I knew I'd found something special when a colleague who normally sells vintage postcards turned to listing corkscrews instead. She's someone I check out often, use as a role model, she regularly achieves high prices for her postcards, I've learned a lot from her. But I stood to learn - and earn - a great deal more from this new-found interest of hers: vintage corkscrews.
The very first of her offerings, a corkscrew with handle shaped like a mermaid, made over Â£1,000. Others, also with novelty and ornate handles, have fetched double figures and, from my experience, they're commonly found at offline auctions and flea markets where price tags of two or three pounds are common.
Marvel at these recent eBay finishing prices: a rare 'flip out' (misspelled, should have been flip out) made from brass and resembling a flick knife made Â£2,051.61; an Italian stirrup shaped corkscrew went for Â£2750.00; a ratchet corkscrew from 1869 fetched $1812.77, not one of which were well described or blatantly unusual.
Tips to Help You Buy and Sell Corkscrews for Profit
* Corkscrews have been around since the mid-1600s but it's those from 1850 onwards that fetch the highest prices at auction. Before this, most household objects were made to be used, not looked at, so they were plain, functional, not ornate and grandiose such as some appearing in the late 1800s which now fetch fabulous prices on eBay. So, generally speaking, the more ornate and elaborate the corkscrew the higher its price is likely to be.
* That said, I've seen very plain corkscrews priced about Â£1 a time at flea market fetching a fiver or more on eBay so it's worth buying anything that's genuinely old and very cheap. 'Dirty' usually indicates old and because few plain corkscrews become auction best sellers you'll rarely find them faked or made to look older than they really are. They're always worth buying!
* The earliest designs comprised a steel spiral fixed to a wooden handle. Subsequently handles became precious works of art, made from silver or gold, encrusted with diamonds or inlaid with ivory or mother of pearl. In time the simple spiral was replaced by mechanical devices to make opening bottles easier still, some even had a small brush attached for cleaning dust from bottles removed after years of maturing in dusty cellars. More desirable and consequently more valuable are specimens with unusual attachments such as brush or bell cap (a metal piece to fit over the bottle neck), containing precious jewels or painstaking artwork.
* The Victorians' love of all things new-fangled, somewhat risquÃ©, and heavily ornate, spawned some of the most beautiful and highly prized items. They include a multitude of corkscrews just sold on eBay, with 'Victorian' in the title, that fetched forty to eighty pounds each, and all looking rather ordinary, with simple wooden handles and commonplace screw. Similar vintage items not labelled 'Victorian' reached lower prices. That word 'Victorian' could double your corkscrew's value, as long as it's true!
* My research revealed antique French creations fetching two to three times their corresponding English manufactures.
* Add something a little unusual or with separate use and corkscrew prices rise, such as a folding antique corkscrew that fetched Â£158.00, a French creation depicting a champagne bottle with pocket knife in the handle that made Â£159.99, and a UK corkscrew shaped like ladies' legs that went for Â£185.00.
* The screw is sometimes called a 'worm' or 'helix' and was made from twisted wire or cast into shape. Because corkscrews were constantly used and in regular contact with water and alcohol, the worm on older corkscrews is frequently found broken, damaged or heavily rusted. Rust can be cleared or reduced with oil which also keeps moving parts in working order. Serious damage or sloppy repairs to screw or handle can render a common corkscrew almost worthless and will seriously reduce value of most highly prized specimens.
* The most collectible corkscrews are those with ornate handles, unusual mechanisms, popular maker's name. Precious metals add significantly to resale value. Popular makers include Merritt, Gaskell and Chambers, Lund Lever, Samuel Pemberton.
* A past famous owner increases value significantly, and there are collectors specializing solely in items once owned by the likes of Al Capone and other gangsters alongside more respected citizens such as U.S. Presidents, well known entertainers, writers, and so on. Study the long list of corkscrews with past famous owners at the Virtual Corkscrew Museum: http://www.bullworks.net/virtual/signat.htm
* As for virtually any collectible, the addition of a popular theme or subject, for instance a dog or frog depiction, a sport or hobby, leads to multiple bidders from several eBay categories and can fetch unexpectedly high prices.
By far the best corkscrew-related web site I studied values a corkscrew with rare Swedish penknife attached at Â£150 and another with a boy's head made from a golf ball at Â£170. (http://www.corkscrewcentre.com - based in Brackley, Northants, UK).
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About The Author:
Avril Harper offers Internet Marketing Articles to help new and experienced marketers and also offers a range of downloadable free reports including 103 EBAY POWERSELLER TIPS at http://www.toppco.com
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