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Published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, of Atglen, PA, US and distributed in Europe by Bushwood Books,
6 Marksbury Road, Kew Gardens, Surrey TW9 4JF. Tel: 0181 392 8585. (324, large hb, many colour illus). ISBN 0-7643-0701-0. £69.95.

DESCRIBED in a Antiques Trade Gazette report in October last year as a mature and full-bodied marketplace, corkscrew collecting came of age at Christie’s September 22 sale when the most coveted patent of them all, an example of the Robert Jones 1842 second registered corkscrew no. 1913 sold for £16,000, a record price then for any patent corkscrew; the same sum was paid by an Italian collector for an early 18th century English silver folding corkscrew and seal offered as part of the Bernard Watney Collection in 1997. Not for using on Thresher’s finest, one thinks.

There are a number of books on corkscrews; among the best are Bertrand B. Giuilian’s Corkscrews of the Eighteenth Century, published in 1995 by White Space Publishing, PA, Fletcher Wallace’s British Corkscrew Patents from 1795, Vernier Press, Brighton, 1997 and Bernard Watney and Homer Babbidge’s Corkscrews for Collectors, published by Philip Wilson, London in 1981. The Ultimate Corkscrew Book is in a class of its own.

There is a selection at the end of the book of corkscrew places, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida and Corkscrew Hill in Co. Clare and some rather jolly corkscrew trivia including corkscrews translated – Probotschnik (Russian) and Cai Monut Chai (Vietnamese) and a quote from Keith Floyd, no stranger to the corkscrew himself and here memorably described as “a BBC chef” who said: “A kitchen without a corkscrew is merely a room”.

Written by Don A. Bull, who in 1993 was the Right (yes, that’s right), the Leader of the exclusive and influential International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts which is limited to only 50 worldwide members, the book’s inside back cover shows a portrait of Mr Bull holding the only known example of Read’s Coaxer, which he owns. Thomas Read was a cutler in Dublin in the 18th century, c.1790, and the reference to the Coaxer ($Rare) appears in the Wood section; just after Williamson’s Opens Everything.

This marvellously photographed book contains an enormous range of this “twisted” collecting area – over 3600 illustrated, well-documented examples with current US market values – a real Everyman’s Guide to Corkscrews. And they all come from Mr Bull’s own collection. In four parts covering Eclectic Corkscrews, Figural Corkscrews, Corkscrew Knives and Miscellaneous (Go-Withs and Not Corkscrews) we are offered a highly diverse array of “scrues”, from the mundane to the very rare
and including some of the most vicious-looking corkscrew knives ever invented. Corkscrews antique, modern, iron, plastic, simple, complex, fancy and plain, they’re all here and one of the most comprehensive collections ever amassed is presented in a most user friendly way, as are so many of the Schiffer books.