Monday, January 5, 2009

Preparing the Corkscrew Collection

It is interesting that a device designed to perform the simple task of removing a cork from a bottle of wine has become almost an objet d' art in itself. I casually began collecting corkscrews sometime back...but now with the opening of 'The Culture of Wine' exhibit, I am researching them as a more serious collector. Once you become familiar with antique corkscrews you can quickly place them into many different categories such as; non-mechanical direct pull, mechanical, lever, pocket, concertina, folding, waiters, etc. Within each category models may range from very plain & simple to beautiful & ornate.

Depending on where a collector purchases an antique corkscrew, you may or may not need to know a few things about cleaning and caring for them. Most of the corkscrews that I have obtained are inspected and then cleaned and preserved by a method endorsed by museum conservators. First, I apply a solvent such as 'low odor' mineral spirits with a soft brush to any rusty areas. Depending on the amount of rust or dirt present, I then use a nylon or even a soft metal 'brass' brush dipped in the solvent to begin cleaning. After this step I dry the corkscrew with a soft dry rag and set the corkscrew aside to further dry for about half an hour. The next step is to wax the entire corkscrew with a special micro-crystalline wax called 'Renaissance Wax'. This wax is applied as an additional cleaner and a protectant. It drys very quickly and once buffed alittle it leaves a very nice luster finish.

Once finished the corkscrews are placed in archival boxes for storage. For the exhibit, a selection of various groupings will be displayed in acrylic wall cases. Many of my personal favorites were produced in England and France between 1850 and 1930. Below is a "Farrow & Jackson' champagne knife from London, England circa 1900.