Antique violins a tuneful reminder of ages past

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 13th September, 2013

It’s probably one of the greatest opportunities instrument lovers and child prodigy musicians have ever had to compare and acquire a genuine antique violin in Australia’s 225-year history.

Leski Auctions forthcoming two-day sale, from 5pm on Wednesday and Thursday at 13 Cato Street Hawthorn, features 45 of these stringed instruments belonging to a professional musician who has been collecting violins for more than 40 years.

All the instruments (which include several Stradivarius copies) are able to be played, date from the late 18th century and were made in various countries including Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

According to Leski Auctions managing director Charles Leski, the reason she acquired so many violins was because she could not resist hearing the same composition on different instruments to compare the sounds.

“The stringed instrument collection includes several rare single-string stroviols or phono-violins with horns to assist in recording music onto waxed cylinders in the late 19th and early 20th century,” he said.

“We sold a few violins about 12 months ago and the beauty of the auction was that musicians kept coming in during the viewing period and entertaining the staff (and other viewers) with their playing. Hopefully, this also will happen this time.”

The Leski auction contains many other fascinating sporting and historical memorabilia items including a personal letter with musical notation from famous German composer Felix Mendelssohn and a collection of newspapers from 1878 to 1881 detailing sagas of the Ned Kelly gang.

Another highlight is the rare and important early archive of police related material from the District of Port Phillip Colony of New South Wales, dating from 1842 – seven years after Melbourne’s establishment.

There also is a comprehensive range of military memorabilia and among the sporting items is Harold Larwood’s pullover from the 1932-33 Bodyline Test series and a single cigarette card depicting Tommy Leyden, Carlton’s captain from the late 1880s.


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