Chronology : 1-1000 1000-1150 1680-1699 1700-1719 1720-1729 1740-1749 1770-1779 1780-1789 1942 1970
756 - Gods, Sages and Emperors
2011 SOLD 115 M RMB yuan by China Guardian
The qin is the traditional Chinese plucked string instrument. The antique variants are now designated as guqin.
The guqin is the first of the four treasures of the scholar, ahead of Chinese go, calligraphy and ink painting. It was known since ancient times and the Chinese tradition likes to assign it with a pre-dynastic origin. Confucius is quoted among the sages who improved the instrument.
The classical seven-string guqin provides a music of great subtlety facilitated by the dots of harmony distributed on the surface. The wooden back is also an invitation to the inscription of poems.
The Imperial guqins are of great rarity. One of them named Da Sheng Yi Yin (reminiscent of the great sage) was sold for RMB yuan 115 million by China Guardian in 2011.
It was produced for or by the Emperor Suzong of the Tang. Lacquered in black and brown, it wears a poem and a seal and its harmonics match the months of the Chinese calendar. Its date is corresponding to 756 in our own calendar. Both sides are illustrated in an article shared by China Daily.
Da Sheng Yi Yin is again announced by China Guardian in the autumn sales held in Beijing from 16 to 20 November. (see comment below)
In December 2010, Poly sold for RMB yuan 137 million including premium (US $ 20.7 million in the conversion rate of that time) an imperial Song guqin made for the Emperor Huizong in 1120 of our calendar.
PRE 2013 SALE COMMENT
This lot is not confirmed in the catalogue. My announcement was probably a misinterpretation of an early press release.
1120 Guqin (plucked string instrument) for Song emperor Huizong
2010 SOLD 137 M RMB yuan including premium by Poly
later Ming - Guqin (plucked string instrument)
2010 SOLD 58 M RMB yuan by Suzhou Wumen Auction Company
1684 Stradivari in the Following of Amati
2017 SOLD for £ 1.92M including premium
Formal business relations between the two workshops are not known but a 1666 label suggests that Stradivari began his career as an apprentice ('alumnus') to Amati.
Amati had been a great innovator and experimenter, identifying how a tiny variation in the shape or size of a violin generates considerable differences in the sound. He had also tried to develop an optimized varnish. Stradivari analyzes the solutions found by the old master. He will be considered from 1690 as the most important designer and manufacturer of violins of all time.
On March 28 in London, Ingles and Hayday sells a stradivarius violin, lot 28 estimated over £ 1,3M. The instrument bears an original label inscribed 'Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 1684' and presents all the characteristics of this very important period which launched the career of the master then 40 years old.
This violin had surfaced in the mid-1880s in the very active musical circles in Edinburgh and is now identified as the Ex Croall McEwen specimen. Used regularly in concert in the last thirty years, it offers important references in discography from 1985 to 1990 with the young soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house:
1697 Molitor Stradivarius violin
2010 SOLD for $ 3.6M by Tarisio
1705 Luck and Skill of Stradivarius
2012 SOLD 2.6 M$ including premium
In the 1680s, the Stradivarius violins have the same features as those of Nicolo Amati. Customers love to hear music in large concert halls, and require to improve the sound. The Molitor, dated 1697, is already a wonderful violin. It was sold for $ 3.6 million by Tarisio in October 2010.
On April 26 online, Tarisio sells a Stradivarius violin, little known and well preserved, manufactured around 1705, the Baron von der Leyen. The bidding will begin at $ 2M for this instrument of the period of maturity.
The Lady Blunt, sold £ 9.8 million including premium on 20 June 2011, also at Tarisio, is dated 1721. Its fabulous price is due to its pristine condition.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good result for this violin that was little known before the sale: $ 2.3 million before fees, 2.6 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by Tarisio :
1715 pair of Kangxi Dragon ritual bells
2009 SOLD for HK$ 45.5M including premium by Christie's
1721 The Lady Blunt
2011 SOLD 9.8 M£ including premium
An interesting hypothesis, not proven, is based on the fact that instruments made at the same time by Andrea Guarneri are approaching the quality of the Stradivarius: the very cold climate of the late seventeenth century would have created less dense wood by slowing the growth of trees.
The Lady Blunt has all the qualities required to excite violinists and experts. Luckily, this specimen is very close to its original state. It was manufactured in 1721, in the best time of Stradivari. It belonged to Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the French violin maker of the nineteenth century who made commendable efforts to understand and achieve the quality of the Stradivarius.
In 2008, this wonderful violin was purchased by Nippon Music in a private transaction whose amount exceeded $ 10M. This Tokyo foundation has decided to sell it to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The auction, which will be held on June 20 in London, is entrusted to Tarisio which is a leader in this market.
The Lady Blunt is illustrated in the article shared by the Wall Street Journal.
POST SALE COMMENT
Here is the auction result of a Stradivarius violin in exceptional condition : £ 8.75M before fees.
The advertised price of the private transaction of 2008 is exceeded.
Congratulations to Tarisio for this great sale.
I invite you to play the post sale video shared on YouTube by Tarisio. It is also shared on Wikimedia.
1745 Legacy from the Second Tree
2016 SOLD for HK$ 56M including premium
Hongli has become the Qianlong emperor. The second wutong tree passes in its turn during the ninth year of the new reign. Qianlong orders by imperial decree that the wood of the old tree is used to make four qin.
The qin was honored under the Tang and the Song as the first in the list of the four treasures of the scholar. This luxurious zither with seven plucked strings offered the ultimate Chinese music. During the Qing dynasty, the qin is a scarce instrument that revives the past.
The realization of the four Qianlong qin is documented in considerable detail in the imperial books. Each of them is marked with another imperial poem. They are delivered to the Emperor on the 20th day of the 10th month of the 11th year of the reign, during the year 1745 of our calendar. One of the four qin survived. It is estimated HK $ 25M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on October 5, lot 3605.
This tall instrument 1 m in overall length with cinnabar lacquered outer walls was conceived for prestige. It was sparingly played and remains in great condition.
1773-1775 Violin by Guadagnini
2018 SOLD for £ 1.6M including premium by Tarisio
1783 A Real Guadagnini for Rostropovich
2018 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Arrived in 1771 in Turin which will be his fourth and last residence, Guadagnini agrees from 1773 to 1777 to work exclusively for Cozio who was a great admirer of Stradivari. At this time Guadagnini adds the information "Cremonensis alumnus Antonii Stradivari" on his labels. His cellos of this period are short, without loss of sound thanks to a modification of the shape which increases the surface of wood in the cavity.
Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the greatest performers of the cello. For his first success, the gold medal at the Soviet Young Musicians Competition in 1945, he had played a Guadagnini.
In exile from 1974, Rostropovich had appraised the cello of his first glory and learned that its label was apocryphal and that the instrument had nothing to do with a Guadagnini. He is therefore on the watch to acquire an excellent Guadagnini. He will wait a quarter of a century.
The Guadagnini cello bought by Rostropovitch in 2000 is from the best period : made in Turin in 1783 three years before the death of the luthier, it is one of the last instruments of the master and has kept intact its dark intense red-brown varnish typical of that period. It is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 28, lot 42.
Take an unprecedented glimpse into the lives and loves of two of Russia’s greatest musical legends. Visit our London galleries to view the private collection of #Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya or click ahead to see highlights https://t.co/tDnS2NOICK #SothebysRussia pic.twitter.com/ymPge0oA5s— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 23, 2018
(1927)-1942 The Moroccan Piano of Casablanca
2014 SOLD for $ 3.4M including premium
The instrument was made in 1927 and stored by the First National Pictures (FNP) of which it bears an inventory mark. When it was chosen for the film, it was painted with orientalist patterns.
This instrument has a unique feature related to the requirements of the film: the lid is detached from the case in order to enable the gesture of the actor who hides inside it some coveted papers.
This piano with its original stool is lot 83 in the sale of souvenirs of the American cinema organized on November 24 by Bonhams in New York with the participation of Turner Classic Movies.
There is another Casablanca piano, screen used in a flashback scene located in Paris. This instrument of the "Belle Aurore" was sold for $ 600K including premium by Sotheby's on December 14, 2012.
1962 The Missing Jumbo of John Lennon
2015 SOLD for $ 2.4M including premium
The two identical marvels are delivered to them on September 10, 1962 through a specialized shop in Liverpool. These instruments meet their needs and they make a regular use of them for composition and recording, at home and in the studio. Their collaboration is so close that they swap their Gibsons, certainly unknowingly.
A few days after a Christmas show in 1963, John observes that his guitar has left. He will never see it again.
For the last 45 years, a guitarist living in San Diego owned this instrument without identifying its glorious past. In 2014, he realized the likeness of his Gibson with its widely documented twin which had been kept by George. Serial numbers are very close together.
The veins in the wood allow the identification of a guitar with the same certainty as fingerprints for a human. The best expert of equipment used by the Beatles compared the instrument with period photographs. He is formal and admiring : half a century after being pinched, John Lennon's Gibson has resurfaced in its unmodified configuration, like a time capsule.
This historic guitar is estimated $ 600K for sale by Julien's in Beverly Hills on November 7, lot 278.
Its photo in an exhibit at Austin in 2015 was offered to the public domain and is available on Wikimedia:
1963 Ringo on Drums
2015 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium
The Beatles reach the top position in the hit parade in February 1963. They now require the best instruments, not only for guitars. In April, Epstein and Starr choose together a three piece drum kit of Ludwig brand in a London specialized shop.
Ringo takes possession of his new instrument on May 12. The activity of the Beatles is intense and even frantic. Between that date and February 4 of the following year, Ringo uses his Ludwig drums in 200 live performances and 180 studio recordings, covering all titles from this period of great enthusiasm preceding their trip to America.
The Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl kit was retained by Ringo and has not been seen in public for half a century. However, it was used in part in 1969 and 1970 by Paul McCartney when he recorded his first solo albums.
The prestigious drum kit of Ringo Starr is estimated $ 300K, lot 696 for sale on December 4. I invite you to watch the video shared by Julien's.
1969-1970 The Sound of the Pink Floyd
2019 SOLD for $ 4M including premium
At the end of the 1960s, psychedelic music is taking over from classic rock and roll. To reach the fame, bands must now offer to the public sounds that are both dynamic and different. David becomes the guitarist of the Pink Floyd in 1968 to compensate for the incapacity of Syd Barrett victim of mental disorders.
Lot 127 is David Gilmour's Black Strat. Made in 1969, it was bought new by David in 1970 at Manny's in New York. Until 1983 it is his favorite instrument, constantly modified by him to extract new sensational sounds. This instrument is a basic element of the Pink Floyd sound lab at their best time. It is played by David in 1973 in the album that will remain the biggest hit of the group, The Dark Side of the Moon.
This working guitar that was originally an ordinary Strat has become a cult instrument of rock in its post-Beatles phase. Leased for ten years at the Hard Rock Café in Dallas, it was later restored. Replicas were created by Fender from 2006 in two models, one of which named The Relic copying its state of wear before restoration.
In 2005, when the band's historic members meet in concert in London after a very long break, David Gilmour plays his Black Strat again. Frequently modified for half a century by its prestigious owner, it is offered with a reasonable estimate of $ 100K to 150K. Please read the article by Christie's telling its long story.
1973 The Luthier of the Grateful Dead
2017 SOLD for $ 1.9M including premium
At the end of the 1960s Doug Irwin is a young biochemist disillusioned by his training. Despite the atmosphere of freedom of that time, everyone must find a job : Doug decides that he will construct electric guitars. After a self-taught training he joins the Alembic company founded in 1969 in the Grateful Dead rehearsal room.
At that time Alembic worked on the electronic processing of sound more than on its creation. In 1971 Doug builds his first electric guitar in his own name in his kitchen and brings it to a specialty shop. Jerry is there : he buys the instrument. This guitar named Eagle (Alembic) was sold for $ 186K including premium by Bonhams on May 8, 2007.
Eagle plays the role of a prototype from which Jerry and Doug embark on a more ambitious project. The result is an asymmetrically necked guitar named Wolf. It is completed in 1973 and Jerry uses it intensively for six years. The next instrument made by Doug for Jerry is named Tiger. Less asymmetrical than Wolf, Tiger innovates in the position of the strings.
In the dispute about the estate of Garcia who died in 1995, Irwin became the owner of Wolf and Tiger which he auctioned through Guernsey's on May 7, 2002. The result, exceptional for electric guitars at that time, was $ 960K including premium for Tiger and $ 790K including premium for Wolf.
Wolf is back at Guernsey's in Brooklyn NY on May 31. This single lot charity sale is organized for the benefit of the Southern Poverty Law Center.