The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Weekly Newspaper

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Number 472

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News Index

Cork Grips

In the February 9, 2004 issue we examined the cork grip patents of Joseph Amigone as well as the variations in the tools produced. In the March 25, 2007 issue we looked at scissor designs with corkscrews. Some of these had cork grips. Today's issue offers a look at a few of the other cork gripper designs.

U. S. Patent No. 431,086 issued July 1, 1890 for a "Bottle Opener" to Justus Traut of New Britain, Connecticut. Traut wrote that his invention has "peculiarly shaped grasping jaws that can be made to grasp and firmly hold a cork without breaking it into pieces when the cork is being removed from the bottle." He also provides a wire or cord cutter in the design.

Jacques Bay's French Patent No. 334,247 granted October 14, 1903

The top and left grippers with wire cutters resemble Bay's patent and are marked DEPOSE PARIS J B. The gripper at bottom right in the above photo was made by Ed Wüsthof in Solingen, Germany and has his mark.

French Patent No. 1,378,368 issued October 5, 1964 to M. Jean, Émile Dubost for Perfectionnements aux pinces destinées au débouchage desbouteilles de champagne.

A gripper / wire cutter advertising "Monopole Red Top, Dry Monopole Brut" on one side and "Alex. D. Shaw & Co., General Agents" on the other. Shaw was established in 1881 and National Distillers acquired a 60% stake in the importing firm in 1933.

Two advertising grips with wire cutters. The top one advertises "Henkell Trocken". The bottom one advertises "Buratt Asti Spumante" and is marked FARM ITALY.

A cork grip with a guide marked SEKTBOY DBP, LAURUS SOLINGEN GERMANY. This is Anna Maria Scharwat's German Patent 1,176,017 issued September 4, 1964 for Zangenartiger Öffner für Sektflaschen. Anna Maria was also granted Austrian Patent No. 315,663 (March 24, 1972), Belgian Patent No. 781,388 (March 29, 1972), and Italian Patent No. 952,472 (July 20, 1973). A U. S. Patent was issued to her under her maiden name Strassel on March 27, 1973 (No. 3,722,327).

A well made 7 1/2" cork grip with nut cracker and bottle cap remover marked PFEILRING SOLINGEN.

Unmarked 7 3/4" cork grip. This utensil is shown in an 1898 Farrow & Jackson catalog.

A toothless cork grip advertising "Henri Maire Vin Fou"

A cork grip marked DREIZACK SOLINGEN D.B.G.M. Ed Wüsthof obtained German Patent No. 1,772,398 on August 14, 1958 for his Barzange. The many uses of the "Trident Bar Tender" are "Cuts wire (Champagne bottles), Sturdy screwdriver, box top lift, Cracks nuts, eases out Champagne corks, Opens screw top jars, Small tack hammer, Breaks ice cubes, Cap lift, can punch, Squeezes limes, lemons." It is the "Maid-of-all-work".

Wüsthof also patented his bar tool as part of a bar tool set (Hausbarkassette). This is German Patent No. 1,768,877 issued earlier in the year on June 19.

An Amigone tool with hammer ears on the cork grip

Today's Grips

Here are a few of the grippers currently marketed:

From Metrokane®: "Black Velvet Champagne Pliers Open champagne with style and ease. Pliers are contoured so they make opening champagne bottles easy and safe. Made of die-cast metal with a chrome and velvet-like texture. Hand wash."

From Franmara: "Attractively designed silver plated tool gives a positive grip for champagne cork removal."

From Franmara: Chrome and gold plated Champagne openers described as "Strong piano-type double hinge that's spring loaded makes it easy to remove the cork." Franmara also offers one from Laguiole with "Wood inlaid handles. Capture the cork first then twist or break the wire muzzle. Twist the cork from the bottle. Safe. Spring loaded action."

Advertising copy for several more:

"Argyle Champagne Cork Remover Keeps you in control. A safe and easy method for removing champagne corks. The unique solid metal spikes hold the cork firm, while the ergonomic designed pistol grip fits easily into both left and right hands for comfortable leverage and easy cork removal of stubborn corks without loss of control."

"Champagne Cork Extractor. Twist like a professional! This sturdy cork extractor really is the business. The strong metal jaws get to grips with the cork and hold it firmly under control as you steadily twist the bottle away underneath."

"Corkscrew and Champagne Gift Set (Chrome and Matt Silver) This stylish bar-set features the new Wing Corkscrew and Champagne Pliers that cut away champagne cork wire and removes stubborn corks effortlessly and safely. Both products are finished in the new distinctive chrome and matt silver finish."

"Decanter Champagne Opener. This unique Champagne opener removes the cage, foil and cork all in one easy and effortless motion."

The "Decanter" is also offered as the "Champ-eazy" with advertising "Whisks off cork, wire and foil together in one movement! The intelligent tool that puts the theatre back into champagne opening, without the drama. Must have for the full-on Sommelier."

The "Descorjet Champagne Opener, serve para controlar o saca-rolha e a quantidade de bebida que irá ser desperdiçada, a champagne pode ser aberta facilmente e com segurança, já que funciona tipo como uma alavanca. O saca-rolha é mantido dentro do Descrojet Champagne Opener ao invés de sair voando pelos ares." When taking the wire off the bottle you can place the Champagne Opener just above the cork with one hand. Use the other hand to undo the wire. If the cork comes out because of excess pressure it will go into the Champagne Opener.

An Alternative

Want to get the Champagne cork out clean and quick? Instead of grips just whack it off with this:

Barrels and Bottles wine & champagne merchants of England gives these details for the Champagne Sword: "The French Cavalry would ride into battle with a bottle of Champagne to be enjoyed before the battle as a form of Dutch courage. The Cavalryman would draw his sword and with a deft flick of the wrist cut the neck of the bottle clean open. The cork, cage and bottle neck all come away as one piece and the exploding pressure of the Champagne forces away any shards of glass. A truly amazing sight to see to this day at Champagne houses as the cork flies a huge distance and the spray is very impressive. This does take some practice and safety should be the first concern - whilst not razor sharp these swords can still remove finger tips and more! This Champagne Sabre (use of which is known as Sabrage) has its own stone display stand."

Nut Cracker

From time to time unboxed examples of this French Perille nut cracker turn up for sale as "Champagne Cork Removers".

Korkmaster Variations

Here are three variations of McDowell's 1948 Korkmaster design patent. On the left is a brushed aluminum version which weighs 6.0 ounces (170 g). In the center is a polished aluminum version which weighs 6.2 ounces (176 g). The one on the right is a chrome plated aluminum version which weighs 7.4 ounces (210 g).

Reader Josef L'Africain has now found a silver plated version (above right). The weight is 13.2 ounces (374 g) or more than double that of the brushed aluminum example. Also it is 1/16" shorter. It could be machined brass. His corkscrew came in a box from Frederick & Nelson of Seattle, Washington.

From Wikipedia: "Frederick & Nelson was a historic Seattle, Washington, department store founded in 1890. Acquired by Marshall Field & Company in 1929, it closed its doors in 1992. Its former Seattle flagship store is now occupied by the flagship Nordstrom location."

"Silver Plated" is handwritten on the instructions

The Frederick & Nelson Store

Deliveries by Frederick & Nelson

News Index

©2007 Don Bull, Editor


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