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January 24th 2007
What's in your tool box?

Hungerford in Berkshire has long been known as a centre for
antique hunters, boasting a number of antique shops & arcades
up & down the high street. Living in Berkshire & being relatively
local I have been a regular visitor for many years, hoping I'd come
across a rarity but alas, despite some nice finds I've not yet
stumbled upon a true jewel. Little did I know that all the time I'd
been visting Hungerford, at a private house there was a tool box
with spanners, screwdrivers & a hammer together with a very rare
& desirable corkscrew.  

I received an email from the tool box owner, Nikki. She was
interested in finding out more about this corkscrew after
somebody who noticed it showed plenty of interest. I informed
Nikki that she had a rare variant of concertina corkscrew, known as
the "Double Wiers" which was patented in 1884 by Marshall Wier &
manufactured by James Heeley & son, Birmingham, England

Nikki was given the corkscrew by a lady friend who once owned a
pub. She was told that if you're going open wine you should have a
good corkscrew to open it with. That was about fifteen years ago &
most of that time the corkscrew has been redundant in Nikki's tool

Nikki toyed with the idea of selling the corkscrew on Ebay so she &
her friends could enjoy the show, watching the price get higher &
higher but thankfully for me (thanks Nikki) we struck a deal that
was good for us both & I get to add a great antique corkscrew to
my collection.

Nikki said that she'll probably put the money towards a piano for
her daughter & indulge in a handbag for herself.
Above; Nikki holding the Wiers Double corkscrew
Below; A close up view of this desirable antique
Please report any interesting corkscrews to
March 22nd 2007

Since 2002 I've completed over 6000 transactions on Ebay with a fairly equal number of deals with both
buyers & sellers. I'm happy to report that the vast majority of these transactions have been very smooth with
Ebay's belief that the majority of people are good being spot on. It's fair to say that with such a large number
of deals there will be some issues along the way.

Up until quite recently I've managed to avoid a deal that made my blood boil or my eyes bulge from my
sockets or made me breath fire with a scream to wake the dead. Here are some of my issues: I've managed to
send cash on three separate occasions that didn't arrive, funny how a cheque always seems to arrive OK. I've
settled two different Paypal claims where buyers said the good were not received. Without tracking these
parcels I didn't have a leg to stand on. Having both sent the goods & then having to refund the money hurts.
Sellers, with Paypal, if you don't register every single parcel you are wide open to anyone that knows the
system. Interestingly, every cheque that I've ever sent has arrived. Apart from one item & the three cash deals
listed above, every item I've paid for has arrived. Over 30 parcels that I've mailed haven't arrived over the 5
years, that's 6 a year. It makes me wonder if they have arrived or not but I've either sent another item or
refunded the buyer so they are happy. Ultimately, if I registered & insured every parcel I sent everyone would
be covered but in reality, given I sell many pieces at the low end, adding an additional £5.00 per parcel for
postage costs would just put people off. As it stands I'm registering anything that sells for over £50.00 at my
own cost, I'm not sure what I'll decide to do in future. Anyway, food for thought.

Now, the blood boiling deal!!!

Early in February I was searching Ebay France & noticed a Rapide corkscrew. I'm fully aware that this type of
corkscrew is easily faked but was confident with the particular one advertised. I ended up winning the
corkscrew for 365 Euros, that's around £250 or $470.00. After receiving the invoice, I settled with Paypal &
looked forward to the parcel arriving. After three weeks & following a number of emails to the seller to find out
where the corkscrew was the parcel arrived. I opened the box to find that a modern plastic reproduction was
enclosed & NOT the one advertised on the Ebay picture. I was somewhat gob smacked, I'd never had an
problem like this before & had clearly stumbled across a French Ebay rogue. I decided that the best follow up
was to open a Paypal dispute. After a couple of days the seller responded, requesting for me to send the
corkscrew back for a full refund, I did this on 9th February, registered & fully insured. Despite an email from
the seller to say he would refund me within 36 hours which I received on 3rd March, I'm still waiting for a
resolution. I've made a claim against the seller through Paypal & I'm waiting for the outcome. So far, I've paid
for the goods, paid to send them back, paid to send a fax to Paypal showing the proof of postage. I'll let you
know if I rightfully get my money back - If I don't I might just call time on the online adventure - that's how
incensed I am over this issue.

To the left is the Ebay
photograph I based my bid
on & to the right is the
modern fake that was

I'm a placid sort of guy but
my blood has hit boiling
point with this issue & an
explosion could happen at
any time.

Luckily, as mentioned, the
vast majority of Ebay deals
work fine. Thank God!
May 07 Update. Paypal agreed with my claim but have so far only managed to get back half my money.
13th March 2007
What an anticlimax

Following an early morning visit to the Kempton antique fair in
London, I went to view a Lund Queens patent corkscrew with
grippers at Woolley & Wallis the auctioneers in Salisbury together
with fellow corkscrew collector Chris Bristow.

I'd already worked out a bid based on the pictures I'd received but
with the piece in hand & on closer inspection the corkscrew
surpassed my expectations, it was a cracker. The only slight
detraction was some very minor rippling dents to the barrel.

After coffee, croissants & a good natter with CB we went back to
the auctioneers to get set to bid for & hopefully win this great piece.
By the time the lot came up the adrenaline was pumping through
my veins at a rapid rate but in a very anticlimactic auction starting
at £1800, the auctioneer took less than 20 seconds to take out the
phones & stretch the commission bid to the maximum at £3100, I
didn't even get to bid. The hammer was down before I had any sort
of chance to reconsider but it was a few hundred over my maximum
& despite being frustrated to miss out I did the right thing to pass.

Someone won a great piece but at £3100 + 17.5% commission +
VAT - at a tidy sum.

Maybe, I'll find one for nothing just sat on a vendors stall one day -
here's hoping.
May 3rd 2007
Bone you win - Ivory you lose.

I've always had a liking for American direct pull
corkscrews with carved handles, especially the ones
that depict animals.

Back in March, I won a very nice example on Ebay
with the handle depicting an alligator.  After a longer
than normal wait for the parcel to arrive, I received a
letter from HM Revenue & Customs to say that the
corkscrew had been seized due to the fact the
customs label said - IVORY CORKSCREW & we are
unable to import any ivory within the UK.

After some further investigating of how I could overcome the problem, I established there were two ways out.
1, to get a license to import ivory, which was never going to happen. 2, to get the seller to email & say that it
was made of some other material & then somebody from the British museum would inspect to see if it was
ivory or not.

Following an SOS email, I managed to get the seller to contact Customs to say that they thought it might be
bone, I really appreciated their help. It was then a waiting game, knowing that I could kiss goodbye to the
piece if it did turn out to be ivory. Within a week I received another letter from HM revenue & customs to say
that the item was going to be released, it wasn't ivory after all, hooray!!

It arrived today & it is a real cracking piece. So, yet another lesson learned about what we can & can't buy
over this side of the pond, it'll surely help in the future.
April 15th 2007
A Bradford in Birmingham.

Following an email to my website & a follow up phone call, I
took a trip to the heart of England's 19th century corkscrew
manufacturing in Birmingham to view a rare ratchet
corkscrew patented in England by William Bradford of
London in 1884.

On arrival, I met with the owner who was great company &
explained how she found the piece at a boot sale in central
Birmingham, for wait for it.........£1.00, lol. We had a good
chat & a cup of tea before I parted with a pile of cash in
exchange for the rare twister.

This corkscrew is a Bradford II. A similar variant with a fancy
milled disc is better known & shown in Ferd Peter's
Mechanical corkscrews book. This variant, pictured in
Wallis, is the one shown in the German patent drawing & is
very rare. It was patented in France in 1885 & Germany in

There's no knowledge as to who made Bradford's
corkscrew but there's plenty of sense to think it was one of
the major Birmingham manufacturers, maybe that's why it
showed up there.

It's quite amazing how rarities like this Bradford II can still be
found at boot sales for next to nothing.
10th October 2007
Crosby Pup Corkscrew
The rumour has it that crooner Bing Crosby
had 60 figural corkscrews made for his chums,
each one embossed with "CROSBY PUP".

Some while back Fred O'Leary, a member of
the CCCC started a list of who within the
corkscrew fraternity had one. At the last
count around 30 of these quirky figural corkscrews had been accounted for.

I've seen a few Crosby Pup corkscrews over the last couple of years make very good money on Ebay, so it
was to my great astonishment that my very modest snipe bid, about half of what I've seen them sell for was
enough to secure one for my collection.

It's deals like this that make Ebay such a great place to buy.
18th October 2007
A painless trip to the Dentist

Today I headed off to the Dentist. Last week I managed to
bite on a piece of pizza & lose a quarter of a molar, so a
repair job was needed.

On route I decided to stop by my local antique shop,
about a couple of miles from home. I've probably been to
this shop about 50 times in 5 years of corkscrew hunting
& never found anything better than a simple direct pull.
Today was my lucky day, as pretty much as soon as I
walked through the door I noticed an unusual corkscrew
sat on a shelf. I picked it up for a closer look & noticed a
very unusual bearing type mechanism, one that I had
never seen before, it was also marked D R G M. I spun
around the price tag which read, "OLD CORKSCREW,.
£20.00" & swiftly headed to the till to ask what the best
price was. Needless to say, I passed over £15.00 quickly
& left with a beaming smile.

I've never had a better trip to the Dentist!

Once home, I checked out Ferd Peter's book & found a
reference, although Ferd can only presume it was
manufactured by Usbeck as there is no definite
knowledge. The one pictured in Ferd's book is courtesy of
Bert Giulian & my feeling is that it is quite a rare piece.

I'll probably sell it on Ebay at some point as German
corkscrews are not really my thing. I wonder what it will sell
for? One thing is for sure, it was a stunning find!

Let me know if it's one you are after - maybe we could do
a deal.
18th October 2007
Fake corkscrews on Ebay

Over the last year or so, a vast amount of corkscrews have
appeared on Ebay in a number of very dubious forms.
Many have been offered up by sellers in Eastern Europe,
others in South America & clearly, the majority of these
items have been made to generate a high return by

Fortunately, most of the recent offerings have finished at
relatively low prices which reflects on corkscrew collectors
current scepticism of the creations. Sadly though, some
collectors are still overly trusting & think they have found a
unique or rare piece or maybe something a bit different that
is worth paying extra for.

The picture to the right shows a recent corkscrew that sold
on Ebay for $160.00. Sadly, the buyer was conned. Look
closely, it's a corkscrew with a fishing reel handle added.

As long as corkscrews like the one shown make good
returns, more will be found on Ebay - be vigilant!
19th December 2007

Last week I headed off to Bonhams auctioneers in Bath to
view & hopefully win a sought after Jones registered design
mechanical corkscrew, known as a Jones One. It had been on
my wish list for some time. I'd seen a photo & it appeared to
be a great example & was being sold with a few other pieces
including a Queens patent, a couple of Thomasons & a Kings
narrow rack.

On arrival a close inspection of the Jones was required.
Sadly, it turned out to be a dog of a corkscrew. The
mechanism was faulty, the barrel was cracked & the worm was
out of shape causing it to catch badly. I decided not to bid.

How much for this faulty corkscrew? £1050 + commission, as
a phone bidder chased up an eager punter in the room for
this busted rarity, lol. More money than sense comes to mind.

Luckily for me I won this superb open frame Thomason for a
fair price a couple of days before at an auctioneers in Lewes.
It's a fine example with a super smooth mechanism & will sit
very nicely in the collection.
19th December 2007
Christmas in June

During an early morning
hunt at a London antique
fair in June, Father
Christmas appeared
complete with Christmas
tree & a sack full of
presents on a dealers

I'd never seen this
example before so I
snapped him up to add
to my other celluloid
corkscrews from this
novel series.

I thought I'd show him off
for Christmas, yo ho ho!

I Hope 2008 brings us all some great
finds. If you ever have anything to sell
or trade please
drop me a line.
Anything on my for sale section could
be trade bait or cash if you prefer.

Stay in touch with my website during
2008. I'll keep hunting for & adding
great corkscrews to the
corkscrews for
sale section & I'm always very happy to
add your wish list to my shopping list.
Just let me know what you are looking
for & I'll get hunting on your behalf.

Peter Borrett
BEST SIX for 2007
~from left to right~
1. Bradford's ratchet & pawl corkscrew, a very rare English 1884 patent.
2. A Brummell corkscrew with a finely grooved helix, possibly of English or French origins,
late 18th or early 19th century.
3. Mabson corkscrew, marked T. Dowler Manufacturer Birmingham on the internal button.
Unusually this one has all the springs which are normally lost.
4. Thomason corkscrew with steel open frame.
5. Marshall Wiers 1884 English patented concertina corkscrew known as the Double Wiers.
Marked "Double No 4283, Wier's Patent, J. H. S. B.".
6. Thomason corkscrew with Gothic decoration.