I've finally finished the 1st of 3 planned corkscrew displays in my office at work. This marks our 27th corkscrew display board and the 2nd located at our office. Pictures of all of our corkscrew displays can be found Here.
One of the most common questions that I get is "Where do you find all of these corkscrews?" to which I reply mainly online. When my parents started the collection over 30 years ago, they would find the majority of what made up our collection in antique stores, but it has become more difficult to find corkscrews in antique stores with the advent of the internet and websites like Ebay. I was visiting Houston for a few days and had some free time to search through some antique stores, here's what I found.
The picture above and below were both taken in an antique mall in Houston. Both of the corkscrews above are decent pieces, but at $350 & $155 they are way overpriced. The corkscrew below is a rare piece which I would have happily paid the $197 asking price if it was in good condition. It is a Williamsons stag horn corkscrew carved into an alligator grabbing a man sitting on a log. Unfortunately the corkscrew was in poor condition; missing the tail, the bell on the shank, as well as the man's head, hands, and legs.
On our way back to Dallas, we stopped at 3 more antique stores and eventually found 2 corkscrews worth purchasing. They're nothing special, but for $8 at least we're not leaving empty handed.
PS, for those wondering, that's the Sam Houston statue in the background.
Every now and then a corkscrew turns up which is collectable solely because of its former owner. Celebrity owned corkscrews often sell for a premium and the most recent celebrity owned corkscrew to come up for auction was no acception. Burt Reynolds, the actor who was most well known for his role in the movie Smokey and the Bandit, died last year. His estate was auctioned off last week and it included a corkscrew. The corkscrew itself is a brass bar mounted Vintner corkscrew. We have a Vintner in the collection and use it almost daily for opening wine. These are great corkscrews and very reliable so I decided to place some low bids, but as you can see, the price shot up way past the estimate.
In case you're wondering, the late actor did own a Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am which ended up bringing the most money in the auction selling for a cool $300,000.
Still no new corkscrews to report. Many collectors were in Norway for the ICCA meeting and now in the UK for the annual CCCC club meeting. You would think that now would be the perfect time to snag some corkscrews while many of the other serious collectors are distracted, but unfortunately I've been pretty distracted lately. Last week a major storm blew through Dallas hitting our neighborhood hard with hail, 71 mph winds which damaged and/or downed nearly half of the trees in the neighborhood, and ultimately left 300,000 homes without power for days. Several of my trees were severely damaged and we lost power for about 48 hours only to get it back an hour before we had to leave for a 3 day tax seminar in San Antonio. Now that the seminar is over, we've made our way to Austin for a few days of vacation and while I doubt that I'll find any corkscrews here, hopefully there will be some new arrivals once I get back to Dallas.
I recently purchased a phenomenal corkscrew which is currently in route from a UK auction house. It's sure to make my best six for the year, but I'll post more about it once it arrives. In the meantime, I've had no other acquisitions. I narrowly lost an auction this morning for a silver roundlet that belonged to Lord Alexander Paget. Hopefully I'll win the next auction for a Lord's corkscrew.
Our collection consists of a large variety of both corkscrews and wine antiques. Some recent purchases are probably some of the largest items as well as some of the smallest items in the collection. The large item below is an antique commercial corking machine. Named La Parfaite, or The Perfect in english; It has 2 clamps to affix it to a table top. Next is a beautifully faceted all steel corkscrew with gripping teeth and a small German perfume corkscrew. Another recent acquisition is pictured below; it's a small bottle shaped knife and corkscrew with inlaid grapevines.
As per usual I haven't done a good job of keeping this blog up to date, but to be fair, I've been pretty busy. I should be moving into my new house in a couple of days. Nearly all of the major work is complete and now my focus has been towels, sheets, silverware, blinds, etc. There will be a new page added to the website soon to showcase the 3rd cellar. I'm still trying to figure out which racks to use, so that may take a few more months, but until then the wine wall is installed and stocked.
The furniture has finally been uncovered. The barstools below were assembled this morning.
Anyway, on to the corkscrews. If you saw one of my previous posts then you know that I've found relatively few corkscrews from January through April. Not a good start to the year, but I'm glad to announce that my fortunes have improved as I've added some great pieces to the collection.
A nice mix of corkscrews with some great carved pieces, a rare Crosby pup, a figural erotic corkscrew, etc. More interesting items arriving soon...
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.
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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