An ordinary house clearance turned into an unexpected treasure hunt for St Oswald’s Hospice with the discovery of an array of rare musical instruments at the home of one its supporters.
A mint condition Steinway piano and two vintage violins were among the items, which together have been valued at thousands of pounds. The instruments, along with the property’s remaining items, were donated to St Oswald’s by a legacy supporter who lived in Morpeth.
The woman, whose link to the Hospice is unknown, generously left all of her household belongings to the charity in her Will, calling them ‘personal chattles’.
First to stumble upon the valuable finds was Logistics Manager at St Oswald’s, Kenny Paxton who is responsible for the charity’s house clearance service. He said: “The St Oswald’s Hospice house clearance service has been running for three years so we have come across unusual items and valuable goods before, but the Steinway piano is definitely the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
“Generally when we do a house clearance following a legacy donation, an item’s value is indicated in the Will. This was not one of those occasions – we had no idea the piano was so rare until we called in the experts.”
After making the discovery, Kenny approached one of his local auctioneer contacts for advice on valuing the piano. Only then did the instrument’s true value and history transpire – identified as a 1912 Steinway B grand piano worth at least £10,000.
Kenny said: “Nigel Blagburn from Alnwick Auctions is a regular at our Kingston Park warehouse, which is the treasure trove of our donated goods so I knew he knows his stuff. He looked at the piano and immediately described it as the ‘Rolex of pianos’.
“We were very shocked and excited when he told us its estimated value, it will be a massive help to funding the Hospice.”
Alnwick Auctions is supporting St Oswald’s with the sale of the instruments this Sunday (31July), with bidders expected to battle it out for the prized piece.
Andrew Moir, Head of Retail at St Oswald’s, said: “Our house clearance service is an important funding source for the Hospice so when we come across finds such as this, it is humbling that people can be so generous in donating their treasures.
“We sell all items collected through house clearances in our 27 shops across the region, with all profits contributing towards the £7m we need each year through voluntary giving and legacies to continue providing Hospice services.
“Sadly on this occasion the kind woman had no family or link to the Hospice that we know of, so we don’t know if she realised the value of her belongings and how much she would be donating. We are very grateful.”
St Oswald’s house clearance service is available to anyone in the North East looking to empty a property. To arrange a house clearance, call 0191 2468123.