The collection, amassed by David Winston who holds a Royal Warrant as Restorer and Conservator of Pianos to HM the Queen, comprises 26 unique instruments dating from the 18th century to the present day and will be sold in a landmark sale on 23 September 2021.
Born in Los Angeles, USA, David Winston originally trained as a violin maker before becoming a keyboard instrument maker and restorer. He has restored some of the most important and rare keyboard instruments in the world, including those of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. He established his Period Piano Company 45 years ago, in 1976, and was awarded the Royal Warrant in 2012, as the conservator and restorer of pianos to HM the Queen.
Commenting on the collection, David Winston 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.”
Below are some of the auction highlights.
Arts and Crafts with a Warhol connection
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 programme ‘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.
Lot 15: Broadwood; a 7'4'' Barless grand piano, dated 1904 | Est. £12,000-18,000 (+ fees)
Pleyel double grand piano – owned by French cultural elite
This rare model is one of only 50 ever made, combining two pianos into one. The enormous soundboard area makes for an exceptionally resonant instrument and the experience of two pianists playing on a single combined piano is completely different. There is also an intriguing device in which a lever can be engaged to permanently lift the dampers on one of the sides, so that one piano provides sympathetic resonance, while the other side is being played.” The piano was bought in 1946 by concert pianist Madeleine Lioux, wife of the French novelist and politician, Andre Malraux (1901-1976) and it travelled with her back and forth across the Atlantic. There are only a few known examples left in the world of this instrument. The piano was recently featured on tour in Paris and London for a recreation of the premier of Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’ in which two Pleyel Double grands were originally used.
Lot 19: Pleyel, Paris; a rare double grand piano, number 18907, 1929 | Est. £30,000-50,000 (+ fees)
Auto Pleyela – player piano, rolls operated by pedals or electric motor
Decorated in Gesso Chinoiserie and signed by the French artist Leo Huillard, this Louis XV ‘Auto Pleyela’ self-playing grand piano dates from 1925, with only a few surviving. It was their most sophisticated mechanism offering considerable personal control of dynamics and tempi. The lacquered style symbolised the exotic and a sense of its owners being well-travelled and worldly. The piano comes with a selection of 65 original piano rolls.
Lot 8: Pleyel, Paris; a rare 7'6'' 'Auto Pleyela' grand piano, number 17839, 1925 | Est. £30,000-50,000. (+ fees). Click the image to watch the video and learn more.
Signed by the greats
A very early Bluthner piano dating from 1854 which features signatures from some of the greatest musicians of the time, including Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), the Polish pianist and composer who went on to become Prime Minister of Poland.
Lot 16: Bluthner, Leipzig; an early grand piano, 1854 | Est. £6,000-8,000 (+ fees)
Unusually decorated ship’s piano
This particularly fine example of a ship’s piano with a folding keyboard was purchased by the RAF World War I Flying Ace, Captain Norman Macmillan, OBE, MC, AFC, DL (1892-1976), for his wife the British singer and actress, Ena Beaumont (1892-1986). Unusually for its kind, this piano is highly decorative, with fine birds-eye maple veneer and walnut mouldings.
Lot 12: Solente; a ships piano, circa 1925 | Est. £1,500-2,000 (+ fees)
Fit for a Cunard liner
A Chappell grand piano purchased directly from the iconic liner Mauretania 2, when it was decommissioned in 1965. The Mauretania 2 was the largest liner built in England at the time (1939) and travelled mainly the Southampton-New York route. During WW II, it was commissioned as a troop ship, transporting Australian troops to Suez, India and Singapore, as well as serving in the North Atlantic. After the war it returned to commercial cruising. The piano has an Art Deco Walnut case and sits on slab legs.
Lot 25: Chappell; a 6' 2'' grand piano from the Mauretania 2, number 83215, 1948 | Est. £6,000-8,000 (+ fees). Click the image to watch the video and learn more.
One of the most highly sought after of all Art Deco pianos: only 75 of them were produced between 1937-39. Only 4’1” long, they were the smallest 88 note keyboard pianos ever made. Many innovations went into the design, to create a surprisingly robust small instrument. The piano is in a mahogany case with wonderful Art Deco detailing.
Lot 39: Wurlitzer, Cincinnati; a 4'1'' butterfly grand piano, circa 1937 | Est. £10,000-15,000 (+ fees). Click the image to watch the video and learn more.
A revolution in piano design can be seen in this Dutch aluminium grand piano, designed in 1965 by pioneering Dutch piano maker, Johan Rippen (1909-1994). The cast aluminium frame is both the body of the piano and the frame bearing the tension of the strings. The iconic design reflects the aesthetics of the 50s and 60s and is still strikingly modern with its sinuous case shape, freed from the constraints of traditional construction.
Lot 7: Rippen, Holland; a 6'2'' aluminium grand piano, circa 1965 | Est. £12,000-15,000 (+ fees). Click the image to watch the video and learn more.
“I craved this instrument like I’ve craved nothing else”
A Viennese Fortepiano copy created with exceptional attention to detail and historical accuracy in 1991, after Joseph Brodmann, 1823. This is the first-ever piano built by David and considered his best. It has been used internationally in many recordings and concerts by leading musicians. A review of a concert of English pianist Dame Imogen Cooper’s performance of Beethoven 2nd Piano Concerto, with the Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment, reads: ‘Playing on David Winston’s 1991 copy of an 1823 Brodmann - an instrument I crave like I’ve craved nothing else - Cooper’s notes emerged from the misty orchestral pianissimi like a thread of rosy seed-pearls: clean, cool, unique and sweet-- A generous, rapt, exciting embodiment of a rare sound-world’. Veneered in French Walnut, with decorative ormolu mounts cast from the originals, the piano has five pedals creating different musical effects.
Lot 9: A 7'10" 6½ Octave CC-G4 Viennese fortepiano copy, David Winston, 1995, after the Joseph Brodmann 1823 model | Est. £15,000-20,000 (+fees)
Anonymous Square Piano, ca. 1795
This exquisite little piano, only 42 ¾” by 19 ½” was most likely a special commission or exhibition instrument. The 7 inset Wedgwood plaques are of the highest quality and beautifully set-off its elegant case in Mahogany and Satinwood veneers with Kingwood, crossbanding, inlaid marquetry and brass beading.
Lot 32: An English square piano, circa 1795 | Est. £6,000-8,000 (+ fees)
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The auction will take place at Dreweatts on Thursday 23 September at 12pm BST:
Berkshire RG14 2JE
The sale can be viewed by appointment at the Period Piano Company (not Dreweatts) from Monday 6 September:
Period Piano Company
Park Farm Oast
Kent TN27 8LG
To book an appointment, please email: email@example.com or call 44 (0) 1635 553 513.
The catalogue will be available online at the end of August. To sign up for email alerts, click here and choose 'House Sales and Private Collections' from the 'interests' list.
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