Vaughan Novelty Mfg. Co.

by Donald Bull

Vaughan was founded in 1910 as the Crown Throat & Opener Company. The earliest catalog I have found from Vaughan is No. 7 from September 1919. At that time Vaughan was at 703 Fulton Street in Chicago.

Openers in the 1919 catalog included a combination button hook bottle opener, screw driver and cigar cutter; the "Dairy" lifter; a can opener with bottle opener and corkscrew; the "Dainty" corkscrew; an "Over the Top" opener; the "Perfection" opener, the "Never Chip" wall mount; several key style and figural openers, and the "Nifty."

The 1922 catalog is only three years later but the number is 25 and now the company is located at 3211 Carroll Avenue at the intersection of Kedzie Avenue. Vaughan's new building was completed in 1920. An "Over the Top" opener with a pin under the lifter was added to puncture the cap when using it.

Harry Vaughan introduced his 1927 Vaughan Novelty Manufacturing catalog with "The ever growing business coming to me from all sections of the world, serves to increase the feelings of responsibility I have always felt towards my friends among the Bottlers. Their loyalty incurs upon me the duty not only of maintaining the quality and service that brings me their yearly specifications, but of constantly improving, by every possible means, the machinery of factory and office by which I serve these valued friends."

One of the most frequently found Vaughan products is the "Nifty". This combination cap lifter and corkscrew was invented by Harry L. Vaughan in 1916 and was sold by the millions in subsequent years. A 1939 Canadian catalog said that 38 million had been sold. They were still listed in 1949 in a Vancouver hardware catalog for 25 cents each.

The counter display card of Improved Nifty Bottle Opener and Cork Screw reads "Heavier, Stronger, Better. Nickel-plated. The easy way to start a cork, lift up on handle. Nifty trademark, copyright Vaughan, patented and sustained. One dozen combination bottle opener with cork screw No. 63-C improved. Made in U. S. A. Card printed in Chicago. Sold all over the world." In a 1932 catalog from Caverhill, Learmont & Co., Limited, Montreal the cards with corkscrews are offered at $1.20 per dozen.

The Nifty bottle opener and corkscrew could also be purchased in a leather pouch. This pouch advertises Ruscon Steel Company, Youngstown, Ohio.

The "Locktite" Bottle Stopper and Opener. "Locktite" appears in the 1919 and 1922 catalogs as a trade mark for Vaughan's key chain fastener. It is note shown in the 1927 catalog but does appear in 1935 at prices ranging from $8 per hundred to $3.80 per hundred in quantity of 10,000.

In a 1927 this cast iron bottle opener is shown as the No. 175A "Open-All (no "s" on open) and it has a hanger hole in the narrow end. In the example shown here (No. 178), a lid prier has been added on the blunt end. The opener is not shown in Vaughan's 1935 catalog.

Wire bottle openers do not appear in the 1919, 1922, or 1927 catalogs. In the 1935 catalog there are six varieties which are "made of a special grade of steel wire" and "are finished in either bright copper or nickel plate." A combination spoon and bottle opener is also shown.

Advertisements on wire openers were stamped with raised letter on one or two sides.

A 1933 Vaughan advertisement in The Coca-Cola® Bottler offered a spoon / opener, a single stem opener, and two figure eight openers with advertising "Drink Coca-Cola in Bottles" with the notice that they were in stock for prompt shipment.

The "Quick and Easy" prong puller was offered in the 1935 catalog at prices ranging from $12.50 for 50 pieces up to $90.00 per thousand for a purchase of 10,000. This puller is seldom seen with advertising. One example shown here advertises "Liquor Industries Wholesale, 360 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago."

Vaughan's Safety Roll Jr. was on counter display and on individual sales card.

Many varieties of the Vaughan hand held can openers can be found with prices stamped right on the handles. These were designed to be packaged in bulk sold on housewares racks without benefit of display cards. The Vaughan opener shown here is a little more complicated than the lightweight examples with folding worm and was even discounted!

On April 2, 1935, Dewitt Sampson and John M. Hothersall were granted U. S. Patent Number 1,996,550 for their can opener invention. In Vaughan's "Quick and Easy" can opener the underside of the handle is formed with finger grips.

In 1976 Vaughan issued catalog No. 122 and billed the company as "World's Largest Manufacturer of Can and Bottle Openers." Their address was then 900 North Kilpatrick Avenue. By the early 1980's the Vaughan line included:

  • No. 179 Beverage Spoon and Bottle Opener
  • No. 56 Easy-Slyde Shoe Horn and Bottle Opener
  • No. 204-A Paint Can and Bottle Opener
  • No. 400 Tap Boy with corkscrew.
  • No. 425 Quad-fold
  • No. 1 Never Chip Wall Bottle Opener
  • No. 936 Stationary Can Opener
  • Three Flat Cap Lifters
  • Two Wire Type Cap Lifters
  • Four combination can opener / bottle cap lifter

I am looking for any of the following:

Please email or write to Don Bull, P. O. Box 596, Wirtz, VA 24184


Visit The Virtual Corkscrew Museum

©2000 Donald A. Bull