William Rockwell Clough
Inventor and Manufacturer of over a Billion Corkscrews
©2002 Ron MacLean


As so often happens this project, like the proverbial Topsy, grew and grew! I am sure that neither Bob Nugent, nor myself, envisioned a finished product of this size and complexity. Perhaps if we had, we would have left well enough alone!

From initially having very little material to work with, to eventually having amassed a wealth of documentation, there were many times when the work ran into a seemingly insurmountable hurdle and was literally 'put on hold' for months at a time. With the exception of Colonel Clough Jr., there were few who had first hand knowledge of Clough and his work. Some of the information from reliable sources, contradicted themselves. For example a copy of a paper presented by Homer Babbidge, at the ICCA meeting in California in November 1976 on American Corkscrews, states that "There was, apparently, a falling out between Clough and Williamson, and they went their separate ways, both still preoccupied with the design and manufacture of corkscrews." On the other hand, Bob Nugent in a letter to Jack Bandy dated 27th December 1977, in which Bob recounts his visit with Clough's son, states "According to the Colonel, he believes his father went into partnership with Williamson about 1875, and that they parted amicably dividing up the accounts equally. They never solicited each others customers, and the Colonel remembers a letter to Williamson asking what to charge a customer who came to him."

Various newspaper articles from the time, that were furnished through the Historical Societies of Concord and Alton, New Hampshire were written in the colloquial style popular in the 1930's. As such, they are somewhat over enthusiastic in some of their claims and err on the side of quantity rather than quality of information.

Numerous biographical entries in historical accounts of Clough's life, are rather vague with regards to the dates of milestones in his life and specifics pertaining to the Clough Company's manufacturing past.

Undoubtedly, had I not become increasingly fascinated by the life and work of this man, and had not made such a strong commitment to Bob to continue the work, I would have put down my pen long ago. However, the task is now completed. Upon reflection I am pleased with the end result, and perhaps more importantly, I have a feeling that Bob is looking down with a smile too!

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©2002, 2003 Ron MacLean

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