If you think you’ve seen it all, I will surprise you with a story about a place you never had the opportunity to find anywhere in the world. It is a surprising, overwhelming and impressive place. It is, well… breathtaking!
This story is about the largest corkscrew collection, pressing iron collection and trivet collection in the world, which are in Bucharest. These items may seem common, but you will be amazed when you’ll discover their stories, their varieties, and especially the artistry involved in their manufacture. Worthy to be part of any museum, often taken into consideration only for their utility, these pieces are a combination between jewelries and art works.
It was hard for me to find some free time to accept the invitation to visit and understand the project of the Museum of Romanian Records. Although the number of items from the collections was very tempting and impressive, being certified by the Guinness World Records (when the records were certified, there were fewer items than now, and at this moment, there are over 30.000 corkscrews and almost 35.000 pressing irons). I thought I could squeeze this visit in my schedule so I found two hours at the end of a day and went on the Parfumului Street, to the Museum of Romanian Records. Almost six hours later, impressed by what I’ve seen, I knew that it was that moment which forever changed the way I perceive these three items: the corkscrew, the pressing iron and its stand.
The Story of the Collection
First of all, I have to mention that this Museum and its collections are private. They belong to the architect and business man Ion Chirescu, who bought 13 corkscrews and 7 antique pressing irons many years ago. That was the beginning of a crazy passion, taken to the extreme. Here is an exclusive interview with Mr. Chirescu about his unique collection.
It is with the same passion that Victor Bota speaks, the manager of the museum and the man who invited and guided me through this fascinating universe.
In order to give you a clue about the dimension of this project, I must tell you that while in this collection in Bucharest there are almost 30.000 corkscrews, the second most famous corkscrew collector in the world has only 15.000. As for the pressing irons, the second world largest collection has only 4.000 pieces. And in Bucharest, there are not only the most numerous pieces, but also the most important ones in the world.
This story may seem to be a huge toy closet of an eccentric and passionate man, but is so much more than that: “the toys” have a special history, they are rare, fragile and valuable items. They need special space and care. This is how the idea of the Museum appeared six years ago. A team of 30 people is working to exhibit the items, to research each and every one of them, to recondition them if needed, to create a database, to track the rare items which appear on the market, and to become experts in a unique field.
How it surprises you
The biggest surprise of the museum is, of course, the number of items. And not all of them are exhibited yet! For example, the trivet section is in progress. The second big surprise is the fact that almost every single piece of these tens of thousands of items is a miniature masterpiece, and the way they evolved is strongly connected to the changes in people’s lives. It is physically impossible to give each piece even a second of attention, so you’ll probably stop at the rarer pieces – some even unique, extraordinary, made of uncommon materials or having special designs, like the entire Ladies’ Legs corkscrews section. When it comes to design, the sky is the limit!
What is fascinating about the corkscrew
Beside what we believe, the corkscrew isn’t related only to wine! You’ll find inside the Museum a lot of tiny corkscrews (the smallest one can be seen through a magnifying glass) which were used for opening perfume, medicine or ink bottles.
You will also discover that special stands with corkscrews for champagne bottles were used by chemists! Yes, chemists, because the champagne was prescribed as a remedy for depression.
You will find corkscrews with handles made of bone, ivory, precious stones or precious metals, with monograms, with animals, in the most diverse and unimaginable forms.
You will admire the most expensive corkscrew sold at a public auction for the price of $77,700. It is made of a metal part of the Old London Bridge, built in 1176 and demolished in 1831.
This is a way of understanding that the most valuable items are not necessarily made from the most expensive materials. Moreover, the ones which have flaws or weren’t durable enough are most often unique or extremely rare.
What is fascinating about the pressing iron
The pressing irons weren’t always made of… iron, because at the beginning they were made of stone, glass or wood. They weren’t necessarily made for smoothing either, as some of these tools were used for obtaining wrinkles or models in the fabric. They look really different, and without any explanations, it is hard to figure out how they work. These tools were not taken into account by the Guinness Book when the record was set because they do not remove wrinkles.
The charcoal pressing irons or the ones heated on stoves are not something which I haven’t seen before, but the ones with fuel tank (alcohol, liquid gas or a sort of kerosene) are definitely special.
The differences between the pressing irons are not only represented by the materials used for making them, by their heating system, but also by the social status of the person for which it was used or by the historical period when they were made (during the Second World War, there was a great need for iron, therefore these items started having just the sole made of iron, while the rest of the body was made of other materials).
I could write many more pages about other curiosities and interesting things. For example, I could tell you how more than 500.000 km were driven in order to gather these objects and many other which are not yet exhibited. Or that their weight exceeds 150.000 kilograms. But I think it is better to discover them for yourselves.
Maybe you are wondering why these items are hosted under the name of the Museum of Romanian Records. Even though these three collections (corkscrew, pressing iron and trivet – about which I haven’t told you too much, but I assure you they are just as fascinating) are the largest in the world, this is not the only reason this project has this name. The Museum plans to gather the Romanian records from all domains: from the tallest cross on a mountain top (The Caraiman Cross), to the smallest paper money (10 bani from 1917) or to the largest collection of objects depicting the Edelweiss Flower (this one already exists in the Museum and can be visited). And these are just a few examples.
For now, the Museum of Romanian Records can be visited only by groups and if you make an appointment in advance. The project is in full development and other collections will be added, like the stamp, antique camera or musical device sections, but it already has a lot to impress with. This Museum helps you understand that the human being is capable of art work in any field, that he can show beauty in the most unusual items and that he can give value and durability even to apparently insignificant things.