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Sales Report - May 2014
The 15th ICCAuctions sale conducted by CollectorCorkscrews.com resulted in 444 sales out of 949 lots, a clearance rate of 47%. While we had a good spread of buyers (102) and sellers (57), the results were slightly below that achieved in recent years and prices generally were lower.
The sale results reflect a softer market, which was good for buyers. In recent years the market has been buoyed by strong buying from several winery and museum collectors, in particular Ion Chirescu's Bucharest museum (username “fotodeal”), which will open next year. In the May sale, though he was still very active, it was clear that he now
Supply and demand fluctuate over time. CollectorCorkscrews.com aims to encourage both supply and demand, to provide a transparent liquid market for corkscrews and promote corkscrew collecting wherever we can. The extra supply of quality corkscrews from sellers wanting to take advantage of the buoyant market seems now to have caught up with demand. Lower prices should now stimulate demand.
In the May sale there were many good buying opportunities for collectors. A wide range of classic collectible pieces, particularly at the lower end, were snapped up by dealer collectors. Standouts we noticed included a lot of 4 Perille: (Aero, Presto, Diamant & a rack, #14469) for $350, a Yankee No I bar screw for $75 (#14477), a Tucker lever for $550 (#14267), a Dowler Thomason variant for $925 (#14369), 4 codd variations $115 (#14803), a Dico US perpetual for only $135 (#15121), a Woodman patent for $900 (#15120), two brass loop openers, Preston & Williamsburg, for $60 (#14555). A dealer bought two Wiers compound levers, both with a good amount of gold wash, for $1650 (#15119) and $1613 (#14856) and 10 varied combination tools sold for $100 (#14420).
The May sale included a good range of top-end sales. Twelve pieces went for more than $4000, with the highlight being another Shrapnel 1839 UK patent, which sold for $11,000. A previous sale report (Nov 2012) featured a Shrapnel which sold for $25,200. This recent sale had a few dings on the barrel and didn't attract the same level of competition.
Interestingly this top-end range included four 18th and 19th /early 20th century Dutch silver decorative figural sheaths and two others fell just short of $4000. There was strong bidding from 4 bidders who all won at least one piece. The highest price, $6099 was for the oldest, a 1769 Lion with a separate cigar piercer (#14730). This was higher than a matching sale in 2011 (#6430) reflecting the continuing strong competition for these older pieces. A modern copy attracted much less attention and sold for “only' $278 (#14894)
Other top-end sales included an 18th century French silver sheath for $5578 (#14824), a rare Thomason with most distinctive Robert Jones badge and barrel decoration for $4753 (#14335) and a Robertson US/Canadian patented direct pressure for $7640 (#15204) . A similar piece had sold in February for $7990 (#13868).
We note that the May sale followed closely on the selected seller sale in February which featured a further 9 sales over $4000 from the Carol Johnson collection. This included a fine early 18th century French Cage. Which sold for $12,500 (#13810). Bert Giulian describes the “tire-bouchons à cage” as perhaps the most beautiful of all 18th Century corkscrews (p132 Corkscrews of the 18th century). Examples found selling in other places, are often fake or suspect at best. This is the genuine article!
Among the bargains and top-end items, the May sale featured a plenty of other unusual and rare pieces. These included
• Several unusual non-screw extractors: Call's fascinating Ideal US 1909 patent puller for $3241 (#14580), the simpler Forder 1924 UK patent for $509 (#14802) and a previously unseen 3 spike extractor for $581 (#14566).
• Rare US patented combination tools as always attracted a lot of interest: a Jenkins 1930 patent with 15 tools reached $1212 (#14493) and an American collector outlasted fotodeal to win a 1950 Nakamura US patent (together with a meat tenderiser) for $1395 (#14495)
• Some unusual figurals including a celluloid golf ball figure for $276 (#14529), a very cool dog's head horseman's tool for $2350 (#14379) and a modern plastic but still rare Kangaroo advertising piece for $200 (#14964)
• A very rare variant of the common Adelaide corkscrew. It has a 1913 Kemter& Bell UK patented cap lifter attachment (Wallis p203) It sold for $1104 (#14339)
• A Swedish Husqvanna bar screw, which reached $2890 (#15016). Bar screw prices have suffered in recent years, perhaps because of collector's storage limitations, but this one is not recorded in Meadows' Bar Screw Compendium or Screwbase.
• An interesting 1907 German DRP/DRGM 'Universal' pocket for $3487 (#14858). A spring assists the worm retraction into the sheath.
For our next sale in November, the MAKE AN OFFER feature will be removed and the Auction will revert to the previous format including an optional Second Chance.
MAKE AN OFFER was tested as a means of improving the clearance rate. Unfortunately in practice it often resulted in a standoff. Sellers inflated their starting prices and reserves, and buyers held off bidding, both in the expectation of post-auction negotiations. This problem was amplified by the soft market conditions.
The result was that, while the overall clearance rate was acceptable, a high proportion of sales (more than a third) took place in protracted post-auction negotiations and the Auction itself lost excitement and relevance.
The Auction administrators endeavor to attract the highest quality listings and provide an exciting and transparent market. While supply and demand will fluctuate, over time we believe this will enhance the site and encourage more corkscrew collecting.
While the ICCAuctions sale remains the cornerstone of the site, we are trying to add variety and interest between auctions. Six months ago we introduced a continuous BUY NOW facility, accommodating lower priced pieces, which has now sold over 400 pieces.
We will soon introduce a blog for ongoing communication. The blog is primarily intended to provide details and commentary on corkscrew sales in all markets and to provide a communication line to all the corkscrew clubs