Rare Corkscrews Come In Many Shapes

cork1Provided by Paul Luchsinger


   Collectible corkscrews are many and varied— a Romanian corkscrew museum with over 25,000 different corkscrews has the largest collection in the world. Most corkscrew users are familiar with simple straight pull “T” type corkscrew we all know (but dread to use on today’s frequently used plastic and composite corks).    There are 3 broad variations on the simple straight pull “T” corkscrew:
   MECHANICALS: Corkscrews incorporating a lever or other form of mechanical advantage requiring less effort to draw the cork. Mechanical designs mainly trace back to the golden age of industrial invention between 1850 and W.W. 1. In the most recent April CollectorsCorkscrews .com auction, perhaps the most surprising mechanical corkscrew sold was a simple French rack & pinion style corkscrew which was granted a French patent in 1889 because it could be cheaply manufactured from sheet metal. It looks cheap and flimsy, which is no doubt why so few survived—only 3 marked examples are known, So, even with a distorted corkscrew shaft, it was strongly bid up to $5,600. (Lot #21041).
   POCKETS: typically smaller corkscrews where the sharp tip of the corkscrew is protected so it could be carried on the pocket, hence a “pocket corkscrew.” (See photo top right) The most desirable Pocket corkscrews date back to the 18th and 19th centuries when gentleman might carry one made of silver or more precious materials. The early Pocket corkscrews were straight pulls as the corks were looser but more recently most Pocket corkscrews incorporate a lever for mechanical advantage—the ubiquitous waiter’s friend!
   In the recent online sale there were numerous silver Pockets but a particularly attractive example combined a silver protective sheath with a beautifully inlaid ivory handle. It was marked on the sheath base “SP” for the famous late 18th century English cutler Samuel Pemberton. Although the screw had a shortened tip, this lovely piece still sold for $1,300 (Lot #21074)
   Many corkscrews cross over into 2 classifications. For example there are numerous Pocket corkscrews in a Figural form. The most famous are the German folding Pockets from around 1900. The folding handle often took the risqué form of ladies’ legs in a range of colorful stockings combined with bare legs. A rarer and usually more expensive Figural design is stamped “AMOR” and is usually described as the “kissing couple.” This example (top left) from the latest sale is all metal (usually the scales are made of celluloid) and the definition of the figures is very good. See the detail of the German soldier’s sword and the girl’s pants (most discreet by today’s standards!). In great condition, this piece was bid up to an impressive $3,100 (Lot #21079).    FIGURALS: Decorative styled corkscrews often intended more for display than use and designed around the shape of some person, animal or other object.
cork2   Some Figurals have a Mechanical function. America is the home of many iconic Figural corkscrews and the Syroco Company of Syracuse, New York produced some of the most famous. Syroco corkscrews were made from a wood composite material in the shape of a man. The man’s head detaches to reveal not just a simple corkscrew but a self-pulling bell supplied by the Williamson Company of Newark, N.J.-itself a simple Mechanical corkscrew.
   Most Syroco corkscrews take the common form of a Waiter which can usually be bought for less than $100 Other more valued figures include an Indian, Clown and Monk. At the top of the collector’s want list is the prized “Golden Knight“ a rather garish figure produced in the late 1950’s in the dying years of the Syroco Company. The Golden Knight is always popular, particularly with American collectors. Seven have sold over the 10 years of online sales, the most recent reaching a healthy $2,225. It had a full gold paint cover and an original label on the base (Lot #20344)
   The recent April on-line corkscrew auction was held by CollectorCorkscrews.com, a twice yearly on-line auction sale operated by volunteer collectors worldwide. Over 9,000 corkscrews, ranging in price from $100 to over $30,000 have been sold since the initial auction in 2008, representing over $5,000,000 in sales.
 cork3  All past sales results can be freely viewed by visitors in the PAST SALES section of the web site at www.CollectorCorkscrews.com. Also this is an excellent technique for obtaining a value estimate of most corkscrews in a personal collection. The next international auction is Nov. 3-12, 2017. New buyers and sellers may register at any time to participate in the upcoming November auction. Between auction sales, there is always a good range of lower cost corkscrews available for immediate purchase in the BUY NOW section ofwww.CollectorCorkscrews.com

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