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Dr. Bernard Watney

This is a short account about my late elder brother, Dr. Bernard Watney and his Corkscrew collection, part of which was auctioned by Christie's in May, 1997.
Bernard was the founder of the International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts (ICCA) in 1974.
He did an enormous amount of research into the patents of numerous corkscrew mechanisms, after becoming fascinated with Lund's Lever Corkscrew he acquired in the 1950's.  I was proudly shown this just after midnight in about 1953, when the 'phone rang after I had been in bed for 2 hours after a hard day's work on my farm at Waxham in Norfolk, U.K.
Ber had never visited me before and asked for directions to my farm from Norwich, where he was staying - he was unpredictable; fancy coming out after midnight!

Since Ber never drove a car, he acquired the efforts of a lady friend to drive him for the 21 miles or so from Norwich to my place at that unearthly hour.
I had to take him for a guided tour of all my animals, 700 pigs, 25 calves and some Romney Marsh sheep.  They drove off at about 3 a.m.  I never saw him again, until the late 1960's in Portabello Road.

My younger brother, Dr. Duncan Watney, kindly sent me a catalogue of the Christies sale detailed below:-

The Dr.Bernard Watney Collection sold by
CHRISTIE'S, South Kensington
Wednesday, 14 May 1997

Cataloge Corkscrews - Dr.Bernard Watney 14 May 1997The 479 lots sold in 4 hours - 46 lots sold for over GBP1,000 each
All 10 examples illustrated on the front of the catalogue had total maximum estimate of GBP36,000.
Lot 33 made a top price of GBP16,000, which was GBP10,000 above the house estimate !  It was described in the catalogue as :-
An English early to mid 18th century silver pocket corkscew with double
scroll swivel handle and silver intaglio monogramed seal engraved on the handle "E*H, 1st Nov 1743
the sheath engraved with later monogram and presentation inscription, A.R. for Alexandra Regina,
From the Queen Jan 1910.
Small dents on sheath, maker's punch a sheath I.R. in a fitted velvet lined fish skin case.
This corkscrew is illustrated on the front cover of the catalogue right in the centre

Lot 33 Corkscrew Collection Dr.Bernard Watney- 14 May 1997

Another corkscrew illustrated on the back cover of the catalogue was Lot 392 with an estimated sale price of GBP150 - GBP200.

Lot 392 Corscrew Collection Dr.Bernard Watney 14 May 1997


Lot 392



 This sale of part of his corkscrew collection was a triumph for Ber and when I 'phoned him on his birthday on September 6th, 1997, he was full of the joys of Spring.
The following year, 1998, I 'phoned again on his birthday, September 6th - he was not very well at that time, but little did I expect that he would pass away in just over 3 weeks.
So ends this account of a brilliant, gifted and loving elder brother, Bernard Martyn Watney.

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