Corkscrew Collecting

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I've yet to find a simple wooden handled direct pull corkscrew, folding bow or a metal finger pull corkscrew
stamped with the James Heeley marks. That doesn't mean that they didn't make such pieces. Interestingly, in the
above trade advert they mention "Plain & spring corkscrews". Maybe the reference to plain corkscrews does in
fact relate to simple unmarked direct pulls & alike. The only known spring corkscrew that Heeley manufactured is
an English patent from 1869 by Mabson but that dates well after the trade advert, so the reference to a spring
design is intriguing.

There are a good number of different corkscrews & champagne taps manufactured by James Heeley & sons
which carry a James Heeley mark. Here are some you might find.
James Heeley Corkscrews...
It will be great to hear from you!
James Heeley is a name you'll swiftly come across if
you decide to collect corkscrews. A manufacturer of
note, based in Birmingham in the midlands of England,
a true hotbed of 19th century corkscrew manufacturing.

Over 150 years, James Heeley & Sons, evolved a
corkscrew manufacturing business to become one of
the most prolific producers Worldwide. However
corkscrews were just one area of a diverse product
range that James Heeley & Sons manufactured over
the course of time which included; steel toys, pens,
buckles, keys, seals, pins & so much more. The trade
advert below from 1835 gives a taste of the diversity.
In 1888, Neville Heeley
patented one of the most
successful mechanical
corkscrews in history. A double
lever design, strong, durable,
simple to use & most
importantly it worked brilliantly!
Known as a James Heeley &
Sons A1 double lever
corkscrew. Due to the success
it was mass produced for more
than 60 years & regularly
surfaces at auction.  
The Heeley A1 design was an improvement to an
existing corkscrew that James Heeley & Sons were  
manufacturing. An 1880 patent by William Baker.
Baker's design saw the lever handles working
individually. It was awkward to use & therefore not a
particular success. Neville's simple design modification
of joining the two arms together with a guide disc made
absolute sense.
Wier I, compound lever
PATENT 12804 25
Wier IV, Pullezi, marked
Wier V, similar to the Pullezi
but marked as a Wier I
Wier II, Double lever
Wier III, Ladies lever,
NO 4377
On September 25th, 1884 Marshall Arthur Wier from Surrey, England
patented five variations of concertina corkscrew that were all manufactured
by James Heeley & son.
James Heeley manufacturing Marshall  
Wier's concertina patented corkscrews
~ some facts ~

  • Wier was spelt incorrectly on the Wier I compound,
    Heeley stamped it WEIR.
  • At around 1912 Heeley became a limited company,
    after this time the Wier I compound was simply marked
  • The Wier I & IV were manufactured with a bronze or
    nickel plated finish
  • The Wier II double sold for 33/ per dozen in 1895
Here's a true English
classic "THE EMPIRE". It
was patented &
manufactured by James
Heeley & Sons in 1890. It
double lever corkscrew
but clearly that didn't
happen. It's much harder
to find than the earlier
designed Heeley A1.
Heeley corkscrews were sold in quite colourful boxes as shown. Very few boxed examples
survive today. The boxed Wier I, Compound shown on the right is particularly rare.
James Heeley & sons James
Heeley & sons retailed as "THE
manufactured single lever Two
examples shown here.

Top with the Heeley Cockerel
trade mark. Bottom with "JH"
marked within a circular logo.

It's unclear whether Heeley
manufactured these single
lever corkscrews through
agreement with Lund during
the patent period or after the
patent period had elapsed in
Heeley wouldn't miss the
opportunity to market Thomason
corkscrews. Both sized barrel
designs can be found with a
Heeley & Sons badge attached.
Heeley also manufactured Kings'
It's clear that Heeley &
sons manufactured an
array of different
champagne taps. Unlike
the corkscrews, the
various champagne taps
manufactured by Heeley
do occasionally surface
with the original retail
box, albeit, the boxes
can be quite scruffy to say the least. This two part champagne tap with
removable trocar & stylish ebonised round handle surfaces quite frequently,
mainly without the box & was clearly produced in large numbers.

Another Heeley champagne
tap. This one comes with a
particularly nice box which
has a print of the contents on
the front of the box.

The Champion champagne
tap. The tap is marked Rd
253107 J H & S. The
registered design number
dates this unusual
champagne tap to 1895.
An unusual picnic
corkscrew with swing
out cap lifter. It's
marked "British make, J
H & S".
Here's a registered
design picnic
corkscrew from
1924. Registered to
James Heeley &
Sons. No 702970.
The design
incorporated a cap
A Yates champagne tap with the
original box. The Yates design
incorporates a bottle stopper.
A registered design by Francis Heeley, trading as James
Heeley & sons. Registration number 4735, 11th August 1865
for an improved bottle tap & corkscrew. Interestingly, this
design was provisionally registered on 24th June, 1865 by
John Cheshire of Birmingham but it was Francis Heeley that
promoted the design to "full" status.
James Heeley
found on boxes
post 1900.

While I live I'll

The Heeley family were listed as early as 1805 in a
Birmingham directory as a maker of steel chains,
beads, combs, gilt toys, hairpins & springs.

In 1851 the business was run by Francis Heeley. It
was listed as a steel Toy Manufacturer & employed
75 men, 45 women & 29 children.

Francis died in 1873 & the business was passed on
to number three son Neville Smith Heeley.

In the 1881 census Neville Heeley was running the
company, still listed as a Steel Toy Manufacturer. By
now the business was more streamlined, he was
employing 41 men, 17 women & 2 boys.  

By 1901, Neville Heeley was still running the
business. He was listed in the census as a
manufacturer of small articles in steel.

The last reference to the company was in 1940 where
they appeared in Kelly's directory as a corkscrew

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