Auction Page


 Piano Auctions December Sale 

and Meeting of Friends of Square Pianos


  There was a very encouraging turnout of Friends at Conway Hall on Wednesday 16th December, the viewing day before the Piano Auctions sale.  We enjoyed good company, and a chance to exchange gossip.

  The 1965 Goble spinet (est £800 - £1.200) achieved a hammer price of only £200; whether it actually sold or not is not clear.  These 'revival' spinets, with their covered bass strings, are very much out of fashion now, but they can offer a lot of enjoyment and good music at a modest price. And if any work is needed (as it often is) this is a good introduction for a prospective amateur builder (but please also see the Spinet Page). Also, we should say that these instruments are part of the History, and should not be forgotten.

  There were no square pianos in this sale.  It is fair to say that apart from the very best and earliest examples, sales of square pianos are somewhat slow these days, and prices modest - an ideal time to buy!  The snag is that most of us have only limited space available, and much as we would like to give homes to them all, we just do not have the room.  

However, the likelihood of achieving a only low price, or even a no-sale, is a problem for specialist auctioneers, because after allowing for costs of transport and commissions, there is a high chance that sellers will be disappointed.  As a consequence, quite a few of the pianos that might have featured in auctions a few years ago are now appearing on the Sale Page of this website.  

There are no Square Pianos in the sale this time, but we will meet for a little Christmas Party just the same.  And there is a 1965 Goble spinet (est £800 - £1.200) and a 1990 Morley clavichord (est. £200 - £400).

Gardiner Houlgate

Specialist Musical Instrument Auctions

December 10th

It's a shame that Gardiner Houlgate (Corsham) is not very accessible for me - there were be some beautiful instruments in the December 10th Sale.

Lot Number: 559    There will be no VAT on sale hammer price.
Square piano by Longman and Broderip, London, circa 1790, the case of mahogany with stained boxwood and holly stringing, the fascia board and cheeks of elm inlaid with floral swags, stained fruitwood and holly stringing with kingwood crossbanding, the five octave keyboard with ivory naturals and ebony accidentals, three brass knob hand stops controlling the damper lift above and below c1 and a harp stop, single action with over-dampers, on framed stand with square-tapered legs, the shelf stretcher absent, inscribed on a rectangular boxwood plaque Longman and Broderip Musical Instrument Makers No.26 Cheapside and No. 13 Haymarket London, Length 155.7cm, width 55.7cm
Condition Report 
Exterior case is extensively marked and faded, the soundboard has one central crack slightly open, two dampers replaced, strings 

Estimate: £1000-2000.  

The hammer fell at £920 for this one, so it was probably sold at that.  Looks like good value to me. 

Lot Number: 560    There will be no VAT on sale hammer price.
Fretted (gebunden) clavichord by Hieronymus Hass, Hamburg, 1740, the exterior with later pale green paintwork, the interior and the keyboard surround painted red, also later, the lid interior painted with a horseman in an extensive landscape with a man and child to the left and a recumbent traveller to the right with two swans, the soundboard painted with various flowers, the keyboard, compass four octaves and two notes, CC to d3, with ivory naturals with red-painted facings and ebony-overlaid accidentals, with octave stringing in the bass up to D, an accessory compartment to the left of the keyboard with veneered lid, with later framed stand and stool both with cabriole legs painted en suite, inscribed on the soundboard Hieronÿ Alb Hass In Hamb Anno 1740, also a small silver plaque on the left wrestplank inscribed  Restorat 1969 af Instrumentmeger Hans Holm Stagelse, length 5ft 1?in, 156.5cm., width1ft 5?in, 43.6cm
*Recorded in Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord, 1440-1840 by Donald Boalch  (Charles Mould), p.36.  Sold with a report by Dr. Lance Whitehead and a provenance of the instrument since 1958 compiled by the vendor.  The instrument resided at the Soro Akademi, Soro, Denmark for many years prior to 1958 and is also sold with a copy of the school booklet written by Lars Kelstrup entitled Soro Akademi, Bygingernes Historie, published in 2005.

Condition Report 
Soundboard has various cracks some of which are open, some repaired with fillets, one or two wormholes, over-varnished, keyboard requiring alignment.

Estimate: £20000-30000 

Again, the hammer fell below estimate, at £18.000.  

 Lot Number: 561    There will be no VAT on sale hammer price.
A two-manual harpsichord by Jacob and Abraham Kirckman, London 1775
The case of mahogany, the sides with slab-cut panels with stained fruitwood, holly stringing and quarter-cut mahogany crossbanding, the lid with shaped brass strap hinges,  the keywell with burr walnut facia and cheeks, the soundboard with inset gilt rose pierced and carved with King David playing the harp flanked by the maker's initials,  the five octave keyboard, FF to f3, with ivory naturals and ebony accidentals, four brass hand levers controlling two 8ft. stops one 4ft. stop and a lute stop. One pedal controlling simple machine stop, with music desk and on trestle stand. Inscribed on a boxwood plaque on the name batten Jacobus et Abraham Kirckman Londini Fecerunt 1775, also inscribed on the reverse of this batten, Restored by C. L. C. Ward, FRSA, MSIA, of Arnold Dolmetsch Ltd., Haslemere 1956

Length 7ft 9 1/2", width 3ft 1"

Recorded by Donald Boalch in Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord, 1440-1840, 3rd edition, edited by Charles Mould, p.446 (listed as No. 57a in the 1st and 2nd editions). Purchased by the Hon. Wayland H. Young (later Lord Kennet) at Sotheby's on 27th April 1956 and then by descent. Always known as the Kennett Kirckman.

A Condition Report is not available
Estimate: £35,000-45,000 

The bidding only reached £26,000 for this splendid instrument.  This far below what already appeared to be a modest estimate, did it actually sell?

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© David Hackett