The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Weekly Newspaper
Sunday, January 20, 2008
A 1905 postcard
In 1988 I talked to a lot of people about the "Volstead" and came up with these discoveries:
1. Part of a conversation between Don Bull and the then 92 year old Horace Bridgewater:
DB: What was the inspiration for your Design Patent of a character in a casket?
HB: A popular cartoon figure of the time.
DB: Was that a caricature of Senator Volstead?
2. 90 year old Charlotte Whitney of Granite Falls, Minnesota was a nanny to Volstead's children. She never heard him referred to as "Old Snifter". He often wore a bowtie and carried an umbrella.
3. A Charles Dickens figure, Rev. Stiggins, is pictured with top hat and umbrella. He is described as "a man with threadbare black clothes, a prim-faced, red-nosed man with long thin countenance."
4. In "The Wrecking of the 18th Amendment" (1943, The Alcohol Information Press), Ernest Gordon writes "the novelist Dickens took a sharp dislike to them (English nonconformist ministers) and caricatured them at every opportunity. Stiggins...was one his creations... a man with threadbare black clothes, a prim-faced, red-nosed man with long thin countenance.... He carries the inevitable umbrella of the Englishman and wears the tall hat of the Abe Lincoln period."
5. A similar figure appears in the 17th century play "Tartuffe" by Moliere.
6. In "The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons" (1980), Maurice Horn says of Rollin Kirby his "most famous contribution to cartoon iconography was Mr. Dry, a figure representing Prohibition... which bore an almost exact resemblance to a figure employed for the same function by Joseph Keppler in 'Puck' a generation earlier."
7. While looking through "picture" books of the Prohibition era, I happened upon the figure with top hat and umbrella (left). It was indeed the figure corkscrew collectors have come to cherish.
8. A lot more digging finally turned up an article by Rollin Kirby in a 1933 issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine in which he describes his "invention" of the figure. Go to link below.
9. Photos of Volstead as a young congressman and as an old congressman do not resemble the corkscrew.
10. Pre-Volstead era postcards depict similar characters.
A card postmarked 1910
English card postmarked 1908
Next: Schuchardt's Patent
©2008 Don Bull, Editor