Common Corkscrews III

by Ron MacLean



I wish to once again thank Bob Nugent for his patient guidance, and my sister Jean MacLean for her cover illustration and informative sketches.


A great number of common (and a few not so common) pocket corkscrews with wooden sheaths or cases, may often be found at antique shows and markets in North America. Many appear similar in construction but with closer inspection differences in materials, markings or methods of fabrication may often be found. I have restricted my documentation to wooden sheathed examples and have not included the Clough and Williamson wire types with cast, rolled sheet metal or composition sheaths. I am certain that many more examples were manufactured and perhaps can be found in your collections.

The following detailed descriptions and photographs of wooden sheathed corkscrews cover a variety of models which were produced in England, France, Germany and the United States over the past 100 years. Many are fitted with a crown cap lifter and usually feature a closed end tubular wooden sheath. Most were very inexpensive at the time of manufacture and often were given out as free promotional advertising items.

Possibly the most commonly found corkscrew at antique shows and flea markets in North America is the wooden sheathed Clough twisted wire type often inscribed with company advertising.

Figure 1. This example has a plated double loop steel finger ring, a wire helix worm and a wooden sheath marked "M.C. ROBENFELD CO., 14&16 PORTLAND STREET, BOSTON. PATENTED OCT.16, 1900" and advertises a Montpelier, Vermont liquor store. The U.S. Patent No.649,649 assigned to this corkscrew was actually for a wire corkscrew manufacturing machine granted to William Rockwell Clough of Alton, New Hampshire. On February 25, 1902 Clough was granted Canadian Patent No.74,941 for a similar design machine. A characteristic of a Clough made item is the smooth tapered wire cut-off on the button.

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A 1919 Herr & Co. Lancaster, Pennsylvania catalogue, see Exhibit 1, illustrates an example marked 'WALKER'S CORKSCREW' suggesting that Edwin Walker possibly had access to a Clough wire corkscrew manufacturing machine.

1.  Clough did produce examples with a square wire cut-off on the button which were fitted with a left hand wire helix worm. In a meeting with Clough's son, William Rockwell Clough Jr., Bob Nugent was told that these left hand examples were hand made as Clough's machines were limited to manufacturing right hand worms. CC3Fig1.jpg (12524 bytes)
2.  A similar but less common Clough example, with a single loop finger ring and a flat bottom wooden case. This example advertises Golberg stores in New York, the Bronx and Brooklyn with Hebrew markings translated 'Yitzchak Goldberg". Both the double and single loop examples were made well into the 1930's. The squared case bottom, like the single loop, was less expensive to produce. When asked why people bought the single loop corkscrew, William Rockwell Clough Jr. remarked "PRICE". CC3Fig2.jpg (12113 bytes)
3.  Another type, possibly not produced by Clough, has a larger diameter, flat bottomed case and a smaller diameter double loop finger ring with the ring section extended from the flat button. The case and finger ring are matched in size to allow the case to be inserted in the ring hole and used as a "T" handle similar to a picnic screw. Marked "FRENCH-ITALIAN WINERY PHONE REGENT 0594 HAMILTON - ONT. Made in the U.S.A.". Another example (not shown) is similar in construction but with a much smaller diameter wire and large diameter case. CC3Fig3.jpg (11070 bytes)
4. A Clough patent example fitted with a "U" shaped pivoting wire appurtenance fitted in the flat case bottom to remove crown caps. Marked "WIRE LIFTS CROWN CAPS" and ""TRADE (DECAPITATOR) MARK" Decapitator, Patented Mar. 1, 1910" (U.S. Patent No.950,509). The patent drawings are shown later. Advertises OLD I.W. HARPER THE WHISKY YOUR GRAND-FATHER USED STILL THE BEST! Another example is also marked "WRC CROWN CAP LIFTER MADE IN U.S.A.". It is interesting that he had applied for this patent two and a half years earlier in England. CC3Fig4.jpg (12857 bytes)
5. An example similar to that shown in Figure 4 above, except with a stamped steel crown cap lifter pivot riveted to the rounded case bottom. The steel lifter is marked "PATENT No 20272.1907.". This is the English patent granted to W.R. Clough on May 7, 1908. The English patent was applied for on September 11, 1907 two years earlier than in America. Clough was on an extended trip to Europe at the time. Another example, not in my collection as yet was made in the United States and is marked "CLOUGH PATENT ALLOWED". The patent drawings are shown in Exhibit 3. CC3Fig5.jpg (12700 bytes)
6. The "ALL-WAYS Combination Bottle Opener and Corkscrew", is fitted with a stamped steel combination aluminium stopper lifter, Baltimore loop seal lifter, crown cap lifter with a steel ferrule and a Clough type wire corkscrew in the other handle end. The handle diameter is made large to facilitate use as a 'T' handle through the double loop. A copy of an original box with advertising and operating instructions is shown in Exhibit 4. This example was made by the A.W. Stephens Mfg.Co. covered by the patent of April 30, 1901 and the Clough Patent of October 16, 1900.

The nickel plated cap lifter is equipped with a point that perforates the crown cap during the removal to prevent cap reuse. Marked "FAMOUS FOR 142 Years The Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co. Established 1774 PHILADELPHIA. ALES and STOUTS Your Bottler and Grocer can Supply A.W. STEPHENS MFG. WALTHAM, MASS. PAT. APR.30, 1901". Advertising information dates this example from 1916. An advertisement by the Waltham Manufacturing Company is shown in Exhibit 4. These examples were also made with paper advertising glued to the sheath.

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7.  U. S. Patent No.1,150,083, August 17, 1915 by Edwin Walker, Erie, Pennsylvania. This is a nickel plated large diameter steel wire crown cap lifter and corkscrew fitted in a wooden sheath as shown in the advertisement in Exhibit 5 from the 1928 Wood, Alexander & James, Hamilton, Ontario catalogue and the 1919 Herr & Co., Lancaster, Pennsylvania catalogue shown in Exhibit 1.  The cap lifter tabs are crimped into the loop section of the lifter. This model was also sold without a sheath and was available in two different wire helix diameters and loop shapes. This type was also made with a single cap lifter crimp on the top of the loop. CC3Fig7.jpg (13923 bytes)
8.  A nickel plated cast steel crown cap lifter and wire helix corkscrew. The lifter is made with two lifting tabs formed from part of the casting. The flat bottomed wooden case has a nickel plated brass ferrule. An example is illustrated in a 1919 Herr & Co. Lancaster, Pennsylvania catalogue cut showing various Walker corkscrews (shown in Exhibit 1). CC3Fig8.jpg (14167 bytes)
9.  Williamson's "POWER CORKSCREW", a nickel plated steel, cast crown cap lifter and wire helix corkscrew fitted with a flat bottom bell and green wooden sheath. This example was also sold with a clear lacquered or red sheath and with either wire or web helix worms as illustrated in the 1946 Williamson catalogue cut (shown in Exhibit 6). This type was also made with a catalin (plastic composition) sheath. CC3Fig9.jpg (15513 bytes)
10.  Williamson's "PAL", a cast steel crown cap lifter and wire helix worm in a wooden sheath with a short nickel plated steel ferrule. Sheaths were clear varnished or sometimes painted red or green. Similar examples were made in Germany and are shown in the Henry Boker display card in the 1928 Wood, Alexander & James, Hamilton, Ontario catalogue shown in Exhibit 5.  Examples marked "GERMANY" may also be found. Models were sold under the 'PAL' name by Williamson's as shown in their 1946 catalogue shown in Exhibit 6. CC3Fig10.jpg (11898 bytes)
11.  Similar example to 10 above, except the sheath is bottle shaped, also shown in the Henry Boker display card in the 1928 Wood, Alexander & James Limited, Hamilton, Ontario catalogue (shown in Exhibit 5). The caplifter/corkscrew was also sold without a wooden case or in a leather case as shown on the same page. CC3Fig11.jpg (15286 bytes)
12.  Williamson's "FLASH", a nickel plated steel two piece wire square section crown cap lifter and corkscrew with the cap lifting tabs crimped into the heavier wire lifter section. Complete with a flat bottom wooden sheath and a nickel plated steel ferrule. As with the "PAL" this style was also produced with the wooden sheath painted red or green as shown in the advertisements from the 1946 and 1967 Williamson's catalogue cuts (shown in Exhibit 6 and 7). This type was also produced with souvenir photographs encased in plastic around the wooden sheath and also with a bottle shaped wooden sheath. CC3Fig12.jpg (13159 bytes)
13.  A nickel plated stamped steel crown cap lifter fitted with a double folded wire section forming a wire helix corkscrew. The handle portion is marked "LOCKYER'S ENGLISH MAKE". The heavy large diameter wooden sheath has a flat bottom section. The steel cap lifter opening is shaped to allow using the sheath as a "T' handle similar to Figure 3. CC3Fig13.jpg (8769 bytes)
14.  A nickel plated cast steel crown cap lifter and long Baltimore loop seal lifter/aluminium cap lifter. Casting is marked "GERMANY". Fitted with a web helix speedworm and a longer than usual tapered sheath. This type was also made with a wire helix worm. CC3Fig14.jpg (8311 bytes)
15.  Cast nickel plated steel crown cap lifter, Baltimore loop seal lifter and wire helix corkscrew fitted in a flat bottomed sheath with a larger than usual diameter. This style of opener was also sold with a metal sheath. CC3Fig15.jpg (9276 bytes)
16.  The pocket corkscrew of an innovative man! Fabricated from a truncated shaft (possibly from a German Hercules type) coiled into a comfortable finger loop and married to a wooden sheath fitted with a short steel ferrule. I feel such a unique item warrants notation! CC3Fig16.jpg (10353 bytes)
17.  A nickel plated steel crown cap lifter and wire helix corkscrew in a wooden sheath with nickel plated steel ferrule. Marked "THE STANDARD of PURITY for 160 YEARS". This type of opener is more commonly found with a metal sheath. CC3Fig17.jpg (12341 bytes)
22. A not so common, 19th century picnic screw with a web helix worm and an ebony wooden sheath with finial. Fitted with a nickel plated brass head and steel web helix worm. Possibly English. This type was also made in light coloured wood sheaths in different shapes and sizes. CC3Fig22.jpg (11187 bytes)
23. Another, not so common, wooden cased 19th century French roundlet with black ribbed boxwood body sections and a web helix worm. It has a brass ferrule on one inner end half and a nickel plated brass handle band marked "L.B. PARIS DEPOSE". This type was also made with different sized and shaped sheaths. CC3Fig23.jpg (13591 bytes)

18.  A cast steel cap lifter and wire helix corkscrew fitted in one end of a rather large wooden handle marked "COMPLIMENTS Frontenac BREWERIES LIMITED MADE IN U.S.A.". The opposite end is fitted with an ice pick with the steel ferrule at the pick end marked "WMSON NEWARK, N.J."(Williamson). This brewery was in operation from 1914 to 1948 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This was also made with an opener as found in Figure 7 and Figure 15. Another example not in my collection has a detachable pick which can be reversed and stored in the handle.

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19.  Ice pick example with a square cross section handle marked "COLUMBIAN TERRE HAUTE, IND. ICE CHESTS Picnic Jugs". Fitted with a bright nickel plated Clough corkscrew and steel ferrule. This corkscrew has an unusually small finger ring.

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20.  Another ice pick with a Clough type wire corkscrew and a stamped steel nickel plated crown cap lifter and ferrule fitted to a circular wooden handle marked "Artificial Ice Phone Metcalf 141 MADE IN USA".

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21.  A zinc die casting rnid-20th century combination cap lifter and corkscrew marked "A&J MADE IN USA" with a large diameter mahogany sheath marked "FRUIT CRUSHER" fitted with a nickel plated steel ferrule.

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Exhibit 1

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Exhibit 2

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Exhibit 3

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Exhibit 4

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Exhibit 5

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Exhibit 6

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Exhibit 7

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