Recapping the corkscrew chronicle

Other than having posted an artsy image of the Walter Ruby Jim Crax corkscrew, I see that I never gave a full account of how I came to acquire that precious bit of family memorabilia. So I'll recap the start of it and then resume posting with more recent related developments.

In July 2013 I was having a lot of success finding images and resale transaction records for Ruby patent corkscrews, but so far had not had a solid lead on how to possibly acquire one. Then Google revealed that one had sold on eBay just three months earlier in April. Looking at the transaction record on eBay I found that it did not identify the buyer but that I could contact the seller. I wrote to him with my story and asking if he would identify the buyer. He did, and soon I was in touch with Robert Leopardi, who turned out to be an active collector and trader in vintage corkscrews.

Fortunately, Robert still had the piece and it was a duplicate of another in his collection, so he wrote that he would be willing to sell it to me but that he was traveling and needed to research other sales before setting a price. I also soon left on a trip and thus it took till the end of August to complete the transaction. Meanwhile, I also wrote to another collector, Josef L'Africain, who runs a blog about vintage corkscrews and had posted an item about a Knudsen corkscrew based on the Ruby patent.

This had fed my conviction that Knudsen had acquired the bottle opener design patent rights from my grandfather and then proceeded to manufacture and sell an updated version of the device. I wrote to Josef with questions and the gist of my patent-right transfer story. He got back promptly expressing interest but was also on a collecting trip in Europe. He said he would look into it later, but I didn't push him on it till some months later.

Robert got back with information on comparable sales in the range of $125-$225, and thus set his price at the midpoint, or $175. I probably could have asked him to go lower but I was more excited about owning the object. I didn't object to him making a nice profit on his earlier purchase. He had done me a service by buying it and holding it for me for a few months. I accepted his offer and made arrangements for payment and shipping. I'll describe my reactions upon receiving it in the next post.