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West Midlands auction will be music to collectors’ ears…

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Wolverhampton auction house Cuttlestones is currently working through a vast collection of sheet music to collate it into lots ahead of its Friday 6th December Specialist Collectors’ Sale.

The private collection, comprising some 9,500 pieces of popular music hailing from the 1900s to the naughties (year 2000+), was amassed by the late Brian Charlesworth of Sedgley. His widow Susan has consigned the collection, which was a real passion for Brian since he started playing the organ at the age of 49 surprising everyone having been known for his sporting prowess, playing football, cricket and tennis. They travelled the length and breadth of the country buying pieces to add to it, having great fun along the way. Cuttlestones’ valuer Rosie Blackburn, who is cataloguing the collection, says:
“This is an exceptional collection and Brian was meticulous in how he catalogued and kept it. Each piece was put in an individual plastic wallet and then in a box file, each with 100 pieces, and ordered alphabetically by song title. He would not handle it again other than to photocopy it for him to play a piece himself or to pass onto others to play, to save the original. He even had his own special iron and ironing board for flattening them, the mark of a true collector! One of the best parts about getting in collections like this is getting to know the story behind them – it sounds like Brian was a real character and it’s been lovely talking to his wife about the fun they had hunting down and buying new additions.”

The collection covers a number of areas popular with sheet music collectors – notably the cover artwork from 1930s, wartime songs, including cartoon artwork on the covers; early black music; Eurovision songs and 1960s groups – recent printed music can also perform well, because now it is all downloads and the printed examples can be hard to find.

As she sorts the collection and catalogues it into lots, Rosie is discovering new gems on a daily basis – highlights so far include “As Tears Go By” by the Rolling Stones,  one of the first original compositions by Jagger and Keith Richards in 1964 originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull and then by the Stones themselves in 1965,  “Amy” by Nicholls and Gilbert, a piece of music “specially composed for the Home-coming of the Heroine of the England-Australia Flight 1930, Miss Amy Johnson”, some great Eurovision songs including the well-known ones – “Puppet on a String” Sandie Shaw, “Making Your Mind Up” Bucks Fizz, and lesser known ones – the 1961 entry by Brian Johnson “A Place in the Country”.

The ones Rosie is enjoying finding are the quirky titles and songs very much of their time such as “Forty Fousand Frushes wiv Forty Fousand Fevvers Round Their Froats” by Miss Florrie Ford, or “I Was Watching A Man Paint a Fence” by George Elrick.
The collection will be split into a number of lots to go under the hammer during Wolverhampton Auction Room’s next Specialist Collectors’ Sale on Friday 6th December. For more information call 01902 421985 or email [email protected]

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