Corkscrews and other Wine/Spirit Collectables


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Moving permanently to Australia from the UK in 2000, I already had a great interest in antiques. But after working in the local wine industry, I not only acquired a passion for the end-product, but in its history!

A good friend had already aroused my interest some years ago while I was living in the UK, catching-up whenever he was in London attending specialist corkscrew auctions and learning about his latest acquisitions. Simply pulling a cork from a good bottle of wine is a pleasure in itself to me, adding to the sense of anticipation. The process is all the more pleasurable of course when the cork removes cleanly and intact, a little like fishing when the harder the battle the more the sense of achievement! So it has always fascinated me that throughout history more attention seems to have been paid to improvisation of this task than almost anything else.

Having also been involved in both engineering and the patenting process in London, it's also the many wonderful corkscrew inventions developed over the years that continually fascinate me. The shear number of corkscrew patents worldwide perhaps outnumber those filed for any other single device, and the ingenuity of some is astounding. But it's the history of the very act that I find just as fascinating, from the bar-top 'puller' found in old English pubs, to the convenience of cleverly designed 'pocket' devices. Whenever I buy another corkscrew for my collection, it often leads me to think if only this corkscrew could talk, the stories it would be able to tell. This likewise has led to a passion for other wine & spirit related antiques and collectables, from silver & ceramic decanter labels, funnels, hip flasks, and collapsible 'pocket' cups to wine cradles, measures and other implements. All are not only steeped in history, but part of our cultural heritage.

So I hope visitors enjoy this glimpse into the wonderful world of wine antiques. But please also allow me this opportunity to urge support for the cork industry, not only because cork growers are facing their largest threat ever because of the rapid growth of screw-caps and other closures. While the convenience of these alternatives is undeniable, what a sad world it will become if speed & ease takes over from the tradition and pleasure of such a simple act as extracting a cork from a bottle. The two were literally made for each other, so let's all continue to look for wine with cork closures, always remembering that gratifying sound as the cork is released to reveal the pleasures within. ENJOY (responsibly of course)!

Keith Fowler

P.S. Very special thanks to Don Bull and his kind permission to refer to his excellent reference materials - without which the passion may never have fully matured! I highly recommend his "Pocket Guide to Corkscrews" as an excellent introduction, and "The Ultimate Corkscrew Book" as the most extensive resource in the field. Both can be purchased on the Schiffer Publishing website at: http://schifferbooks.com