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.


Hendrix still top of the pops

28 August 2002

Unfortunate timing, rather than the quality of entries or the state of the collectors’ market, was to blame for patchy interest and selective bidding in Bonham’s (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) 582-lot Entertainment sale on July 24, according to specialist Toby Wilson.

Beatlemania sustained by American interest

12 July 2002

Ever since Sotheby’s first Rock sale in 1981, Beatle material has been on a roll. Beatle memorabilia is the undisputed market leader in this field and this autographed copy of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album sleeve, 1967, received top billing at Sotheby’s Olympia (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) 337-lot Rock/Fashion sale on June 14. This privately consigned entry was taken to £34,000 against a £6000-8000 estimate, by a private US buyer on the telephone.

Orchestrion goes to the expected tune of £95,000

19 June 2002

MUSIC makers, from Jaques Frères musical boxes to Würlitzer juke boxes, make their sometimes surprising mark at auction but although this German orchestrion, right was one of the most unusual pieces to come up at any English rooms, Market Harborough auctioneers Gildings (12.5% buyer’s premium) recognised it as a major money maker in their May 28 sale.

The Prince of Wales’s fine blow for a fine bow

19 March 2001

This 91/2in (24cm) long silver bugle was conceived not as a musical instrument but for quite a different purpose – as a prize for archery and is fascinating for the insight it gives us into a late 18th century revival of the skill.

Plucky bidders in a £10,500 battle

19 February 2001

UK: CONSIGNED by a private vendor who had played it regularly, this late 18th century harpsichord, right, by the prolific makers, Jacobus & Abraham Kirkham was the centre of attention at the Loughton, Essex rooms of Ambrose Auctioneers (15 per cent buyer's premium) on January 26.

Instruments play second fiddle to bows

12 February 2001

THE Bath auctioneers Gardiner Houlgate (15 per cent buyer's premium), who have made musical instruments a widely and well-regarded specialist subject, saw a respectable 70 per cent take-up for their 317-lot event on 1 December.

A little too fiddly?

04 December 2000

Imagine being serenaded at your dinner table, preferably by one of the Python team, with the world’s smallest playable violin.

Early Edison tinfoil phonograph

31 January 2000

UK: THE Early Edison tinfoil phonograph which topped Christie's South Kensington's December 16 mechanical music and technical sale at £28,000.

Quartet’s £2.3m concert

30 March 1999

Musical Instruments UK: NO fewer than four sales of musical instruments took place in London between March 15 and 17: at Phillips, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Christie’s South Kensington (all 15/10 per cent buyer’s premium). Over 1000 lots went under the hammer in all with over £2.3m netted between the four rooms.

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