I don't think that there's anyway to deny that 2020 has been a pretty screwed up year. The first 2 months, I acquired very little in the way of corkscrews. Then, around March, the pandemic started or at least the severity of it became overwhelmingly evident. Fortunately, it ended up being a pretty productive year for collecting. Below you will find several pictures of the corkscrews that I've acquired this year.
My parent's first wine cellar had been out of commission since September of 2019, but we've finally got it up and running again. This cellar was completed in 2007 and while it turned out nice, it was more a a DIY cellar and as such was never insulated properly. To remedy the situation, we ripped the drywall off of the back of the cellar in the garage, added some extra studs, and sprayed everything with closed cell foam. We also replaced the uninsulated door with a custom insulated iron exterior door. You can see in the picture below the silver insulation that we originally used in conjunction with traditional pink fiberglass insulation, but the real culprit was the highest point of the cellar which was basically being exposed to hot air in the attic. The hot air mixing with the cold air in the cellar produced condensation which leaked mainly from the light fixture in the ceiling. I'm happy to report that the cellar has now been running for a few days with no issues.
In other news, my wine cellar still sits uncompleted while the wine piles up in my living room. Hopefully I will be able to make some progress on it this weekend.
Progress has however happened on several projects at my house. The bar shelves are installed and the lower cabinets and drink fridge are almost ready for the granite countertop.
I've even started the massive exterior landscaping and outdoor living project. It should take at least 2 months, but I have a feeling that it will drag on longer than that.
My corkscrew search consists of monitoring over a dozen websites ranging from the auction giant Ebay to the more obscure auction websites which will remain nameless. Scrolling through thousands of items can get monotonous, but as I'm searching, I scroll past an item that clearly isn't a corkscrew then I pause, scroll back and decide to take a closer look. After all, the search that I'm doing is simply for the term "corkscrew" and while the term "cork screw" can result in multiple results which don't equal a corkscrew, but rather a lot which consists of an old bottle with a cork and a drawer of screws and other miscellaneous items, this one must contain an actual corkscrew. Sure enough it did. Normally when someone sells a "lot" or group of items, the first picture gives you the overall picture of what you're bidding on. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately for me), this seller didn't include a group picture, but instead made the main picture a closeup of a boomerang. I was the only bidder, so what did I win?
In addition to the "corkscrew bycatch" as I like to call it, the corkscrew in the lot happened to be a somewhat rare carved alligator corkscrew. I could tell from the pictures that the Sterling end cap was partially missing and that the helix looked short, but for about $25 total it's not a bad deal and now I own a boomerang. Check back soon, more great corkscrews are in transit.
It's been a relatively slow start to my 2020 corkscrew collecting. No Ebay buys or auction finds thus far. It wasn't until I listed about a dozen corkscrews on Ebay a few weeks ago that I finally managed to acquire some new corkscrews. I received a message in a group chat with some fellow collectors asking about the group of corkscrews that I had listed. I explained that they were duplicates which led to the sharing of pictures of other duplicates in our collections. Something caught my eye and we quickly settled on a price. I even managed to purchase a piece that wasn't a duplicate. So what did I end up buying? First is a small celluloid red devil skull corkscrew. These corkscrews were sold as an accessory whose purpose was to make extra clear which bottles contained poison. The second is a Walker corkscrew with a carved boars tusk handle. The front of the handle depicts a dog's head poking out and the reverse side shows the back of the dog.
Between the many corkscrew collecting clubs, one constant remains the same, the tradition of posting an annual picture of the 6 best corkscrews acquired during the year. This year, since I already had several new acquisitions mounted onto a board at the office, I thought it would be fun to have our employees vote on the final slot of this years best six. Option #1 at the top left is a Williamson stag horn corkscrew with a carved monkey head. Option #2 at the top center is a carved ivory Walker corkscrew with Sterling silver inlay. Option #3 on the top right is a carved stag horn corkscrew with a rooster head and silver end caps. All 3 are excellent corkscrews, each worthy of being included in this years best six. At first the voting was tied with 2 votes for each of the 3 corkscrews, but when I returned later to see the final tally, #3 had won with a total of 5 votes.
The people have spoken and without further adieu, here's my best 6 of 2019.
As everyone is thinking about which corkscrews will make their best six for 2019, I had several corkscrews arrive just in time. I purchased these from an Australian auction house a few weeks ago. Although I was outbid on a rare "gothic windows" Thomason, I ended up with lots of good stuff.
In other news, our new iron door has been installed on my parents 1st wine cellar. This wine cellar has been out of commission for a couple of months now due to moisture issues. To remedy the problem, we replaced the non-insulated door with this new insulated iron door. The next step is to remove the drywall/current insulation from the garage, which is behind the cellar, and to spray closed cell foam. Hopefully it will be back up and running by next month.
My dad and I are on vacation in Cleveland for a week, seeing all of the sights and museums, eating at all of the best restaurants, and searching for corkscrews when time allows. After having no luck finding anything at two small antique stores, I asked around and was recommended one antique store which "would definitely have what I'm looking for". We made our way to the recommended antique store and proceeded to enter the pink retro building. The store was packed with stuff and bursting at the seams. Despite how much stuff was in the store, it was fairly well organized. Looking for shaving items? Here's 30 straight razors and various safety razors. Looking for glass art vases? Here's a whole wall of them. There was even a high display case filled with adult themed novelty items. A sign on the case exclaimed that "You must be this tall to look at the adult themed items", which unsurprisingly had 3 corkscrews amongst the items. As I move through the store, scouring for corkscrews, I notice that the building was originally a bowling alley based on the bowling lanes which were still present and now just part of the floor. I finally reach the "bar" section and start looking through the meticulously sorted piles, holding my jacket tight so as to not knock over any of the hundreds of shot glasses in the "shot glass section" behind me. I find a couple of fairly modern corkscrews, but nothing worth buying. I then eventually find the folding bow corkscrew below, oddly enough in a section of odds and ends, much less organized than the rest of the items in the store. It's not a particularly rare corkscrew, but I didn't want to leave Cleveland empty handed and it does have a nice marking of WILLIAMSON'S.
We get back home on Christmas day. Hopefully, I'll have some nice corkscrews waiting for me.
A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to win an extremely rare American patent corkscrew. Purchased from a somewhat obscure auction site and hidden among a group of antique junk, however with several clear pictures of the corkscrew, I thought surely I wouldn't be the only corkscrew collector bidding. But, as luck would have it, I was the only corkscrew collector bidder with the final price totaling around $25. So what was this rare American corkscrew? It's the wall mounted Double Duty pictured below with only a handful of examples know to exist within our collector circles.
This type of corkscrew isn't really my thing, so I was planning on selling it in the next ICCA auction. Only one of these has been sold on ICCA auctions and it sold for a whopping $1,550. After winning the auction, I talked to some collector friends about the find; one of which was Josef L'Africain the seller of the other example. Josef being the avid American patent collector was, of course, interested in it. He sent me several pictures of corkscrews that he had to trade for it, but nothing exciting, until we settled on the two pictured below.
The first is a beautiful carved boars tusk depicting a monkey stealing a bottle and a glass of wine. The second is a mechanical four pillar corkscrew with an unusual custom engraved ivory handle.
Oh, and there's more...these weren't the only corkscrews that I liked out of the potential trades, so I asked about a couple of the others and we quickly made a deal.
First is a copy of the new Syroco corkscrew book. I recommend buying a copy once more are available. Second is a beautiful carved ivory Walker corkscrew with silver inlay. Next is an ivory mustache shaped corkscrew. Oddly, this one features an inscription in the bone. The inscription is of a number (7466); perhaps the silver content. As well as the owner's initials above the numbers which are hardly visible due to a hairline crack going through them. Last is a four pillar mechanical corkscrew marked PAGET on the smaller handle.
Stay tuned. More unique corkscrews en route.
ICCA Auctions sale #28 ended a few weeks ago and while I didn't have anything listed this time around, I did manage to win a couple of lots.
First is a beautiful art deco version of a Champion bar mounted corkscrew which I plan to use in my home instead of the modern version that I'm currently using. Next are 3 unusual American multitools. The last and rarest corkscrew is a Weir's double lever patent. The odd thing is that I never actually placed a bid on this item, but ended up winning through some kind of glitch. In fact, I was driving at the time that the bid was placed. I reported the issue, but then decided to go ahead and keep it since it was such a great price.
I've also got some new additions from everyone's favorite auction site. Both are fairly unusual. The first looks to be a homemade single lever corkscrew. The second is a wood handled corkscrew in the shape of a barrel with a twisted shank.
I'm constantly adding new corkscrews to my collection. Any new finds as well as articles which may be of interest to corkscrew collectors will be posted here.
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