The problem with corkscrews is that they have always been a problem and despite years of great ideas for extracting corks from bottles very few have been foolproof That's the bad thing.

The good thing is that with such an interesting array of devices for trying to pull out corks swiftly and surely, there is now a huge selection for collectors to choose from. Even better, they are fetching good prices at auction.

It's difficult to date many corkscrews and referring to the many excellent reference books is probably the only way to be able to make a direct comparison with anything on hand.

Generally the older examples fetch the higher prices and these were often sturdy affairs with a plain simple screw, or helix, with a ring or crossbar handle - much the same as some still around today.

It is only as time passed that the more ingenious contraptions emerged and it's interesting how this quest for the ideal cork puller bordered on art, humor and often the out and out bizarre.

An inventor by the name of Hiram Codd - from whose name the expression 'codswallop' is derived, produced many gadgets for extracting corks from wine bottles.

He was responsible for the bottles with a glass ball in the neck used for aerated drinks which, under pressure of the gas in the bottle, stayed in position.

Not surprisingly, other manufacturers quickly seized on this idea as an additional aid for their own design of corkscrews.


The origin of the corkscrew, although shrouded in mystery, may well have been an English invention.

The earliest known reference is a 'steel worme' used for drawing corks out of bottles in 1681 - and such an instrument was also possibly used before that time for cider which was recommended to be kept in tightly-corked  bottles lying on their side rather than in casks.

It was reasoned from the start of maturing wine in bottles hat the pitch and twist of a corkscrew could easily break it, so they had to be tough.

Corking devices, particularly today, compress the corks so effectively that it sometimes needs a force of several hundred pounds in a straight pull to extract them.


As with all collectibles, condition is important. The mechanical corkscrews are subject to wear but provided there is no significant damage this is acceptable. So long as the worm is not bent or broken at the tip, it will function.

Corkscrews are very precious implements and although they have triggered more expletives and temper tantrums than any other single social act in the history of man they are indispensable.

And one sure thing is there will be many more designs in the pipeline which will eventually become antiques of the future

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