The excellent Thomasons

Sir Edward Thomason was granted a patent 1802 for a new type of mechanical corkscrew. The mechanism was genious and the new corkscrew operated by turning the handle clockwise to insert the cork. Once in the cork the corkscrew operated by just pulling the handle upwards. Due to a clever clutch mechanism the force needed to extract the cork was very insignificant. There are a number of corkscrew designs known, e.g. the serpentine and window corkcrews as well as the traditional Thomason corkscrews. Sir Edward probably produced over 100 thousand corkscrews during the period when his patent was in force. Thus, the corkscrews were massproduced and for this reason some models are not rare or difficult to get hold of. When Sir Edward Thomason patent expired a number of competing manufacturers or badges entered the market. The traditional Thomason models were produced between 1810 and 1900. Thus, a number of additional manufacturers massproduced the very same model as Sir Edward did.

The copycat " Badges " were all of different quality by means of the weight of the barrel and the crispness and quality of the actual badge and handle. Some barrels were made of bronze. Other were made of brass, a material easier to work with. Thus, brass barrels have sometimes more fascinating engravings.

 

There are a number of copycat manufacturers, some commonly recognized such as Barlow, Dowler, Heeley and Jones. Other manufacturers were more local and to a lesser extent common such as Harris, Lee, Mechi and Wells.

 

Sir Edward Thomason's factory produced corkscrews are usually marked "NE PLUS ULTRA " meaning " Can not be improved further ". Clearly, the Thomason corkscrew invented were the ultimate corkscrew by that time's measures. Now, more than 200 years later many of these corkscrews are still operational and are collector's items for collectors around the world. A CS is a fantastic vintage investment due to the fact that each individual CS is a "talking piece" accompanying the enjoyment of dining and wine.


Above is a fantastic silver Thomason on display. Made in the Netherlands 1832.

Regular Thomason badges below are Mechi, Harris, Jones and Cope & Cutler. Futhermore, I displayed an example of a Fruit and Wine CS and an old Gothic Thomason. The mechanisms are all the same. However, the barrels are different depending on the quality of the manufacturer. Some barrels were made out of bronze ie. heavy and hard to work, while others were made of brass. Brass made it possible to make fine engravings. The Mechi and Harris barrels are very distinct and heavy. The Barlow and the Cope & Cutler barrels are simpler cuts, but still fascinating items.

 

The Gothic Thomason is one of my favourites due to the feeling you experience just holding it in your hand. The mechanism is not weared out and runs smoothly as if it was newly manufactured. I assume a date would be around 1830 isch.

 

The sigificance of an old corkscrew can not be assessed without the gut feeling it expresses in your hand. Pics and photos will not arrive at a proper conclusion. Look and feel is the best way to judge appropriate value and originality. This could be difficult in the internet era and you should develop your own trading base and network. This is so important !

A quite rare fruit and wine Thomason.


 

Thomason by Mechi, London. Exceptional quality  as always with Mechi.

 

Thomason by Cotteril. Almost the same badge as Jones.

 

Thomason variant by the man himself.

Robert Jones of Cheapside, Birmingham.


 

Made by Harris, Birmingham. A badge with a "  Honi soi qui mal y pense" and " ne plus ultra" statement. Heavy and distinct barrel. Fully operational.

Thomason three pillar with " Ne plus ultra" badge. Yes !

3 and half window Thomason by Dowler.

An old Gothic Thomason, ca 1830. 180 years later the mechaninism is still fully operational and runs as smooth as when it was produced. Incredible !

A nice Thomason by Cope & Cutler of Birmingham. A bit weak quality but still nice.


 

Four pillar steel Thomason. Unmarked.

 

Thomason By Brookes. This is a halfpipe design.