturer was Pearson Page Co. Ltd. of Ileene Works, Sherlock Street in Birmingham. Their first contribution to the area that I am aware of (but there may be earlier) was for the image of William Shakespeare leaning thoughtfully on a pile of books looking for further inspiration for his new play about Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s daughter. The corkscrew is again quite authentic but the original document shows the image as a handle for a toasting fork.

It was however Pearson Page who registered the first brass figural to be drawn as a corkscrew. Their two pixies, Reg. Nos. 711007 and 714013 of 10 February and 18 June 1925, are not the most aesthetic of designs unless you are heavily into the world of fairies.

 

 

The pixie theme was also taken up a couple of years later by John Jewsbury with Reg. No. 734053 of 16 December 1927. Thankfully the poor quality of the photocopy does not do justice to the sheer delight of this design. Despite my reservations as to the artistic merits of these designs, their common interest in the ethereal word brought the two firms together into a fairy tale marriage.

Their next offerings are as the new merged company Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co. of Soho Works, Western Road in Birmingham. Under this name they registered a series of 9 very good quality and quite well known figural animals Reg. Nos. 779323 to 779331 on 4 January 1933. The first five of the series are an assortment of animals standing on 4 feet with the corkscrew as the tail. Number 779328 shows a pair of very friendly doggies indeed. The last four of the series do not actually show the worm in the registration picture although they all figure as handles on top of straight pull eyebrows. I have also seen them on the side of ashtrays etc. The original copies of this set are photographs and some do not photocopy very well.

Pearson-Page-Jewsbury also registered another set of standing creatures a month later on 10 February 1933 with numbers from 780440 to 780445. These include Bonso Dog, a cartoon character that was popular at the time.

This company completed their zoo on 16 July 1936 with four dogs with their front feet and chin designed as a cap lifter, Reg. Nos. 811349 and 813865-7.

Surprisingly, this prolific breeder of such cute animal corkscrews was not the first in the field. They were beaten to the idea with Reg. No 773243, a strange looking dog by Esencourt & Co on 13 May 1932 and later by The Hercules Cycle & Motor Co. of Crane Industries, Manor Mills, Long Acre in Birmingham with Reg. Nos. 777641-777644 on 20 October 1932. However it is documented that the latter sold the idea to P-P-J - "in pursuance of an application received on 26 September 1933, Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham are registered as proprietors [of the design] by virtue of a deed dated 19 September 1933 between The Hercules Cycle & Motor Co. on the one part and Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co. Ltd. of the other part. Clearly P-P-J knew a good idea when they saw one. I am sure they probably acquired the rights to 773243 also.

There are many other figural corkscrews known to collectors and time has not allowed us to cross check every one in the registers. However I can clear up one mystery. A number of brass figurals bear the initials C&A on the back. The seated Dutch boy Reg. No. 767310 is perhaps the commonest. This was registered on 4 September 1931 by Crofts & Assinder Ltd. of Standard Brass Works, Lombard Street in Birmingham. Only the handle design is shown and so this would never have been picked up from an index that exists in this era or from general browsing.

There follows a series of designs from the Registers and a list of all of the figural corkscrews that I know of to this date. The work will never be completed so your challenge is to add to this knowledge.

Acknowledgements.

Thanks are due to a lot of help from fellow collectors who responded to my request for information a year ago. Some responses added corkscrews to the list and others clarified badly struck numbers so that I can now present you with a list of all of the knowledge to date. I am certain there is more out there and I am sure that we will discover more in the Public Record Office. But as I implied in the introduction there is no simple way to do the research. We really need to go through all 2 million records from 1884 to 1990 to be sure of finding every item registered as a corkscrew with a picture. Of course we will never pick up things like the Dutch Boy and the Thistle (Reg. No. 779768) this way because they were only registered as designs for a handle - a handle for anything the manufacturer wanted to stick on the bottom.

Just to give you a feel for the immensity of the task, Barbara and I have diligently worked through each of 270,000 entries from 1884 to 1895 and this has taken approximately 20 man days. In practical terms that is about 10 Saturdays per year. You may think this is rather a stupid way to spend a Saturday but we are after a lot more than just figural corkscrews. We pick up information to support Barbara's collection of owls but the main aim is broader. We are trying to get a comprehensive survey of all registered corkscrews from 1840 up to Jan 1908 (Number 518643) after which point the Public Record Office changes its archiving system to make it essentially impossible to browse though books. After that there is a somewhat unreliable index which sometimes identifies a corkscrew as a kitchen tool or other such tantalising description.

It may sound an impossible task but the end is in sight. We have been through every entry systematically from 1840 to 1895 and have another 20 man days to get to Jan 1908. For the period after that from 1912 to 1950 I am indebted to Francis Hutchinson who has trawled through a slightly unreliable index and allowed me to use the information. The four intervening years from 1908 to 1912 may prove to be problematical.

Specific thanks are due to Francis Hutchinson for all the data he found a few years ago; to Tony Lopez and Alan Thomason for loads of information; to John Compton, Barry Taylor, David Smith, John Belcher, Mike Meakin, Ferd Peters, Dave Munday, Murray Atkinson, Wayne Meadows, John Cornell and Bert Giulian who all responded with further additions.

Finally to Dick Neumann who started it all with his Best 6 of 1997 and to Bob Roger who shared details of his figurals with Dick and copied me in to ask the stupid question " can you enlighten us any more - we are talking about your territory!"

List of all simple straight pull figurals with Registration numbers known to Frank Ellis as of 31 January 1999
(Gaps in the table indicate that the appropriate Register has not yet been checked)

Description

Number

Year

Comments and Date (where known)
Silver salmon

254376

1895

6 May - Henry Wells, High St., Shrewsbury
Stag with raised front foot - Lynton Stag

637421

1914

18 May - Door knocker - John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Shakespeare leaning on pile of books

673856

1920

8 Jan - Toasting fork - Pearson Page Co. Ltd., Ileene Works, Sherlock St., Birmingham
Southwold Town Crier

682891

1921

 
Fox Hound

691716

1922

 
English Setter

692(0)70

1922

 
Greyhound

692111

1922

5 Aug - Door knocker - John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Wire Haired Terrier

692112

1922

5 Aug - Door knocker - John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Cocker spaniel

(6)92113

1922

 
The Canterbury Cross

701922

1923

Could be an "adapted" bottle stopper
Clovelly Donkey

704053

1924

 
Jenny Jones Welsh lady

706(098)

1924

 
Black Boy

707063

1924

17 Jul - Door knocker - John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Elizabethan Galleon

708762

1924

 
Pixie

711007

1925

10 Feb - Corkscrew - Pearson Page Co. Ltd., Ileene Works, Sherlock St., Birmingham
Exmoor pixie

714013

1925

18 Jun - Corkscrew - Pearson Page Co. Ltd., Ileene Works, Sherlock St., Birmingham
Arundel Castle

715206

1925

 
Alsatian Wolf Dog

722733

1926

 
Clovelly (Devon) - lady on donkey with pannier

7(2)3284

1926?

 
Robin Hood

(7)27348

1927?

 
Sitting pixie

734053

1927

16 Dec - Corkscrew - John Jewsbury & Co. Ltd., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Pompadour, woman waist up

767267

1931

 
Dutch boy sitting cross legged, C&A

767310

1931

4 Sep - only the handle design shown - Crofts & Assinder Ltd., Standard Brass Works, Lombard Street, Birmingham
Pan, C&A

767391

1931

 
Squirrel, big curved tail, C&A

767392

1931

 
Gloucester Cathedral, C&A

767525

1931

 
Shakespeare Birthplace (3 houses)

7715(6)8

1932

 
Joan the Wad

772525

1932

Also reported as being 19255 - a production/stock number
Strange standing dog with flat curved face

773243

1932

13 May - corkscrew - Esencourt & Co., 15, New Bridge Street, London
Bloodhound? with squashed up body, tail screw

777641

1932

20 Oct - Corkscrew - Hercules Cycle & Motor Co., Crane Industries, Manor Mills, Long Acre, Birmingham
Standing pony, tail screw

777642

1932

20 Oct - Corkscrew - Hercules Cycle & Motor Co., Crane Industries, Manor Mills, Long Acre, Birmingham
not checked

777643

1932

20 Oct - Corkscrew - Hercules Cycle & Motor Co., Crane Industries, Manor Mills, Long Acre, Birmingham
not checked

777644

1932

20 Oct - Corkscrew - Hercules Cycle & Motor Co., Crane Industries, Manor Mills, Long Acre, Birmingham
Mickey Mouse? Standing on 4 feet, tail screw

779323

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Dog (terrier) standing, tail screw

779324

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
2 Dogs - just good friends, tail screw

779325

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Pig, tail screw

779326

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Elephant, tail screw

779327

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
2 Dogs - just good friends for handle - no corkscrew shown

779328

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Dog (terrier) standing for handle - no corkscrew shown

779329

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Dog outstretched for handle - no corkscrew shown

779330

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Outstretched pixie for handle - no corkscrew shown

779331

1933

19 Jan - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Dartmoor Pixies (double)

77957?

1933

 
Thistle

779768

1933

19 Jan - only the handle shown - Colin E. Pascal, 242, Maryvale Road, Bournville, Birmingham
Airedale terrier, standing - tail screw

780440

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Bonso dog standing on hind legs, tail screw

780441

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Dog?, barrel body marked XXX, tail screw

780442

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Pig, long body, tail screw

780443

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Bonso dog on all fours, tail screw

780444

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Donkey, kneeling, looking back, tail screw

780445

1933

10 Feb - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
The Fowey Ship

782287

1933

 
(Dartmoor Pixie - bar set c/screw missing)

785447

1933

 
Punch

785621

1933

 
Three Welsh ladies

789235

1934

 
George V and Queen Mary, Reg Appl. for

790203

1934

 
Pixie sitting astride a mushroom

791352

1934

 
Dartmoor Pixies

791(3)59

1934

 
Suffolk Punch - horse

792346

1934

 
Viking ship with oars and sails (probably fake)

792372

1934

 
Golden Hind ship, C&A

794650

1934

 
Jack O'Lantern - pixie with lantern

7(9)852(0)

1934?

 
Caernarvon Castle

799256

1934

 
Polperro Pixie

801712

1935

 
Cornish Pixie

809103

1936

ELPEC on back
Welsh Ladies (3 of them)

810292

1936

 
Dachshund - long body - cap lifter front feet

811349

1936

8 Apr - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Westwood Works, Westwood Road, Witton, Birmingham
Cromer Church

813074?

1936

 
Belvoir Castle

813302

1936

 
Scottie dog with cap lifter front feet

813865

1936

16 Jul - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Terrier style dog with cap lifter front feet

813866

1936

16 Jul - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Airedale dog with cap lifter front feet

813867

1936

16 Jul - Pearson-Page-Jewsbury Co., Soho Works, Western Road, Birmingham
Walsham Witch

814084

1936

 
Three masted galleon

815152

1936

 
Widdecombe Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all

82193(0)

1937

 
Tenby - The Five Arches

828(751)

1938

 
Banbury Cross

82986(3)

1938

 
Salisbury Cathedral

830881

1938

 
Norwich Cathedral

8(308)92

1938

 
Bulldog with tin hat, rifle and bayonet

844318

1945

30 Aug - George L. Tirebuck, 33, Hallam Grange Crescent, Fulwood, Sheffield
Estella, girl with posy

8444(3)6

1945

 
Two Scotch Terriers

855363

1948

ELPEC on back
Scotsman, walking stick corkscrew

859412

1949

 
Motorcycle, exhaust screw

873699

1954

17 Jul - Max Gate Ltd., 34, Aston Street, Birmingham 6
Cat - black painted

875453

1954

 
Gungadin cat

877588

1955

 
Plated tankard and cap lifter

880690

1956

 
Mr Punch

885591

1957

 
Jolly sailor standing behind a life belt

887318/9

1958

 
Scotsman standing behind a shield

891381

1958

 

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