Book Report  
1000 Patented Ways to Open a Bottle


Fred O'Leary
Corkscrews is a most amazingly thorough review of American patented corkscrews and their history. After touching on the origins and European patent history O’Leary shares the results of his extensive and meticulous research. His prose is entertaining and the photographs of patent records and corkscrews are beautiful.

With both detail and humor, O’Leary describes the patent process, the changing technology, the production, the big names, the absurdities, and the treasures of corkscrews. They are all here – from the early and mid-19th century when a corkscrew was needed to open medicine bottles, through the early 20th century when the corkscrew was often hidden in a complicated combination tool, right up to the present when the future of corks and the corkscrew are threatened by the screw cap. Each of the hundreds of corkscrews pictured is identified by a dated patent number and any known relevant facts such as how it works and who manufactured it.

For the student of history, interesting quotes and tidbits from the patent records place the changing corkscrew in the context of better-known inventions and a world changing rapidly. For the collector, 1,000 patent drawings dating from 1851 to 1994 are provided in the final chapter.

In O’Leary’s own words, "For anyone who has been the victim of a crumbled cork, a floater, a chipped bottle, a strained back, a ripped pocket, an inappropriate ceremonial utterance..., here are over 1,000 well-intentioned attempts to solve your problem." He offers a toast to each inventor "for being one patent closer... to the perfect corkscrew."

About the Author: Fred O’Leary, as a restaurateur in the 1970s, first gathered corkscrews for pragmatic reasons. He is now a member of the International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts (ICCA) and the Canadian Corkscrew Collectors Club (CCCC).

The evolution of corkscrew design is clearly presented in extensive text and displayed in over 500 photographs – over 450 in beautiful color – and 1,000 U.S. patent drawings dating from 1851 to 1994. Brother Timothy Diener, the former winemaker at the Christian Brothers cellar in Napa, California has written the Foreword.

The book is arranged chronologically to show the development of designs. Here is a progression of corkscrews from common to unique, in materials from metals to plastics, and in value from inexpensive to priceless. The diversity is amazing. This book is a unique blend of primary research, visual excitement, and friendly dialogue which enriches our appreciation of corkscrews.

Fred O’Leary spent three years studying the U.S. patents to compile the raw information here, then constructed the cross-reference lists and contacted other collectors to photograph the corkscrews themselves.

Sample Page: This wonderful book will keep you busy for many hours.  Here is a teaser page, page 33 in the book.  Just click on the picture and you will get one that fills the screen.

Audience: corkscrew collectors, wine enthusiasts, antique dealers, historians, engineers, and cross collectors with tools frequently combined with corkscrews.  The book is available from the author, just e-mail him to arrange the purchase.

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