The Auction Page

Please remember that, as with 'Pianos for Sale', I have not usually seen these pianos, and any comments I make may be based entirely on information supplied by the auctioneers, or what we can see from the pictures.

Gardiner Houlgate December Sale

Amongst the usual amazing array, there were three early keyboard instruments at this sale.  

Lot 1518 was a small square piano c. 1825, believed to be of German or Austrian origin.

It has a 'Viennese' action with no dampers.  It is described having bone naturals, which would make life easier for overseas buyers.  Estimate £1,200 - £1,800.  This one was passed, presumably failing to reach the reserve, which cannot have been more than the low estimate.



Lot 1553 was a four-octave Morley clavichord, number 605, in apparently very good condition as they usually are.  

The estimate for this one was just £200 - £300, but it was withdrawn.



The square piano by Christopher Ganer was listed as 'c. 1780' and the auctioneer made the following comment:


Although the name board is inscribed 'Christopher Ganer Musical Instrument Maker' which suggests a date after 1784, it is probable that the name board was overwritten for resale and the actual date of manufacture is earlier. The absence of a bottom f sharp, the key escutcheon, that the dampers have built in pivoting rods and the overall style suggests this is an earlier date.

I wonder how he knew that?  Good advice, though.

Nice little piano in mostly original condition.  Bidding was brisk, including interest from Italy, and against an estimate of £800 - £1,200. the hammer-price was £1, 700 (just under £2,150 total).


All images by, and by courtesy of Gardiner Houlgate.

Piano Auctions Ltd - December Sale

The Piano Auctions sale on December 14th was held at Griffin's new premises in Sydney Road, Watford.  


The Sale included  five items from the Stanhope Collection.

First was a neat-looking Bates, like all Bates pianos dated 1793.

Restored by Jean Maurer.  The Stanhope Collection website asserts that it is in working order.  Against an estimate for this one of £1,000 - £1,500, it did rather better at £2,200 hammer-price (£2,750 total)




Then a 5½-octave Broadwood dated 1800.  This model has the beautiful brass under-dampers.

Restored in the Stanhope workshops, and used on a concert tour in 2006, it sold for just below estimate at £850.




Then there was the interesting Elwerkemper Viennese grand.

Five pedals (lyre detached in this photograph) for damper, moderator, bassoon, and Turkish effects.


Thanks to Pieter Kuiper in the Netherlands for the following comprehensive biography:



On your site you ask for some information on Heinrich Elwerkemper (aka Elberckembe) which I am happy to provide.
As the name shield on the piano which is now for sale tells, he was a Bürger in Wien, that is to say he was authorized by the Emperor to live in the city and make piano’s under his own name. He did so since 1811 when he took over the workshop of the Swiss builder Tobias Ohl who died in 1809. As was not uncommon in the old guild structure he also married the widow of Ohl.
Like all Vienese piano builders he lived in the area called Auf der Wieden. The simple reason for this being that it was close to the water, and more importantly close to the wood mills where large pieces of wood could be transported and sawn.
Elwerkemper was known als Klavier-und Orgelmacher, I am not aware of any organ build by him but the combination was quite common.
He lived from 1813 Paniglasse 85, from 1819 Alleegasse 29, from 1823 auf der alten Wieden 94 where he died in 1839.
So the instrument for sale can be dated 1811-1839, I would estimate closer to the first than to the latter based upon the photos now available.
 - Rudolf Hopfner, Wiener Instrumentenmacher 1766-1900, ed Kunsthistorisches museum Wien (1999)
 - Patrizio Barbieri, Pianos and piano-makers in 19th century Papal Rome mentions two grand piano’s for sale in Rome by Elwerkemper, one in mahagony, the second in walnut with 5 registers. Date 1849.
 - Georg Albrechtsberger, Gründliche Anweisung zur Composition mentions Elwerkemper as a renown Vienese builder in his 1830 and 1839 edition, not in the first edition from 1790. For obvious reasons.
 - mentions Elwerkemper and tells us that Schubert played a piano of him in 1828, during the last 3 months of his life.
In summary Elwerkemper was a respected builder in the large Vienese market though not a builder who produced at an industrial scale like Streicher or Graf, hence less famous and less known.

In the picture above we see the bar at left for the bassoon stop, and the bell or 'Turkish music'

A closer view of the moderator cloth.

Another one restored by Jean Maurer.  Estimate £6,000 - £8,000 for this one. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this important piano sold for £15,500 hammer.   It has gone to the Far East, but owing to a late bid, some confusion as to whether it was sold to Japan or South Korea.




Then a very interesting clavicytherium by John Paul

This is one of only three made by John Paul before 1969 with an aluminium frame and soundboard.  

The estimate for this one was  £1,000 - £1,500 for this one; it achieved a hammer-price of £2,200




Lot 50 was a very handsome Regency  cabinet piano by Thomas Tomkison, the man who really was the Royal Maker to the future King.

These imposing cabinet pianos are not usually in good order, but this one has been carefully restored, and is said to play well with a good tone.


The estimate was  £1,000 - £1,500, but it did considerably better at £3,60o, perhaps a record for one of these pianos in modern times.

All images by, and by courtesy of Piano Auctions Limited.



Lot 58 was A two-manual harpsichord

by Alec Hodsdon, Made in 1953 specially for Benjamin Britten. 

It sold for mid-estimate at £1,200.

As a post-1947 instrument with ivory keys, it needed an Article 10 certificate to be legaly sold, which it did not have.  Therefore the auctioneers were left with no option other than to remove the ivory tops on the sharps.



Lot 62 was an 1820s Broadwood.  Hammer price £300.


The beautiful Roguski clavichord sold for £700.  Surely such a fine instrument by a remarkable man deserved more.  Sadly, this one had to lose its ivories as well.


Finally, a two-manual harpsichord by Michael Thomas.  

Happily, the need for an Article 10 certificate had been foreseen in good time, and the ivory keys remained undisturbed.

Can somebody please explain to me the technology of the jacks?  This one achieved just above the low estimate at £1,100.  




All images by, and by courtesy of, Piano Auctions Ltd.

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© David Hackett