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Christie's Auctions Stradivari's 'The Hammer'

By Ben Mattison
15 May 2006


Christie's will auction the Stradivarius violin known as "The Hammer" tomorrow in New York, in a sale that could set a record for a musical instrument.

According to Christie's, the 1707 violin, which dates from violinmaker Antonio Stradivari's "golden period," is "in a wonderful state of preservation."

Christie's estimates the price of the violin at $1.5 to $2.5 million. Another Stradivarius, "The Lady Tennant," sold at Christie's in April 2005 for $2.032 million, a record price for a musical instrument; that violin was not from the golden period, however.

"The Hammer" is named for the Swedish collector Christian Hammer, who owned it in the 19th century. It has spent much of the last century in the United States, where its owners have included violinist and collector Bernard Sinsheimer, industrialist Raymond Pitcairn, collector Albert H. Wallace, and businessman Laddie Junkune, who owned it from 1945 to 1992.

Recently, the violin has been on loan to violinist Kyoko Takezawa. The current owner has remained anonymous.

"The Hammer" will be on view at Christie's gallery at Rockefeller Center in New York today. It will be sold with other instruments tomorrow at 10 a.m.




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