Renovations on the house have really picked up since my contractor started. Foundation work is underway, walls have been moved and re-framed, plans have been revised, the wine cellar has moved and hopefully an iron door will be picked up tomorrow, the kitchen is now open and well...gone, the fireplace is still in limbo, electrical was done today on Christmas. Anyway, on to the corkscrews.
It's not unusual to find corkscrews which have had their handles replaced. I'm sure that some collectors would shy away from these pieces, but I don't mind them in certain circumstances. I won 2 corkscrews recently on Ebay which appear to have had their handles replaced at some point. The first of which (pictured below) has the body of an English Thomason corkscrew with the handle from an American corkscrew made of boars tusk carved into a boar's head with Sterling silver end cap and inlays. It makes for a quite unusual, but interesting pair.
The second corkscrew with a replacement handle is pictured below on the far left. This corkscrew was acquired through a UK Ebay auction. The handle is relatively large and looks nothing like any of the other corkscrews that I have seen with a similar shank and Henshall style button. After inspecting the handle in person, I can say that despite its defects, it looks to have been made with considerable skill. It is made from a single piece of rosewood, the ends are quite bulbous and have some faceting toward the cubed center which is inlaid with the brass letters S & R on opposite sides. All signs of aging indicate that this replacement would have been added a very long time ago.
Next, pictured in the middle is a rare German Hercules frame corkscrew with cork gripping spikes; followed by a mechanical Kummer patent corkscrew which also features cork grips.
I have seen several best sixes from various collectors in the past few days and have begun to think about which new acquisitions will make my best six for 2018, but there are some very recent additions which will definitely be making the cut. More updates coming soon.
It's been a pretty good weekend. We were able to demo most of the hall bath as well as the bricks in the "bar" area. See the Before picture followed by the After pictures.
It wasn't all house work today, I also won 2 corkscrews; one of which will most likely make my best six for the year. Updates will be posted once they arrive. Until then here's a corkscrew which arrived this past week. It's a beautifully carved smiling monkey corkscrew adorned with a jester-like collar with Sterling silver spheres.
Since this post went public, I had received a lot of feedback suggesting that this corkscrew was a fake made from a shotgun shell reloader. See the picture below for an example of a shotgun shell reloader. Fellow collector John Davis was present at the auction and has first hand knowledge of the item in question. He had the following to say.
"I went to the viewing, several times, took lots of photographs and detailed measurements with calipers and micrometer. It was marked BREVETTE SGDG and MD. It therefore bore a French patent mark and MD is the maker's mark for Michel Durafour, a French manufacturer in St-Etienne, working from 1890 to 1902. Thanks to Gerald Bidault's books and Guy Olive's book, I discovered that Durafour made a few figural corkscrews ( an Eiffel Tower, a Revolver and a rifle cartridge). However, he did not have a corkscrew patent! This piece was not a corkscrew! This device, when clamped to a bar in the usual way, would result in the worm being horizontal and the user's shoes being doused with wine!
Further investigation revealed dozens of similar looking pieces on Ebay, albeit without worms, and described as cartridge re-loaders (just do a general search on Ebay and see what I mean). I even found one from Bulgaria with identical main body and bearing the same maker's mark (MD), but with no worm.
Even if this manufacturer took one of his cartridge loaders and turned it into a bar corkscrew, I'm sure he would have changed the alignment of the clamp to make it useable.
I'm convinced that some enterprising engineering artisan took one of these many surplus cartridge loaders, a few years ago, and turned it into a "corkscrew" by removing the cartridge loader parts and adding a worm and barrel. Not necessarily trying to copy or forge an original, just trying to use a redundant piece of equipment. A pity he didn't modify the alignment of the clamp!
I also checked the internal diameter of the barrel. It might just accommodate a smaller cork, such as that from a Burgundy, Loire or even Bordeaux, but a cork from my favourite tipple (from Pays d'Oc) or a Californian wine, would be struggling to squeeze into it."
Between the home renovations that're going on and work/studying, I haven't had a lot of time to keep up with my usual corkscrew searches. I'm sure that there are some great corkscrews that I've been missing out on. Early one morning this week, I looked through one of the usual auction sites and found this unusual bar mounted corkscrew just in time. The auction was already in progress and I only had about 30 minutes before this corkscrew crossed the auction block. It's marked Brevete S.G.D.G., so it's French and it looks to be a very early design. I quickly look through the past sales on ICCA, but come up with nothing remotely similar. Next, I flip through the book Compendium of Bar Corkscrews by Wayne Meadows. Surely there will be some reference to this corkscrew in the book, but I find nothing. I quickly register for the auction and place a modest bid. The auction happened to have a live video feed of the auction, and since it was only minutes away I decided to watch. The lot comes up and my autobid is quickly outbid. I place a few more bids, but eventually relent while the other bidders continue to outdo each other. Then it tops £1,000 and continues to rise. The auction lasted several minutes; £5,000, £6,000, £7,000. The bidding war was between a phone bidder and an internet bidder. The gavel finally fell in favor of the phone bidder at £8,000. With commission the total comes to around £9,920 or roughly $12,800 for my American readers.
It's been a little over 2 weeks since I purchased my new home and the demo is still underway. This past weekend, my parents and I started to demo the master bath. It's a large space, but unfortunately has a step up and the current configuration doesn't make sense.
As you can see, we were able to make a pretty big dent.
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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