The Cork Screw

March 27th Celebrates The Cork Screw

Today on Day’s to remember, we celebrate how on March 27th 1860, the cork screw was patented by M.L. Byrn.

What would without the cork screw?

Corkscrew inventors were inspired by a tool called the bullet screw or gun worm, a device that extracted stuck bullets from rifles and clean musket barrels.

Corkscrew historian Ron McLean from the “The Virtual Corkscrew Museum” notes that, “By the early 17th century corkscrews for removing corks were made by blacksmiths as using a cork to stopper a bottle was well established.”

The corkscrew has been a much-patented object since Englishman Samuel Henshall obtained one in 1795.

While the basic design that pointed helix that can twist its way downward, allowing the cork to be pulled from the bottle has remained mostly unchanged, inventors have come up with new and novel ways to power the removal process and make a sometimes onerous task simpler.

For the cork and corkscrew the question of “chicken and egg” is an easy one.

Exactly when or by whom the corkscrew was invented is unknown. But as corks became a more common way to cap containers, our beer or wine guzzling forefathers clearly needed a way to access the goods they had so wonderfully learned to seal.

The earliest reference to a corkscrew comes in 1681 where it is called a “steel worm used for the drawing of corks out of bottles.”

It was not until the early 18th century, however, that corks were used for wine in the way in which we are currently accustomed. After some major technology breakthroughs in the glass blowing industry, craftsmen were able to shape bottles with long straight sides and skinny necks a design that allowed later-day vintners to seal, and thus age, a bottle of wine.

So you know how the cork screwed its way through history but how many different types of cork screws out there?

There are six different types of cork screws out there, one is called the “Lever Style, “The Waiter,” “Twisting Pull,” “The Two Pronged,” “The Winged,” and “The Air Pump.”

The Waiter Cork Screw looks like Jack Knife, as it opens up it has other features as well, a soda bottle opener, a little knife, and the cork screw mechanism, I have one in my kitchen drawer at home that I hardly use.

The Twisting Pull Cork Screw has a handle at the end of it, which at some point after screwing down to the cork you just pull up.

The Winged Cork Screw, these cork screws also have a circular rim that is placed over the lip of the bottle. As you turn the corkscrew the wings lift higher and higher. When you think you have drilled the worm into the corkscrew far enough, grasp the wings and slowly bring them toward the bottle. This action causes the cork to pull out of the bottle.

The Two Pronged Cork Screw, these are not exactly corkscrews because they do not have a worm that you screw into the cork. Instead, you have two slim metal prongs that you enter into opposite sides of the cork in the bottle. One prong is a little longer than the other and that is the side you enter into the bottle first. You rock the device back and forth slightly until the prongs are fully entered. Then you gently pull up with a little twist, or rocking motion.

The Air Pump Cork Screw works on the principle of forcing air between the space in the bottle of wine between the cork and the wine. As you pump the device, air pressure forces the cork out of the bottle. There is a long thick, sharp needle that you push through the cork. It is a potentially dangerous way to remove a cork.

Now that you know a little about cork screws, the next time you celebrate a special event intrigued people around by telling them.

Did you know on March 27th 1860, the cork screw was patented by M.L. Byrn?

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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