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.


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Elvis Presley’s 18ct Corum Buckingham watch to be offered at Sworders this month

02 November 2020

A watch worn many times by the king of rock and roll at the peak of his career comes for sale at Sworders this month.

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Rare first pressing of The Who’s ‘My Generation’ album signed by band members sells at seven-times estimate at auction

20 October 2020

A rare first pressing of The Who’s My Generation album has sold at seven-times its top estimate at auction in Hertfordshire.

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Gramophone bought by the Rothschild family for Waddesdon Manor comes to auction

14 October 2020

A rare gramophone believed to have been bought by James de Rothschild (1878-1957) of the Rothschild banking dynasty, for the family home of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, is coming to auction next week.

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Unreleased vinyl of a demo recording by David Bowie comes to auction

22 July 2020

Wessex Auction Rooms in Chippenham is offering a 1966 demo recording by David Bowie on an acetate disc.

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Flog It! presenter and dealer Paul Martin teams up with auction house for NHS charity auction

13 June 2020

Former Flog It! presenter and dealer Paul Martin and auction house Dawsons have launched an auction to raise funds for NHS charities.

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Rare phonograph ready to play in Cologne sale

08 June 2020

The Parisian clockmaker Henri Lioret (1848-1938) entered the market for ‘talking machines’ in an unconventional fashion – his first patented device of 1893 was a talking doll.

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Export-blocked 18th century harpsichord bought by Gainsborough’s House museum

20 May 2020

A harpsichord that was sold at The Canterbury Auction Galleries in 2018 to a US buyer and later barred from export by the government has been saved for the nation by Gainsborough’s House museum.

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Pick of the week: Into battle armed with bagpipes

18 May 2020

As the Scottish regiments went over the top on July 1, 1916 – the fateful First Day of the Somme – they were led into battle by the wail of bagpipes.

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Vendor not so sad about this price

20 April 2020

On April 10, 1970, a Paul McCartney ‘self-interview’ ahead of the release of his debut solo album had been taken by the media to be an announcement that the band was no more.

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Pick of the week: Beatlemania: poster sets auction record

13 April 2020

For their first appearance at the 55,000-seater Shea Stadium in Queens, New York, in 1965, The Beatles needed no promotion. At the height of Beatlemania in the US, the venue sold out in minutes.

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Fab Four in ‘ballroom of the stars’

06 April 2020

One of the highlights of actor Peter Wyngarde’s estate sale held live, online-only at East Bristol Auctions (18% buyer’s premium) was a Beatles concert poster from 1963.

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Pick of the week: Rare The Who poster – once in a Blue Moon chance for collectors

23 March 2020

The Blue Moon, a club above Burton’s on Cheltenham High Street, existed for less than two years from July 1965 to May 1967, but in that time the compact 250-capacity venue with a tiny stage hosted Elton John, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, The Yardbirds and (on February 11, 1967) Jimi Hendrix.

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Rudell & Rose flute plays to bidders' tune in Sussex

03 February 2020

Popular in the first decades of the 19th century, the eight-key flute is something of a transitional instrument, retaining many of the characteristics of the earlier baroque flute and the modern instrument.

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Plea for trade and auction houses to spot stolen bassoons and Cartier ring

04 January 2020

A musician is calling on antiques dealers and auction houses to be alert to two stolen bassoons and a Cartier ring that were taken on November 21 from a home in north London.

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Mozart at the auction double

16 December 2019

Musical manuscript and portrait on song in salerooms.

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Sweet music in Macclesfield auction

25 November 2019

Two music-makers caught the eye, or rather ear, at Adam Partridge’s (20% buyer’s premium) Macclesfield sale.

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German violin instrumental in bid for overlooked box lot

18 November 2019

A good-quality violin linked to the German maker Jacobus Stainer (1619-83) led a group of previously overlooked musical instruments in a Towcester auction.

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'Eccentric' collection of film, music and pop-culture memorabilia from famed Liverpool music venue comes to auction at Adam Partridge

15 October 2019

Memorabilia from a Liverpool music and events venue that has hosted 'The Beatles' will be sold by Adam Partridge Auctioneers & Valuers in a single-owner collection sale later this week.

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Pick of the week: Rare example of a surviving maestrophone sells at 20-times estimate in Nantwich auction

23 September 2019

Until electricity became commonplace in homes, the power source of choice for the gramophone was a spring motor that required frequent winding. One unusual solution to silent interludes at the dinner dance was to power the device by hot air.

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The sound of a William and Mary spinet sold for £5500 in Islington

19 August 2019

Relatively few English spinets from the 17th century survive but one surfaced at a Criterion auction in Islington. Loosely catalogued and estimated at just £100-200, it made £5500 (plus premium).

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