Page 59 - The Hunt - Summer 2018
P. 59

                 Valley and along the Ohio River and its tributaries. Flasks, ice buckets, funnels, tastevins and candle holders (once used to help see sediment in the neck of a wine when it was being decanted in a dark cellar) are often of more value and interest if they are made of silver.
But the corkscrew category is the easiest place to get started in adding a touch to a cellar or bar. That’s because there were so many of them made in every wine-drinking country, and because old ones are relatively easy to find.
In fact, there are even museums dedi- cated to the diminutive devices. If you’re ever touring in Rioja, Spain, be sure to stop at the fascinating Vivanco museum outside Brionnes, where there’s also an excellent winery and restaurant. Among the other wine-related artifacts, it has a collection of thousands of corkscrews. L’Africain notes that there’s also a museum in Roma- nia that has “about 25,000” of them.
“The corkscrews that someone is most likely to find at a flea market on the East
In previous centuries when wine was sipped and not slurped, many collectors searched out wine glasses that were considered traditional to some regions.
Coast are those made starting in the 1890s by three producers: Willamson, Walker and Clough,” says L’Africain, adding that the ones by Clough were made of a single piece of wire and difficult to use. “Mostly, though, they were well made—and a lot of them were made.”
The Williamson was simplicity itself— a small, rounded wood handle vertically connected to a worm (screw) with a small metal cap at its top, with no leverage at all.
The Walker was similar, but with a more ornate cap. With the Clough puller, there is no handle at all, just a finger ring for pulling that’s an extension of the worm.
Among the rarer corkscrews out there are those manufactured by Humason & Beckley, says L’Africain. They had a non-folding foil cutter on one end of the handle. On the other was a brush to wipe away any debris from the neck of the bottle.
Of course, a huge variety of vintage cork- screws are available on websites such as eBay and Etsy. But L’Africain also recommends checking out more informational sources like Collectorcorkscrews.com and his own site, Corkscrewsonline.com. “They’re a twice- a-year auction site,” he says of the former. “But they will let you check what something is worth.” Note: The site only deals in cork- screws valued at more than $100.
Returning to his meditation on cork- screws and the fun of guessing where they came from, L’Africain pauses, then says, “That’s what I hate about bottles with screw caps.” o
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