I have a particular interest in one of a kind corkscrews and there is no shortage of them. For over half of my life I have watched hundreds of vintage corkscrews go up for auction every week and to this day I still see multiple pieces that I have never seen before on a regular basis. Perhaps this is what keeps corkscrew collectors going; the almost endless supply of unique corkscrews. There are also corkscrews that were produced in limited supply, either due to high prices or crazy mechanisms, which are nonetheless a must have of every serious corkscrew collector. Below you will find some of the particularly rare pieces in our collection.
This piece has been a part of our collection for many years. As you can see, the handle is carved into a full bodied lion figure which is very unique itself as most corkscrews that have been carved into figures are mainly just the head of an animal or person. It has a bulbous shank with a Henshall type button. Even with all of these unique characteristics, the really unique thing about this corkscrew is that the handle is made from rhino horn. Highly illegal today, but not when this unique piece was produced over 100 years ago. This is the only example of a corkscrew using rhino horn that I have ever seen let alone own.
Produced by the Williamson company in the US and carved by a master carver into a rabbit head. This corkscrew has glass eyes and a Sterling silver collar. The clean break on the ears seems to indicate that this is how it was originally carved rather than being broken.
Another caved stag horn corkscrew, this one with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a lion's head, this one also has a Sterling silver collar
This corkscrew with the same distinctive shank made by Walker (USA) is made of boar's tusk with a Sterling silver end cap. The tusk is inlaid with a leaf design.
This is a particularly interesting corkscrew. It looks like a perfume corkscrew, but it has some notable differences. The overall length of the corkscrew is larger than any other perfume corkscrew I own or have seen. The helix is also much larger and sturdier than any perfume corkscrew I have seen. Also, in addition to having a Sterling silver body, this corkscrew has a Henshall type button to stop the cork.
This is one of the aforementioned corkscrews which are rare because of the crazy mechanism. You can see the two other common mechanisms of this type of single lever corkscrew on one of our boards here. This example, the Holborn Lever, must have been produced in small quantities or discontinued due to its unique mechanism of pivoting along a central bar. It was patented by Henry Arthur Goodall in England on June 4, 1885; patent number 6793.
These types of sets were common over 100 years ago. The one on the left is gilt in gold and has multiple utensils all of which have handles which fit inside each other except for the smallest piece which is a roundlet corkscrew. The set on the right features Sterling silver utensils and ivory handles. The fork has a corkscrew and is most often the utensil which has the corkscrew in sets like these.
This is technically not a corkscrew, at least in the sense of how this item would have been used. This is a gun tool that was produced in Sweden in the 1700s. The first "corkscrews" were actually gun tools. These tools had these helix's which performed two different functions. First, the normal corkscrew part would have been used to remove the spent gun powder cartridges. The second would be to remove bullets; unfortunately this part happens to be damaged, the piece in question is located on the bottom left of the sheath. This piece unscrews from the sheath and would have had a small double helix for removing bullets. This may be the oldest corkscrew in our collection.
This is a beautiful ivory handled corkscrew with a monogram of a family crest which features a griffin capturing a lesser bird. It also features a Henshall type button. There were many prominent families who would have commissioned these types of corkscrews back then (100+ years, England), unfortunately it is difficult to trace these family crests back to the original owners.
There are many vintage corkscrews which are made from "ivory", but this is somewhat of a misconception. The majority of corkscrews which were made 100+ years ago and certainly since then have been made from ox or cow bone or boars tusk. This corkscrew however is made from a large elephant tusk. While it is apparently impossible to take a picture of this corkscrew while showing how large it is. This corkscrew is wildly unwieldy.
Dating from somewhere around the 1700's this corkscrew was hand made by a blacksmith and features a foil cutter and an archimedean worm. This may be the oldest corkscrew in our collection.
This figural indian corkscrew which was made by the Syroco company in New York was a wedding present from my grandparents to my parents. It is in absolutely perfect condition.
This carved stag horn corkscrew is very unusual as it is twice as large as similar carved corkscrews. Produced by the Williamson company in the US and carved by a master carver into a ram's head.
This is a German rack and pinion corkscrew produced by Louis Kummer. Notice that there are serrated teeth above the helix which assist in removing the cork.
This is a carved boar's tusk corkscrew, this one with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a dog's head, this one also has a Sterling silver collar.
This is another carved boar's tusk corkscrew with a signature Walker shank (produced in the US). Carved into a dog's head.
This is a solid silver handled Henshall type corkscrew marked GF Hipkins & Son on the shank. The handle is marked with an 1887 Portuguese hallmark for Leitao. The shank was produced in England and the original handle may have been bone to begin with, but at some point in the late 1880's a new silver handle was made for this corkscrew.
Carved deer head corkscrew with glass eyes and Sterling silver. Produced by the Williamson company in the US.