A Comment on the Coney & Co Picnic Corkscrew Registered on 7 Dec 1871.

Hi Steven

I was interested in your website article on the first picnic corkscrew to have registration protection, that by Messrs Coney & Co on 7 December 1871. There is something puzzling. The British registration (No 258449) refers to: “Ornamental Design for Pocket Corkscrew or Gimlet”. However, the drawing on the application is a simple plain brass picnic corkscrew with no ornamentation.

There seems to be no basis for registering this plain undecorated corkscrew. And to add to the confusion both plain and decorated picnic corkscrews are known to have the Diamond Registration Mark (see the Registration details page 34 of Ellis and Ellis).

Compare this with the registration (No 239052) by Edwin Sunderland of Coney & Co. earlier on 21 February 1870 for an “Ornamental Design to be applied to Cork-Screws and other like articles”. The drawing clearly shows the design and its application to a roundlet.  Edwin Sunderland had taken over the Coney business the year before from the Coney family and now traded as Coney & Co.

It is worth noting that at the time of the registration by Messrs Coney & Co., on 7 December 1871, the proprietor Edwin Sunderland was about 50 years of age and his son Frederick about 19 years of age.  Frederick was destined to take over the company by 1875. Hence the Messrs in the application likely refer to Edwin and his son.

Now, since Edwin as head of the company had earlier on 21 February 1870 received registration approval for an “Ornamental design for Cork-screws and other like articles”, perhaps there was no strict necessity to display a decoration pattern on the 1871 application. It was inferred if you like, that there would be a pattern similar or identical to that in the 1870 registration.

Finally, since Coney and Co workers did not always employ the correct Diamond Registration marker on the registered picnic corkscrew (see page 34 of Ellis and Ellis) perhaps they also rather indiscriminately marked both the plain and decorated corkscrews.

It is also relevant to comment on the Frederick Sunderland Registration number 294594, 20 September 1875. The registration was for an “Ornamental design for corkscrew, key ring and letter seal combined”. The brass sheath for this combination corkscrew carries a very leafy pattern. Interestingly, there is a picnic corkscrew with the same sheath design pattern. It seems safe to assume that this picnic was made by Coney & Co but it was not registered because it was covered by the Registration of Messrs. Coney & Co on 7 December 1871 that did not stipulate the precise ornamental design pattern.

Maybe one of your readers will come up with some thoughts on all of this.


Brian May

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