Unique collection of antique and contemporary pianos belonging to Queen's piano restorer up for sale

American collector and restorer David Winston is putting a collection of 26 rare pianos up for auction

Published: July 21, 2021 at 9:48 am

A private collection of rare antique and contemporary pianos is soon to be available for sale. The American collector and restorer David Winston is putting a collection of 26 instruments on the open market for auction. Winston holds a Royal Warrant as restorer and conservator of pianos to HM Queen Elizabeth II.


The set of pianos dates from the 18th century to the present day. Among the most valuable of the collection is the 1925 Pleyel grand piano, which has been fitted with an original 'Auto Pleyela' mechanism. Complete with a Chinoiserie Louis XV case, it's estimated to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000.

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Chinoiserie Pleyel

Another of the Pleyel pianos is a double piano, one of only 50 ever made. It was bought in 1946 by pianist Madeline Lious, wife of the French novelist and politician Andre Malraux. The piano travelled back and forth across the Atlantic with her. It was recently used on tour in Paris and London for a recreation of the premiere performance of Stravinsky's Les Noces, in which two Pleyel Double Grands were used. It comes with a guide price of £30,000-£50,000.

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Pleyel Double Grand

Another of the instruments featured in the collection was bought directly from the second RMS Mauretania, the largest ocean liner in England of its time, when it was decommissioned in 1965. It has an Art Deco walnut case.

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Mauretania Piano

There is also a very early Bluthner piano dating from 1854, which features signatures from musicians of the day, including the Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who went on to become the prime minister of Poland.

One of David Winston's original pianos included in the collection is a copy of a Viennese fortepiano designed in 1991, and played in recent years by pianist Imogen Cooper, in a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. It was the first piano ever built by Winston and is considered his best, having been used in recordings and concerts by leading musicians.

Who is David Winston?

David Winston is one of the top piano restorers in the world, holding a Royal Warrant as restorer and conservator of pianos for HM The Queen. He has restored some of the world's most valuable pianos, including those owned and played by Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt.

Winston originally trained as a violin maker before moving into keyboard instruments. He established his Period Piano Company in 1976 and was awarded the Royal Warrant in 2012.


The David Winston Piano Collection will be auctioned by Dreweatts on Thursday 23 September. The auction catalogue will be available online one month before the sale.


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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