Musical Instruments & Memorabilia

The craftsmanship involved in the most prized musical instruments affects the quality of sound they produce as well as their appearance. For example, string instruments made by the Italian Stradivari family – and particularly Antonio Stradivari – in the 17th and 18th centuries are said to produce a sound that has never been replicated even in similar designs.

Those instruments created by Antonio during his ‘golden period’ (1700-1720) command particularly strong prices. More recent instruments, such as electric guitars played by pop music giants of the 20th century also pull in large prices – such as Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Stratocaster, which was bought for a Seattle museum for $2m.


Musical box by François Nicole

Pick of the week: Nicole musical boxes to get your teeth into

13 December 2021

François Nicole (b.1766), the Geneva-based pioneer of the key-wind musical box, is thought to have made around 440 boxes during his working life, but only around 60 are known today.

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Playtime in the saleroom at Hartleys

22 November 2021

Top names in their different fields, ages and markets, Wurlitzer and Armand Marseilles were the star makers at Hartleys (17.5% buyer’s premium).

Rolling Stones poster

Auction record for Rolling Stones poster

04 November 2021

A rare concert poster promoting The Rolling Stones’ run at the Windsor R&B club in the early Sixties sold for £30,000 on October 28.

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Steel string guitar strikes a cord in Lincolnshire auction

01 November 2021

Bought in 1952 by a semi-pro Skegness musician who played with East Coast seaside entertainers, this steel string guitar got a big show of hands at Louth auction house John Taylors (18% buyer’s premium).

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Pick of the week: Gramophone hits all the right notes

27 October 2021

Emile Berliner (1851-1921), a German clerk in a Washington DC haberdashery, is credited with inventing both the first commercially successful disc record and the first machine to play it.

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Barn find jukebox could be golden oldie

30 August 2021

A classic ‘barn find’ piece, this somewhat dilapidated jukebox was spotted as a potential golden oldie at Gardiner Houlgate (22% buyer’s premium).

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Sensational Tannoy speaker emerges in a sleeper trio in Dorset

30 August 2021

Only a handful of companies have created products with sufficient impact that their brand names become generic descriptions for objects of their type.

Pleyel grand piano

Piano restorer David Winston’s ‘unique’ collection comes to auction at Dreweatts

18 August 2021

Newbury saleroom Dreweatts is to offer an impressive private collection of rare pianos in the autumn.

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Piano and stool from 1901 Glasgow Exhibition surfaces at eclectic Ayrshire summer sale

05 July 2021

What auctioneer Michael Callan called “a modest mid terrace town house in Irvine, Ayrshire” was the source of one of the star lots of a recent Thomas R Callan (20% buyer’s premium) sale in Ayr.

Royal Academy of Music

Music academy promises historical instruments will be kept

31 May 2021

The Royal Academy of Music has said it has no plans to sell or dispose of any of its historic instruments after national media reported it was looking into ‘decolonialising’ its collection.

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Bureau cabinet rated highly as Mainz ‘masterpiece’ example

31 May 2021

Distinctive bureau cabinet form could have been intended for presentation to the guild.

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Music box plays a big £27,000 part in auction

10 May 2021

John Gresham was a third-generation member of a wealthy Hull timber-importing family.

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Galway silver shines in Lewes auction

19 April 2021

The West as well as the East made a major contribution to the success of Gorringe’s £1m sale on March 30 where, overall, 86% of the 593 lots sold.

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Model 1080 could be a sound investment

12 April 2021

In 1935, Swiss designer Paul Fuller, who had emigrated to the US after the First World War, joined the Rudolf Wurlitzer Company as their chief designer.

Two gramophones

Collection Focus: Living and laughing out loud

22 March 2021

Collector’s daughter describes what it was like to grow up amid huge musical machines

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Howzat for an intriguing portrait

15 March 2021

Young cricket player stars among the varied lots from estate of journalist and author

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Wurlitzer steams into action

15 March 2021

Mechanical music will be going under the hammer on March 20 as part of the Miller & Miller auction in New Hamburg, Ontario.

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British musical Leppard spotted in Indiana

15 March 2021

Though a Bösendorfer grand piano topped bidding at $42,500 (£31,250) in a January 16 sale, the main attractions for many came from a different source.

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Some buys have all the pluck

01 March 2021

Lacking the glitter of a former rock star owner, this Fender Stratocaster sold on the traditional antiques virtues of quality, age and condition.

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Debut three-day sale graced by an aristocratic selection

21 December 2020

In playing condition but with enough problems to be catalogued as ‘sold as seen’, a Nicole Frères brass inlaid music box was one of the unexpected stars of the first three-day sale to be held at Ripon auction house Elstob & Elstob (22% buyer’s premium).

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