This blog will be filled with the many acquisitions and posts that will be of interest to fellow corkscrew collectors, but for my inaugural blog post I decided to post about what could end up being a previously undiscovered corkscrew. I frequent over a dozen different websites using an even larger number of searches in order to acquire vintage corkscrews. After perusing one of the regular websites, I found a live auction which at first glance had what looked to be a very basic Thomason corkscrew. Certainly not worth the usual $100 shipping costs from the UK. In addition to the corkscrew, there is plenty of "corkscrew bycatch" which I like to call it; you can read about that Here.
Upon closer examination, this Thomason had a glaring difference from all others; a protruding disc below the handle which looks to have writing. Excitement ensues. I have been collecting for more than half my life, but have never seen anything like this. Could this be the long lost prototype created by James Heeley before being sued by Edward Thomason for patent infringement? Of course he would use his stature and wealth to keep any word of this supposed prototype out of the papers. I immediately check the past sales on ICCA auctions; nothing. Next, I look through all of the corkscrew books I own. If there's more than one example of this corkscrew then surely there will be one in the book World-Class Corkscrews; there wasn't, but pick up a copy of the book if you haven't, you won't regret it until you quickly realise that it's impossible to collect every corkscrew. There are about 4 more days until the auction starts so I do my due diligence and contact the auctioneer to send some additional pictures. Days go by and nothing, not even a response. WHY? JUST ONE PICTURE WOULD DO?!?! So, I place a bid not knowing exactly what this corkscrew even was, but it was too intriguing not to take a chance on it. I wake up to find that...I've won!!! and with a fairly low bid. What happened? Had no other collectors seen the listing? Were none of them willing to take a chance on this mystery corkscrew? THANK YOU AUCTIONEER FOR NOT POSTING ADDITIONAL PICTURES!!! Surely I wouldn't have won this at such a reasonable price if everyone could see the writing on the corkscrew.
Around 2 weeks later, it arrived! Without further adieu, I present you with pictures of the mystery corkscrew.
Turns out that the disc was in fact marked. It reads "THOMASONS PATENT NE PLUS ULTRA". After further research, I have reached the conclusion that the interior spine and button seems to have belonged to a Thomason 4 pillar and/or Compound patent. The other parts seem to belong to a basic Thomason corkscrew, however as my dreams of this becoming the find of the century fade I would invite any input from fellow collectors.
As you can see, this corkscrew isn't in the best condition. And while I'm fairly certain this is a Frankenstein corkscrew; built from two different Thomason corkscrews, it's not uncommon to encounter undiscovered corkscrews. In fact, I just purchased another corkscrew that I could find no record of yesterday. You will see that blog post as soon as it arrives. While this corkscrew didn't turn out to be the great find of the century, questions remain. This type of amalgamation, while possible to a seasoned collector with several "parts" corkscrews may be possible, this didn't seem to come from a collector. This was the only lot that included a corkscrew, yet it included parts from two different Thomason corkscrews, one of which is fairly rare. How would the original owner come in contact with the two corkscrews and why would he have tried to combine the two at one point?
Questions remain and they may never be solved, but there continue to be examples and variations of corkscrews that were previously undiscovered.
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