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Expensive Corkscrews Sold On Line

M.A.D. staff | May 11th, 2013

B. Wilhelm corkscrew, $21,100.

Durand 1879 French patented rack and pinion corkscrew, $18,500.

The antique corkscrew collecting community conducts on-line auctions with an all-volunteer effort at ICCAuctions. During the sale that closed on May 11, a B. Wilhelm 1885 U.S. patent corkscrew, found 20 years ago in a Los Angeles antiques mall, sold for $21,100.

According to the seller, Robert Leopardi, the B. Wilhelm corkscrew “is the only known example of the Wilhelm patent….It is not signed, and the patent drawing has a different handle, but the handle it has is the same handle for the Alvord patent of June 24, 1884, No. 300936. Both of these corkscrews came out of Appleton, Wisconsin. They had one of the same witnesses, and it looks like possibly the same attorney on the patent drawings and application.

“The patent was given for this corkscrew because the circular outer sliding ring moves up and down to allow for different size bottles. The prongs that the sliding ring slides over are not static, but are adjustable as the ring moves up and down.” It will accept the necks of different bottles from half-liter to jeroboam.

A Durand 1879 French patented rack and pinion corkscrew marked “Durand, a Argentre” sold for $18,500; it’s the only known version true to the patent drawing with the worm, shaft, and rack all made from one piece of steel. The on-line press release called it “a case of poor design resulting in commercial failure but a prized collectable.”

Ten other corkscrews sold for over $5000, including a hotly contested Gounevitch French patent that reached $8030 and a rare Chinnock with U.K. and U.S. patents that sold for $14,615.

ICCAuctions has more than 850 registered members; 83 of them sold corkscrews in May, and 109 were successful buyers. The buyer of the unique B. Wilhelm corkscrew, Ion Chirescu of Romania, identified as “fotodeal” on the auction Web site, bought 188 lots. There are plans for an international corkscrew museum in Bucharest.

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A golden glitter lady’s legs corkscrew, marked on one side “WJ Solingen” and on the other “Gesetzlich Geschutzt,” 2 5/8", sold for $4406.46.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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