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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Rock on with a jukebox purchase

15 April 2024

Perfect to impress your friends and family – or annoy them – many vintage jukeboxes can be bought at auction for three or four figures depending on age, model and condition.

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Wurlitzer organ on a whirl in Staffordshire saleroom

15 April 2024

Around 28 American-built Wurlitzers were originally transported to Britain from 1925 until just before the Second World War.

Johann Sebastian Bach manuscript

‘A testament to elegance’: Bach manuscript goes to Bodleian in lieu of inheritance tax

15 March 2024

A rare autograph manuscript by composer Johann Sebastian Bach has been acquired by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.

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Album helped Rolling Stones to go on tour, not fade away

11 March 2024

In 1969 the Rolling Stones were ready to go touring again after a gap of more than two years. Featuring a new guitarist, the 17-date tour in the US began on November 7.

Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard

Mark Knopfler guitar auction makes more than £7m at Christie’s

01 February 2024

A six-hour sale of 122 lots from the collection of singer-songwriter and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler took £7.01m (or £8.84m including buyer’s premium).

Gibson guitar

Mark Knopfler's Gibson guitar and pair of torchère figures are among five lots to watch

29 January 2024

With estimates from £200, here are five previews of items coming up at auction this week.

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Signed Fab Four photos are big hits with bidders

22 January 2024

A c.1964 publicity photograph signed by all four members of The Beatles sold for £13,000 at Bristol auction house Auctioneum (21% buyer’s premium).

Guild Of Handicraft Piano Sworders Jan 16 2024

Rediscovered Ashbee piano with exhibition history sounds a £16,000 note

17 January 2024

A recently-rediscovered version of one of the best known Guild of Handicraft designs has sold at Sworders for £16,000.

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Bowie lyrics make a stellar result in Merseyside sale

02 January 2024

The music memorabilia sale at Omega (28.8% buyer’s premium inc VAT) on November 29 included the handwritten lyrics to two tracks on David Bowie’s 1972 classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Apple Boutique mural

Pioneering journalist with a ticket to ride

18 December 2023

She was the first female broadcaster to be heard on Radio 1 and the only journalist to accompany the Beatles during a four-day coach trip when they filmed their Magical Mystery Tour TV special.

Guqin

Pick of the week: Chinese instruments belonging to a Dutchman who was in tune with China

13 November 2023

The Dutch diplomat, musician, writer and sinologist Robert Hans van Gulik (1910-67), also known as Gao Luopei, was a great admirer of traditional Chinese literati culture.

Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould

BBC’s Fake or Fortune? expands into memorabilia

01 November 2023

The BBC’s 'Fake or Fortune?' is known for discovering artworks – from paintings to sculpture. But for its next series it is expanding into memorabilia.

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Man of letters: correspondence from famous figures

30 October 2023

A collection of correspondence penned by leading figures of the 20th century to an Oxford academic raised more than £20,000 for charity at Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) on October 10.

Harmonicon

Pick of the week: Music made with a touch of glass

25 September 2023

The phenomenon of rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine goblet to produce a note is as old as glassmaking.

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Led Zeppelin album cover signs in at £15,000

18 September 2023

A copy of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album signed by all four members of the band sold to a phone bidder for £15,000 .

Rainbow-coloured satin arrow jacket

Killer bids as Sotheby’s shows how the celebrity sale is done

11 September 2023

Sensational was the only word for it.

Freddie Mercury in concert

Freddie Mercury collection: Major sums for lyrics and piano at Sotheby’s auction

07 September 2023

The handwritten lyrics for Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and the piano which Freddie Mercury used to compose it were among the major highlights at Sotheby's auction of the singer’s collection in London.

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Reel appeal of Scottish music

04 September 2023

A previously unrecorded 18th century manuscript containing 75 pieces of traditional Scottish music sold for £5000 at Lyon & Turnbull (plus 26% buyer’s premium).

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Original lyrics for Elvis Presley's 'Heartbreak Hotel' comes to auction

21 August 2023

The original working lyrics for 'Heartbreak Hotel' carry an estimate of $200,000-220,000 at GWS Auctions’ sale titled Artifacts of Hollywood & Music in Agoura Hills, California, on August 26.

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Very early TV set that’s a must for connoisseurs

10 July 2023

The HMV 900 was one of first television receivers designed by the Marconi-EMI Television Company, the firm that also provided the technology for Britain’s first television service.

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