Now, a few words about corkscrew collecting. We now have a specific word for
this "twisted" hobbys 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
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
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,
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
Aptos, California 95001
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