Ever since the standardized wine bottle came into use in the eighteenth century, thirsty people have sought a convenient means of removing its cork stopper. At first they employed whatever was at hand--including the helical gun screws used to clean out firearms--but the patent corkscrew emerged by 1795 and soon multiplied into more permutations than the proverbial better mousetrap.
In Uncorked, Marilynn Gelfman Karp uses her own collection of corkscrews--carefully chosen both for their inventiveness and for their decorative qualities--to trace the history and evolution of this curious tool. She establishes a taxonomy of the corkscrew, based on the fundamental characteristics of handle, shaft, and screw, and then presents more than 650 individual specimens by category. They range from the simplest "basic T" models to the most whimsical flights of fancy (a folding pair of legs, a seahorse) and the most elaborate mechanical contrivances. Each example is illustrated with superb color photography and fully described.
Uncorked is at once a serious contribution to the history of material culture, and a delight to page through. It will be an essential reference for helixophiles (as collectors of these gadgets are called) and an agreeable gift for any corkscrew-wielding wine lover.