In a June 28 sale, held as before in conjunction with Sotheby’s but conducted in Paris at the collector’s own auction house, 168 (of 260) lots at Pierre Bergé (24/20.5/17% buyer’s premium) found buyers.
This roughly two-thirds proportion of sold lots extended across both the music and poetry sections of the sale.
Musical highlights are the focus here and included the following – listed alphabetically by composer and with prices including buyer’s premiums and taxes. Where appropriate, or possible, I have also noted the price raised by the lot on its previous auction appearance.
• An 1814-25 first issue of the full score of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (Op.25), the ‘Choral’ symphony: €20,051 (£17,645).
• An 1840 first edition of Bellini’s opera Il Pirata, a score inscribed by Rossini to Chopin in memory of their mutual friend, the composer: €37,596 (£33,085). It was sold for £8200 at Bonhams in 2009.
• Chopin’s Scherzo pour Piano of 1837, bearing a printed dedication to one student, the Countess Adèle de Furstenstein, but in this copy briefly inscribed by Chopin to another exceptionally gifted young student, Mlle J Porte: €25,064 (£22,055).
• A 1650 first edition of the first music encyclopedia, Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia Universalis. A record-breaking large paper copy in a magnificent Roman binding of red morocco gilt with decoration that includes the arms of Pope Innocent X, Kircher’s patron: €62,660 (£55,140).
• Three collections of songs and madrigals by Orlando de Lassus from the years 1596-1619, together in a well-preserved vellum gilt album made for Louis XIII: €26,317 (£23,160).
• Six Sonates pour le Clavecin… composed by the eight-year-old Mozart during his family’s 1764-65 London stay. An English first of that latter year and accompanied by a number of related items: €22,558 (£19,850).
• An 1860 first of the second version of Tannhauser, bearing an inscription from Wagner to his friend and fellow composer, Charles Gounod: €31,330 (£27,570).
• An 1862 first edition of the libretto for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the printed text showing numerous annotations and corrections and interleaved with blank pages on which Wagner has written out alternatives as he worked on the music for his opera: €124,690 (£109,725)
This sold for £65,000 at Sotheby’s in 2013.
• A volume containing the alto parts of motets and masses by Adrian Willaert and others, 1545 (and later?), in a Nuremburg binding of blind-rolled calf featuring small portraits of biblical figures: €25,064 (£22,055). It sold for $8000 at Christie’s New York in 2013, as part of the Vershbow library.
The Button Gwinnett signature sold for $260,000 (£204,725) and illustrated in ATG No 2298 was offered by Christie’s New York and not, as I mistakenly noted, by Sotheby’s.