May in Florida

After April

May 2005

Sunday, May 1, 2005

I have just received this sad news about one of our corkscrew collectors:

Dear (corkscrew) Addicts,

It is with regret that I announce the death of Jan Ekman. I have just been informed by Per and Christina that he died on 26 April after a long illness.

Jan was one of the founders of the ICCA. I never had the honor of meeting him, but know how highly he was regarded. The tales of his generosity and congeniality are well known, and his massive corkscrew collection was legendary.

I hope that some of you members who knew him personally may be able to share some of your remembrances of Jan for the BST.

We all send our condolences and thoughts to Per and Christina.


Sunday, May 1, 2005 (continued)

Though I first met Jan Ekman in 1976 when I joined the ICCA it was not until the summer of 1981 that I had a chance to visit his home in Malmo, Sweden, to see his fabulous corkscrew collection.

It was in August ... the time of the year when the Swedes import vast quantities of crawfish from Turkey. Anyway Jan and his wife invited me for dinner ... to taste some of this Nordic tradition.

I was in Copenhagen at the time and Malmo, though in Sweden, was only about an hour away by high speed ferry. Now there is a long bridge (*) that makes the crossing much quicker, but it is far less colorful and romantic than the old way.

Anyway, I took the early afternoon ferry from Denmark to Sweden. For the balance of the afternoon and deep into the evening Jan escorted me through his vast collection; many of his pieces were unique to Scandinavia and rare to him. But, like all of us, even he had a 'junk' box. At the time that these photos were taken Jan was already planning to move to a larger house as his collection had outgrown his current quarters.

After we 'played' we had that legendary seafood feast ... washed down with Swedish beer. Later on we finished the evening off with glasses of Porter.

At the end of the night Jan took me by taxi (**) back to the ferry ... and I caught the last boat back to Copenhagen.

It was a day I shall always remember. And he is a man I shall always remember.

His collection is in good hands: his son, Per.

(*) Incidentally, on one of the corkscrew balloon trips our 'flying' group either drove across this bridge or we viewed it from afar. Paul might have a picture of it somewhere. (He also has an earlier picture of a bridge that we all mistakenly thought, at the time, was this one.)

(**) Even in 1981 Sweden had one of the strictest DUI laws in the world. I think a .05 would have turned you into a lifetime pedestrian.

Monday, May 2, 2005

From the horse and buggy to the horseless carriage the corkscrew has always tried to keep up with the times.

These two sterling silver cylindrical pieces are [1] a (horse-drawn) carriage key and [2] a corkscrew. When not wanted for immediate use the screw or the carriage key folds or slides neatly into the 'garage' side of their respective cylinders. Thus, when so closed they resemble a pair of silver suppositories (for easy carriage?).

This particular automobile key (also, in sterling silver) only needs the grinding wheel of the locksmith before it is ready to perform its secondary function: starting the engine. It is also fitted with a cap lifter in case the driver wants to drink something soft.

PS: Some wonderful follow-up trivia on America's favorite Runaway Bride ... and don't you love the computer generated advertising links ... and will the person who jumped for the Pyrex mixing bowls (set of 3) please stand up as the couple may want to shave the guest list if they reschedule.

Runaway bride may forgo $250 ice bucket
Wilbanks' 600-guest wedding estimated at $100,000; registry includes $230 platter.
May 2, 2005: 5:32 PM EDT
By David Ellis, CNN/Money staff writer
Waterford Lismore ice bucket
Regular price: $250

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - After a three-day flight that included faking her own kidnapping, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks now has to face several hundred jilted guests, many of whom had already bought gifts, according to several gift registries.

Wilbanks, 32 was scheduled to celebrate her nuptials with fiancee John Mason, 32, on Saturday, April 30. With 600 guests, 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen, a reception at the ritzy Atlanta Athletic Club and a bridal registry that included a $250 Waterford ice bucket, some experts figure the wedding tab would have run into the six figures.

"Typically speaking, we're probably talking about around $100,000 for everything," said Kyle Brown, the membership director of the Wedding and Bridal Association of America.

As for the spoils of ceremony, Wilbanks and Mason were registered at retailers Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Macy's and Target.

According to her bridal registry at Macy', the couple could have expected to receive a 16-inch Lenox "Solitaire" Oval Platter, which normally sells for $237 but is on sale for $189.99; the Kate Spade "Union Street" line 5-piece place setting ($55), and the KitchenAid Artisan 5-Qt. Stand Mixer (on sale for $249.99).

The unpurchased items on the registry include the All-Clad Stainless steel lasagna pan ($99.98) and Cuisinart Extra Large Electric Skillet ($130).

A spokesperson from Macy's was unable to comment on individuals within their bridal registry, although the company will allow returns of most registry merchandise for up to one year along with a receipt.

According to the registry at, Wilbanks and Mason could have expected Pyrex mixing bowls (set of 3) valued at $9.99. Still not purchased for them at the site is the Panasonic cordless electric steam iron, which goes for $59.99.

Wilbanks returned to Georgia late Saturday evening after being the center of a nationwide missing person search and after her family offered a $100,000 reward for details about her disappearance. A statement released by the Wilbanks family indicated that the wedding would still happen.

"She has spoken to her fiance. He cannot wait to see her. She says the wedding is not called off, just postponed," it read.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Dear reader, I know that most of you are yawning at all these corkscrews. But, with the Spring Break over and done with, the Pope in the ground, the Runaway Bride back home and with the May Pole folded away for another year...well, what can I do!

But starting next week we'll be back in Bangkok and I promise you "no more corkscrews"!

Today's four are all "Celluloids" ... this is the way Don Bull alphabetizes them in his weighty tome.

  1. The Mermaid.
  2. The Alligator.
  3. The Kissing Couple.
  4. The Woman.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

The size of this very unusual combination tool ... (of course, with its obligatory fold-out corkscrew) ... can only be appreciated when seen next to or lying upon (respectively) a 5 Ruble coin (*) and a 1 Renmin bank note (**).

(*) The 10 Ruble coin, from the same vintage, had a different diameter.

(**) This is a vintage 1980 Renmin bank note. The later ones were much smaller in size; they also had less wrinkles.

PS: For a detailed view of these monies click here.

PPS: These monies are (were) Soviet and Chinese, respectively.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Pretty, but not for heavy pulling.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Going home ... Bangkok.

See you Sunday.

Next: Bangkok

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