The “Once in a Lifetime” Piano Auction

      No Comments on The “Once in a Lifetime” Piano Auction

The Colt Clavier Collection of Historically Important Keyboard Instruments is being sold at a unique piano auction in June (2018). The scope of this sale is quite staggering.

the 114 keyboard instruments being sold

All 114 keyboard instruments being sold by the Colt Clavier Collection Trust (hover to zoom)

The collection is currently located in Bethersden, Kent, England. It was started by Charles F. Colt, in 1944.

The Colt family business was originally the manufacture of high quality poultry houses. All the rage in the early twentieth century! The company was founded in 1919. Such was the quality of their structures that they soon progressed to timber framed houses, and this became a highly desirable product. The company prospered, and continues to this day.

The success of the business enabled Colt to indulge his special interest  — collecting historic instruments, mostly pianos, from around the world. These he housed in a purpose built showroom on the Colt Homes estate. All the on-site show homes also each housed an instrument from the collection.

Charles Colt died in 1985, and the Colt Clavier Collection Trust, under the auspices of his widow [Lore] Barbara, was established to manage the collection. Barbara Colt subsequently died in 2016, at the age of over 100, and at that point the executors of her estate decided that the collection should be sold.

The 2017 Piano Auction

Five instruments from the collection were auctioned in April 2017 (detailed here with the realised and the estimated sale prices).

Thomas Tomkison grand piano

Thomas Tomkison grand piano, c1821

  • Thomas Tomkison (c1821) grand piano. £62,000 (est. £30,000-£50,000)
  • Conrad Graf (c1836) Viennese grand piano. £25,000 (est. £30,000-£40,000) 
  • Joseph Kirkman (c1800) double manual harpsichord. £20,000 (est. £20,000-£30,000)
  • Mathaeus Hielmann  (c1780) early Viennese grand piano. £48,000 (est. £30,000-£50,000)
  • A late 18th century clavichord in the manner of the Lindholm family. £11,500 (est. £15,000-£20,000).

These instruments were considered to have the the greatest historical merit. The story of the Tomkison grand piano was featured in an article published here last year.

Lichtenthal 'Dog Kennel' upright piano

Lot 54. A ‘Dog Kennel’ piano by Lichtenthal c.1840

The upcoming piano auction will include the remainder of the instruments. But it is the sheer size and quality of the collection that is remarkable. There are 187 lots of which over 100 are pianos and 9 are harpsichords. There are 46 grand pianos, 31 square pianos, 18 uprights (including upright grands), and a handful of other types of piano (console, pianino, piccolo, cottage, Albion, etc). Clavichords, spinets, virginals and a miscellany of other musical antiquities and accessories make up the numbers.

The auctioneers estimate that the Shudi & Broadwood double manual harpsichord (1790) will fetch the most (£40,000-£60,000), with the School of Stein grand piano (1785), and the Haschka grand piano (1815) both expected to make around £45,000. For those with more modest budget, you could possibly pick up an interesting Longman & Broderip square piano (1785) for around £500.

School of Stein Viennese grand piano

Lot 114. A Viennese grand piano, School of Stein, c1785

Piano Auction Details

The auction will take place on June 7th, 2018 at Canterbury Auction Galleries, 40 Station Road West, Canterbury, CT2 8AN, UK.

Viewing is on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th June at The Colt Hall, Pluckley Road, Bethersden, Ashford, TN26 3DD, UK. Entry to view (2 persons) is by catalogue, price £10.00.

The auction is held in conjunction with Piano Auctions Ltd.

Colt Clavier Collection: Auction items listed in date order

A double-manual harpsichord by Mahoon, London1738
A bentside spinet by Mahoon, Londoncirca 1740
A single-manual harpsichord by Kirckman, London1750
A square piano by Ganer, London1779
A 'lying harp' piano possibly by Johann Matthäus Schmahlcirca 1780
A square piano by Simpson, Londoncirca 1780
A single-manual harpsichord by Kirckman, London1781
A spinet shaped transverse grand piano by Crang Hancock, London1782
A portable square piano by Verel, London1783
A square piano by Broadwood, London1784
A Claviorganum by Merlin, London1784
An anonymous Clavecin Royal, Germanycirca 1785
A square piano by Longman & Broderip, Londoncirca 1785
An anonymous grand piano now a harpsichordcirca 1785
A grand piano, school of Stein, probably south Germancirca 1785
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1787
A square piano by Broadwood, London1787
A square piano by Broadwood, London1788
A square piano by Haxby, York1789
A square piano by Ganer, Londoncirca 1790
A double-manual harpsichord by Shudi & Broadwood, London1790
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1794
A square piano by Longman and Broderip, London1796
A grand piano by Broadwood. London1797
A late 18th, or early 19th century style grand piano after Könnicke
A late 18th, or early 19th century style grand piano after Walter by Marfleet, Witney
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1800
A square piano by Erard, Paris1804
A square piano by Rolfe, Londoncirca 1805
A small organ by Longman, Londoncirca 1805
A square piano by Thomas Tomkison, Londoncirca 1805
A grand piano by M. A. Stein, Viennacirca 1805
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1806
A grand piano by Thomas Tomkison, Londoncirca 1807
A square piano by Jones, Londoncirca 1807
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1808
An upright grand piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1809
A grand piano by Broadwood. Londoncirca 1810
A grand piano by Heilman, Mainzcirca 1810
A small cabinet piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1810
An upright grand piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1810
A grand piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1812
An upright square piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1812
A square piano by Broadwood, Londoncirca 1812
A square piano by Broadwood, Londoncirca 1813
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1814
A grand piano by Haschka, Viennacirca 1815
A grand piano by Louis Dulcken, Munichcirca 1816
A grand piano by Erard, Paris1818
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1819
A grand piano by Broadwood, Londoncirca 1819
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1819
A square piano by Rolfe, Londoncirca 1820
A Square piano by Broadwood, London1820
An anonymous 'giraffe' upright piano, probably Viennacirca 1820
A square piano by Frey, Paris 1820
An upright grand piano by Stodart, Londoncirca 1820
A grand piano by Kirkman, Londoncirca 1820
A square piano by Clementi, Londoncirca 1821
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1821
An upright 'cottage' piano by Broadwood, London 1821
A square piano by Clementi, London1823
A Square piano by Broadwood, Londoncirca 1824
A grand piano by Mott, London1824
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1824
A square piano attributed to Doerner, Stuttgartcirca 1825
An upright combined barrel piano by Henderson, Londoncirca 1825
An upright piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1825
A grand piano by Haschka, Viennacirca 1825
A square piano by Mott, Londoncirca 1825
A square piano by Doerner, Stuttgartcirca 1825
A square piano by Rädecker & Lunau, Lübeckcirca 1825
A square piano by Broadwood, London1825
A grand piano by Broadwood, Londoncirca 1827
A grand piano by Tischner, St. Petersburgcirca 1828
An upright Lyraflügel by Schleip, Berlincirca 1828
A grand piano by Pleyel, Pariscirca 1829
A 'Piccolo' upright piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1830
A grand piano by Götting, Viennacirca 1830
A square piano by Pape, Paris1834
An upright grand piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1835
A 'Pianino' upright piano by Pleyel, Pariscirca 1835
A grand piano by Graf, Viennacirca 1835
A grand piano by Schmidt, Pressburg (now Bratislava)circa 1835
A 'Pocket' grand piano by Robert Wornum, Londoncirca 1837
A square piano by Pleyel, Paris1838
An 'Imperial Grand Piano by Robert Wornum, Londoncirca 1838
A console piano by Pape, Paris1840
An upright 'Dog Kennel' piano by Lichtenthal, Brusselscirca 1840
An upright piano by Butcher, Londoncirca 1840
A 'Pocket' grand piano by Robert Wornum, London circa 1841
An 'Albion' piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1845
An 'Albion' piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1845
A grand piano by Broadwood, London1846
A grand piano by Schneider, Viennacirca 1851
A grand piano by Wornum, Londoncirca 1852
A grand piano by Bord, Pariscirca 1855
A grand piano by Bösendorfer, Viennacirca 1864
An upright piano by Erard, Paris1864
An upright piano by Pleyel, Paris1864
A grand piano by Erard, Londoncirca 1868
A square piano by Steinway, New Yorkcirca 1870
A grand piano by Chickering, Bostoncirca 1870
A 'barless' grand piano by Broadwood, London1889
An upright piano by Collard Moutrie, Londoncirca 1890
A Dulcitone by Machell, Glasgow circa
A double-manual harpsichord by Gaveau, Paris1912
A double-manual harpsichord by Tull, Londoncirca 1935
A reproduction 18th century style grand piano after Louis Dulcken
A model 12 clavichord by Sperrhake, Passau1964
A Triangular spinet by Sperrhake, Passaucirca 1966
A virginals by William Foster, Luccacirca 1970
A modern Italian style harpsichord1973
A spinet-style 'Acrosonic' upright piano by Baldwincirca 1980


If you’d like to receive news of more posts, please subscribe…

you can also follow World Piano News on Instagram…



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *