Press Release  July 16, 2021

Dreweatts to Auction Rare & Intricate Pianos

Courtesy of Dreweatts

Auto Pleyela in a Chinoiserie Louis XV case.

JULY 2021 — Dreweatts auctioneers is to offer an exceptional private collection of rare pianos in a landmark sale on September 23, 2021. The collection was amassed by David Winston, who holds a Royal Warrant as Restorer and Conservator of Pianos to the Queen of England. It is comprised of twenty-six unique instruments dating from the eighteenth century to present day.

Amongst those expected to achieve the highest bids is a rare 1925 Pleyel grand piano fitted with an original ‘Auto Pleyela’ self-playing mechanism, in a spectacular Chinoiserie Louis XV case and a remarkable double piano from Pleyel, which is one of only fifty ever made. This model, which has a guide price of £30,000-£50,000 (approx. $40,000-60,000), was once owned by the concert pianist wife of French writer and minister of culture André Malraux.

Speaking about the sale, Will Richards, Deputy Chairman of Dreweatts said, “It is rare to see so many exquisite pianos together in one sale. We are proud to offer such an outstanding collection of instruments of such quality, history, and craftsmanship. It is also very exciting, as this is the first time the collection has been offered in its entirety. Spanning three centuries of craftsmanship and innovation, this is a historic sale and a wonderful opportunity to own a piece of piano history.”

The pianos have been collected by one of the world’s foremost piano restorers, David Winston, who has restored some of the most valuable pianos in the world, including those owned and played by the greatest names in classical music, including Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt. David Winston has a connoisseur’s eye for exceptional quality and unusual provenance. Many of his pianos are one-off pieces with significant historic importance. His collection represents a lifetime’s passion coupled with an exceptional depth of knowledge and personal involvement.

Commenting, he says, “The first thing for me is that it must be something that nobody else has. It must be both an excellent musical instrument and a beautiful object. Each was chosen for its’ unique place in history, art and culture.”

Courtesy of Dreweatts.

Wurlitzer Butterfly.

Among other highlights in the sale is a Wurlitzer 1411 Butterfly grand. At only 4’1” it is one of the smallest eighty-eight note grand pianos ever made. It features an iconic case design, making it one of the most highly sought-after Art Deco instruments of all time. Another is the first piano ever built by David, a stunning Viennese Fortepiano created in 1991, based on an original by Joseph Brodmann, 1823. A remarkable instrument, the piano has been used internationally in many recordings and concerts by some of the world’s leading musicians.

Courtesy of Dreweatts.

Charles Robert Ashbee, Broadwood Arts and Crafts ‘Barless’ grand piano, 1904.

A rare Broadwood Arts and Crafts ‘Barless’ grand piano, dating from 1904 and attributed to Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942), the renowned British designer and architect. The Broadwood ‘Barless’ grand was an important development in piano design, using a single cast steel frame without crossing frames, to create a freer, more responsive instrument.  Highly successful, they were costly and so only made for a short time. As a result, they are now highly sought after.

Only one other example with a similar case design is known, which is in the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum and was featured in the BBC program A History of the World in 100 Objects. Originally commissioned by the Leetham family, wealthy mill owners in York, the piano’s subsequent owners included Jed Johnson, designer, and boyfriend of Andy Warhol and the Forbes Collection.

Other covetable instruments include a handsome ship’s piano with folding keyboard, purchased by the RAF WWI Flying ace Captain Norman Macmillan for his wife, the Music Hall singer, Ena Beaumont.

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