The Virtual Corkscrew Museum's Weekly Newspaper
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
From the desk of the editor:
Some time ago I stopped writing to eBay sellers who had published incorrect information about the corkscrews they were offering. The responses too often came back as rude with such comments as "Who the hell do you think you are?" I gave up. Others who encountered the same responses also gave up. Afterall, we aren't the eBay police, are we?!
But ... after seeing a photo similar to the above and reading this title I couldn't resist:
RARE ANTIQUE TREEN CHAMPAGNE CORK EXTRACTOR/CORKSCREW
The description read "A rare antique cork extractor( corkscrew) with turned wood ( oak ) or treen handle measuring 8.3 in (210 mm) in length. When the screw thread is turned, the spring loaded arms are clamped around the cork, which can the be removed by pulling. It is in good working condition and the handle is impressed MILLINGTON & MILLERS PATENT No 106080 1905 ( some numbers difficult to read). An interesting item for someones collection or use."
And it is closing on December 18, 2009 at 10:30:05 PST. As of this writing, it has ten bids and the high bid is GBP 34.01. I hope none of the savvy readers of The Weekly Screw are amongst those bidders!
I dashed off this message to the seller: "Have you looked at the patent? This is not a cork extractor. This is light socket changer*."
The seller responded "Thanks for your e-mail. I have not looked at the patent. I was told some time ago that it was a light socket changer but saw one very recently listed on e-bay that just sold as a cork extractor so thought that must be the case. I suppose it can function as either and will have to let people make up their own minds. Kind regards, Barbara"
That irresponsible response got my dander up and I sent this message: "This is not a corkscrew or cork extractor and YOU KNOW that. So why are you being dishonest?"
The seller responded "You have told me one thing and someone listed one previousely as a cork extractor. If it functions as a cork extractor, that seems O.K to me."
I give up!
What do you think? Are you one of the bidders? Will you be cancelling your bid?
And more important: Would the seller realize a greater price if she listed it correctly?
*Actually it is a "Shade Ring Pincers" Albert Hugh Miller and Frederick Millington applied for the British patent on May 20, 1905. Patent Number 10608A was published on March 8, 1906.
If you collect Shade Ring Pincers, this is a buying opportunity.
I can confirm its a light socket tool, I've been using a similar one for years - they are very useful for rewiring a chandelier for example, and the only way I could get hold of this type of a tool was by doing the 'champagne cork extractor' search. And yes, I feel due to the way it was listed, I paid more than I should. They don't make them any more, or at least I haven't found a new one, so i use an all metal, rather pitted 'cork extractor'-NOT! They would typically be used for: mounting the shades on a new chandelier, changing the shades to match a newly decorated room, replacing a broken shade, checking the wiring on one connector if a bulb does not light, changing the wiring.
What an opportune time to receive the latest The Weekly Screw! I have one of those items and had not considered that it might not be a champagne cork puller as I have seen a couple desribed as such go through Ebay recently (one fetching £122.00) and also found a record of one selling through an auction house in 2005 (described as a Millington & Millers 1905 champagne cork puller). Also a well-known corkscrew collector also identified it as one. Thinking about it though, it would be a very cack-handed device to remove a cork and I had wondered why anyone would ever have wanted one for that particular use. Now I know - they didn't! I had planned to put mine on Ebay just after Christmas so I am mighty glad that I have seen your article as I would have hated to have mislead anyone. I will now be looking for a Shade Ring Pincer collector!
Thanks for your The Weekly Screw No.589. Some years ago at an Antique Fair in Newark, England, I also noticed an Antique Champagne Cork Extractor for sale with an astromical price. I was so annoyed about it that I decided to approach the stall holder selling the item and mentioned as you did, that it was an electrical light socket remover. I nearly got my head bitten off from the man and I was told to mind my own business and to keep my mouth shut when I had no idea of what the item was. I have since given up trying to convert other peoples minds if I think they have falsely tagged or described an item as you did in Ebay. I think your approach to inform the serious collectors through The Weekly Screw, as the most appropriate way.
Happy to see you are PERSECUTING fraudulent people. I have sent Barbara my first mail.(will send her a few more) Perhaps we all should play a 'police role' by pestering such people. Sending some mails with stupid questions to keep them occupied, for then telling them what we mean, could be some fun. Here is the message I sent:
This looks as a very nice corkscrew. I am very intersted but before I put a bid, I would like to know if you have tried it. I intend to use it for New Year but it could be rather embarrasing if it does not work well. You know, with all the guest around watching. Hope to hear from you soon so I can put in a bid.
©2009 Don Bull, Editor