The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 1, 1998 · Page 30
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 30

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, April 1, 1998
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Page 30
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4 WEDNESDAY. APRIL 1. 1998 APPLAUSE THE SALINA JOURNAL Avid Collectors Enjoy Corkscrews Christa Worthington N.Y. Times News Sennce For more than 300 years, inventors have tried to come up with the perfect corkscrew. And yet, from the bent nail to the space-age cork puller with a Teflon- coated screw, none has achieved the precise combination of delicacy, strength and handiness needed to draw corks without occasionally breaking one. Still, the long march toward refinement has gone on, with the ordinary corkscrew taking extraordinarily diverse forms. The simplest extract the cork by turning a handle. Others use rack-and-pinion winches or double levers, which fire the cork out of the bottle like a missile. Eighteenth-century pocket corkscrews have the prettiness of charms, handmade in gilded steel and precious metals. Most unpredictable are combination tools in which corkscrews are attached, with a Boy Scout's eye for preparedness, to other implements: knives, smokers' paraphernalia, culinary and grooming aids, and brushes for dusting off bottle labels. ; A dozen • pocket-size instruments hang from the 18th- century tool kit called a folding bow — a corkscrew and a hprse hoof pick among them. ; "Corkscrews are as diverse as snowflakes," says one ardent collector, Joseph Younf, a doctor in Elgin, 111. "Some are works of art. Others are mechanically beautiful. The more you get into it, the more you realize you haven't seen them all, no matter how long you've been collecting." Relics of hospitality, and sexual in symbolism, corkscrews attract a largely male, self-mocking crowd of wine and tool enthusiasts, given to puns about their "twisted" obsession. They are known to amass 4,4)00 corkscrews in a single collection, maintain vanity Web sites and participate with gusto in two collectors' clubs. The International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts, a group formed in 1974, is limited to 50 collectors who must periodically present photographs of their six best corkscrews to remain in good standing. • And the Canadian Corkscrew Collectors' Club has 2,000 members worldwide. At meetings of both groups, a ribald 18th-century poem, "The Bottle-Skrue. A Tale," is often heard. ; Timothy Diener, a Christian Brother and retired Napa Valley vineyard keeper, is their patron saint, having founded the corkscrew addicts' club. His 1,600 corkscrews are on display at the Culinary Institute of America's West Coast campus in St. Helena, Calif. ; In sync with the booming interest in wine and cigars, the corkscrew market has come into its own. Since 1994, Christie's in London has held sales devoted to corkscrews twice a year. Last year, an 18th-century English pocket corkscrew, with a 1910 inscription from Qiueen Alexandra, sold for a record $29,000. Early European designs like the rare French cage in cut steel (circa 1685) are now expertly faked. Prototypes of patents that weren't widely produced fetch $5,000 to $10,000. Still, corkscrews can be bought at auction at prices starting at $150, and valuable ones are available at flea markets for less. With corkscrews, there are so many aspects that interest collectors," says Dr. Bertrand Giulian, author of "Corkscrews of the 18th Century: Artistry in Iron and Steel" and a collector. "The function, the beauty of them especially in precious metals, the combinations of these corkscrews with gun tools, smokers' tools, with knives — all that has drawn in a lot of collectors. Most appealing is the corkscrew's association with wine, which has its own mystique." A descendant of the gun worm, a long twisted tool used to manipulate fodder in firearms from the 16th century, the corkscrew might have been improvised by thirsty hunters in the field trying to get into a bottle. Until the bottle cap was invented in 1891, all sorts of containers were corked. Corkscrews were made in miniature to open medicine and fragrance bottles, but they were engineered for the more difficult removal of the stoppers used for alcoholic beverages. Performance depended on the design of the steel screw, which had to apply up to a ton of pressure. By the late 17th century, the ancient practice of aging wine, lost after the fall of the Roman Empire, was back in fashion and in need of technical adjustment. Dom Perignon, the French monk who discovered champagne, tested stoppers and cork closures. But not until the glass industry was standardized was real progress made. The cylindrical bottle replaced the bulbous one and could be stored on its side. Corks had to be pressed flush and deep inside a longer bottleneck to avoid leakage and spoilage, and only corkscrews could get them out. The first patent was awarded in England in 1795 to the eccentric Rev. Samuel Henshall, a convicted debtor whose scholarly writings were deemed gibberish. His T-shaped corkscrew created suction with the cork, thereby releasing it more easily. By the 19th century, patents and mechanisms multiplied, and corkscrews were pumped out by the millions from the steel mills of Birmingham. Mighty corkscrews attached to counters in bars and taverns quickly bore trade names like Rapid and Hero. Handles became billboards for commercial establishments, and Americans produced their own patented corkscrews. Today, the worm is made of strong, high-tensile steel, allowing the screws to be even more slender. The greatest contribution to the industry in this century has been the Screwpull, invented by a Texan, the late Herbert Allen. With an antifriction coating on its helical screw that reduces the turning force required, it is the only corkscrew to be called near perfect. ATTENTION SALINA A \c\\ 2O% (.1 EVERYDAY ; 11 \s; iN s S//o/.i I hi' DON LOADER INTERIORS k l I >|M ii Mi 111 III 'I "• 11111 I ><>u nlou M S.ihn.i a*" ~*? • ,TJ JifeUI IIJN S.MII.I I, S^.MM.-il, ^la S | 0 ,9a.y Gifts, Figurines, Children^ Toys SmolivHill MUSEUM GIFT STORE = J* B= ^ 211 West Iron Tties.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5 ^U •Home Awnings 'CsrpoH.l •Business Awnings 'Lateral Ahn Awnings •Entrance Canopies •tfcrps, Sun Shades •Patio Covers 'Livestock Curtains Tbll Free l-888<8i2S^280 llOOW.GrandBldg.I Salina,KS (785)825-5280 We can provide Information about qualifying for DISCOUNTS ON YOUR INSURANCE PREMIUMS Ask about Shelter's LIFE. CAR, HOME, FARM AND BUSINESS coverages too Jean Curry 2737 Belmont 823-5129 We'll always be there for you. Shelter Insurance Cos., Home Office: Columbia, Mo. INTERNATIONAL Magnetic Water m , conditioning Use Less Soap Improves Water Flow •Dissolves Scale •No Chemicals or Elec. 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Even after your purchase, If you find a lower price during the lifetime of the product, we'll refund the difference. Our Lifetime Price Guarantee does not apply when the price Includes a bonus or rebate or free offers, special financing or rebate, or to competitors' one- of-a-klnd, damaged or used product for resale, or other limited quantities offers. 0|ir Lifetime Price Guarantee Is'excluded on cellular phones, computers, DSS/DBS product and pagers. Not responsible for typographical errors. Some Items have limited quantities, Limited One Sale Item Per Family. KEYAVE. 2545 Market Place, Sallna, KS 67401 Across From Mid-State Plaza 785-823-1002 • 1-800-766-2162 For Current Accurate Weather Information the Salina Journal

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