Ken Weaver of RateBeer on Bottle Openers
All About Beer Magazine
Ken Weaver, of RateBeer Weekly, has just published a piece on the underrated and often overlooked but quintessential bottle opener in All About Beer Magazine. Titled "Opening Act: Prying into the History of Bottle Openers" (All About Beer Magazine, Volume 35, Issue 2, June 9, 2014), the article is also about bottle caps:
[O]n Nov. 5, 1889, . . . [William] Painter submitted the first in a series of three patent applications for a "bottle-sealing device." A second was filed in June of 1890, and the third (and most important) was filed just shy of one year later. All three shared a similar core design: a sealing medium in the form of a thin disk or plug, affixed firmly to the top of a bottle via a crimped metallic disk. The sealer was inexpensive, reliable, disposable (a total mind-blower at the time) and firmly attached. All three versions were accepted Feb. 2, 1892. The device was originally called the "crown cork."Thank God! Else all that newly bottled beer with metal caps would have remained inaccessible even today! Prior to the metal cap, Weaver tells us, "glass beer bottles were generally sealed with either a fastened cork or a Lightning-type closure" of the type still used on champagne bottles today.
One can, in a historically unlikely way, imagine the fallout in the subsequent months: a chorus of bottle caps knocked against stumps, countless visits to the dentist. Not exactly . . . . Painter's second submission . . . offered a visual solution for getting the thing off. A dotted, crowbarlike device appears in the drawings, hooked atop an affixed cap. "Bottle-openers devised by me of the character indicated and adapted to the removal of sealing-caps by engaging with their projecting edges," Painter reflects, "will be made the subject of one or more separate applications for Letters Patent." The modern bottle opener had been born.
Cork? Just like in my story? Except for the fastenings . . .
Incidentally, what first caught my eye in the above photo was the top quarter of the image, which was all I could initially see as I slowly scrolled down, thinking, "What sort of photograph has Mr. Weaver posted now -- even if alcohol is an adult subject!"
Just scroll until only the top quarter or so of the photo is visible, and you'll see what I mean.