Maggs Bros Ltd

A General History of the Science and Practice of Music. In Five Volumes.

HAWKINS Sir John (1776)

£2250.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

First Edition. 5 vols. 4to. [8], lxxxiv, 465; [iv], 544; [iv], 535; [iv], 548; Early 19th-century half russia, marbled boards, uncut (rebacked, preserving the original heavily gilt first, fourth, fifth and sixth panels, the second and third panels lettered in gilt). With the half-titles. Occasional heavy foxing, light spotting in some places, offsetting from the engraved music, generally good. Vol.1 with an engraved frontispiece by Grignion after Cipriani (foxed and offset onto the title) and 5 plates of ancient instruments plus numerous engraved plates of music (from half to full-page) in the text; Vols. 2-5 with numerous engraved plates of music (from quarter to full-page and numerous engraved medallion portraits in the text; numerous other woodcut illustrations of instruments, etc., in the text.

London: for T. Payne and Son,

Provenance 1:  

Thomas Park (1758/9-1834), antiquary and bibliographer, with signature and inscription on the front pastedown of vol. 1: "TPark, Feb: 20. 1807. The Gift of the Miss Adams's in remembrance of their worthy Father" and with a letter from the Miss Adams's to Mrs Park [Maria Hester Reynolds (1760-1813), composer and keyboard player]. The volumes contain sporadic notes by Park in pencil and ink, in the margins and occasionally on separate leaves of paper tipped-in.

As well as tipped-in handwritten notes, the volumes also contain several other oddments and clippings inserted by Park. Volume Four contains several sheets tipped-in to the front pastedown, including an advertisement for a performance of pieces by Bach and Handel on ‘Wednesday, November 29, 1809’ (with ‘To Mr. Park Church Row Hampstead’ written in ink on the rear side) and two other advertisements for organ recitals by a ‘Mr. Jacob’, respectively dated ‘Thursday, 12 May, 1812’ and ‘Tuesday, May 24th, 1814’. Volume Five contains an envelope addressed to Thomas Park tipped into inside front cover.

Provenance 2:

Gilt bookplates of Samuel Appleby attached to inside cover of each volume.

Samuel Appleby is registered in the admissions book for Gray’s Inn, listed as being admitted on the 8th of July 1825. His father was Thomas Appleby, who owned a collection of “valuable papers referring to the violinist Bridgetower” and “was a leader in the musical world of Manchester, England, and a principal director of concerts there” (Thayer, 1921). Peter Clive (2001) described Samuel Appleby as “a great music lover”, a passion he presumably inherited from his father. Clive (2001) also suggests that Appleby acted as solicitor to Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846), the Italian composer and double bassist, who lived in London from 1794-1846.

Bound in Volume Four, p. 345. (on the violin-makers of Cremona), is a copy of the original auction catalogue of classical instruments belonging to Sir William Curtis (1752-1829), of Portland Place. The sale, which took place on “Thursday the 3rd Day of May, 1827”, is widely considered to be amongst the most famous, and certainly most prestigious, auctions of classical instruments of all time.

The catalogue itself is extremely rare and does not appear on Copac. Although now unfolded, it has been folded as a letter, with the original seal, addressed to ‘Appleby Esq. Baynards Building, Gray’s Inn’. Considering that the sale took place in 1827 and we have confirmation that Samuel Appleby was admitted to Gray’s Inn only two years previously in 1825 (see above), there can be little doubt that this is the very same Appleby whose bookplates are attached to each volume of this set.

The catalogue also contains two penciled notes (detailed below) in what appears to be a contemporary hand. Glued to the front page of the catalogue is a newspaper clipping detailing the incarceration of Joseph Guarnerius (maker of the cello in Lot XI) with a penciled note expanding upon the reason for his imprisonment.

The son of Joseph Curtis, a sea biscuit manufacturer, William Curtis was amongst the earliest English violin collectors in Britain and enjoyed a successful career as a shipping merchant and, later, as a politician (ODNB). Curtis served as MP for the City of London from 1790-1818, was appointed to the ceremonial post of Lord Mayor of London from 1795-1796 and made Baronet of Culland’s Grove in 1802, becoming ‘Sir William Curtis’ (ODNB).

Curtis was an avid amateur musician, primarily playing violin and cello, and it was most likely this shared interest that bonded his famous friendship with the future King George IV, then the Prince of Wales, who was himself “an enthusiastic cellist. Curtis often took part in concerts with the Prince’s personal orchestra, and it has been said the Prince and Curtis could be heard singing duets together during the performances” (Brazil, 2010). It is thought that this passion for simply playing music was the driving force behind Curtis’s own collection, amassing a range of instruments so that his guests would not need to bring their own when staying with him (Margolis).

The sale, organised by “Mr. W. P. Musgrave”, took place on Thursday the 3rd of May 1827, just under two years prior to Curtis’s death on the 18th of January 1829, and consisted of eleven instruments in total: “One Violin, Three Tenors, and Seven Violoncellos; By those distinguished Makers, Straduarius, The Three Amatis, Joseph & Andrew Guanarius”. Interestingly, the majority of the lots in Curtis’s collection were bought in as instrument collecting had not yet become fashionable among Britain’s bourgeoisie (Margolis). However, Curtis’s collection represents a remarkable showcase of the works of the violin-makers of Cremona and the majority of the items have since been dispersed across some of the most famous collections of classical instruments in the world.

The instruments listed in the catalogue are as follows:

“Lot I. A Violoncello by “Antonius et Hieronymus Fr: Amati Cremonen: Andreae fil: F 16-.” A very superior and brilliant toned Instrument.”

“Lot II. A Violoncello by Andreas Guanarius. A specimen of exquisite workmanship, beautiful Wood, and possessing a full rich Tone.”

“Lot III. A Violoncello by “Antonius et Hieronymus Fr: Amati.” This instrument was the property of the late Mr. Bartleman, and justly prized by him as one of the best he had ever used.”

Although described in the catalogue as made by Antoine and Jerome Amati, it was in fact the work of Francesco Ruggieri. This mistake was corrected by the auctioneer at the time of the sale and was bought by a Mr. Kramer for 70 guineas, acting on behalf of King George IV (Smith, 1864). The cello has been a part of the Royal Academy of Music museum collection since 1995.

“Lot IV. A Tenor by “Andreas Guanarius, fecit Cremonae, sub titulo Sanctae Teresiae, 1676.” A particularly fine Shape and Tone.”

This instrument is commonly known as the ‘Conte Vitale’ viola by Andrea Guarneri. Although it went unsold at Curtis’s auction, it was owned by the collector Dr. Felix Landau and was famously played by the Scottish violinist William Primrose (1904-1982) during the early twentieth century. It is currently part of the collection of David Fulton.

“Lot V. A Tenor by “Antonius et Hieronymus Fr: Amati, Cremonen: Andreae fil, fecit 16-“ A powerful and brilliant Instrument.”  

“Lot VI. A Tenor by “Antonius Straduarius, Cremonensis faciebat, Anno 1696 ATS” The beauty and high state of preservation of this Instrument, constitute it as one of the most valuable specimens of this celebrated Artist’s work; its Tone may be rivalled, but cannot be surpassed.”

Commonly referred to as the Spanish Court Strad viola, it was part of a set of decorated Stradivari instruments made for the Spanish Court. This viola went unsold at the auction but was later acquired by the collectors John Adam, the Duc de Camposelice, Charles Oldham and Richard Bennett, before finally being purchased by W.E. Hill & Sons in the 1920s (Margolis). The Hills kept the instrument until 1945, whereupon they returned it to Spain and it has been housed in the Royal Palace, Madrid since 2002.

“Lot VII. A Violoncello “Antonius Straduarius, Cremonensis faciebat, Anno 1684.” The remarks on the proceeding Lot will equally apply to this instrument, with the exception that it has been less used. It was originally made by Straduarius for a Corfiote Nobleman, who having received it in Corfu, deposited it in a Chest, with Cotton, where, there is every reason to believe, it remained for a Century. A descendant of the family discovered it a few years since and conveyed it to Venice, in which city it was purchased at a great price.” [with a penciled note below: “by the late General Kydd who gave it to Mr. Curtis.”]

The ‘General Kyd’ Strad cello, also unsold, was later acquired by the collector James Goding and is now owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The instrument was stolen from the principal cellist’s porch on the 25th of April, 2004 but was found several weeks later by a local nurse who spotted a plastic case set against dustbin. The nurse took it home where the cello was almost turned into an extravagant CD case. Fortunately this plan did not materialize and the instrument was returned to its home after the nurse happened to see a report about the theft on the news (Broder, 2004). It is still owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Lot VIII. A Violin by “Nicolaus Amati, Cremonen: Hieronymi fil ac Antonii Nepos fecit 1647.” This is justly considered as one of the most beautiful and finest toned instrument in the whole world.”

This violin by Nicolo Amati, the only violin to appear in the catalogue, went unsold at the auction. However, some thirty years later, it was acquired by Ole Bull (1810-1880), the Norwegian violinist and composer, after whom it is now named ‘The Ole Bull Amati’. The violin was deposited in the vaults of a Boston bank in 1913 where it remained untouched until 1966 (Smith, 1983). It was then bought by Mortimer Smith and was eventually donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1997 by Herbert R. Axelrod. It is now part of the Axelrod quartet.

“Lot IX. A Violoncello by “Andreas Amati, Cremonensis faciebat, 1572.” A document was given to the Proprietor when he purchased this Instrument stating, that it was present by Pope Pius 5th, to Charles 9th, King of France, for his Chapel. It has been richly painted, the Arms of France being on the back, and the motto “Pietate et Justita” on the sides. The Tone of this Violoncello is of extraordinary power and richness.”

Commonly referred to simply as ‘The King’, this cello was put up at five hundred guineas at the Curtis sale and was bought in at two hundred and eighty (Polanski & Heron-Allen, 1894). The description in the catalogue is accurate. It is thought to be part of a set of thirty eight instruments that Charles IX of France had ordered from Andrea Amati. From 1984, the cello has been housed in the ‘Shrine to Music’ at the National Music Museum, South Dakota.

“Lot X. A Violoncello by “Antonius et Hieronymus Fr: Amati Cremonen: Andreae fil: F. 1694.” This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and finely toned Instruments ever manufactured by those distinguished Artists, and is moreover in the highest state of brilliant preservation.”

“Lot XI. A Violoncello by “Joseph Guanarius, fecit Cremonensis, sub Titul Sanctae Teresiae, Anno 1684.” An Instrument almost unrivalled in beauty of wood and shape, possessing likewise a clear, rich, and brilliant Tone.” [with a penciled note below: ‘X Son of Andrea Guarneri]

Stock Code: 61156