Curiousity to be uncorked at auction

STEPHEN PULLINGER It is the moment all collectors live for, spotting a hidden gem and snapping it up for next to nothing. But the unlikely bargain that one Norfolk couple unearthed at a car boot fair was not the obvious piece of silver or porcelain… but a rusty old corkscrew.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It is the moment all collectors live for, spotting a hidden gem and snapping it up for next to nothing.

But the unlikely bargain that one Norfolk couple unearthed at a car boot fair was not the obvious piece of silver or porcelain… but a rusty old corkscrew.

In utilitarian steel and showing the wear of more than two centuries, it is nevertheless the star item up for auction at Horner's of Acle, and expected to sell for as much as £6,000.

Auctioneer Henry Horner-Glister said: “Before it ended up at the car boot fair it had apparently been languishing at the back of a garden shed.

“The couple who spotted it realised it was collectable but it was only when they got it home and cleaned it up they realised how important it was.”

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Under the rust, the name Lamprey identified it as an extremely rare late 18th century Irish corkscrew.

Mr Horner-Glister said corkscrews had soared in popularity among collectors, but it was still an area where amateurs stood a serious chance of unearthing a bargain in a junk shop or at a jumble sale.

More than 100 corkscrews will be going under the hammer at a special auction on Saturday, October 21, the astonishing range showing the ingenuity with which people have tackled the problem of getting that elusive cork out of the bottle over the centuries.

A heavy, industrial-looking contraption dwarfs a delicate corkscrew with a silver and ivory handle; a cheeky German corkscrew with a “ladies legs” handle sits on the gallery table next to a tiny “worm and pin” purpose-made for picnics.

Handles come in every form from fishes to butterflies and one corkscrew even includes a thoughtful brush to clean the bottle top.

Mr Horner-Glister said: “We are expecting more than 100 collectors from all over the region and many more than that will be bidding online.

“There is a major interest in collecting corkscrews in Canada and we are expecting bids from there.”

It is the fifth sale in which Horner's have offered an online facility, enthusiasts seeing a photograph of the object on screen and bidding live.

“At the last sale 20pc of the total value was generated through the internet and we are expecting even more this time,” he said.

Mr Horner-Glister said the advent of Ebay had drawn many more young people into the world of collecting.

He said, to the best of his knowledge, Christie's was the only other auction house in the country to hold specialist corkscrew auctions.

> Collectors are invited to a preview of the corkscrews from 5.30pm on Wednesday, October 18, with cheese and wine and a pianist, proceeds from the £5 tickets going to Macmillan Cancer Relief. Call 0800 9754416.