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Cracking open the wine at Cirencester sale

20 December 2010Written by ATG Reporter

THE Robert Jones and Son second model corkscrew is perhaps the most desirable of all of the many Victorian patent corkscrews.

Registered in 1842, two years after the Cheapside, Birmingham maker issued his first corkscrew patent, it is distinguished by the two spikes partially concealed within a bronze barrel, designed to spear the cork, while the helix pulls it from the bottle.

Only a dozen or so are known - including the example sold for a record £16,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer's premium) at Christie's South Kensington in 1998 - so there was understandable excitement in the collecting community when this find from a local house clearance appeared for sale at Moore Allen & Innocent auctioneers in Cirencester on December 10.

Drawn by the £300-500 estimate and the good condition of a new discovery that retained its original and distinctive rosewood handle, it was competed first in the room to £8000 and then by two of the seven telephone bidders to £11,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer's premium).

Keeping up with the Joneses is an expensive habit, but the inventor's first corkscrew model of 1840, with a narrower barrel and a single spike, can usually be bought for something closer to £1000.

By Roland Arkell

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