Antiques series. The Flog It! team take a look at which antique musical instruments make sweet music in the saleroom.
Browse content similar to Instruments. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
It's been well over ten years
since you first started coming to our "Flog It!" valuation days,
and during that time we've seen, valued and sold
thousands of your unwanted antiques and collectibles.
-Are you all having a good time?
-Of course we are.
It's worth £300 to £500.
I've discovered there's so much more to learn
about the world of fine art and antiques that we all love.
So if you want to know more, you've come to the right place.
Welcome to Trade Secrets.
In today's programme, we're taking a close interest in instruments.
THEY PLAY A LIVELY TUNE
It really is a thrill when they make an appearance at our valuation days.
But it's a market that's fraught with danger
for the wannabe collectors.
It's just really important to...
just do that research.
So today we'll be showing you how to spot a hit
amongst the myriad musical misses.
At 300 I'm selling, here...
That was short and sweet, wasn't it?
Our lyrical line-up includes a serenade for Philip...
SHE PLAYS "CONGRATULATIONS"
-At least you recognised it!
-I'll name that tune in one!
..a blast from the past for Charlie...
-He's being rude, can you put him off?
We can't have him on "Flog It!"
..and a star turn for our very own musical maestro.
SQUEAKY VIOLIN/CELLO SOUND
Do you recognise that?
It's my attempt at a bit of the "Flog It" theme on a phonofiddle.
Whenever I see a musical instrument
at a valuation day, I can't help but smile.
I absolutely love them.
Not only do they represent a pinnacle of human achievement,
but they also reflect a nation's culture, language,
art, politics, religion.
So if music's your thing, what do you need to know?
My tip would be vintage guitars.
I've seen from some of the rock and pop sales that we've put on,
prices and interest have rocketed.
If you look at some of the Gibsons, Fender, Hofner,
these things are just going up and up in value.
If you've got a guitar that was John Lennon's,
suddenly, it adds massive value.
There is also a very strong market in concertinas.
Some people call them squeeze-boxes.
Those are the sort of things that you might be able to find
in car boots and bric-a-brac shops where they've been discarded
and some of them can be worth hundreds,
even thousands of pounds, depending on which model you find.
Some of these instruments are valuable
because people want to play them,
so if they're not in a playable condition,
you really have to be a specialist in the area, I think. Ask Adam.
Yes, Adam shares my passion for music, and we view him
as our resident musical instrument authority here on "Flog It!"
Our valuation day's instruments, from the run-of-the-mill
to the weird and the wacky, gravitate towards his table.
Wow, that was nearly good.
But there's one musical instrument above all others
which regular "Flog It!" viewers will associate Adam with.
HE PLAYS HUNGARIAN DANCE NO. 5 BY JOHANNES BRAHMS
'I come from a violin-playing family.'
Both my parents were professional violinists, I grew up around it.
From being a baby, I thought that everybody did that
and once I was five, I picked one up and started learning it.
You're lucky that you haven't got
all the strings on it, or I'd be playing it
and we'd clear that hall pretty quickly.
It's got a one-piece back, there.
Sometimes you have a two-piece back or a one-piece back.
This is a one-piece back made from maple.
On the front, there, we call that the table, violin people,
rather than the front. That's made from pine.
Try to avoid cracks on the front, the table, or on the back,
because a crack will affect the resonance and therefore,
when you get it set up and you spend your £100 getting your bridge
and your strings put on, you'll hear this buzzing where the crack is
and the sound quality's not very good.
Now, we always check the bows, as well,
because sometimes the bow can be worth more than the instrument.
-Let's have a quick look at that one.
Bows, of course, are a separate art form on their own.
They're made from pernambuco, a valuable Brazilian hardwood,
they're often mounted in silver and ivory,
they're often stamped with a maker's name.
We've had bows make many thousands of pounds
that have come in with violins that are worth 200 quid.
You haven't got any special individual value with the bows.
So this is in pretty good condition.
People looking at this will think, "Oh, it's no good,
"it's got no strings", but it doesn't matter.
You can pick up a violin pretty cheaply, really,
and even if it hasn't got the strings and the bridge
and everything on it, people say,
"Oh, it's no good, it's got no strings on it." Just not the case.
It's going to cost you £80-£100 or something to get it all set up.
Inside, there's a label.
I can just glimpse a label there and it says "M Costelli, Paris."
"Luthier Artistique, 1895."
-So it's French?
-She's smart, isn't she?
-Yeah. Oh, yeah.
-Now, this Costelli sounds like an Italian name.
And the Italians are very well known for the finest violins.
French violins are also quite highly regarded
and then usually another step down to the German violins,
which are more mass-produced.
Never really believe a violin label.
95% will say Stradivarius in any way
and they'll be a German factory-made violin
on the lines and the models of the Stradivarius shape.
Costelli of Paris, I think, was just a name
to make it sound more glamorous than saying
"Made in Markneukirchen factory in Germany",
which is where I think this was made.
It was a slightly better quality German factory copy
than any others, but I don't think...
My violin books show no record of an M Costelli in Paris.
This Costelli isn't a very well-known or highly regarded maker.
-So I'd go on the cautious end and I'd put 100-200 estimate.
-And put a reserve of 100. It's definitely worth £100.
But did the bidders agree with Adam's estimate?
400 on the phone.
I'd like to be going 50s now.
-500 on the phone.
No second thoughts?
£525! That ended in a crescendo, didn't it?
In my view, it's worth maybe £200-£300
and I think it made a bit more
because you've got speculators online and in the room -
"Oh, a French violin's better than a German.
"It's got an Italian-sounding name, Costelli, goodness me.
"This might be something really exciting,"
and, in fact, it wasn't that exciting at all.
So...it was a good price.
The label may not have fooled Adam,
but the bidders were obviously wooed
by the Italian-sounding maker's name, Costelli.
If you ARE considering buying a musical instrument as an investment,
then please do take care.
A large proportion of violins, for example, purport to be made
by celebrated makers, but they are, in fact, fakes.
If you want the real thing, it will cost you dearly.
There's only around 600 violins that survive today
that were made by the great Antonio Stradivari.
Now, one of those sold recently in auction in 2011
for a staggering £9.8 million.
Now, Philip was in for a treat when he met Amanda,
who knew what to do with HER musical instrument.
So are you an accomplished saxophonist?
-Is that the term?
-Not really, I can get a tune out of it sometimes...
-You can get a tune?
Is this going to be a "sometimes"?
-Sometimes I make it squeak.
-Go on, girl, go for it.
SHE PLAYS "CONGRATULATIONS"
That's a bit of Harry Rodger Webb, isn't it?
-That's the one!
-Is that Congratulations?
-I'll name that tune in one!
-At least you recognised it.
People bring in the strangest things,
so I wasn't overly surprised to see a saxophone there,
but I must admit, it is different from the usual massed ranks
of Beatrix Potter figures
and Clarice Cliff and all that sort of stuff.
-Did YOU buy this?
-I did, yes.
-And did you save up?
-No, I had to sell my bike.
-You sold your bike?! Oh, that's sad.
-You sold your bike?
-I sold my bike and I bought the saxophone.
So you've had it all this time and now you want to get rid of it?
-Was it a phase that passed?
-It hasn't passed, it's still there.
I just need the right saxophone so I can do it properly.
-That's not the right saxophone?
-The fingering's different.
They improved it?
They improved it to make it easier to play.
Which now means that somebody who is used to teaching a new instrument
finds it very, very difficult to teach you to play the old one?
I didn't realise this when I bought it -
not that it would have made a difference,
because it's just beautiful to look at.
I put what I thought was a fairly low estimate on it,
because I felt that if she thought
that it wasn't suitable as an instrument,
other people would think the same.
I think an auction estimate for this is about £80-£120.
Fingers crossed we get the top end.
It's going under the hammer now, this is it.
200, 220, 240...
-260, 280, 300...
-They absolutely love this.
-We're hitting all the high notes right now.
440, 460, 480,
£500, to my left at £500. Are we all done?
Yes! Hammer's gone down. £500!
What are you going to put the £500 towards?
I'll probably get another saxophone, a tenor saxophone,
and lessons to play it.
The proceeds of sale meant that she could go
and buy an instrument that suited her and she could learn to play it,
so what a great result that is.
Here's hoping Amanda's sax-playing skills
have gone from strength to strength.
Now, over the years we've seen all manner of
musical instruments on the show.
But you've haven't just brought us your instruments
which make sweet music.
Singin' the blues there.
We've also seen fantastic examples
of instruments which play BACK music too.
In 2009, Charlie Ross was fortunate enough
to stumble across one of the earliest prototypes.
-Shall we dance?
-Put the music on.
I love your phonograph. How long have you had it?
-About 55 years.
-Yeah, it was in the family.
It was my father's, originally.
-You inherited it, did you?
-From Father, yeah.
-You know who made it, don't you?
Edison, it's the Edison Gem,
which was his standard model, if you like.
-First patented in about 1900.
And this, I would think, dates from about 1910.
It was completely revolutionary
to have something that could reproduce...
A, record and B, reproduce sound,
whether it be the spoken word or music.
Thomas Edison really had come across something
that's been dictating our lives ever since.
What I really like about it -
not only obviously is the carrying case here,
but that is the original sound box.
It's a delight to see either a phonograph
or a record player with its original tin trumpet
and particularly with the original patination.
Sometimes they've been repainted,
more often than not they've been lost,
damaged and thrown away and then you get a replacement one
and that knocks the value.
The absolutely marvellous, quirky thing I like about this
is the original cord that held it up
from the stanchion I see someone has replaced with a chain,
which looks distinctly like a gold watch chain to me.
Are you guilty of that?
-I am fully guilty.
-Well, may I say congratulations?
You've considerably added to the value of it.
'The horn had been held up by an old piece of wire.'
His wife had said to him,
"You can't take it to "Flog It!" with that old bit of wire on there!
"Put something else on there!"
What did he put on?
A gold chain!
I think that's charming. How many cylinders have you got?
We've got about nine or ten four-minute cylinders.
Yes. Could we have a quick go?
The three I've got left are all chipped and scratched.
'When I was going up the stair last nicht, the...'
' "..Is that you, John?" I said, "Aye, it's me"...'
-He's being rude, can you put him off?
We can't have him on "Flog It!"
I thought it was going to be a nice old Scottish ballad.
-No, I'm sorry.
-You naughty man, David.
-How much do you think it's worth?
Do you know, I think it would have been 200-300 a few years ago,
possibly a bit more.
I think it's now 150-200.
Two types of collector, really -
the really academic collector who's always looking for the rarity...
the one that he hasn't got in his collection.
The other collector is someone like you and me who actually likes it
as an object and it's really quite good fun
to have at a party to put it on.
"Look what I've got." It's a fun object.
Sounds like it's a "Come and buy me."
It's going under the hammer right now.
Edison Gem phonograph, straight in, 100.
100 bid, 100, 110.
220, 230. 240, 250.
-We're making sweet music now.
You in on the phones?
At 370. 380.
Back at 380.
At £380, I sell at the very back.
-380, you're all out down here...
-Yes, thank you very much.
There are two reasons why it sold well.
One is, it had its original horn. Secondly, obviously,
the price reflected the fact that the horn was held up
by a gold chain, and I'm sure whoever bought the object
would have done something else with the gold chain,
probably sold the gold chain
or wore the gold chain and put another wire on it.
So, there's a top tip for you -
if you want to bump up the auction value of your antique instrument,
offer the bidders a buy one, get one free deal.
Now, seemingly, James Lewis had an easier job when he valued
David's concertina, as it didn't come with any hidden extras.
Let's have a look at this.
"C Wheatstone and Co, inventors, patentees and manufacturers
"of concertinas, aeolas." Based in London.
Now, I'm not a specialist in the concertinas,
so I've phoned a few friends
and I looked it up on the internet before coming to the table here,
and Wheatstone's first concertinas are listed between 1842 and 1847.
This one is slightly later than that,
probably made between 1860 and 1890.
You take something in on a valuation day, and at the end of the day
we can see anything from a Roman coin
through to a 1960s lamp base
and it can be anything in between,
and we can't know everything about everything.
It's just really important to... just do that research.
The value really depends so much on how many keys
and the quality of the materials.
This one is ebonised rather than rosewood,
and the front and the back plates are pierced chrome
rather than pierced silver,
but it's still a very good model.
'There is a huge following for musical instruments.'
You tend to find that the buyers of the antique instruments
also have an interest in modern music
and they often play them themselves.
Whatever I get for it will go to restore an old guitar that I've got.
-Why not buy a new guitar?
Cos I like the one I've got.
It's from the '60s and it's a wee bit damaged.
I think it's going to make between £150 and £250.
Right. That'd be quite good.
How much do you think it's going to cost to have your guitars restored?
I reckon about £100, £150 to get them restored.
Fingers crossed that'll pay for it.
James admits he isn't an authority on concertinas,
so did his auction estimate prove to be on the money?
Anita Manning was the lady whose job it was to wield the gavel.
So what did SHE make of the concertina?
These concertinas come up on a fairly regular basis,
and when you see that name Wheatstone,
you know that's it's good.
Wheatstone is the Rolls-Royce...
I don't know if James had been talking to Anita,
but when it came to the auction,
he had second thoughts about his estimate.
On the valuation, I looked at it and thought, "Is it a good one,
-"or isn't it a good one?"
-It's a great make, it's the best.
Great make, but I didn't know if it was a really good one,
so we checked up on the internet. We thought, "Fabulous."
Yes? "Found that one, that one, they've all sold around £200.
"Let's put 150-250 on it." A week last Friday...
A week last Thursday, I was taking a sale
where I'd put exactly that estimate.
-I'm not going to tell you. I've written on here what it made.
We're going to have a grand reveal later on.
So what was the final outcome?
Had James under or overvalued David's Wheatstone concertina?
1,100 with Lara on the phone.
Any advance on 1,100? All done at 1,100. 1,100.
Why didn't you say that on the day?
Because it was only a week last Thursday.
By the end of it, I think he had enough money to buy a new guitar!
He didn't need to restore the old one.
It was a lovely story, that he had an old musical instrument
that meant something to him, that he was going to get restored,
and yeah, I hope he knows more about guitars
than I know about concertinas!
To be fair to James, it's easy to get things wrong
when it comes to musical instruments.
Prices ARE unpredictable.
There are many things to be aware of.
Always check condition. Concertina bellows are prone to splitting.
You've got a little bit of damage, obviously, on the actual pull-outs.
The other thing you have to look for is the number of keys.
They can be as low as 14 for quite poor-quality ones
and over 30-something for the very high-quality machines.
This one is mid-range.
-There's 25, I think, here.
Only the finest concertinas make big money,
because any inadequacies will affect the sale price.
300 standing. Any further bids? All done?
At 300 I'm selling, here.
That was short and sweet, wasn't it? £300.
But what other things do you need to be mindful of
when investing in different types of musical instruments?
If you want to play the saxophone and are buying at auction,
check out the fingering on the instrument,
which varies on models of different ages.
David demonstrates a nifty trick to increase the value of your antique.
Add a second valuable collectible to the lot.
If you're in the market for a violin, there's a lot to consider.
Check the table for cracks, which will affect the sound quality.
Be wary of labels.
Violins can purport to be something they are not.
Examine the bow, as it can be worth more than the violin.
And don't fret if the strings or bridge are missing.
These are easily replaced.
The 18th century was dominated with a new spirit of curiosity.
This was the Age of Enlightenment,
when serious thinkers believed in shedding the light of science
and reason over the world, questioning old ideas
and ways of doing things, pushing the boundaries of new technology.
Many great inventions took place during this period.
The first mercury thermometer, for instance, the diving bell -
there are many, many more.
And lots of fun things too, like a clock, that's in this room.
Let's go now.
And here it is, albeit a clock hanging from the ceiling,
obviously designed to put a smile on your face,
exactly what this little room does, as well, designed to titillate.
But let's take a closer look at the clock.
It's got a 4½" enamel dial with Roman numerals.
Now, clocks weren't new in the 18th century -
they go back a lot further - but this is a first
because the timepiece has a mechanical singing bird.
This enchanting type of antique is known as an automaton.
The term refers to an object which is self-operating
and works mechanically.
Automata can be split into two broad categories -
functional objects, such as clocks,
or collectables which are decorative
or entertaining, like the bird-cage clock.
Many of the automata we've seen on the show
have had a musical component.
These are singing bird boxes and they...
they are part of the sort of automaton tradition.
So it sort of flips up
and then you've got this pretty songbird
-which actually should be moving and flapping its wings.
-My estimate for this would be £500-£700.
At £1,100, I'm selling in the room,
it's going to be sold in the room at £1,100.
Yes! £1,100. Carol, fantastic.
Not all automata play a tune, though.
Those that don't can be just as captivating.
Most of the automata made in recent centuries
operate by clockwork, but automata have been around since ancient times
and some of the earliest examples were set in motion by water,
falling weights or steam.
Today, there is a massive worldwide market for all types of automata -
musical or otherwise.
Delightful objects from the period 1860 to 1910
are especially sought after,
as this was really the golden age of automata.
But be wary - our experts have a word of warning.
I think if you're going to look into collecting automata,
you want to go for the very best French makers
from the mid-to-late 19th century,
although they WILL be incredibly expensive.
Some of the finest ones can be £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 plus.
As a starter piece,
why not have a look at one of those birdcage automata
where you can pick up even a later, a 1950s one,
mechanical movement, clockwork bird in a cage,
you wind it and it tweets and it moves about,
and you can probably get one of those for between £100 and £300.
The number one thing is that it is working correctly,
and that the musical movement is in really perfect working order.
They are very, very expensive to have restored,
so get one in as good condition as you can find.
That WILL mean spending a bit more, but it's usually worth it.
I would recommend choosing an automaton
which will leave you spellbound.
Adam Partridge is firmly established as our resident musician.
So he's bound to have something intriguing in his own collection.
Well, I've always had an interest in musical instruments of all sorts,
specifically violins and stringed instruments,
and I couldn't resist it
when I saw this coming up quite cheaply for sale, because it is
quite a rare thing, it's an early 20th-century phonofiddle.
These were invented when the age of the gramophone started kicking in
and people were recording music onto records for playing in the home.
And recording techniques weren't that strong
so they decided that they'd make a violin with a horn on the end of it.
It was a novelty item, as well, and I think they were quite cheap
to produce and to buy, and they were used in music halls
and on the streets and busking and everything else.
Now, I've never really played it before, so, er...
it doesn't make a very nice sound,
I will warn you, it doesn't sound good. How about this?
SQUEAKY VIOLIN/CELLO SOUND
Do you recognise that?
It's my attempt at a bit of the "Flog It!" tune on a phonofiddle.
The main maker was Howson of London,
and there on the side of this one here
you can see the circular brass disc that shows his name.
There were a range of models and this was the basic one-string model.
But they did do a four-string model
which would have been a lot easier to play,
and it would have been a lot more helpful
if it was under the chin as well
because that's more what I'm used to -
I'm not used to this between-the-legs business -
very tricky indeed.
But quite a curiosity.
I think I paid about £50 for this one,
but I've seen them make £100 to £150 at auction before.
So hopefully one day there'll be a small profit for me,
although I don't plan on selling it any time soon.
-Yes! Hammer's gone down.
-I can't believe it.
We all love music,
and antique instruments are understandably attractive
to fledgeling collectors.
But anyone who's interested should proceed with caution.
It really is a specialist field,
with many pitfalls for the unsuspecting enthusiast.
As with any area of collecting, it is vitally important to research
any potential purchase thoroughly -
and, if necessary, do seek out expert advice.
Well, that's it for today's show.
Do join us again soon for more Trade Secrets.
The Flog It! team take a look at which antique musical instruments make sweet music in the saleroom.