The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Weekly Newspaper

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Number 594

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News Archive

Champagne Collectibles

From the Editor: Joe Paradi and I continue to work on the Champagne Collectibles book. Regular issues of the Weekly will not be published until the book is completed. I do, however, invite you to submit articles. The article below was submitted by Wally Mellors.

Also, we are looking for some things for the book - see photos after Wally's article.

Devil's Corkscrew

by Wally Mellors

I recently stumbled across an old copy of The Strand Magazine dating from 1899 which had an article on the Devil’s corkscrews, a vast collection of corkscrews in the Sioux Country of Nebraska that are somewhat larger and older than those in most of our collections. In fact they are some fifteen feet long and about 15 to 30 million years old!

In 1894 an expedition set out to look for fossils in Sioux County Nebraska and on their first day out, they found some large corkscrew fossils known locally as Devil's Corkscrews. Being an academic paleontologist, Professor Barbour gave them the Latin name of "Daemonelix".

The origin of these fossils has been for many years a source of debate. They are clearly not of devilish origin but originally they were thought to be formed from petrified vines. Others thought they were fossilized giant worms. The most likely story at the time was that they were some sort of gopher hole, especially as they opened out at the bottom into a large living chamber or root cavity.

Professor Barbour thought that the spirals were of plant origin possibly from some sort of water weed. Later studies came to the conclusion that the spirals were the entrance to the burrow of a species of extinct beaver known as a Palaeocastor. This was demonstrated by measuring and identifying tooth width measurements and on shaft diameter.

There is a recent idea that both theories are true and that the beavers ate the rotted vegetation in the spiral holes to make themselves some sort of prefabricated burrow.

These massive fossils can still be seen at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument located on the Niobrara River in northwestern Nebraska. The Daemonelix (Devil's Corkscrew) Trail leads from a parking lot trailhead near the west entrance to the monument through nearby fossil hills in a 1.0 mile round trip loop.


for the Champagne Collectibles book

If you can help with any of the following or any thing you feel may of interest for the book, please email

Perfection Bottle Clip trade card. Need 350dpi with minimum of 4" x 6" scan of each side of the card.

Do you have this in the original box?

A German patent for a cork easer. Got one?

Letter openers with champagne advertising. We only have this one, Perrier-Jouët, and one from Argentina. There must be more?????

Any other unusual things?

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©2009 Don Bull, Editor


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