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Musical Davenport Desk Sells for £9,500

18th May 2023.

A rare musical ‘Captain’s Desk’ Davenport sold for £9,500 (plus buyer’s premium) in Tennants Auctioneers’ Scientific and Musical Instruments, Cameras, and Tools Sale on 17th May. At first glance this piece, which was made circa 1875-80, appears to be purely a well veneered compact desk with a sloped piano-lid over an extendable writing desk. However, concealed within the burr-walnut finished body is a finely made musical box.

This rare piece is at the intersection of furniture making and mechanical musical instruments and displays the cooperative artisanship of multiple makers. The musical box was made by A.B Bremond, a Swiss musical box maker whose main body of work dates to the mid to late nineteenth century. The mechanism for changing the cylinders bears the mark of Blumberg and Co., a London based cabinet maker last documented in 1871, and the Davenport casework has been ascribed to Edwards and Roberts, a successful furniture maker and retailer in London. Very few such pieces have ever appeared on the open market.

Amongst the musical instruments in the sale, a good 1978 Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar sold for £2,200 and two violins exceeded expectations to sell well at £2,500 and £1,200. Mandolins were also much in demand, with a modern example made by Phil Davidson of Bristol selling for £900, and one made by Collings of Austin, Texas selling for £950.

The Scientific section of the sale was led by a good Brass Reflecting Telescope, which sold for £1,000 and a mid-19th century Pharmacy Leech Jar and Cover made by Samuel Alcock & Co., which sold for £900. Also of interest to collectors of optical instruments was a Zograscope, an optical device for magnifying specially printed cards (sold for £180). The Zograscope gave the image on the card usually a topographical or architectural view, an enhanced depth of field; they were popular in the Georgian era.

The sale achieved a total hammer price of £49,490 for the 183 lots, and an 86% sold rate.


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