Robin Butler on Twitter

March 2014

Spring is in the air; the wet winter is a distant memory!  Nature has treated us to early flowers and trees blossoming everywhere.  It is even warm enough to walk the dog without extra layers of clothing.  Utter joy!

On the business side, we are developing fresh concepts to roll out in the near future - all very exciting!  You will be kept informed.  In the meantime, there are fresh additions to my website.

 The Chinese market for wine and spirits is a very fast-growing one and I was recently approached to offer some of my stock on the Hong Kong market via a very top-end auction house. I accepted the offer on very good terms as they wanted to expand the accessories aspect of their sales.  As a starting gesture, I offered a dozen pieces, some of which I sold for considerably more than I was asking on my website.  That in itself says volumes about my offering good value.  I will probably repeat the process if the terms remain as favourable.  Watch this space... .

Corkscrews are very much an aspect of my business, but you may well be wondering why I do not have a substantial holding in them*.   The answer is really quite simple: they have become highly collected.  When a collecting craze gets out of hand - and that happens quite often in collecting circles - prices escalate to a level where fakery becomes an attractive focus for those with that sort of mind!    It has occurred in the world of corkscrew collecting.

* Unlike wine funnels, which are an expanding area of my stock-holding. 

When antiques sell for considerably more than their intrinsic value, they are often the target of fraudsters and fakers.  Articles are put together from 'spare parts' with varying degrees of skill and usually with the object of deceiving collectors.  Sometimes they are made from a collection of old parts, more often they are new but with applied 'patination' to give the impression of age while others are an adaptation of a genuine piece but recently 'enhanced' to increase the value.

The amateur collector is usually excited by the unusual and the excitement can so easily blind him or her to shortcomings.  However, experienced professionals 'have seen it all before' and know what to look for.  It is for this reason that with my 50+ years' experience, I am able to guarantee everything I sell to be as described.  No auction house and few dealers do that, and it is worth remembering that eBay is one source where tricksters flourish! 

I recently gave a lecture to The Glass Circle - the senior academic study group for glass, both antique and modern. The Circle's secretary asked for a transcript of my talk to précis it for publication and turning into a PDF. I was delighted to receive it back in illustrated and attachable form this morning. It is available to anyone who would like to read it. Please e.mail me to receive a copy.

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