There is an old saying: "the more
things change, the more they stay the same". This is
certainly true when it comes to corkscrews. If you just look at
what is available in the stores today, you will find, with very few
exceptions, either a complete replica of an old design or patent, or a
modern update of the same. I have been fascinated by this
phenomena and investigated a number of instances in the past. As I
am most interested in complex mechanical corkscrews, I chose to write
this article on a type that appears to have been first invented by a
The mechanical process is the focus of
this piece and I would dearly love to hear of other corkscrews that use
this mechanism. If you have one or know of one, please send me a
picture of the corkscrew, its box if you have it, and a description via
contact me through
FEEDBACK- I will add it to this piece.
The German Machine
This is really a corkscrew that was
fashioned after the two cycle barscrews of which there are several
models. It is marked: D.R. PATENT, ANGEMELDET, and the piece is also marked on the
fulcrum arm: MARKE BRILE (reading glasses in an oval in between -
probably a Trade Mark) and SOLINGEN. The first cycle inserts the speedworm into the cork with
one downward motion of the long handle. Then on the reverse
stroke of the handle it lifts the cork. Then down again and the reverse
stroke ejects the cork. Simply beautiful to watch this machine
work! Thanks to Milt Becker and Fred Kincaid who let me have the pictures.
The Closed position
The Open position
The New Generation
This design is quite complex as
compared to the familiar "T" or even a Thomason, arguably one
of the most mechanical corkscrews. Modern manufacturers have come
up with very similar designs to the German one and these have been well accepted by the
market. Below are several such machines
(and there are many more) plus an illustration of how
one works, the rest are very similar in design and operation. On the
left is the corkscrew and the right, the boxes they come in. Just
click on the picture if you want to see more details.
The most often seen machine patented
by Herb Allen. His patent is dated March 3, 1981, US Patent
# 4,253,351 and is the
first of at least 9 corkscrew patents he filed. After
Allen's death, the company he owned was sold to the French company
Le Creuset and they make a number of different models of this
This is the "Perfecto"
but it is not a well
known corkscrew, made and apparently sold mostly in Spain.
Works quite well and is inexpensive. The mechanism is hidden
inside the barrel and the handle is obviously levered for ease of
use. The black side handles are used to hold the bottle in
the corkscrew while operating it.
This corkscrew, called
the "Rabbit" bears a lot of resemblance to the Screwpull
above. The Metrokane people made this corkscrew more
friendly for people's hands as the handles are all larger and
easier to hold - even for folks with severe arthritis. This is a solid piece of equipment, well made and is
available for less than half the price of the Screwpull.
Retailers say that it outsells the others.
A modern machine (when
compared to the Solingen above) and perhaps 20-30 years old, but
that makes it one of the older ones of this group. Italian made but not seen in the
corkscrew world. This specimen is the only one ever seen by
the writer - pictures were provided by Milt Becker. Not much is known about it, except that it is
called the "Gusta Vino". If you have one available, I
would like to purchase it, just e-mail
"Vignetto" is manufactured exclusively for the William
Sonoma company. As the others shown here, this is also a well made
machine, easy to use and does both jobs: remove the cork and then
remove the cork from the screw. The latter action saves
getting one's hands dirty with a red wine cork which may have some
wine or sediment on it.
The "SwiftPull" is an
exclusive offering from Franmara Inc., U.S.A. The corkscrew
is manufactured for them by a third party and looks very similar
to the "Screwpull", so it may be that the French company
Le Creuset makes it for them. This design, like the
Screwpull and the Rabbit uses a pair of plier like handles to hold
the bottle neck during extraction.
The "Trudeau" is
manufactured in Canada and it is quite like the Vignetto in that
it has a squeeze action hold on the bottle that is front to back,
rather than side to side as in the Screwpull. It also
has a number of accessories: a stand and a foil cutter. It
comes in a tin bok and is very well packaged.
The iLever is another of
the look alikes to the original Leverpull by Screwpull.
Operates the same way and appears to come in several coloured
plastic versions. A foil cutter is also supplied.
The "PULLIT" is also a Leverpull
look alike. Made in China but has a nice "soft" finish and
comes with a foil cutter and a spare screw. High tech
construction made of solid polycarbonate, zinc alloy and a teflon
coated thin steel helix.
This is also called the "PULL
IT" but while the piece works like the other Leverpull imitations,
this is made of red plastic. The construction claims are the
same as the one on the left and is made in China, so most likely
by the same people.
Now let us see how these machine do
their jobs. We will use the Vignetto to illustrate this process.
This is the closed position for the Vignetto corkscrew, once you
open it, it is
ready to go to work. This how you find it in the display box.
To start the process, the corkscrew is opened by pivoting the top
handle 180 degrees. It is then brought down on the bottle
neck so the bottle mouth can
meet the corkscrew flush on.
Next, lower the corkscrew onto the bottle neck and when in place,
firmly grip the two handles pointing downward, thus gripping the
bottle, ready for the work.
Move the lever towards the closed position, this will insert the
wire helix into the cork and...
...when fully inserted, the handle should be almost parallel to
Now, the lever is pulled back towards the open position and the
cork rises from the bottle.
When fully out of the bottle, the grips are relaxed and the bottle
To remove the cork, the corkscrew is now moved to the closed
position once again.
The cork is finally ejected when the lever is moved to the open
position, thus withdrawing the wire helix.
The others work the same way. I have received these as gifts from
people who know that I collect corkscrews. Most of them also ended
up buying one for themselves. You won't get a Solingen, but you can
acquire its modern cousins.