A corkscrew worthy of a très cher bottle of wine.Thank you for sending me an image of one of the most spectacular corkscrews that I have ever seen! The earliest corkscrews that we know of are from 17th-century England and were used first for opening bottles of beer and cider. The corkscrew most likely came from a tool called a "gun worm," which was used to remove bullets that did not fire from the barrel of muskets. In the late eighteenth century, the first patents were granted in England. Subsequently, many different styles of corkscrews were developed over the centuries. They are still being made and perfected upon today.Most corkscrews are purely utilitarian, but many are embellished with ornamentation. Yours is basic in overall function, but is incredibly artistic. The handhold is attached to the steel helix (or worm) that screws into the cork. The basic function is that once the helix is embedded into the cork, using the handhold, and a bit of muscle, the cork is pulled out from the bottle.The ivory handhold of yours is intricately carved, featuring a snake twisting around a tree trunk with sterling silver worms and sterling silver caps bearing a monogram of a previous owner. The detail of the serpent with each scale being rendered and the open work carving is amazing. In addition, this corkscrew is in an excellent state of preservation.Your corkscrew dates to the late 19th century and I am surprised that it is not signed by the artist. With wine collecting on the rise, wine related items have also gained popularity with enthusiasts. If I was opening a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, I would want to use this opener!I would estimate your corkscrew at $5,000.
This article appears in the August 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine