Recently my wife and I decided, for a fixed period, to stop drinking wine. This went well until we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant with two friends. We decided that eating out in company could be an exception. The following week our son and his family came to stay and we decided that eating in with visitors would also count as an exception. We are searching hard for further exceptions as the corkscrew awaits our next move.

Worldwide there are a thousand patents for different types of bottle openers, but the most common remains the corkscrew. There are essentially two types; the straight pull, which relies on strength and the mechanical versions which are more sought after and more valuable.

The interest in corkscrews comes from a mixture of things, including the mechanism used such as levers, crank handles and complex concertina styles, the handles made in a variety of materials and their individual style including decorative form and advertising.

The first English corkscrew patent was taken out by Samuel Henshall in 1795 for a T-shaped straight pull and it lasted for fourteen years. Early versions of the corkscrew are very rare and can be extremely valuable.

During the 19th century many patents were taken out for a variety of different corkscrews. Examples to look out for include Robert Jones’ design of 1840, which has a brass ‘worm’ or screw and three prongs to pierce and grip the cork. Jones’ design enjoyed limited success in its day, probably because like many of today’s tin openers, it didn’t work very well. Today however it is a rare and valuable find, sometimes realising more than four figure sums in auction, if intact and in good condition.

Corkscrews of the twentieth century are less valuable, due to the simpler less appealing designs and the volume of their production, but they would be a good place to start a collection. Unusual examples with fine mechanisms or beautifully crafted versions are always worth watching out for though.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Lalique Perfume Bottles

The glass market was moving forward, old techniques such as acid etching and enamelling were being adapted to create new styles and new products to fit changing lifestyles and habits. The perfume bottle was a perfect example.

Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career designing jewellery, he began working with glass in the 1890s and opened his first glass shop in Paris on the square “Place Vendôme” in 1905. His work caught the eye of perfumer Franҫois Coty who had a shop nearby and Coty invited Lalique into a partnership initially designing labels for his perfumes and later the glass bottles. Their partnership revolutionised the perfume industry; it was the first time perfumes were packaged in distinctive bottles evocative of the fragrance contained within and it was a huge success. By the 1920s Lalique has three factories and produced exquisite perfume bottles for over 60 fashionable and desirable perfumers.

The perfume bottles in highest demand now are the more unusual or abstract with inventive designs and forms. Most bottles had modern and stylized designs following the Art Deco style. Early examples feature more flowing lines, floral designs and figural etching. Some bottles were formed in bold shapes with oversized decorative stoppers, occasionally more than one stopper could be designed for a bottle.

A 1920's Lalique Glass Perfume Bottle for Rallet s Soir. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery for £3,000
A 1920’s Lalique Glass Perfume Bottle for Rallet s Soir. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery for £3,000

Bottles that are sealed with their original contents remaining or bottles with their original outer packaging still intact are considerably more valuable and thus more popular amongst collectors. Bottles made or designed after 1945 will not feature the initial “R” in their mark as this was never used after Rene Lalique’s death. The “R” is often added to later pieces to make them appear earlier and thus more desirable, so beware.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website