Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn cast his eye over a musical masterpiece...
This week the children go back to school and already my grandson has come home asking if he can go to certain football clubs after school, and if he can take part in music lessons.
Walking around the antiques centre, this beauty caught my eye. It really is superb. We get lots of musical instruments in the centre, everything from recorders to clarinets and trumpets to organs, but this piano really is exceptional. It is just gorgeous. It is a walnut cased Bentley in immaculate condition and is on sale at £985.
Since the first primitive horns, music has played a part in all our lives and, despite the developments in modern music technology, there is still nothing like the sound of the real thing. However, collecting old musical pieces can be full of pitfalls for the novice – if you don’t know anything about music, you’re very likely to strike the wrong note!
The most common musical instruments in antiques centres and shops are upright pianos, although it’s not often we see one like this Bentley. Derived from the harpsichord, pianos first appeared at the very beginning of the 18th century. By the 19th century, they were popular home instruments and young ladies were expected to be accomplished players. An old piano is highly likely to need retuning, so expect to add something to the purchase price. Upright pianos are available for as little as £100. Also remember that
pianos are expensive to move as they need several people and it can cost £150 to shift.
Another instrument popular with collectors is the violin. In 400 years, these classic instruments have changed little. Originally made in Italy, the violin evolved from the fiddle and lire de braccio. Older violins had horsehair bows which are longer and more curved than their modern, synthetic stringed counterparts. When buying an old violin, the main point to check is the bridge. If this is in good condition, the violin is probably worth buying. Restringing a violin is not expensive and the wood can easily be polished up.
The main advice for buying old musical instruments is this: Does it or will it work? Play it if possible, before you buy.
It’s also important to investigate any additional costs you may incur – restringing or retuning will be a further investment. Buying musical instruments is really for people who have a working knowledge of music and, if you don’t, ask a friend who has.