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 - March 12th

The Piano Auctions Spring Sale has been postponed until April 27th, so the first sale of this year will be at Gardiner Houlgate on March 12th.


There will be the usual wide selection of all kinds of instruments, common and rare, and three pianos.

Although marked as having achieved the estimate in the last sale, this 1803 Broadwood is making a return appearance as Lot 1226.

It is remarkable in having 'Dolly' dampers,  three years or so before the Southwell patent expired, and Broadwoods adopted them for all their pianos.  Note also that at one time it had a pedal, as shown by the hole just visible in the shelf. 

A new photograph does indicate that quite a few hammers are mising.


The estimate is £500 - £800.

The other square piano in this sale is Lot 1269, an attractive 1776 Beck. 

This piano has three handstops for divided damper-lift and buff stop, and the keyboard omits the rarely-needed FF#.

It has been carefully restored and needed a new soundboard, but the restorer has incorporated the piece from the original board with Beck's signature.  This was written parallel to the straight section of the bridge, hence the grain is now at an angle.

It is a rather common problem for the structure on the front right corner of the case to separate, and this appears to be happening here (presumably post-restoration).

The estimate for this one is £1,500 - £2,500.

The other piano in this sale is a handsome 'cabinet' upright in rosewood by George Peachy.

Estimate £200 - £400.


All pictures by, and by courtesy of, Gardiner Houlgate Limited

Gardiner Houlgate - December 11th

There was the usual amazing array of musical instruments and memorabilia at Corsham on December 11th, including Arnold Dolmetsch's workbench; this sold for £3,400 hammer price - (£4,200 including costs). A truly historic piece.  In my fantasy-world, it would ghave been saved for our National Musical Instrument Museum...


There were two square pianos in the sale.  Lot 1340 was an 1803 Broadwood, N° 7657.

This one does need some attention to the action - there are some detached hammers.  It is interesting in having Southwell-type 'Dolly' dampers rather than the brass under-dampers characteristic of Broadwoods from 1780 until 1806.  Several examples of this variation have now been seen.

The estimate for this one was £700 - £1,000; it just achieved the low estimate of £700.

Also from the same year, lot 1341 was a lovely-looking Clementi, number 3369 (stamped).  The hand-painted flowers are the 'Sweet Pea' design, hopefully familiar to all readers of this website as the frame for the header to each page.

This one has been carefully restored; against an estimate of  £1,000 - £1,500, it sold for an encouraging £2,100 hammer (£2,600 total).  Surely good value if it was as good as it looked: we really should take inot account the value of work that does not need to be done.


All pictures by and by courtesy of Gardiner Houlgate.

Piano Auctions Sale December 15th - Results

Like the past two sales, this one was at the premises of G&R Removals at Langley, with viewing by appointment only.  


For early keyboard enthhusiasts, this was be a very interesting sale indeed - as well as an Érard square piano, there were to be three harpsichords, a virginal, and a clavichord.  

Lot 9 was an anonymous two-manual harpsichord - something of a project'.  

We see that it has a full specification of two 8' stops and a 4', plus lute and buff.  Two of the rows of jacks are not in place, but they are included in the lot.  It came closeto estimate at  £500 hammer-price.

Lot 18 would have been a special Morley harpsichord, with the veneer scheme and general design based on the splendid eighteenth-century English instruments of Kirckman.  

The inscription on the jackrail records that it was commissioned by Eric Woolfson and exhibited at the International Harpsichord Festival at Bruges in 1980.

The estimate for this fine instrument is £2,000 - £3,000, but it was withdrawn before the sale.  As it was built in 1980, there has been some speculation that the keys might have been ivory, which would require an Article 10 certificate at the very least.  


We are pleased to say that it is scheduled to reappear in the first sale of 2021, in April.

This attractive virginal was made in 1962, one of the pioneering instruments made by Alec Hodsdon before and after the war.  These are now an important part of our history, and surely it deserved to achieve more than the disappointing £150.  

From Morley again, Lot 54 is one of their ever-popular clavichords.  This is the four-octave model in a walnut case.

It did rather better than estimate, at £550.

Lot 63, the square piano, bore the famous name of  Érard, and a date of 1819.

Missing pedals?

This one has a divided bridge to equalize the tension of the brass and steel strings.  An acoustically elegant design, first used by Broadwood on grands in the 1790s, and introduced by them on squares around 1823.  


The estimate for this one is £600 - £800, but it attracted little interest, and the hammer fell at just £50.

Finally amongst the Early Keyboards, lot 73 wa a good-looking single manual harpsichord, again without a maker's name.

In a black and gold case, and built in the Italian style, it had  2 x 8' stops and buff.

The estimate was £1,000 - £1,500, but the bidding was lively, and it achieved an encouraging £2,400 hammer-price (£2,976 total).  A good price for an anonymous 'modern' harpsichord - it did look nice, though. 

Pictures by courtesy of Piano Auctions Limited

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© David Hackett