Cello by William Forster, London c.1780 – £38,000 at Bromptons.

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The finely-preserved instrument, sold with the certificate of W.E. Hill & Sons, London, exceeded its £25,000-35,000 estimate. The price betters the $75,000 (£36,408) bid on the-saleroom.com in July 2007 for Femme de L'Artiste, a 1908 oil on canvas by US artist Theodore Earl Butler at New Orleans Auction Galleries.

Top price of the sale conducted from Brompton's new premises at The Royal Institution on Albemarle Street in Mayfair was the £75,000 bid for a c.1809 violin by Joannes Rota of Cremona.

Specialist James Buchanan, who ran Christie's musical instrument department before setting up with Peter Horner (formerly of Sotheby's and Bonhams) in 2006, told ATG that traditionally musical instruments are a safe refuge for money in recession.