Most households have at least one corkscrew if not more to perform the basic function that they were created for. Celebrities and historical figures were no different. Occasionally a corkscrew owned by a historical figure will show up at auction. You can read about former US President Ronald Reagan's corkscrew Here. These pieces go beyond the object itself; they tell the story of their former owners. I have been lucky enough to acquire a number of these historical pieces over the years. Below you will find some of the current pieces in our collection.
Philip Charles Habib - American Career Diploma
The following biographical notes were given to me when this corkscrew came into my possession: Philip Habib (1920-1992) was a career diplomat, whose accomplishments spanned 40 years. After serving in WWII he was the US Ambassador to South Korea, Assistant Secretary of State, Under-Secretary of State, US Special Envoy to the Paris Peace Talks and the Camp David Peace Accords, as well as many other diplomatic missions. He single-handedly brokered the peace between Israel and Lebanon during the 1982 conflict, for which President Reagan awarded Habib the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that can be given to a US citizen. He was also given the Legion d'Honneur by France and a host of other honors from all over the world. After retiring from the State Department, he taught at Stanford University, and in 2006, the US Post Office issued a stamp in his honor. Warren Zevon wrote a song about him called "The Envoy" from his album of the same name. The US State Department has a room named after him and the Korean Ambassador's residence is called "Habib House". In their obituary, the New York Times called him "the outstanding professional diplomat of his generation". This corkscrew is important to his history because he was a devoted gourmet and oenophile (wine connoisseur). Ambassador Habib was a member of La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, the most exclusive and famous wine appreciation society in the world and was presented the sommelier's cup.
This is a very special corkscrew from the estate of the late Honorable Ambassador Philip Habib who died in 1992. It is a marked "picnic" type corkscrew made by Kirk Pewter, probably in the 1970's, engraved with the monogram PCH. The marking reads: KIRK PEWTER 228. The condition is very good. It comes in a fitted case with the Kirk logo on the inside of the cover.
Lyndon B. Johnson - 36th US President
As you can probably tell, this item is much more than a corkscrew. The primary function of this item is as a walking stick, however you never know when you will be in need of a corkscrew. The handle is marked gold rolled silver and features a somewhat unique set of initials. Could this cane have belonged to a former US president? Probably just a coincidence, but it makes for a good story.
In complete contrast to the owners of the former corkscrews, this next group of corkscrews all came from the same collection of war memorabilia and belonged to some of the most despicable figures of modern times.
Adolf Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; NSDAP), Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and Führer ("Leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. As dictator, Hitler initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939, and was central to the Holocaust.
Hitler was born in Austria—then part of Austria-Hungary—and was raised near Linz. He moved to Germany in 1913 and was decorated during his service in the German Army in World War I. In 1919, he joined the German Workers' Party (DAP), the precursor of the NSDAP, and was appointed leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted to seize power in a failed coup in Munich and was imprisoned. While in jail he dictated the first volume of his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). Released in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-semitism and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. He frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy.
By 1933, the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag and led to Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Following fresh elections won by his coalition, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. He aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the abrogation of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans which gave him significant popular support.
Hitler sought Lebensraum ("living space") for the German people in Eastern Europe and his aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and on 1 September 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. By the end of 1941, German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. In December 1941, he formally declared war on the United States, bringing them directly into the conflict. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, he married his long-time lover Eva Braun. Less than two days later on 30 April 1945, the two killed themselves to avoid capture by the Soviet Red Army and their corpses were burned.
Under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (sub-humans) or socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European theatre of World War II. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare and the casualties constituted the deadliest conflict in human history.
The following 3 corkscrews are believed to have belonged to Adolf Hitler. The first is a stag horn handled corkscrew made with German silver. One of the end caps is engraved "AH" for Adolf Hitler, the other with a swastika.
This boars tusk corkscrew is also made with German silver and bears the inscription "AH" for Adolf Hitler. In addition to the German silver marks, it is marked "BERLIN".
The 3rd corkscrew is also made of stag horn and silver and inscribed "AH" for Adolf Hitler.
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich - High ranking Nazi Official
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich (7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942) was a high-ranking German Nazi official during World War II, and a main architect of the Holocaust. He was an SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei (Senior Group Leader and General of Police) as well as chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD). He was also Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor (Deputy/Acting Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich served as president of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC; later known as Interpol) and chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, which formalized plans for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question—the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe.
Many historians regard him as the darkest figure within the Nazi elite; Adolf Hitler described him as "the man with the iron heart". He was the founding head of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), an intelligence organization charged with seeking out and neutralizing resistance to the Nazi Party via arrests, deportations, and murders. He helped organize Kristallnacht, a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938. The attacks, carried out by SA stormtroopers and civilians, presaged the Holocaust. Upon his arrival in Prague, Heydrich sought to eliminate opposition to the Nazi occupation by suppressing Czech culture and deporting and executing members of the Czech resistance. He was directly responsible for the Einsatzgruppen, the special task forces which travelled in the wake of the German armies and murdered over two million people, including 1.3 million Jews, by mass shooting and gassing.
He was critically wounded in an ambush in Prague on 27 May 1942 by a British Special Operations Executive-trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill him in Operation Anthropoid. He died from his injuries a week later. Nazi intelligence falsely linked the assassins to the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. Both villages were razed; all men and boys over the age of 16 were shot, and all but a handful of the village's women and children were deported and killed in Nazi concentration camps.
The corkscrew itself is a large boars tusk corkscrew with a Sterling silver end cap engraved "RH" for Reinhard Heydrich.
Hermann Wilhelm Goring - Nazi Political & Military Leader
Hermann Wilhelm Göring (12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German political and military leader as well as one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party (NSDAP) that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. A veteran World War I fighter pilot ace, he was a recipient of the Pour le Mérite. He was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1, the fighter wing once led by Manfred von Richthofen.
An early member of the Nazi Party, Göring was among those wounded in Adolf Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. While receiving treatment for his injuries, he developed an addiction to morphine which persisted until the end of his life. After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Göring was named as Minister Without Portfolio in the new government. One of his first acts as a cabinet minister was to oversee the creation of the Gestapo, which he ceded to Heinrich Himmler in 1934. Following the establishment of the Nazi state, Göring amassed power and political capital to become the second most powerful man in Germany. In 1935, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe (air force), a position he held until the final days of the regime. Upon being named Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan in 1936, Göring was entrusted with the task of mobilizing all sectors of the economy for war, an assignment which brought numerous government agencies under his control and helped him become one of the wealthiest men in the country. After the Fall of France in 1940, he was bestowed the specially created rank of Reichsmarschall, which gave him seniority over all officers in Germany's armed forces.
By 1941, Göring was at the peak of his power and influence, and Hitler designated him as his successor and deputy in all his offices. As the Second World War progressed, Göring's standing with Hitler and with the German public declined after the Luftwaffe proved incapable of preventing the Allied bombing of German cities and resupplying surrounded German forces in Stalingrad. Around that time, Göring increasingly withdrew from the military and political scene to devote his attention to collecting property and artwork, much of which was taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Informed on 22 April 1945 that Hitler intended to commit suicide, Göring sent a telegram to Hitler requesting permission to assume control of the Reich. Considering it an act of treason, Hitler removed Göring from all his positions, expelled him from the party, and ordered his arrest.
After the war, Göring was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials. He was sentenced to death by hanging, but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide the night before the sentence was to be carried out.
This small boars tusk corkscrew is made with German silver and is engraved with the Goring family crest.
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler - High ranking Nazi Official
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler briefly appointed him a military commander and later Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and one of the people most directly responsible for the Holocaust.
As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in college, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a million-strong paramilitary group, and, following Hitler's orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. He was known to have good organizational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates, such as Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. From 1943 onwards, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police). Himmler had a lifelong interest in occultism, interpreting Germanic neopagan and Völkisch beliefs to promote the racial policy of Nazi Germany, and incorporating esoteric symbolism and rituals into the SS.
On Hitler's behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.
Late in World War II, Hitler charged Himmler with the command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula; he failed to achieve his assigned objectives and Hitler replaced him in these posts. Realizing that the war was lost, he attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler's knowledge shortly before the war ended. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.
The corkscrew is a boars tusk corkscrew with a German silver end cap engraved with "HH" for Heinrich Himmler as well as the SS logo and "SILBER" which is German for silver.
Regimental Company/Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler - Officer's Club Corkscrew
This is a very rare corkscrew with historical significance. The corkscrew itself is somewhat rare and is Jacque Perille's French Patent 160,949 of August 12, 1884 for a swivel-over collar corkscrew. Marked on side of the frame DEPOSE JP PARIS. The other side of the frame would normally be blank, but this one is inscribed. The inscription reads "St. kp. / L. SS. A.H.” (Adolf Hitler). I consulted with a museum as well as an expert on artifacts such as these. The consensus is that the inscription stands for Regimental Company/Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. This corkscrew may have been in the company’s officer's club.
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) was founded in September 1933 as Adolf Hitler's personal Bodyguard formation. It was given the title Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH) in November, 1933. On 13 April 1934, by order of Himmler, the regiment became known as the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). In 1939 the LSSAH became a separate unit of the Waffen-SS aside the SS-TV and the SS-VT.
The LSSAH independently participated in combat during the Invasion of Poland (1939). Elements of the LSSAH later joined the SS-VT prior to Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and by the end of World War II they had been increased in size from a Regiment to a Panzer Division.
I'm constantly adding new corkscrews to my collection. Any new finds as well as articles which may be of interest to corkscrew collectors will be posted here.
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