From cartridge loader to corkscrew

One of the more unusual corkscrews to come onto what is a fiercely competitive collectors’ market recently was a brass, steel and wooden contraption of the type one may have seen clamped to the bar of fin-de-siècle brasseries.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Terence Ryle

French corkscrew by Michel Durafour – £8000 at Mallams.

Offered at Mallams’ (20% buyer’s premium) Abingdon rooms on December 3, it was stamped with the French patent mark Breveté SGDG and the maker’s initials MD.

Michel Durafour, a Saint-Etienne manufacturer who worked from 1890-1902, was plainly an inventive recycler: the corkscrew was originally a rifle cartridge loader which had been converted into this device with a wooden handle and thumbscrew twist grip.

Rare enough to be extremely difficult to catalogue, it was given a speculative £50-80 estimate. Wide competition came down to two determined bidders, an online Continental bidder and a London dealer. Victory went to London via the phone at £8000.