Frary-ations: The Corkscrews of James D. Frary

Text originally published in the International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts newsletter, Bottle Scrue Times (Winter 2010)

In 2000, Kenneth Cope published a book entitled Kitchen Collectibles: An Identification Guide.   His text, illustrated with catalog drawings and patent illustrations, feature two pages, which focus on the corkscrews made by James D. Frary.  Interestingly, Cope explains that Frary was only in business from 1888-1890 at the time of his death.  In John Goin’s Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, he gives the dates 1876-1884.  Further, in another text, New England Cutlery by Philip Pankiewicz, it is explained that Frary left Landers, Frary, and Clark and started the Frary Cutlery Company in 1876.  However, it should be noted that Landers, Frary, and Clark kept their name despite Frary’s departure. There are other references that support the 1876 date, one of which is Frary’s October 10, 1876 patent #183,151 for his Improvement in Table Cutlery, which was assigned to the Frary Cutlery Company of Bridgeport, CT.  Patents prior to that date, Frary’s patent D7516 (June, 30, 1874) for example was assigned to Landers, Frary, and Clark.

Given what these three authors have said—while they don’t necessarily agree—and the patent information unearthed thus far, we know that the Frary Cutlery Company was in business from at least 1876 until 1886—the date of Frary’s final patent.   What we don’t know, yet, is when corkscrew production began, and how many corkscrews he made.

While this brief overview of the corkscrews made by Frary will eventually be fleshed out with further research into Frary, Meriden Malleable, and Frary’s role in Landers, Frary, and Clark, and companies prior to LF&C, what is remarkable is we have yet to find any corkscrew patents for Frary. 

As we know, his bar screws, the Sullivan and the Fifth Avenue are marked with “FRARY” and “PATENT APD FOR.”  Clearly the esteemed Mr. Frary was involved in the patent process, as he was awarded 26 various patents.

Also, in July 4, 1876 John Leonard was awarded patent 179,482 for his Improvement in Table-Cutlery, which was assigned to “The Frary Cutlery Company” of Bridgeport Connecticut.  And, in October 19, 1880 Albert North’s Carving-Fork patent # 233539 was assigned to James D. Frary

With no corkscrew patent information to work from, it is only because of the catalog images from Kenneth Cope’s book, that we have begun to understand the variety of other corkscrews that Frary made.

While there are no markings on the corkscrews that you will find pictured in the following pages there does seem to be several consistent design features.  It would seem that Frary was adding a signature to his corkscrews, without using his name or providing a maker’s mark.

For the purpose of illustrating Frary’s designs, the following are the non-bar screw images that Cope published in Kitchen Collectibles.

~Self-Extracting Corkscrew ~Corkscrew with Pick or Wire Stripper ~Combined Corkscrew, Ice Pick, Breaker, &e Giant Self-Extracting Corkscrew ~Combined Corkscrew, Can-Opener, Ice Pick, &e

From these images, that are labeled in Cope’s book as, Combined Corkscrew, Can Opener, Ice-Pick &e, Corkscrew with Pick or Wire Stripper, Combined Corkscrew Ice-Pick, Breaker &e, Self-Extracting Corkscrew, and Giant Self-Extracting Corkscrew we can see the open oblong handle with pick and can opener, or spike and breaker, the solid decorative handle, and oblong handle.  The odd man out in this grouping would be Frary’s Giant corkscrew on the far right—that is until you look closely at the frame which is the exact size and casting as the Frary Fifth Avenue.

And, here is where it gets interesting, and the purpose of this article.  It seems, that there are many variations of these designs; or, as I like to call it, Frary-ations.  The decorative handle shows up without the breaker and spike, with a bell assist.  The same decorative handle has turned up on the Giant frame.  A couple of years ago, I picked up a Frary with the decorative cast iron handle corkscrew with an unmarked 1883 Dunisch and Scholer “Hercules” type frame.  The Hercules—while not shown in Cope’s book, is definitely Frary.  It would seem that our man Frary was importing mechanisms from Germany, and adding his own cast iron handles; or, in the case of the Fifth Avenue bar screw, taking a German frame and adding a bit more to it.

Adding a different handle, putting in the hammer and spike, using a Bennit-style bell assist, changing size or finish, there seems to be a great deal of variations. While I will be researching and publishing a much more in depth article in the future, which will concern James D. Frary, Meriden Malleable Iron, Landers, Frary, & Clark and their histories together, I encourage you to examine the photos of the Frary corkscrews that follow, and check your own collection to see if there are other Frary-ations out there.  And, if you do have a variation, please email me at for inclusion in the future article.  Also, if you want to part with yours, I am open to a trade or two.




Oblong handle, with hammer/spike/and bell assist.
“Self-Extracting Corkscrew”  This has a little plus sign under the Henshall-type button.
Self-Extracting Corkscrew.  This example has gripping teeth on the sides of the button
"Self-Extracting Corkscrew" This has the Henshall-type Button with little plus sign, but with a bladed worm.
L’Africain collection

 L’Africain collection


L'Africain Collection

 L’Africain collection




Not shown in Cope’s text, but clearly Frary.  Gundlach & Co. San Francisco advertisement with hammer/spike/bell-assist
Decorative handle, with bell-assist, but no hammer or spike.
Decorative handle, with bell-assist, but no hammer or spike--this time in full nickel-plate finish.
Shown in Cope’s text as “Corkscrew with Pick or Wire Stripper”
L’Africain collection

L’Africain collection


L'Africain Collection

L’Africain collection





Gundlach & Co., San Franscisco this time with a nickel finish
Frary “Giant” with bronze/black finish
Frary “Giant” nickel finish, spring inside frame
Oblong handle direct pull
L’Africain collection

L’Africain collection


L'Africain Collection

L’Africain collection





Oblong Handle with Hercules-type frame
Decorative handle, Hercules-type frame, nickel finish
Decorative Handle, Frary “Giant” Frame
Decorative Handle, with Spike, Direct Pull
L'Africain collection

L’Africain collection


Morris Collection

L'Africain Collection

Shown in Cope’s book as Combined Corkscrew Ice-Pick, Breaker &e .
Combined Corkscrew Ice-Pick, Breaker &e handle atop a Hercules type frame
Oblong handle, unlike the other bell-assist corkscrews, this is one piece
Decorative handle, with spike but no "breaker" in a nickel finish
L'Africain Collection

L'Africain Collection


L'Africain Collection

L'Africain Collecttion

Decorative Handle, this time as a direct pull only. Note the worm is off center, a flaw in production.
L'Africain Collection


In doing the early research for this article, I revisited Kenneth Cope’s text repeatedly, and one morning something struck me.  There is a Lemon Squeezer pictured that had a handle that looked quite similar to a corkscrew that I had recently picked up.  I believed the corkscrew to be manufactured by Williamson—a knock off of the Barnes single helix.  However, after looking at it closely, and the catalog image from Cope, it looks to be another Frary.  After comparing the ribbed handle with the picture, and then the rest of the corkscrew with other Frary pieces, I believe that it is yet another Frary-ation.

FraryBT.jpgText Box: Taylor collection


As we see in both the Frary Giant, and the Frary Fifth Avenue, the frame is strikingly familiar—as it appears to be the frame from a German Reissmann patent.  Did Frary also make a swivel-over collar utilizing the same frame?  Several Addicts that contributed images for this article have what appears to be a decorative Reissmann patent in with their Frarys.   Is this a Frary?  Or, is this a Reissmann?  Or, is it Frary’s version of the Reissmann?


 I would like to thank Fred Kincaid, John Morris, Barry Taylor, Bert Giulian, and Paul Luchsinger for submitting photos of the Frary corkscrews in their collections for the inclusion in this article.



close up of the decorative cast Frary handle