The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Weekly Newspaper

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Number 565

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Corkscrew Insulators

On May 1, 1883, Joseph S. Lewis of Birkenhead, County of Chester, England was granted U. S. Patent Number 276,839 for his "Insulator for Telegraph-Wire". In his application he describes the corkscrew like appearance of the top with "the invention consists in forming a conical and expanding screw-thread upon the exterior of the upper portion of the insulator, which screw-thread is similar to that upon the point of a gimlet."

For more information about Joseph Lewis see the obituary at the bottom of this issue.

At right is an example of a "corkscrew insulator" marked NEW ENG TEL & TEL.

On April 28, 1883 The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review reported on the Patent Self-Binding Telegraph Insulator Company (Limited) raising funds: "Capital £5,000, in £1 shares. Objects : To purchase the letters patent of Joseph Slater Lewis, of Birkenhead, for improvements in or relating to insulating apparatus for overhead telegraph lines and other wires for carrying electric currents. Signatories (with 1 share each): J. S. Lewis, Birkenhead; J. Thornely, Helsby; J. Moss, Helsby; J. Brandreth, Helsby; J. G. Thomson, Neston; W. V. Thompson, Liverpool; D. J. McKenzie, Liverpool. Mr. J. S. Lewis is appointed managing director Registered 19th inst., by Chester & Co., Staple Inn."

Colin Jung* submitted this photo with this comment: "I have owned this insulator for about a year now and the piece of junk in glass has finally been identified as a Clough patent medicine corkscrew."

Ron MacLean**, also received the photo and queried: "I cannot see the corkscrew that clearly in the insulator but it sort of looks like a April 6, 1875 Clough Patent example. Really interesting how/why it was in the glass interior. As it was a very common item to have around at the time perhaps was put in by accident or just to see what happens?"

Colin replied: "The early insulator manufacturing business used a lot of cullet (waste glass) in addition to the raw materials in the glass furnaces. The cullet probably included a quantity of medicine vials and bottles and if the corkscrew was left in the cork or somehow attached to the bottle, it would have ended up mixed in with the molten glass. I am actually surprised I don't see medicine corkscrews more often in insulators."

Something more for corkscrew collector to hunt!

*Editor's note: For more information on Colin's insulator click here.

**Editor's note: Ron MacLean is coauthor of William Rockwell Clough: Inventor and Manufacturer of over a Billion Corkscrews.

Williamson Bows

Now here's quite a collection of marked Williamson bows. They are all in the collection of Ron MacLean who writes "These are 12 harps all marked WILLIAMSONS on the top or front of the frame stamped or raised letters except the Williamson Patent model on the top marked PATENTED MARCH 27 1883. They are all distinctly different with wire or formed frames, bladed web or wire helixes in a wide range of sizes.

Coney and Company

This advertisement appeared in the 1878 edition of The Post Office Directory of Birmingham (England).

Additional name and business listings (without space advertising) in the 1878 directory included:

  • J. Burgess & Sons, Corkscrew Manufacturer
  • John Cheshire, Corkscrew Maker, 78 Wall St.
  • Edward Colston, Corkscrew Maker, Woodcock St.
  • William Harry, Corkscrew Maker, 15 1/2 Cecil St.
  • G. F. Hipkins & Co., Corkscrew Manufacturers
  • James P. Homer, 78 Cecil St.
  • Charles Hull, Corkscrew Manufacturer
  • Thomas Jackson, Corkscrew Manufacturer, 9 Barford St. South
  • Robert Jones & Son, Corkscrew Manufacturers, 105 Cheapside
  • Benjamin Law, Corkscrew Manufacturer, 31 Hampton St.
  • James Morris, Corkscrew Maker, 23 George St.
  • Joseph Page, Corkscrew Maker, 133 Uniet St.
  • William Page, Corkscrew Maker, 133 Uniet St.
  • William Partridge, Corkscrew Maker, 45 Hatchet St.
  • William Pearsall, Corkscrew Handles
  • J & W Roper, Corkscrew Makers
  • John Shephard, Corkscrew Maker, 11 Lawrence St.
  • William Spittle, Corkscrew Maker, 79 Pope St.
  • James Weaver, Corkscrew Polisher
  • James Wesler, Corkscrew Polisher, 78 Lichfield St.
  • James Wheeler, Corkscrew Polisher. 5 Vauxhall Road
  • Edwin Wolverson & Son, Corkscrew Manufacturers

Editor's note: Corkscrews: British Design Registrations contains a lot of useful information in Section 8 "Histories of key corkscrew designers." The well illustrated chapter gives details of many corkscrew manufacturers in Birmingham as well as other parts of the United Kingdom.

Joseph Slater Lewis

Obituary from the Minutes of proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers published in 1902

JOSEPH SLATER LEWIS was born on the 4th June, 1852, at the Rake House, Helsby, and the early part of his life was spent there. He was at first intended to follow agricultural pursuits, but he early showed that talent for scientific methods which, bringing him into touch with prominent agriculturists, led to his becoming Secretary of the Birkenhead and Wirral Agricultural Society. It was here that the talent for industrial organization which he displayed in a high degree later first showed itself, and under his management the Society developed and prospered. Whilst thus engaged his attention was directed to the growth of the telephone industry, and he brought out a new form of line insulator, which had great popularity in England and also in America. This led to his establishing a small factory at Helsby, out of which grew the Telegraph Manufacturing Company, with Mr. Lewis for some time as Managing Director. Leaving Helsby in 1889, he moved to Birmingham, where he became identified with the Birmingham Telegraph Factory, and in 1892 he came to London as General Manager to Messrs. W. T. Goolden & Co., electrical engineers, which post he filled until 1894. It was during that time that the ideas and experience he had been accumulating culminated in the development of a complete system of factory organization which was first put into operation at Messrs. Goolden's works, and that he wrote his book on the "Commercial Organization of Factories "—a book which remains the standard modern work on all that appertains to the methodical recording and cost-keeping in the complex manufacturing work of to-day. This work gave rise to a large correspondence from all over the world, and brought him in touch with a number of the leading manufacturers in this country.

In 1894 Mr. Lewis became General Manager to Messrs. P. R. Jackson & Co., of the Salford Rolling Mills, and organized an electrical department in connection therewith. A few months before his death he was invited to become a Director of the Brush Electrical Engineering Company, and for that purpose he removed to London. Mr. Lewis was one of the first members elected to the Cheshire County Council when that body was constituted, and took at one time an active part in public and political affairs. In politics he was a Radical. He was known and respected by a very wide circle of friends of every shade of views and opinions, for although of strong convictions himself, he did not allow them to interfere with his appreciation of those from whom he differed. For some little time before the end he had not seemed to be in his usual health, and there is no doubt that he had carried on his work with difficulty, but his sudden death on the 27th July, 1901, from a stroke of apoplexy, came as a great surprise and shock to all who knew him. He died at the early age of 49, at a time when his experience was matured, and the years of strenuous work in the attempt to modernise the industrial condition of English manufacturing were just beginning to bear fruit. In engineering matters he was not so much personally an originator as a combiner and organizer of the detail work of others, but his sound common sense often was very useful to those with whom he was cooperating.

Mr. Lewis was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 1st February, 1898.

Figural Corkscrews - Comments

Paolo Annoni, Barolo Corkscrew Museum, Italy: I've just received the book. I'm so excited to have in my hands such a marvellous publication! The quality of the pictures, the type and printing are state of the art and the richness and completeness of the models make it the ultimate catalogue of its kind. Thank you so much. Congratulations.

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Ron MacLean, Canada: Figural Corkscrews arrived this morning (July 10) and I could not put it down, terrific presentation, clearly indexed with great photos - a must for any serious corkscrew collector.

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Laurent Lachaud, France: Great work!

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©2009 Don Bull, Editor


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