Our 21st Collectible Corkscrew sale was the first held without the guidance of Fred Kincaid.. Those who stepped in soon appreciated the effort Fred had made to maintain the site. Vetting the listings of about 1000 lots often involves refinements, discussions with sellers and some listings must be rejected. Fortunately the November sale went largely without incident.
The sale had the usual combination of great, interesting and bargain lots but prices of many lots did not reflect current market conditions and pieces went unsold. In total 362 lots were sold out of a total of 970 offered, a completion rate of only 38%. More than 20% of sales occurred as a result of after sale offers. This has been the trend over the past 3 sales and reflects the continuing failure of some sellers to adapt to lower market prices.
The sale policy has been to allow sellers to list items without charge and at whatever price they wish. Sellers are our lifeblood and we try to give them the maximum flexibility. The only pricing constraint has been that each lot must have a market value of $100 and the administrators have been fairly lenient in applying this $100 test.
In view of the lower rate of “live” sales during the auction period, there is a general view that the sale is now too protracted. To speed up the process, the administrators are considering a proposal to auction more,perhaps 120, lots per hour instead of 60 in sales to date.. This would allow the sale to be completed over 2 days on one weekend. While we encourage sellers to review their pricing, at this stage we are not proposing any changes to encourage more realistic pricing.
Apart from the slightly disappointing completion rate, the Sale metrics were very healthy and in line with past sales
The 362 successful lots sold for $217,000, an impressive $600 per lot. The spread of buyers and sellers, including many new participants, was most encouraging. In total we had 69 successful sellers of whom 11 were first time sellers. We had 101 successful buyers including 11 first timers. This reflects the continuing growth in registrations. We have had more than 50 new registrations since the previous sale.
The highlight of the sale was a German patented piece,pictured above, with an internal spring patented by Valentin Langenhan in 1878.. This had everything going for it. A well researched German patent, an impressively large display piece (28cms,415 gms) good markings, great condition AND it is one of only 2 known examples. So it was not surprising to see it bid up to $25,400.
A rare and impressive Shrapnel 1839 British patent was bid up to $11,600. This was the 2 pillar version (we have had 2 prior sales of the barrel version) and,as is often the case, the leather bottle grips on the base of the frame are missing. A great mechanism – the handle folds out to lock the worm so that further clockwise turning
draws the cork. See World Class Corkscrews p112.
Perhaps the only known marked version of Delavigne’s 1872 French patented single lever sold for $10,600. All other unmarked versions, which usually sell around $1000, are believed to be German copies.
An unmarked single lever with rack and pinion and (most unusually) bottle grips was bid up to $7,780. Of uncertain origin, but the strong bidding suggests that it may be German and is certainly very rare, perhaps a one off. The only reference is Peters’ Mechanicals p189
BUCHAREST CORKSCREW MUSEUM
Most participants will be aware that Ion Chirescu’s Bucharest Museum is still the dominant buyer. The above 4 pieces are all heading to Bucharest (3 after keen bidding competition) and over our whole sale Ion bought 63 lots.
Many collectors are surprised that Ion hasn’t “got everything” yet. It is testimony to the rich variety of corkscrews that there are thousands of known collectable corkscrews still “missing” from Bucharest, keeping Ion constantly hunting at our sales and every day on EBAY. And while he is not easy to beat, he regularly misses out on contested lots. In the latest sale he lost out on 4 lots:
–a seriously erotic piece which Don Bull sold for $2100, and
-a fascinating 1898 Schmidt German registration with a single lever and a Stanhope. This sold to a German specialist who had been underbidder on the Valentin Langenham piece discussed above.
However as many of us have learned, Ion is seriously hard to shake off when he really wants something. Our longest bidding contest was for a French pocket, patented in 1895 which ended up heading for Bucharest for $4865 but only after a bidding contest which extended the sale by over 30 minutes. Great fun for those watching, particularly the happy seller!
We have commented in the past on the rich variety of Ladies Legs which appear in our sales. Most collectors like to have a few examples, usually a full stockinged leg and perhaps a half stocking and a bare legged example. These can all be purchased under $500 However our sales have shown that the variety available seems never ending and there is quite a large number of collectors ready to spend well over $1500 for the rarer variations. This is a category where Ion Chirescu has been unstoppable but as his collection of legs is now so extensive some of these rarities are now going to other collectors. Competition remains fierce.
In this sale we had 11 pairs, 7 over $1000, ranging from $300 for a standard half stocking (cheap) up to $4800 for a tricoloured half stocking with a never seen before colour combination.This one attracted bids from all the big leg collector before it headed off to Bucharest.
Other notable sales included a rare half pink half blue stocking for $2550, a tricolor miniature for $1950 and a mother of pearl miniature for $1350. The miniatures were both won by a Swiss leg collector.
SOME OTHER INTERESTING SALES
This selection highlights the diversity of lots in the sale
Perhaps the strangest lot was an 18th century French multitool in the form of a rampant lion with engraved mother of pearl scales. Despite missing 5 tools, it attracted broad interest before selling for $1590
A corkscrew which at first glance looks like a $10 French flynut, on closer inspection incorporates a nutcracker in the frame. This rare piece , patented in 1882 and manufactured by Adolphe Pecquet, attracted plenty of interest before selling at $2220
A rare and eye catching “Old Crow” figural with caplifter was popular with American collectors and ended at $1650. This is an advertising piece made for Old Crow Whisky by Henckels. Apparently it is quite recent. Don Bull has written that the Old Crow in tuxedo first appeared in Life Magazine in 1964.
Another modern (1980’s) American piece was a self-puller marked for the soon to be defunct maker Northampton Cutlery of Massachusetts. Well documented, rare and of the highest quality, it sold for only $200.
Don Bull sold 2 modern pieces marked HERMES, the French luxury brand. A silver (?) rope designed straight pull sold for $475 and a silver-plated French registered design in the shape of a spur attracted healthy bidding, reaching $1125.
SOME GREAT BUYING
With the development of EBAY globally, and our own sales with readily accessible records of over 12000 past sales, many pieces are now seen to be much more common than previously thought. This is particularly the case with pieces usually found only in their home market.
A good example is the U-NEEK, the unmistakable 1917 US patented 3 spike opener which is only found in the US.
. To date 16 have sold on our site and prices has fallen from around $1000 back in 2008 to $500 today. But a sale for only $250 in the latest sale was still a real bargain. Another U-NEEK (with a cleaner finish) sold for a more typical $550.
A similar analysis will show that a very good 1876 US patented “power cone” was great buying for only $110.
A French parallel is the Moet & Chandon double lever (newest version) which reached only $150.
A pair of Weir’s concertinas were great buying for $220. The rarity of the smaller one was not highlighted in the listing.
Barscrews often seem cheap but are they good buying?. It seems that fewer collectors are prepared to commit the space which a good barscrew collection demands and barscrews are the first to go as we downsize our homes.
In this sale a massive Acme with a very rare double clamp ( putting it in Wayne Meadows’ rarest category) fetched only $160. Some other well- priced barscrews went unsold.
Among the higher priced corkscrews, there were some very well bought classic mechanicals including: a Hampton Lever for $1460 , a Murray & Stalker double lever for $2900 , a Neues 1897 registration with double spikes and springs for $1590 and a “rabbit ears” double lever for $3200
Auction 22 will open for postings on 7 April with the Auction starting on 22 April. In the meantime please visit our BUYNOW site where a continuous supply (currently 140) of mainly lower priced pieces are on offer.
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