The Oldest Corkscrew Collectors’ Society in the World
About Corkscrew Collecting
Now, a few words about corkscrew collecting. We now have a specific word for this “twisted” hobby’s participants, s/he is an “Helixophile“. There are many reasons people collect corkscrews, or anything else for that matter. For most it starts with the appreciation of wine, then the amazement of the variety of designs to accomplish, what appears to be at first glance, a simple task – removing the cork from a bottle. One wonders why people would be motivated to invent such complex mechanisms, such costly devices and in so many forms. Then, the thirst for knowledge about the history of corkscrews takes over and finally the true helixophile succumbs to the need to acquire examples which are new and interesting to them. Collectors pursue many specialties in collecting, some collect patented pieces, some just the output of a single country, some the beautiful fruits of the silver and goldsmith’s art while others specialize in early, handmade steel pieces. Many are just “addicted” to corkscrew collecting. In the words of one of our past Rights, Ron MacLean: “I have never met a corkscrew I did not like”. Or this by another former Right, Joe Paradi: “Corkscrew collecting isn’t a life and death affair – it is more than that!”.
Information on Corkscrew Collecting
The hobby has reached worldwide proportions now and rare pieces are auctioned twice a year by the prestigious auction house in London, Christie’s. The ICCA has its own auction held as part of the yearly get togethers and lively bidding sees several hundred corkscrews changing hands among the members. During the year, between meetings, there is correspondence, trades arranged and visits when one addict is in another’s town on some occasion. The group is very closely knit, many are dedicated to research and advancing the knowledge about corkscrews. There have been several books authored by ICCA members starting with the “bible” of corkscrew collecting, by Dr. Watney and Dr. Babbidge. This was followed by many more books and you can see a complete set on one of the webpages here, just click here.
The ICCA membership is fixed at fifty and there is a waiting list. Persons desiring to become members should make application to the Right. Such application should include size and nature of their collection, the number of years collecting, how addiction was developed, any research done, special interests, names of members personally known and some biographical information. A photograph and detailed description of what the applicant regards as his/her six best corkscrews should be enclosed. Research is highly regarded as membership eligibility as the ICCA has as one of its goals of finding and disseminating corkscrew related information.
Membership by Country
As of October 2011 membership included addicts from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States.
Right – It was decreed at the first meeting of the ICCA held in 1974 that the leader of the group is to be known as “Right” (After all, anyone would rather be Right than be President, was the theory). Brother Timothy (the famous Cellar master of the Christian Brothers winery in the U.S.A.) was elected as the first Right of the ICCA.
Chief Correspondent – his duties are to keep up the “correspondence” between the “addicts” of the ICCA.
Chaplain – his duties are quite straightforward – keep the faith in the ICCA.
Treasurer and Editor of the Bottle Scrue Times are appointed at the Annual Meeting. The BST is currently issued on a periodic basis, 3 or 4 times per year by the editor. Former editors are: Don Bull, Dr. Joseph C. Paradi and Dr. Frank Ellis.
Honorary and Associate Members
The “honorary” title is sometimes bestowed as decided by the Right and usually conferred on someone who has accomplished notable things in or for the ICCA – there are 7 such members at this time. The “associate” member is someone who is either given up active collecting but was a long time ICCA member and wants to stay connected to the organization or not actually a collector but is instrumental in advancing corkscrew collecting – an example may be an expert at an auction house. Associate members could also be spouses of deceased addicts if they were invited to be associate members (and they desired to be one).
Members are required to send a “Six Best” to all other members each year. The Six Best (sometimes more or less than six corkscrews are pictured) consists of a photograph and an appropriate description of the corkscrews shown – it is customary to do research prior to describing the pieces in the photo. A Best Six must be submitted two out of three years. A member must attend at least one Annual General Meeting every three years. Ideally, addicts will attend every meeting. Some research and “correspondence” about corkscrews are also activities expected of a member.
Annual dues are currently fixed at $150.00 U.S. funds. Dues are payable, in advance, to the treasurer by December 31 to apply for the following year.
Homer Babbidge – Awarded annually to an addict for exceptional research about corkscrews.
Frank MacDonald – Presented to an individual who publishes the best SIX BEST for the year.
Robert P. Nugent – Presented annually to the individual who submitted the best corkscrew story or material to the Bottle Scrue Times.
Bernard Watney Medal – Presented to an individual who had made a substantial contribution to corkscrew literature, website or other such endeavour. See the current list here.
During the early 1970’s a number of people were already collecting corkscrews, a little known hobby at the time. Through some series of coincidences, Dr. Bernard Watney, a physician working for the Guinness Brewery in London and Dr. Homer Babbidge, a professor at the Hartford Graduate School, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A. got together and decided to form a corkscrew collectors club. They recruited a number of others and set the club’s maximum membership at 25. The next year it was expended to 35 and then again to the present limit of 50. At this first meeting, officers’ duties were defined and members elected. The association’s structure has stayed constant during its first quarter century. The 25-th year celebrations were held in London, England, where all this began in 1974.
1974 October 1. The ICCA was officially founded this day with the first meeting organized and hosted by Dr. Bernard Watney and held at the Guinness Brewery, London, England. This inaugural meeting was followed annually by meetings held in other places and hosted by different addicts and the venues alternated generally between North America and Europe:
– Again, in 1975, the AGM was hosted by Dr. Watney at the Guinness Brewery, London England.
– The 1976 meeting was hosted by Brother Timothy at Mont La Salle, Napa, California.
– 1977 saw addicts in England again hosted by Dr. Watney.
– And the 1978 meeting was hosted by Alf Erickson and Peter McLennen at the Lauderdale Yacht Club, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A.
– The, in 1979 they were back to England hosted by Dr. Watney again.
– Then, the 1980 AGM was arranged by Dr. Babbidge at the Hartford Graduate Centre, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.
– 1981 was hosted by Dr. Watney and Evan Perry at the Horsham Town Hall, West Sussex, England.
– The AGM of 1982 was hosted by Don Morway at Seven Pines Estate, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
– 1983 was the year when other members began to host meetings this year was hosted by Francis Hutchinson at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, Isle of Wight, England.
– 1984 had the first one held on the continent, in France, at the Hotel de L’Univers, Tours, France. The group stayed in Europe for the following year.
– So the 1985 affair was hosted by Heinz ten Doornkaat at the Excelsior Hotel, Cologne, Germany.
– The 1986 AGM was hosted by Brother Timothy and Jack Preiss at the Sheraton Hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California.
– In 1987 the meeting went to Italy, hosted by Paolo DeSanctis at the Abbey of Coltebuono in Tuscany. Members attending were treated to a magnificent historic tour together with some of the best food and wine that Perugia, Italy has to offer.
– The 1988 event returned to North America, it was held in Canada for the first time, hosted by Claude Hardy at the Hotel Chateau Champlain, Montreal, Canada. As it is the case, North American cities do not have the depth of history that Europe has, hence the monuments and ruins are but a few centuries old, but Montreal did offer some of the Old World charm and the outstanding Quebec hospitality that rivals anything anywhere in the World. Claude’s collection of corkscrews and his even larger collection of wines received due attention.
– After a five year absence, the meeting returned to England in 1989 and was hosted by the English members at Reform Club, Pallmall, London, England. A typical London meeting included the trip to the Saturday antique show on Portobello Road and wonderful corkscrews the English contributed to the corkscrew world.
– As Italy was so much fun, Paolo DeSanctis, Maurizio Fantoni and Piero Giacomini hosted the 1990 event at the Metropole Hotel, Venice, Italy, but the tour started in Zurich, Switzerland where Hans Seleger hosted the first day. There were many memorable events at this outstanding AGM including Piero’s corkscrew and his wife’s antique museums and the “light lunch” that lasted four hours – we found out later that this lunch was actually an Italian wedding feast!! And then came Venice, you had to be there to appreciate what a wonderful trip this was.
– Back to the U.S. in 1991 where the meeting was hosted by Don Bull at the Beekman Arms Inn, Rhinebeck, New York. Aside from his usual fun and games, we visited the Hudson Valley based Culinary Institute of America where we were treated to a sumptios feast and plenty of wine from the region.
– The 1992 AGM was hosted by Per Ekman and Bjørn Bendigtsen at Holmenkollen Hotel, Oslo, Norway. The typical Northern hospitality was evident in every aspect of this AGM, highlighted by the crayfish dinner in a tent with plenty of Aquavit served.
– In 1993 the ICCA Annual Meeting returned to Canada and was hosted by Ron MacLean and Joe Paradi at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto, Ontario with visits to the Seagram’s Museum, Niagara Falls and other points of interest. Both hosts had the group over to their houses to show their collection and the events included great food and wine at both. The black tie Gala Dinner is still a topic of discussion as the seven course “Canadian” dinner was a great hit.
– Portugal was the next stop in 1994, hosted by Adolfo Roque at Hotel Altis, Lisbon, Portugal. But we also visited Porto and museums and had a fabulous dinner at Adolfo’s house. The Right’s robe was acquired on this trip by hook and crook (the usual Don Bull effort as he was Right then) from the wine guild that Adolfo was a member of.
– The U.S. meeting held in 1995 was arranged by Fred Andrew, Michael Sharp and Jack Bandy in California. This was a show of the beauty of the great western parts on the U.S. A very different but very educational and fun venue.
– The year 1996 saw the meeting in Spain, hosted by Xavier Garcia-Ruano in Barcelona, Spain. With typical Spanish flair and outstanding food, Xavier and his family kept us busy and in wonderful spirits and full of great food.
– In 1997 the addicts assembled in Avignon, France where the meeting was hosted by Yves Rousset-Rouard, Yves owns a vineyard in Ménerbes at the Domaine de la Citadelle where he has a world famous corkscrew museum and offered a memorable dinner on the premises, the food was typical French excellence and, need we say, there was plenty of great wines too.
– The 1998 AGM was the 25-th assembly, the ICCA’s Silver Anniversary, was held in London, hosted by three members: Frank Ellis, Bernard Masson and Gregory Taylor. Once again, Portobello Road played a centre part, but the Gianni Giachin corkscrew collection at the Victoria and Albert museum was also on display.
– Philadelphia was the venue for the 1999 AGM. Members Howard Luterman and Bert Giulian hosted the meeting with participation from Don Morway. The Intercontinental hotel was the main venue and Howard’s and Bert’s corkscrew collections and their hospitality were the highlights. We saw the Liberty Bell and much of early American history.
– Wartburg, Germany was the Centennial, year 2000, AGM venue hosted by Dr. Wolfgang Händel and his Go-With, Kirsten with assistance from Klaus Biermann and Klaus Pumpenmeier. The venue was the Wartburg Castle and the food and cultural components were simply superb. German food and wine was plentiful and wonderful. Corkscrew displays and a visit to the Monopol factory kept all corkscrew addicts in the game.
– Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.A. was the location for the first AGM in the new millennium, 2001. It was hosted by Ken and Marcie Hark assisted by Joe and Monika Paradi. The uninvited guest was Hurricane Michelle. But Miami is a wonderful city and it is in the middle of the Everglades where we vsited on air boats and saw alligator wrestling and many other wonders of the region. For a day, the party moved to West Palm Beach and the local monthly antique show followed by lunch at the Paradi winter home in the PoloClub.
– Maastricht, the Netherlands was the site of the excellent AGM for 2002 very ably organized and hosted by Ferd and Mariet Peters. Corkscrews, wonderful sites and fellowship characterized this meeting.
– Roanoke and Smith Mountain Lake in the U.S. was the next stop for a fabulous AGM for 2003 hosted by Bonnie and Don Bull. The highlight was the collection at Don Bull’s house an the Bob Roger museum of wine related items, but the various side-trips were worth the visit on their own. Needless to say the Bulls served up the hospitality they are well known – appreciated by all.
-Stockholm was our destination for the 2004 AGM. Buster Berntson and Per Ekman organized this outstanding meeting. An excellent collection of Scandinavian corkscrews were displayed with most of the Scandinavian members contributing their best pieces. The “Ice Bar” was on everyone’s list of “must see” and, of course, taste the libations offered there.
– For the 2005 AGM, and for the first time its history, the ICCA had partially taken over the Princess cruise ship for a trip to Alaska. The ICCA invited all other corkscrew clubs to participate and Fred O’Leary, the organizer for this AGM had initiated a comprehensive “Scrue University” with many presentations and learning opportunities for corkscrew addicts. The exquisite trip from Vancouver, Canada to Alaska, U.S.A. will not be forgotten by anyone who was there. And there were many people as most attendees brought their extended families on this once-in-a-lifetime event.
– The 2006 AGM went “Down Under” to Sydney, Australia – arranged by Nick Hunt, a fabulous time was had by everyone. While it was a long trip, it was well worth it. We had marvelled at the natural beauty of this great Country and its modern face as represented by the Sydney Opera House – and much-much more!
– For the first time, the 2007 AGM was held in two Countries, arranged by two addicts – Dr. Wolfgang Händel(Hand-Right) and Dr. Joseph C. Paradi (Pro-Right). Wolfgang arranged for a wonderful view of Vienna, from the Lippizaners, to the Castle, from the Wiener Snitzel to the bratwurst. Food, entertainment and wine were all extraordinary and the Grinzig corkscrew collection was excellent also. The train journey to Budapest in the Kaiser’s coach topped it all off. But this was just the first half, then Joe took over and from the beauty of Budapest straddling the Danube to the hot Hungarian dancers, we had food, drinks, opera, a taste of what communism was all about, the magnificent Parliament and shopping galore. The event was an outstanding success and all loved it (the Portuguese especially).
– In 2008 the AGM was held in the historic Williamsburg, VA location in the U.S. Paul Luchsinger hosted an excellent meeting that had lots of U.S. history, great vistas and a great selection of excellent corkscrews on display. The excellent wine and food was appreciated by all. Those in attendance gained a better appreciation of U.S. history and pioneer days on the young Country.
– The 2009 AGM was held in London, England and had a number of firsts for the addicts present. There was a dedication of a plaque commemorating Reverend Henshall who patented the first corkscrew in Great Britain – this is now displayed in the church where the Reverend preached in those days. The highlight was the first time awarding of the Watney medal to anyone who had made a meritorious contribution to the corkscrew world. This medal is not an ICCA only event, anyone, whether they belong to a corkscrew club or not, can qualify for the award.
– Vermont, USA saw our group for the 2010 AGM. Burlington, VT, is a very scenic city with a stunning surrounding countryside which was in full Fall foliage – a riot of colour everywhere you looked. One of the many highlights was the wine opening speed contest that included a Screwpull, an air injector and a shoe?? A riveting presentation on American Corkscrew Patent details was followed by the viewing of Fred’s corkscrews of one of the best such collections assembled anywhere. Visiting a winery and the great Shelburne Museum was followed by a fabulous sunset dinner cruise on Lake Champlain.
– Back to Europe for 2011, to Thessaloniki, Greece, where Evangelos Gerovassiliou hosted the AGM. Words fail to do credit to this trip. The ancient tombs in Vergina, the boat trip to see the monks’ habitat and the outstanding lunch cooked by one of the monks were just some of the fare on offer. Evangelos’ corkscrew and wine collectible museum wowed us all. Then the gala dinner was prepared in the garden of the winery (by now the most famous Greek winery). The food was outstanding and the wine superb. The cultural show they put on will not be forgotten any time soon.
– In 2012 the AGM returned to North America where addict Josef L’Aricain and his lovely wife sue had organised an excellent show in Chicago – the jewel of the U.S. mid-west. There were many highlights on this trip, the canal architectural tour is worth repeating as there were so many things to learn that we could not take it all in. Other historic sites were also seen, the site of the millenium park and the guided tour of “The Devil in the White City”. The food was excellent and the steaks at Smith & Wollensky were simply superb! But we were treated to two excellent presentations by Don Bull on Chicago’s corkscrew history: The Incomplete Corkscrew Story and John Morris’ Newly Discovered American Patents, plus Josef L’Africain brought a showcase full of rare American corkscrews. It was a memorable event and it showed off one of the Americal jewels of a city.
The “official” language of the ICCA is English, although there are a number of Europeans who communicate in French with each other and French speaking North Americans when their English gives out.
517 Lakehaven Circle
Decatur, TN 37322
Ragnesminde Alle 36
P.O. Box 386
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P.O. Box 432
Vinalhaven, ME 04863
Dr. Bernard Watney
Dr. Homer Babbidge
Robert P. Nugent
Perry A. Howland
Dr. David Bradshaw
Dr. Joseph C. Paradi
Dr. Wolfgang Händel
Dr. Bert Gulian