Auction Report February 2023: Rarities and English gems


A unique Stradivari viola and a record-breaking Daniel Parker viola were among the highlights of the London sales in October 2022. Kevin MacDonald reports

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In the past two years, the UK stringed-instrument market has stared plague, war, energy crisis and political meltdown in the face and yet somehow keeps going relatively unscathed. Perhaps it is the class of incomes engaged in the market, a historically low pound encouraging foreign buyers, or simply due because of our collective passion for the items on offer. While one can detect a levelling of prices in the hunting ground for those of us in the squeezed middle, rarities and upper-end lots continue to prosper. Also, there is the feeling of long-treasured and curated instruments and bows being forced from cover as economic pressures rise.

Ingles & Hayday (I&H) bettered its March sale result, with £3,288,300 (although with only 77 per cent of lots sold). Tarisio kept its London sale small – 28 lots versus 151 in Berlin – but balanced that by putting a Stradivari viola into the mix (see left). Brompton’s, as is becoming the norm, brought the most lots to market (269), though its initial sales percentage was rather less than its competitors…

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