By Stephanie Powell
An unrestored c. 1789 Ferdinando Gagliano violin exceeded its estimated bid of £65,000-£85,000 at Ingles & Hayday’s October auction. The instrument, which was purchased by a Neapolitan noblewoman at the end of the 18th century and later remained in the Cafisi family for more than 200 years, sold for £180,000. The bass bar, blocks, and linings are original, and the varnish appears to be untouched, offering an untampered insight into Gagliano’s approach.
Winston Churchill’s “Cigar Box” violin sold for £6,600. The back piece is inscribed with “Selección Privada, Fabrica Tabacos Don Joaquin, Habana” and under the bridge of the violin it reads “Made in Havana – Cuba.” The makeshift violin was made by William Robinson in 1956 and was played by Yehudi Menuhin in 1958, adding notoriety to the cigar-box-turned-fiddle. Also of note, a 1715 Giovanni Battista Grancino II violin sold for £144,000 and the 1788 “ex-Albert Caressa” Tomasso Balestrieri violin sold for £300,000.