The Corkscrew: A simply designed tool necessary in almost every household

A corkscrew is a tool for removing corks from bottles in the home, such as wine bottles. Before the modern forms of this device were invented for opening crown corks (the classic bottle cap), the traditional corkscrew had a very simple design.

The tool contains two parts: a metallic helix also known as “worm,” and a handle (usually made from wood).

A vintage, wood handled corkscrew. Photo Credit

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One of the simplest form of a bottle opener. Photo Credit

Crown corks and screw caps are relatively recent inventions, and before they appeared the only way to close a bottle was to put in a cork. Corks themselves are very smooth and difficult to grip, especially if they are inserted fully into a glass bottle. Therefore, the corkscrew was a necessary tool wherever there was a need to open a bottle.

A collection of corkscrews on display in a wine museum, Paris, France. Photo Credit


A necessary household tool. Photo Credit

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Old Corkscrew decorated with detail. Photo Credit

Its design is very much like the device used by musket men (the gun worm), which was used for removing unspent charges from a musket’s barrel in the early 1600s. However, the corkscrew itself may be an English invention, and the earliest references for opening bottles with such a tool dates from 1681. Reverend Samuel Henshall was an English inventor who was granted a patent for designing the corkscrew in 1795.

The wing corkscrew is particularly famous. Photo Credit


A wing corkscrew is also known as a butterfly corkscrew. Photo Credit


A twin prong cork puller. Photo Credit

His design included a single disk known as a Henshall Button, located between the shank and the worm, which prevented the worm from going too deep into the cork. It also helped break the adhesion and draw the cork out of the neck of the bottle. There are collectors of corkscrews, and they are called helixophiles.

There are many different types and designs of corkscrew such as a wing corkscrew, the twin prong cork puller, lever corkscrew, a sommelier knife, the mounted corkscrew, and many other devices, including those used for industrial uses. Besides the traditional form of the corkscrew – a steel screw attached to a handle – the wing corkscrew was invented in 1939. It is also known as an angel of butterfly corkscrew.

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Waiter’s friend or wine key, commonly known as sommelier knife. Photo Credit


This corkscrew is very similar to a pocket knife. Photo Credit


A lever corkscrew or “rabbit” corkscrew. Photo Credit

It has two levers, one of an each side attached to the worm.The levers are raised while the worm is going into the cork, and by pushing the levers down, the cork is pulled up and out of the bottle. The sommelier knife, or wine key, is very similar to a pocket knife, and Karl Wienke invented it in 1882. The lever corkscrew has a pair of handles for gripping the bottleneck; the lever is pressed down, twisting the screw into the cork. A mounted corkscrew was invented in the late 1800s, and they are clamped to counters or walls.