Charles Osborne & Co Improved Patent Corkscrew.

Posted: 03/12/2012

A Thomason type corkscrew with decorated barrel has come to light this month in the UK. This Thomason has a bronze barrel embossed with leaves, grapes and fruits, often refered to as "the autumnal fruit design". This example is unusual in several ways.




The embossed decoration to the barrel as shown in the images is very crisp and detailed.



The neck of the barrel has an unusual shape, it gradually reduces in size, and has several turnings.



The embossed barrel includes a raised plaque marked "OSBORNE & Co IMPROVED PATENT". 


Very few examples of Thomason type corkscrews with decorated barrels seem to surface that can be attributed to specific manufacturers. What if anything is the relevance of the inscription “IMPROVED PATENT” on the plaque?

There is no doubt marking the corkscrew “improved patent” gives it more importance and would make it easier to sell.


Making a profit from a patent of a corkscrew was very difficult, some unscrupulous manufacturers marked their corkscrews PATENT or IMPROVED PATENT to give themselves an advantage over other manufacturers, even though they had not been granted patent protection.

Charles Osborne was a corkscrew manufacturer based in Birmingham in the nineteenth century. Osborne was granted patent protection for a corkscrew design in 1839, No 8,139. In the patent specification, he writes of his design being an “improvement”, this design was based on applying a spring to a corkscrew to aid extraction. To date no known examples made exactly to Osborne’s design are known to exist.

Was Charles Osborne an unscrupulous  manufacturer or did he feel he could mark his Thomason type corkscrews IMPROVED PATENT due to being granted patent protection for his corkscrew design of 1839?

3 Comment(s)
Ron Smith - 24/06/2012

If you look through Fletcher Wallis' Patent Book you will notice that almost without exception every patent has the word 'improvement' in it. Even toothpaste these days has to have an improved formula to remain in the market place! By the time Charles Osborne produced this corkscrew the patent had well expired and Thomasons could be bought extremely cheaply. I am sure the pattern on the barrel would help it sell and I am equally sure that putting Improved Patent in small letters, almost hidden by the fruiting vines would have little or no effect. Far from being an "unscrupulous" manufacturer, Charles Osborne merely had a high level of self esteem and a desire to produce a corkscrew of excellent quality.
Tommy Campnell - 12/04/2012

Wow. Very nice! I never get tired of seeing all the different variations of the Thomason Corkscrew that were produced. This one surely stands out. Cheers!
peter Carr - 19/03/2012

Great corkscrew, Steve! I take it that as this has 'come to light in the U.K.',you are not yet the owner? I wish you the best of luck in changing this,if it is possible.

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