I know what you're thinking....isn't this a little late? If you were a member of the CCCC then you would have seen this well in advance, but if you aren't a member then you're in luck. Membership is only $25 and affords you access to the largest corkscrew collecting club with information only available to members as well as access to members only events and auctions. https://corkscrewclub.org/ But fortunately for you, I'm happy to share this content with non-members, so enjoy.
It's been 3 months since my last blog post. There are a couple of reasons for my hiatus. First, it's tax season and I've been working 7 days a week. Second, my new house has entered it's 4th month of renovations and has kept me pretty busy. Finally, until March, I hadn't acquired any corkscrews worth mentioning. And I mean nothing. Sure, I had fallen behind on my searches and my fellow collectors probably got some great deals because of it, but I hadn't come across anything that exciting in the past few months. Until now... Finally, I was able to acquire this cream colored version of a Ross pig below. I didn't have any Ross pigs in my collection at the time and when I saw this on a non-Ebay site at a reasonable price, I quickly purchased it. This corkscrew is an American design patented by Howard Ross in 1949. It's heftier than it looks in pictures, is made of celluloid, and can occasionally be found with their original boxes, but good luck. The snouts are often broken...poor design I suppose, but that's ok, it only makes good examples of these harder to find. The only other example I have owned was the black version and the majority of its nose was broken off. These are actually quite rare, yet sell for a fairly reasonable price considering how rarely they turn up ($100-$300). They can be found in 5 colors (red, black, yellow, green, cream), AND THE FABLED BLUE VERSION!!! The blue version is just that, fabled. There are no confirmed examples...as of yet.
My second purchase of 2019.....was a second Ross pig....and a cream colored one!!! What kind of sick joke had the corkscrew gods played on me? But, oh well, this one turned out to be an even better deal than the first and with the 27th corkscrew auction at https://auction.collectorcorkscrews.com/ starting in a few weeks, the duplicate is sure to find a new home.
Anyway, as of the past 2 days, I have some interesting new corkscrews purchased and in route, but until then, a lot has happened with the house. The iron door for the wine cellar was bought, the fireplace has been gutted, the granite is in, windows are all in....except for one that's backordered. Wood floors have been installed, sanded, hand scraped, stained, sealed, and cleaned repeatedly to no avail and well...pictures tell a thousand words.
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.
Earlier this week I closed on a new home. I've owned homes before, but this will be my first homestead. Over the coming months, the home will be going through a complete renovation.
My parents and I spent most of Thanksgiving demoing my new home with a slight reprieve for lunch in the wine cellar with a lovely prosecco. I will post about the progress of the renovation, but it should take at least 3 months to complete. By the time it's done, I'll have more walls for corkscrews! This will be the 3rd building within walking distance to house our corkscrew collection.
What will probably appeal more to my fellow collectors is this phenomenal corkscrew which arrived this week. It's an early pistol knife with beautiful hand engraved Sterling silver scales and a corkscrew trigger. This will easily make my best six for 2018 and I doubt that I would ever sell it.
The lots that I won recently on ICCA auctions showed up this weekend, of which, some have already been put to good use by replacing some examples with less than visible advertising which were affixed to boards on the walls.
A few years ago we converted nearly all of the light bulbs in the house to LEDs, although there were a few holdouts which have taken longer to switch out. While I'm sure that this quote by former president John F. Kennedy doesn't apply in this situation, I can't help but be reminded of it. We hadn't switched out these lights "because they are easy, but because they are hard." The bulbs in question are two 4ft fluorescent bulbs located in the sole light fixture in the stairwell which houses 10 corkscrew display boards. This isn't the first time we've had to replace the bulbs in this fixture (which is around 20 feet high), but the fluorescents were growing dim and the time had finally come to assemble the homemade scaffolding and perform the precarious task of rewiring and replacing the antiquated fluorescents with LEDs. Fortunately the task was completed successfully with no injuries to us or the corkscrews and the LEDs are a very noticeable improvement.
More big news coming soon.
The end of sale # 26 was last weekend. I bought 2 modest lots and sold 4 of my 5 listings. There weren't too many lots which caught my fancy, but overall not a bad ending.
I was tasked with giving a presentation on corkscrews less than 24 hours before the presentation. The presentation was for a local neighborhood women's group of which there were around 2 dozen participating. I explained the various clubs and museums dedicated to corkscrews as well as their little known origins from gun tools. A powerpoint presentation probably would have been better, but as it was held here at our own little museum, there were no shortage of examples to pass around and show off.
I purchased the 2 Thomason corkscrews below from an auction a while back and they have finally made it to the collection. The one on the left, while nice, it rather common. The real one I was after was the one on the right which has an interesting inscription in the handle. It reads "Wildays Marlbro Arms Hotel". Who knows what kind of shenanigans led to the creation of this corkscrew which seems to have been a gift. My best guess would be that they had quite a memorable bachelor party, but either way it makes for a unique and interesting piece. Interestingly enough, it seems that the hotel in question is still in business and bills itself as a 15th century coaching inn. Thanks again to Peter Borrett for his help in acquiring these.
I have purchased several corkscrew collections over the years and could always use more. This group of 41 corkscrews is a fairly good find especially considering the entire lot cost less than $100. Some of the nicer examples include a Walker Hallboy patent, Walker stag horn corkscrew with silver end caps, Syroco bulldog, Henshall type button among others.
Stay tuned, I have some exciting new corkscrews arriving any day now.
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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