Freeman's

Department Specialist


Published: 6 October 2015

An Auction of Note | The Inaugural Sale of Musical Instruments

A very fine Italian violoncello by Joannes Tononi of Bologna. Estimate $150,000-350,000Freeman's will hold its inaugural auction of Musical Instruments on November 20. Philadelphia’s vibrant cultural life has attracted musical instrument makers to the city from the earliest days of its settlement.  Freeman’s premier Musical Instruments sale is set against the backdrop of this rich history.  Led by Frederick Oster, an internationally recognized authority on the violin family and American fretted instruments, this sale brings together the highest quality instruments that represent generations of craftsmanship and a diversity of work from around the world.  Highlights include a fine Italian Violoncello by Johannes Tononi of Bologna c.1700, a violin by Herrmann Todt, Markneukirchen, 1914, and a c.1880 C.F. Martin 0-40 guitar used in performances and recordings by legendary folk singer and activist Joan Baez.

Freeman's was pleased to announce the collaboration with Mr. Oster and the addition of a Musical Instruments sale to the fall auction calendar earlier this spring,  “Freeman’s is delighted about our partnership with Frederick Oster and the new auction he will curate with our firm. He possesses a wealth of knowledge within this category, which is a virtually untapped market with a robust demand,” said Chairman Samuel  M. “Beau” Freeman. 

A highlight of the Musical Instruments sale at Freeman's  is a fine Italian violoncello by Joannes Tononi of Bologna (1640-1713). This cello was crafted circa 1690 and has an attractive two-piece back of irregularly grained maple, cut on the slab, a reddish-brown varnish over a golden ground, and a back length of just under 29 inches. It bears a label—Carlo Tononi Bolognese / Fece in Venezia l’A:1727— and was sold to Lucien Kirsch Laporte as the work of Joannes’s son, Carlo Tononi, by renowned violin dealer, Emil Herrmann. This instrument, estimated at $150,000-250,000, is accompanied by Herrmann’s certificate of authenticity, as well as a certificate to Laporte from violin expert and restorer, Hans Weisshaar, that it is the work of Carlo Tononi. This violoncello was also formerly owned by cellist Peter Stumpf, and is now part of the estate of musician and philanthropist Lachlan Pitcairn of Bryn Athyn.

A C. F. Martin Guitar, Style 0-40, c.1880  Estimate $10,000-15,000Also featured is  a 1914 violin by Hermann Todt of Markneukirchen, Germany, which took as its inspiration the 1733 “Lafont-Siskovsky” violin by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu of Cremona, Italy.  Like other highly regarded violins, which often travel through time with the names of a significant previous owner, the Guarnerius had derived its name in part from Charles Philippe Lafont, a renowned French violinist and composer.  Heinrich Hermann Todt (1862-1929) was one of the most highly skilled violin makers in Markneukirchen, a town in the Vogtland region of Germany. Known as the most prolific instrument  making region in Europe, it has historically been an area referred to as the “music pocket.” The Hermann Todt violin, estimated at $10,000-15,000, is a particularly handsome example of this maker’s work, in overall excellent condition, strong sounding, and quite suitable for a professional musician.

Collectors of fine guitars and folk music fans alike will take note of the c.1880 C.F. Martin 0-40  guitar being offered in this auction.  From 1966 to 1968 it traveled the world performing and recording with iconic American songwriter, musician, and activist Joan Baez.  The instrument is pictured prominently on album covers such as the Japanese release of  “David’s Album,” and press photos.  It is also featured on extended play recordings released in conjunction with concerts in Japan, France, Spain and Italy. Despite its age and seeming delicacy, the Martin toured the world and accompanied Baez’s commanding vocal presence. Estimated at $10,000-15,000, and accompanied by its 1960s hard case, this guitar is alive with history, and ready to see what adventures lay ahead for it.

Notable Lots of the November 20 Musical Instruments Auction

  • A Very Fine Italian Violin by Tomasso Balestrieri, Mantua. Certificates: Rembert Wurlitzer, New York, dated August 4, 1964, and signed by Simone F. Sacconi, with accompanying letter; William Moennig and Son, Phil;adelphia, dated December 2, 1964;  Appraisal Letter: William Moennig & Son, Philadelphia dated December 2, 1964. Estimate  $300,000-350,000
  • A Very Fine Italian Violoncello by Joannes Tononi of Bologna. Certificates: Emil Herrmann, New York, dated February 1, 1946, stating it to be the work of Carlo Tononi; Hans Weisshaar, Los Angeles, dated April 23, 1954, as the work of Carlo Tononi. Estimate  $150,000-300,000
  • A Fine French Viola by J. B. Vuillaume, Paris, 1862. Certificate: Dario D'Atili, dated Nov. 17, 1984. Estimate $120,000 - $150,000
  • A Fine Italian Violin by Giovanni Battista Rogeri, Brescia, circa 1690. Labeled: Jo. Bapt Rogerius Bon. Nicolai Amati de Cremo/na alumnius Brixiae fecit Anno Domini, 1703.  Accompanied by a handwritten letter from Jaroslav Siskovsy who purchased the violin from Isaac Stern of New York City, who had received it from Caressa & Cie of Paris.  Siskovsky used the violin from 1919 to 1931 as a member of the New York String Quartet.  The violin was sold to Mr. Cyril H. Jones  of Massachusetts in 1953. Estimate $100,000-150,000
  • An Italian Violin by Gaetano Pasta, Milan. Labeled  Gia. Bapt. Grancino in Contrada/ Largha di Milano anno 1699. Estimate $40,000-50,000

For more information about the works being offered in the November 20 auction of Musical Instruments, please contact:

 

Frederick Oster, Consulting Specialist | 215.940.9830 | foster@freemansauction.com

 

Whitney Long, Department Administrator | 267.414.1210 | wlong@freemansauction.com

 

Browse the Auction Catalogue

Images: A very fine Italian violoncello by Joannes Tononi of Bologna. Estimate $150,000-350,000, A C. F. Martin Guitar, Style 0-40, c.1880  Estimate $10,000-15,000.

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