David W. Davis, Charles Puddefoot, and The Detroit Cork Screw Company

by Josef Andre L'Africain

as presented at the Canadian Corkscrew Collectors Club Annual General Meeting 2012


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My invention relates to an improvement in wire-cutters and cork-pullers, the object of the same being to provide a lever-corkscrew of such construction that the device will be found to possess every detail in connection with an implement of this character to render the same serviceable in every respect, and especially to provide a corkscrew with means for cutting wire on bottles in connection with means for conveniently removing the cork with but a very slight effort—a feature which is especially desirable and absolutely necessary to a perfectly-equipped implement of this character…

David W. Davis

 

David W. Davis, in his July 14th 1891 patent description, describes his corkscrew as being “perfectly-equipped,” and in short order Davis’ implement would become even more perfectly-equipped as he began to combine the July 14th patent (number 455,826) with a patent he was awarded only seven days earlier (number 455,610) for his Pocket-Knife.

Davis, from his patent description, seemed to believe that not only was his corkscrew a quality implement, Davis also explains that, “A further object is to provide a corkscrew…which will be simple, economical in construction, and durable in efficient in use…” and “…may be carried in the pocket without inconvenience.”

daviscork-screwad.jpgFunctioning with a fulcrum-lever mechanism, Davis’ corkscrew is indeed both simple and efficient.  And, the variations that have been unearthed, as well as the wide variety companies that chose the Davis corkscrew as a vehicle to advertise their wares, beverages, or establishments, have made the Davis a mainstay in many of our collections. And, for some of us have led to small collections within our collections.

Davis, and his Detroit Cork-Screw Company, also seemed to have an effective marketing campaign, and their advertisements definitely focused on the simplicity and ease of use.  As the ad to the left explains, “A woman or child can pull any cork with ease.”

Beyond various advertising that appears on the Davis corkscrews, which will be dicussed later, there are two markings that generally appear on the Davis; THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT. JULY 14, 1891 and the Davis with knife blade THE DAVIS KNIFE & CORKSCREW PAT’D JULY 7 & 14 1891.

 

 

Improving the Perfectly-Equipped Implement

As we have seen, there is a transition between Davis’ corkscrews and 1894 when Puddefoot’s patent is being produced with ‘The Detroit” marking on the neckstand.  And, during this period we see the Davis with a wider Puddefoot-type neck stand, with the marking of DAVIS IMPROVED PAT’D JULY 14, 91 OTHER PATS PNDG.

In researching the Detroit Cork-Screw Company, there is little literature out there that actually dates to the 1891 patent date.  However, there is much information as we enter 1893, around which time Charles Puddefoot is mentioned as being associated with the company—in the 1893 text, Detroit of to-day, the city of the strait, it explains, that the “…company was incorporated under the state laws as the Detroit Cork Screw Company, with Mr. R. D. Taylor, president; D. W. Davis, vice-president and C. Puddefoot, secretary and treasurer. “

metalworkerdavis.jpgIn a February 4,, 1893 issue of Metal Worker, it is reported that the, “Detroit Corkscrew Company, Detroit Mich, are manufacturing a line of corkscrews…”  and, this same issue provides images of the Davis corkscrew with knife blade, the Davis corkscrew as being used to cut wires on a bottle, and an image of Puddefoot’s earlier corkscrew patent.  

On August 9, 1892, Puddefoot was awarded patent number 21,761 for his Design for a Corkscrew and on July 11, 1893 number 501,468 for a Corkscrew which was assigned to the Detroit Corkscrew Company.  
 
The Metal Worker metalworkerpuddefoot.jpgarticle further explains that the, “Puddefoot corkscrew…is a folding pocket device, with a wire fulcrum to turn down in drawing the cork.  These goods are neatly and substantially made, designed to fit any bottle, and may be operated by a woman or child.  The company have [sic] recently completed a machine for manufacturing the cut-worm screw, and now are in a position to compete with hand-made imported corkscrews.”

How Puddefoot initially became involved with Davis is still unknown, however in 1889 there is a reference that explains Charles Puddefoot was the Superintendent at the Detroit Stamping Company.  And, in 1895, it is reported in the Michigan Gazetteer that the building which housed the Detroit Stamping Company located on the corner of Champlain and Beaubien Streets was destroyed by fire.  That March 9th article, lists among the other tenants at that building none other than the Detroit Cork-Screw Company.

Whether the Detroit Stamping Company were assisting in the manuafacture of the Davis, whether Davis and Puddefoot met passing in the hallways, or whether they were drinking buddies at Charles Staebler’s saloon—also located on Beaubien Street, we may never know.  What we do know, is there are many references to the Detroit Corkscrew Company and Puddefoot from 1893 forward.  One in particular is of interest here, as it mentions the corkscrews as being a means of advertising.  In an 1893 issue of Pharmaceutical Era it explains,

One of the most useful novelties ever introduced among the drug trade is the Davis Corkscrew, made by the Detroit Corkscrew Company, Brush and Champlain Streets, Detroit, Mich. As a decided improvement over the old style cork screw it has few equals. It is a perfect pocket piece, made ofdetroitarticleadvertisingthreesome.jpg steel, nickel plated, and works with such ease that a woman or child can pull corks which require the strength of a pugilist to extract with the old style screw. Several styles of screws are made by the company, but the ‘Davis’ is the most complete. With it you can cut the wire on the neck of a bottle, extract the cork with little exertion, and sharpen pencils with a strong steel knife blade attached. The screw is illustrated in the company's ‘ad’ in this Issue. A second screw, without knife, is a handy little device, also. The company are now supplying this style to the Welch Grape Juice Co., Greenway Bottling Co., Pabst Brewing Co. and other large bottlers, who have their trade mark stamped on them, and give them away as advertisements.  For such purposes they are cheap and very desirable. Many large orders are being received from jobbers. The Columbus Power Corkscrew, the Straight Shank Cut Worm Screws, Greely's Cork Extracter and the Puddefoot Power Screws are also made by the company. They have an exhibition of their goods at the World's Fair and at the home works are turning them out by the hundreds. Retail druggists would do well to bear in mind these useful articles, and place an order for them at the earliest opportunity. Mention the ERA when writing.

Of course, we have seen many other bottlers, brewers, manufacturers, and establishments who saw the advantage of utilizing the Davis and later Puddefoot’s 1894 corkscrew patent, number 522,672, which is marked on the neckstand THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94, as a vehicle for their advertising.  And, in the 1894 patent, we see a similarity to Davis’ Improved neckstand, but with a narrower design.   Perhaps Puddefoot’s 1894 patent is the OTHER PATS PNDG that we find on the Davis Improved.

As mentioned in the Pharmaceutical Era issue, there were several bottlers advertising on the Davis, these included Welch Grape Juice Co., Greenway Bottling Co., and Pabst Brewing Co.   And, while the list below is by no means complete, the following are the advertisements on the plain Davis and The Detroit corkscrews in the collections of John Morris, Barry Taylor, and my own. 

The Welch Grape Juice Co.,
Greenway Brew’g Co. Syracuse, NY,
Pabst Brewing Co, Milwaukee,
Minneapolis Brewing Co. “Export Wiener”
Minneapolis Brewing Co. “Gilt Edge”
Gerke Brewing Co. Cincinnati
Brotherhood Wine Co. New York
Chas. Pick & Co., Chicago
Wood Pollard Co. Boston, Mass

Of course, there are rarer variations of the The Detroit, Davis, and “Davis Improved” out there as well; fancy decorated leg with garter, plain leg, mermaid, decorative embossed handles, Sterling handles, and those that were souvenirs from the Columbian Exposition.  Many of these variations are pictured below, following this brief overview, and I have no doubt that there are still others that are in your own collections.

As with many corkscrew stories, a corkscrew’s history is difficult to trace.  We can find references to a maker or manufacturer, patent drawings and descriptions, and sometimes some biographical information.   Still in many ways the hunt for this information can be as satisfying (and occasionally as frustrating) as the hunt for the corkscrews themselves.   For this reason, the story is yet complete, and it will remain a work in progress, as I continue to hunt information that explains how Puddefoot and Davis came together to create the corkscrews of The Detroit Cork Screw Company.

I would like to thank John Morris, Barry Taylor, and Bert Giulian for sending in photos for this article.  Surely there are other variations that you each have your own collections, and if you are so inclined, feel free to send me pictures at josef@vintagecorkscrews.com, as I will continue to research the corkscrews of the Detroit Cork Screw Company, David Davis, and Charles Puddefoot.

 

The Corkscrews of the Detroit Cork Screw Company

 

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Davis with bladed worm marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891

 

Davis with wire worm marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891

 

 

 

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Davis marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891 with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF GERKE BREWING CINCINNATI

 

Davis marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891 with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF MINNEAPOLIS BREWING CO, MINNEAPOLIS MINN. “EXPORT WIENER”

 

 

 

 
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Davis marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891 with advertising WOOD & POLLARD, BOSTON MASS
 
Unusual Davis marked THE DAVIS CORK SCREW PAT’D JULY 14, 1891, but a solid metal neckstand—perhaps a machine shop project?

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Davis with Blade marked THE DAVIS KNIFE & CORKSCREW PAT’D JULY 7 & 14 1891, with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BREWING CO. MILWAUKEE.

 

Davis with Blade marked THE DAVIS KNIFE & CORKSCREW PAT’D JULY 7 & 14 1891, with advertising CHAS PICK & CO. CHICAGO, ILL

 

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Davis with Blade marked THE DAVIS KNIFE & CORKSCREW PAT’D JULY 7 & 14 1891, this is marked for the COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION, CHICAGO USA 1893

 

Rare example of the 1892 Puddefoot patent, marked PUDDEFOOT and on side of the neckstand and on the other PAT'D AUG.9.92.

If you have one of these, I am still on the hunt for one!

 

 

 

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Mermaid Davis Improved,  marked DAVIS 'IMPROVED' PAT'D JULY 14 91, OTHER PATS. PND'G, with advertising COMPLIMENTS CHARLES STAEBLER, 257 BEAUBIEN ST., DETROIT, MICH
 
Decorative handle Davis Improved, marked DAVIS 'IMPROVED' PAT'D JULY 14 91, OTHER PATS. PND'G

 

 

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Decorative handle Davis Improved, marked DAVIS 'IMPROVED' PAT'D JULY 14 91, OTHER PATS. PND'G  - unusual, as this has a knife.
 
An unusual Puddefoot, unmarked on the Puddefoot neckstand.  It also has a knife.
 

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Puddefoot Detroit with hollow/boat handle marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94 with advertising THE WELCH GRAPE JUICE CO. WESTFIELD, NY

 

Puddefoot Detroit plain leg, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94

 

 

 

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Puddefoot Detroit, Fancy Leg with Garter – Brass Finish – marked, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94

 

Puddefoot Detroit, Fancy Leg with Garter – Nickel Finish – marked, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94

 
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Puddefoot Detroit, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94 with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF BROTHERHOOD WINE CO. NEW YORK

 

Puddefoot Detroit, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94 with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF MINNEAPOLIS BREWING CO MINNEAPOLIS MINN. “GILT EDGE”

 

 

 

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Puddefoot Detroit, this time with a Sterling handle, marked THE DETROIT, PAT JULY 10 94, and STERLING 380

 

Puddefoot, Detroit, marked THE DETROIT, PAT’D JULY 10 94 with advertising COMPLIMENTS OF GREENWAY BREW’G SYRACUSE NY

 

The Patent Drawings

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If you have a Detroit, Davis, or Puddefoot corkscrew with which you would like to part, I will gladly buy it (or trade for it).

Drop me a line!

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