For some years now I have been taking Saga, the magazine for the over fifties. I was gratified to see in the issue that just popped through my door an article about corkscrew patents.
I know from experience that corkscrew collectors are a keen lot, having been asked for help on several occasions. The presence of a patent or registered design number on an item adds to the interest, if only by providing some evidence of the maker or originator. One collector (in a different field) told me that he was happy if he had three things: an object with a patent number on it, the patent, and trade literature advertising it.
The article leaves no pun touched, with its title being "What a corker !" The Rev. Samuel Henshall is credited with the first corkscrew patent, with GB 2061/1795. This worked on the principle of a button at the top of the spiral. This apparently made it easier to withdraw it. More popular was GB 2617/1802, by Sir Edward Thomason. You continue to twist it and eventually it rises up again. It continues to be in production.
Thirty corkscrews will be auctioned at Christie's South Kensington branch on the 2 October, including a Thomason corkscrew. There is masses of corkscrew-related information on the Web, such as the Inventors.About site, which includes drawings and patent numbers of some interesting ones. There have also been books written on the subject, including books dedicated to German and Japanese patents (the latter is in English). The dedication and ingenuity of these enthusiasts never ceases to amaze me.
And why haven't I linked to Web copies of those early English patents ? They are not on the Web, as the material before about 1895 has not been put up on any database.