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8 The Chronicle, Thursday, 19th November, 2009. www.chronicleseries.co.uk
Mechanical music man’s rare collection is on sale
One man’s lifetime collection of musical instruments is to be sold by local auctioneer Adam Partridge.
And the remarkable line-up of barrel organs, phonographs, wind-up gramophones and discplaying symphonions, polyphons and other rare and antique mechanical music machines will go under the hammer in a sale which has set collectors buzzing worldwide.
The late John Nixon, of Biddulph Moor, who died in July aged 59, was a familiar figure at steam fairs and traction engine rallies throughout the country and even opened his home to the public so his collection could be seen, heard and enjoyed by the widest audience.
The sale at The Gate Hall, Chain and Gate, North Rode, is on Saturday.
Highlights include: ● A Victorian walnut cased
Polyphon complete with 10 assorted discs, which is estimated at £1,500-2,500;
● a late 19th century walnut Symphonion with 10 discs (£2,000-3,000);
● an early 20th century orchestrion by Kuhl and Klatt of Berlin (£1,200-1,800);
● a Weber baby grand “duoArt” player piano by Aeolian Co with 23 rolls (£800-1,000);
● a late 19th century aeolian orchestrelle player organ in fine mahogany case (£600-800);
• Mr Nixon’s favourite, a late 19th century ebonised and gilt street barrel piano by Pasquale of London (£500-700);
• a French clockwork piano orchestrion by Leon Deletombe (£500-700);
• an ebonised “Piano Concerto Brevettato” organette plating from 10 books of music cards (£500-600);
• a late 19th century Bruder barrel organ (£400-600)
• a Pennyano coin operated clockwork barrel piano by Keith Prowse playing 10 tunes, one of them “Tricky Mickey Mouse”, 1927 (£300-500);
● an early 20th century portable reed barrel organ by A Veretto and Sons, Manchester (£300-500);
This 19th century walnut Symphonion makes a marvellous sound from its revolving steel disc. It’s estimated at £2,000-3,000.
● Edison phonographs and wax cylinders (£150-250).
Mr Nixon was born in Biddulph Moor and educated at Biddulph Moor Primary School and Knypersley Hall Secondary School. He showed an early aptitude for mechanical engineering and joined the staff at Polarcold in Congleton.
However, a serious workrelated accident in 1988 left him disabled and effectively ended his career but he found light work at a Congleton fitness centre where he was employed to assemble and service equipment.
Being a confirmed bachelor, however, he was able to give full rein to his passion for so-called mechanical music machines. He had badges commemorating steam rallies all over the country dating back to 1962.
He purchased his first windup gramophone in 1973 — one
An old photo of mechanical music fanatic Mr Nixon, pictured with his 19th century street barrel piano. Hear it on YouTube prior to its sale. It’s estimated at £600-700.
A German-made Orchestrion - an orchestra complete with xylophone in an oak box - which is estimated at £1,200-1,800 in the sale.
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of several in the sale — and never stopped acquiring more and more examples of devices to produce music from the days before electricity.
From 1977, Mr Nixon was a familiar sight at steam rallies, charity events and weddings dressed in flat cap, waistcoat, red neckerchief and clogs with his 19th century street barrel piano, becoming known as “Cloggy” and “The Music Man”. The Pasquale piano — lot 255 in the sale — is estimated at £500-700.
He built his own organ shed in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection and began inviting friends from around the country to enjoy the music.
On the Good Friday bank holiday in 1992, Mr Nixon staged the first of his open days, which proved so popular that it became an annual event, many visitors saying that it was through him that they first became interested in mechanical music.
Following his accident, Mr Nixon started touring the country to attend rallies and shows, later becoming a regular traveller as a crew member with the Show Organ Society’s Whites Mammoth Gavioli fairground organ.
In recent years, although still
This Weber baby grand piano is not what it seems. It’s a Pianola and you can hear it play, sans pianist, on YouTube. It’s estimated at £800-1,000. a regular at events, he spent more time in his workshop, where although only a hobby, he was an accomplished blacksmith.
A stalwart member of the Fair Organ Preservation Society, Mr Nixon was a great worker for charity and was well-known for his wry sense of humour and his catch phrase “Just be good”.
A memorial at Biddulph Moor Village Hall in September was attended by a large gathering of more than 200 of his friends and fellow collectors.
Pictures of Mr Nixon’s life were displayed around the hall and Mr Nixon’s favourite fair
organ and mechanical music was played.
In a new departure, the auctioneers have arranged for anyone interested to be able to hear some of the mechanical instruments in the sale on the internet. Videos can be downloaded by searching for “adam partridge auction” at www.YouTube.com.
The collection includes a large number of organ and pianola rolls; a selection of fairground photographs, books, music records, cassettes and CDs; musical instruments and a collection of enamel advertising signs.
Mr Nixon’s fellow collectors are expected to be among the bidders at the sale, viewing for which is tomorrow (Friday), from 2-8pm.
The fully illustrated auction catalogue can be viewed online at www.adampartridge.co.uk and it will also be possible to bid in the sale in real time via the Internet by registering at www.the-saleroom.com.
Telephone and commission bidding can also be arranged through the auctioneers.
For further information contact Mark Littler at Adam Partridge, phone 01260 274603.
Buyers have homed in yet another rhino horn
A story in the “Chronicle” has led to the sale of an ancient libation cup at auction for £23,000.
The cup’s owners had seen a story published in September about a rhino horn, which sold for £27,000, and took their artefact to the local auctioneers, Adam Partridge, who organised the previous sale.
The cup, covered with sculptures of birds, was carved from the base of a rhinoceros horn, and is believed to date back from 17th century China. The auctioneers say it is a perfect example of how popular Eastern artefacts have proven to be in recent sales.
The cup, which had some chips but was otherwise in good condition, sold at an auction at Adam Partridge’s showroom on 6th November, and was the biggest sale of a day when 1,100 lots fetched £170,000.
Mark Littler, saleroom manager, said: “If it would have been in a bit better condition it could have gone for up to £30,000 but
The second rhino horn that Adam Partridge has recently sold for more than £20,000.
£23,000 is still a fantastic figure. Our most optimistic predictions were for £10-15,000.
“The owners saw how much
the last one made and realised they had a similar item tucked away.
“It shows what type of things can be tucked away in someone’s cupboard.”
A new name to note in fresh fruit and vegetables
For a great range of fresh meats, tasty local produce and high-class fruit and vegetables, drop in to The Pomegranate on Biddulph Road, Mossley.
Formerly Hightown Produce, The Pomegranate has been opened by locals William Byrom and Colin Couchman, who will be holding an open day at the store on Saturday, 21st November.
Visitors to the newly refurbished shop will get to sip mulled wine and munch mince pies, as they browse the scrumptious selection of produce, ranging from fresh, high quality fruit and veg, to cooking sauces and jams.
The Pomegranate promote free
range, local produce and stock a wide variety of fresh meats, all sourced locally, including bacon, sausage and chicken, along with cheeses and appetising accompaniments, such as chutneys, pickles and preserves.
Christmas orders are now being taken, in store and over the phone, and The Pomegranate has a great stock of festive food hampers, as well as tasty Cheshire turkeys to take pride of place on the dinner table.
The open day starts at 9am on Saturday and people can feel free to take advantage of the delivery service.
For more information, or to make an order, call 01260 276414.
He believes someone serving in the military in the East bought the cup to England.
The popularity of such items could be down to Chinese dealers buying back many of their country’s “lost” artefacts, according to Mr Littler, who said many of the offers came from Chinese bidders.
He added: “The market for Chinese artefacts is so strong at the moment. Now is definitely the time to sell. Money seems to be no object to some of the collectors buying these items.”