Its come to my attention that there are people who actually follow this blog, so here's the update for the first half of 2022. A nice lot of corkscrews with some serious Best Six contenders including a Thomason corkscrew with a very unusual silver presentation plaque and an extremely finely machined archimedean worm, a folding knife and spoon set with case belonging to Major Douglas McEnery of the 16th Canadian Light Horse division; decorated with some of his beloved horses. The Baker patent (middle right; double lever) is pretty rare and is one of the best buys I've had in a long time at only $30. The zig-zag type modern corkscrew (middle right) was acquired recently from former Dallas Cowboys player Troy Aikman's home town of Henryetta, Oklahoma for a mere $2 from a "hoarder" thrift store; unfortunately this was the only corkscrew find from visiting numerous antique stores throughout Oklahoma. The two corkscrews on the top right corner were my only finds from the last ICCA auction; one is a one off Sterling corkscrew marked Hotel Victoria, England on the top with Henshall type button and brush, the other is a carved stag horn corkscrew in the shape of a dog with Sterling silver collar and chain. Stay tuned, more corkscrews on the way...
A few more corkscrews which arrived before year end. I'm still waiting on one more shipment that's been taking a while, but I'll have my best six for the year finalized soon.
Newest acquisitions include a Sterling roundlet with fish and anchor decoration, Lemp bullet corkscrew, massive Walker store display corkscrew, unusual "art" corkscrew, and a Haff patent corkscrew.
When I acquired the Sterling silver pistol on the left in 2018, it made my Best Six for the year and I didn't think that I would ever part ways with it. But since I acquired the virtually identical one on the right, the one from 2018 will be going up for sale. Both pistols are in immaculate condition and were made by the same maker, but there are some slight variations; The scrollwork on the silver scales is slightly different and one has a round barrel while the other has an octagonal barrel.
I haven't acquired much lately, but what I lack in quantity, I make up for in quality. From left to right; elephant ivory mechanical with Sterling end caps, walrus tusk with Henshall button, large Walker boars tusk with carved stag and gold end caps, Walker stag horn corkscrew with mother of pearl end cap.
I recently acquired this fascinating corkscrew. It's a tusk with the name M. J. Heney carved into it. It also has a cigar cutter and a silver elephant head with ruby eyes. So who was M. J. Heney? A quick search yielded some results.
Michael James "Moose" Heney (October 24, 1864 – October 11, 1910) was a railroad contractor, best known for his work on the first two railroads built in Alaska, the White Pass and Yukon Route and the Copper River and Northwestern Railway. The son of Irish immigrants, Heney rose to the top of his profession before his death. His life inspired several books and at least one movie.
Michael James Heney was born on October 24, 1864, near Stonecliffe, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada. He was the son of Thomas Eugene Heney and Mary Ann McCourt, Irish immigrants. His family farmed in the upper Ottawa Valley.
At age 14, Heney ran away from home to work on the newly announced Canadian Pacific Railway. He started as a water boy, then graduated to a track laying crew assistant and mule skinner. In 1883 he was included in a survey and location crew in the Selkirk Mountains, eventually becoming foreman. In 1887 he was hired to construct a rail line for the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad. In 1897 he was contracted to build a gold mining hydraulic line at Anchor Point, Alaska.
When the Klondike Gold Rush came, Heney was ready. He visited the Skagway area to survey potential routes to the interior. By chance, he met Erastus Hawkins representing the Pacific Contract Company, Limited, which was organized to build through the White Pass inside of the St. James hotels lobby. A deal was struck and Heney was hired, first as labor foreman and then as contractor. Built through mountainous wilderness, far from supplies, using labor that was returning from the gold fields, the 110.7 mile White Pass and Yukon Route was an outstanding achievement and gained Heney an international reputation.
Heney next turned his attention to the copper and coal deposits recently discovered on the Copper River (Alaska). He surveyed a route, bought land, named the city of Cordova, Alaska and started construction, while rival companies built on different lines.
The dramatic conflicts between the various crews included gunfire. The Guggenheims and J.P. Morgan, via the Alaska Syndicate, sought access to the copper ore deposits at Kennecott, Alaska. When an alternate route starting at the Katalla, Alaska, port was "wiped out in a winter storm", the syndicate acquired the Close Brothers-Heney interest." Heney was bought out for $250,000 and he retired for a second time.
After having many problems building the railway they appointed him contractor. The Copper River and Northwestern Railway was one of the most difficult construction projects ever undertaken. The line crossed in-between two glaciers, under primitive conditions, far from any supplies. The Million Dollar Bridge, which is between the two glaciers, was completed just hours before the spring ice would have destroyed it.
At the pinnacle of his career, Heney left Cordova to complete some business arrangements in Seattle and New York. On his way back north, his ship hit an uncharted rock and sank. Heney went under deck to rescue his horses, but the last boat left without him when he returned on deck. So he swam to a boat and held on to the stern while it was rowed ashore as there was no room on it. Shortly afterwards he developed pulmonary tuberculosis and died within a year. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Seattle.
Widely popular, Heney was known as "Big Mike" or "The Irish Prince of Alaska". A glacier, mountain and range of mountains in Alaska over-looking Cordova bears his name.
I also recently acquired this John Hasselbring Sterling Silver corkscrew with grape clusters and leaves on the sheath.
I've just completed several major updates to the website. Mainly, consolidating the "articles" down to blog posts where they can age appropriately considering how influx the collection is. Now to update the neglected blog section of the site. Before we get to 2021, I should mention that a 28th framed corkscrew display was completed and added to my office in late 2020.
Below you'll find the corkscrews that I've acquired so far in 2021 from Ebay and etc. Nothing too astounding, but also nothing to sneer at. A couple of nicely carved examples, some interesting bar mounted finds, and why nearly a dozen parrots? Why not?
As is usually the case, the rarer finds came from the April 2021 Collector Corkscrews Auction. You can see the spoils below. There are several best six contenders in the lot.
I have a particular interest in one of a kind corkscrews and there is no shortage of them. For over half of my life I have watched hundreds of vintage corkscrews go up for auction every week and to this day I still see multiple pieces that I have never seen before on a regular basis. Perhaps this is what keeps corkscrew collectors going; the almost endless supply of unique corkscrews. There are also corkscrews that were produced in limited supply, either due to high prices or crazy mechanisms, which are nonetheless a must have of every serious corkscrew collector. Below you will find some of the particularly rare pieces in our collection.
This piece has been a part of our collection for many years. As you can see, the handle is carved into a full bodied lion figure which is very unique itself as most corkscrews that have been carved into figures are mainly just the head of an animal or person. It has a bulbous shank with a Henshall type button. Even with all of these unique characteristics, the really unique thing about this corkscrew is that the handle is made from rhino horn. Highly illegal today, but not when this unique piece was produced over 100 years ago. This is the only example of a corkscrew using rhino horn that I have ever seen let alone own.
Produced by the Williamson company in the US and carved by a master carver into a rabbit head. This corkscrew has glass eyes and a Sterling silver collar. The clean break on the ears seems to indicate that this is how it was originally carved rather than being broken.
Another caved stag horn corkscrew, this one with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a lion's head, this one also has a Sterling silver collar.
This corkscrew with the same distinctive shank made by Walker (USA) is made of boar's tusk with a Sterling silver end cap. The tusk is inlaid with a leaf design.
This is a particularly interesting corkscrew. It looks like a perfume corkscrew, but it has some notable differences. The overall length of the corkscrew is larger than any other perfume corkscrew I own or have seen. The helix is also much larger and sturdier than any perfume corkscrew I have seen. Also, in addition to having a Sterling silver body, this corkscrew has a Henshall type button to stop the cork.
This is one of the aforementioned corkscrews which are rare because of the crazy mechanism. This example, the Holborn Lever, must have been produced in small quantities or discontinued due to its unique mechanism of pivoting along a central bar. It was patented by Henry Arthur Goodall in England on June 4, 1885; patent number 6793.
These types of sets were common over 100 years ago. The one on the left is gilt in gold and has multiple utensils all of which have handles which fit inside each other except for the smallest piece which is a roundlet corkscrew. The set on the right features Sterling silver utensils and ivory handles. The fork has a corkscrew and is most often the utensil which has the corkscrew in sets like these.
This is technically not a corkscrew, at least in the sense of how this item would have been used. This is a gun tool that was produced in Sweden in the 1700s. The first "corkscrews" were actually gun tools. These tools had these helix's which performed two different functions. First, the normal corkscrew part would have been used to remove the spent gun powder cartridges. The second would be to remove bullets; unfortunately this part happens to be damaged, the piece in question is located on the bottom left of the sheath. This piece unscrews from the sheath and would have had a small double helix for removing bullets. This may be the oldest corkscrew in our collection.
This is a beautiful ivory handled corkscrew with a monogram of a family crest which features a griffin capturing a lesser bird. It also features a Henshall type button. There were many prominent families who would have commissioned these types of corkscrews back then (100+ years, England), unfortunately it is difficult to trace these family crests back to the original owners.
There are many vintage corkscrews which are made from "ivory", but this is somewhat of a misconception. The majority of corkscrews which were made 100+ years ago and certainly since then have been made from ox or cow bone or boars tusk. This corkscrew however is made from a large elephant tusk. While it is apparently impossible to take a picture of this corkscrew while showing how large it is. This corkscrew is wildly unwieldy.
Dating from somewhere around the 1700's this corkscrew was hand made by a blacksmith and features a foil cutter and an Archimedean worm. This may be the oldest corkscrew in our collection.
This figural indian corkscrew which was made by the Syroco company in New York was a wedding present to my grandparents who later gave it to my father. It is in absolutely perfect condition.
This carved stag horn corkscrew is very unusual as it is twice as large as similar carved corkscrews. Produced by the Williamson company in the US and carved by a master carver into a ram's head.
This is a German rack and pinion corkscrew produced by Louis Kummer. Notice that there are serrated teeth above the helix which assist in removing the cork.
This is a carved boar's tusk corkscrew, this one with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a dog's head, this one also has a Sterling silver collar.
This is another carved boar's tusk corkscrew with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a dog's head.
This is a solid silver handled Henshall type corkscrew marked GF Hipkins & Son on the shank. The handle is marked with an 1887 Portuguese hallmark for Leitao. The shank was produced in England and the original handle may have been bone to begin with, but at some point in the late 1880's a new silver handle was made for this corkscrew.
Carved deer head corkscrew with glass eyes and Sterling silver. Produced by the Williamson company in the US.
Below you will find some of the more unusual pieces in our collection.
This is by far the most unusual and also one of the rarest corkscrews in our collection. This is a 19th century prosthetic arm made from steel and leather which includes a corkscrew, fork, hook, & wooden hand with a spring loaded thumb.
A 19th Century Belgian percussion knife pistol, the 10.5cm octagonal steel barrel with Liege proof mark, mother of pearl scales with diapered decoration, a folding knife blade, hook and a corkscrew which forms the trigger.
At first glance you may be wondering how this item is a corkscrew until you notice the small wire ring atop the cork. While the small wire corkscrew which came with this item isn't unique, the medicine bottle itself is very interesting. When you read the ingredients you will see that this medicine is made of alcohol, chloroform, and opium. Years ago screw caps hadn't been invented and everything from medicine bottles to beer used corks.
This small item marked U-NEEK is aptly named as it is, in my opinion, the most unique non-worm cork extractor. To use, place the item atop a wine bottle and insert the 3 pins into the cork, then twist the item until the cork is removed from the bottle.
Those who are not corkscrew collectors probably wouldn't recognize this item as a corkscrew. While this item would usually be referred to as a cork puller or non-worm cork extractor, its purpose is the same; to remove the cork from a wine bottle. This is the T shaped variant of Eugene Adrien Mestre's French Patent No. 99986 granted October 14, 1874. To remove a cork, slide the curved end down the side of the cork then twist to grip the bottom of the cork while still in the bottle.
This is a Sterling silver roundlet corkscrew in the shape of a cigar. With no markings, this corkscrew is somewhat of a mystery. May have been custom made by a jeweler or silversmith and given as a gift to the cigar aficionado who also enjoys wine.
I've always had a particular interest in bar screws. These pieces are large, heavy and capable of opening several bottles of wine a minute. There are multiple moving parts and unique mechanisms in most of these corkscrews.
This is one of the most common American bar mounted corkscrews. In fact, it is still being produced today with very few changes from the original versions. The one one the left has black paint which today leaves a unique patina not often found on these corkscrews. The one on the right is somewhat harder to find due to the name plaque. These plaques often advertise the distributor of the corkscrew and sometimes include advertisements for brands of alcohol.
This art deco version of the Champion corkscrew is extremely rare. There are very few times when the makers of the Champion corkscrews changed the design of the body, but for a brief period they made a few different versions of this art deco design. This piece is in perfect condition.
This corkscrew marked The Yankee No.1 was manufactured by the Arcade Manufacturing Co., patented by R. Gilchrist, June 25, 1907; patent #857,992.
This corkscrew marked Yankee No.7 was also manufactured by the Arcade Manufacturing Co. and has some obvious differences from the version above.
This is a very unusual bar screw produced in Argentina marked MEFA, MARCO REGISTRADA, INDUSTRIA ARGENTINA. This is the only example of this piece that I have seen. The piece seems to be modeled after the Champion corkscrew, but has some obvious differences including the handle and rough/industrial body.
This is a Rotary Eclipse bar screw. Made in England and patented by F. Marwood on March 26, 1885. Truly one of the most elegant bar screws ever produced. This massive corkscrew also has a very unique mechanism.
This bar screw marked Acme was manufactured in England by Gaskell & Chambers, Ltd. English patent 11,104, W. Vaughan, August 15, 1887. This corkscrew is really unique due to the hammer head like shape where the mechanism is stored.
This bar screw marked Favorite was patented by Charles Morgan of Freeport, Illinois on March 14, 1899 and was assigned to The Arcade Company who manufactured this and other bar screws. This particular example is very rare due to the unusual single lever bottle clamp instead of the double handled type found on most other bar screws. Another very unique feature of this corkscrew is that it seems to be copper plated (although tarnished, you can see parts where the tarnish has been worn away showing the copper color beneath). This copper plating is highly unusual and I have yet to see any other examples of other bar screws produced by Arcade which have the same variation.
This corkscrew marked Cyklop was a DRGM registered design number 926,839 of September 30, 1925 and was produced by the German firm of Gerhard Frings & Co. This is one of my favorite bar screws; it features an open design allowing you to see the mechanism which is normally internal on bar screws. The other side has a built in foil cutter.
This bar screw marked Original Safety was produced in England and features a beautiful design. There are a few variations of this corkscrew including the one below.
This variation of the Original Safety bar screw has a few differences. First of all, they dropped the Original marking, but the main and most notable difference is that this version uses a clamp instead of screws to affix it to your bar.
This bar screw marked Handy was designed by inventor H. Tscherning in May 19, 1903 and made by Arcade Manufacturing Co. American patent 728,519; marked HANDY MAR 14, 1889. Very cool and fairly rare, this piece is in nearly perfect condition.
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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