Distinctive piano goes up for sale for first time in over a century

The piano The piano

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
1:13 PM

One of a handful of unusual pianos designed and built more than 100 years ago is due to be auctioned for the first time since it was made, by Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers on Tuesday, January 28.

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The piano was one of five designed by Charles Robert Ashbee, a leading figure in the Arts & Crafts movement at the start of the last century.

This instrument was designed for the Guild of Handicrafts and built by the celebrated piano manufacturer John Broadwood & Co in 1904 – a company associated with some of the greatest pianos ever made.

Sworders believe this is the last of the five pianos to be located – the other four are in museums or private collections.

The piano has been put up for sale with a guide price £10,000-£15,000.

John Black, of Sworders, said: “This instrument is of museum quality and embodies everything about the Arts & Crafts era in its design.

“It has a beautiful mahogany case with a stained holly wood interior and is exceptionally rare. Instead of lifting a lid, there are two doors which open to either side. It’s a really fine piece of furniture and historically very exciting.”

The Decorative Art & Design Sale is also auctioning 18 paintings of the Essex artists Edward and Richard Bawden. The watercolours include two by Edward Bawden; ‘Audley End Trees’ estimated for sale between £4,000-£6,000 and a painting entitled ‘Ives Farm, Great Bardfield’ with a guide price of £3,000-£5,000.

The sale is offering 150 lots of modern Danish and English furniture.

Mr Black added: “This furniture is fashionable now but is still at very affordable prices. Twenty years ago some of it was simply thrown out by owners but currently it’s very sought after and looks good in modern homes.”

Sworders’ decorative art and design sale is on Tuesday, January 28 at its auction rooms off Cambridge Road.

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