The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Daily Newspaper
Monday, February 9, 2004
Get a Grip
Buffalo, New York - From 1950 to 1967 Joseph Amigone received four patents for a "Gripper-Type Cork Extractor." The first was utility patent 2,495,308 issued January 24, 1950. The other three were design patents. Amigone's primary objective was to get a firm grip on a Champagne cork and remove it "without destruction or mutilation of the body to preserve the period of subsequent usefulness."
The product was marketed under the name AMI (pronounced AH-MEE) in several different packages. In the first patent, the gripping lugs were embedded into the machined steel jaws. The handles were flat and although the first patent filed June 15, 1948 did not show a cap lifter and screw driver on the handle ends, the first design patent filed October 25, 1948 included these elements
This early package claims "with one or two easy twists, the most stubborn of Champagne bottle corks yields ... nice and clean! ... without spilling any of the Champagne ... and without getting anyone mad or hurt!" In addition it "will open more than 40 other food closures."
The jaws with embedded gripping lugs
PAT. PEND. mark on an early example
The 1954 design patent depicted a more robust gripper with the grips cast into the tool. Ice hammers / crackers were added to the outside of the jaws. In the above photo we see from left to right: The first patent, a chrome plated cast version, a gold plated cast version, and a Made in Japan cast knockoff.
On December 8, 1965, Amigone filed for his third design patent. He writes in his application "The characterizing feature of my design resides in the particularly configured cork-screw, receiving recess in one face and edge of one arm..." Design Patent No. 209.001 for the tool with corkscrew was issued October 24, 1967.
The cork gripper combination tool can be found in several different packages with a variety of instructions. The "Everything Tool" box contained the Japanese version of the tool without corkscrew. It was produced in Japan for Chadwick-Miller Company, Boston and the package has a copyright date of 1969. It was billed as "The tool of a hundred uses" including "... Nut, Shell-fish and Ice Cracker, Jar Opener, Wrench, Tong, Bottle Opener, Hammer, Screwdriver, Cork Remover and Lemon Squeezer."
The Ami "open-all" was also offered with a cowhide holster with hanging ring for keeping it handy at the bar. Literature suggested "As a gift, as a prize, Ami is appreciated by everybody. And the fact that it can be furnished with engraved names, signatures and initials, or embossed emblems of most fraternal orders, societies, colleges and military services, make it appropriate of numerous occasions." The two grippers above left were used as such. One has the Dana Corporation logo and the other is engraved "Northwest Brewing Company Limited."
©2004 Don Bull, Editor