Folding Bow Corkscrews with a one way hinge marked WILEY.

Folding Bow Corkscrews With A One Way Hinge Marked WILEY.
 
Below left, is pictured a recently acquired early type five tool bow corkscrew, with a one way
hinge and stamped on the inside of the frame WILEY. After sending an image of the piece
to Steven he informed me that he had the exact same piece (below right), stamped he
believed WILBY in the same place. Neither mark is absolutely clear but after rubbing a little
yellow chalk dust into the mark to highlight it (see below) I am now sure the mark is for
WILEY. Research into WILEY and WILBY families would seem to support this.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The pieces probably date to the late 18th or very early 19th century. I have been unable to
find any strong evidence of the Wilby family working in iron or steel related industries or as
cutlers, tool makers etc and certainly no corkscrew makers. There was a James Wilby and
Son working as an ironmonger and hardware dealer at in Silver Street, Wakefield mentioned
in Baines's Directory and Gazetteer Directory of 1822. It seems unlikely that the mark is that
of a retailer at this time; the position of the mark would also suggest it is that of a maker,
retailers tend to stamp in more prominent positions on items. The Wilby family seem to have
been more involved in the textile industry.
 
The Wiley family were working in various trades surrounding iron and steel and tool making.
There were many members of the Wiley family living and working in Wolverhampton from
the 18th Century. A number of Wileys are listed as steel toy makers and corkscrew makers
in the, “Wolverhampton, St. Peter’s Parish Register of Baptisms, 1538-1875.” Toys in the
18th Century were small goods in any material, a category that corkscrews would fall into.
The word, toy originates in the Midlands from the 18th Century or earlier to describe the
industry of producing small manufactured items.
 
The St. Peters parish records clearly identify two Wiley corkscrew makers:
• 17th Feb. 1826 Charles & Sarah Wiley, corkscrew maker of Wolverhampton.
• 27th Feb. 1827 Lewis & Mary Ann Wiley, corkscrew maker of Wolverhampton.
 
There are others who were likely to be making corkscrews listed as, “toy makers,” both of
the above couples are listed as, “toy makers,” in other entries in the record. The record has
entries for Wiley in Wolverhampton back into the 17th Century, unfortunately prior to 1820’s
entries do not include occupations. It seems reasonable to assume that many listed prior to
the 1820’s were employed in the toy trade and therefore corkscrew manufacture, being that
so many are listed in the trade from the 1820’s onwards and the area was a centre for the
industry.
 
The earliest reference I have been able to find for a Wiley making corkscrews is from,
“Holdens Triennial Directory – Volume 2 1805–1807,” a Thomas Wiley, Corkscrew maker,
Stafford St., Wolverhampton (see extract below). The same address is still being used for
corkscrew manufacture in the late 1820’s by an Elizabeth Wiley according to, “Pigot & Co’s
Directory 1828-29.” (see extract below).
 
 
 
 
It is not certain whether the Wileys were acting as a collective producing corkscrews or as
independent manufacturers. The single address in the directories in use for at least 20
years possibly hints at a collective operation and the most likely manufacturer of the two
WILEY stamped five tool bows.
 
It would be interesting to know if there are any other WILEY marked corkscrews out there.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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