French provincial harpsichord

Jackrail members might be interested in this rather splendid Franch harpsichord, to be auctioned in Paris 30 June:

That’s if any of us have 22,000 Euros to spare …

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Le 22/06/2023 21:43, Peter Bavington via The Jackrail écrit :

Jackrail members might be interested in this rather splendid Franch harpsichord, to be auctioned in Paris 30 June:

That’s if any of us have 22,000 Euros to spare …

Or a little more:

Estimation : 30 000 € - 50 000 €

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Do we know much about the maker, Cordelier in Avignon?

Le 23/06/2023 06:09, Andrew Bernard via The Jackrail écrit :

Do we know much about the maker, Cordelier in Avignon?

We know very little about “Cordelier” (not his name), but he was not the
maker, though he may have worked on the instrument in 1768. Here’s what
DeepL makes of the paragraph where he’s mentioned:

“What we have here is a museum-quality instrument from the
mid-eighteenth century. An inscription features Father Marini Cordelier,
who may have worked on this instrument in Avignon in 1768. Father
Jacques Marini, a Cordelier monk from the convent in Avignon, and Father
Lactance, a Récollet monk from the convent in Marseille, are known to
have carried out repairs and a number of restorations on organs in
Provence, notably in Pernes-les-Fontaines around 1780.”

The maker is Jacques Marinis, a member of the order of Cordeliers,
known outside France as Franciscans. All we know about him so far is
that he was involved in the restoration of organs in Provence. See, number 297. Peter

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A lovely instrument indeed. Let me note that only a specialist can distinguish an instrument like this from a Parisian instrument c.1740-1750, and therefore it is ideal for the French harpsichord repertoire, especially Louis XV and later. If I had such a money available, I would buy it.
No idea about the state of the action, but at least the keys look perfect, and the action can always be either repaired or replaced.
Instruments like this one are seldom seen for auction: I would not be surprised if it eventually fetched even more than the top 50,000 estimate.

Curiously, I thought the keys looked new, compared to the rest of the instrument.

Perhaps they are … :slight_smile:

Me too, but they seem to say otherwise:

“Notre clavecin offre la particularité de ne pas être composite mais dans son état d’origine et complet de tous ses éléments.”

Our harpsichord has the particularity of not being composite, but in its original state and complete with all its elements.

They are talking about ravalement and saying the harpsichord is not ravalé, but this is where they should add something along the line “safe the keyboards which are modern” etc. So I assume the keyboards are original too. If so, they seem in an amazing state of preservation.

Ah yes, the ‘Avignon Cordelier’, Here’s my side of the story: The owner turned up at my modest atelier in Provence in 2015, says “I have an old harpsichord inherited from grandpa and I don’t trust the local makers to not charge me an arm and a leg for an opinion, can you drop by one day? You look like a nice honest country lad and I’m from Provence meself”. Well, I am Canadian, but so what. Then wanted to know if it should be ‘fixed up’, ie restored to be sold. I said ‘Hell No!’, besides in its original state it’s worth more. That argument did the trick…So we went round on my next trip to Paris and took some photos. I said Yum Yum it looks pretty much authentique to me, I’ll show these pics to someone who knows better and tell you what comes out of these opinions. She asked me to keep it all a secret !..Next thing I know, a Commiseur priseur (auction house expert) had come by and said some parts, upper keyboard in particular, not quite as old as the rest. She said thank you for your opinion, it’s been countered by the expert ( who?, nor what auction house,) and I’ll let them look after any sale, if ever. End of story for me, no news after that. Until now! I’m thinking of putting all my photos and notes (string lengths too) on a Pinterest page, in a week, when back to fibre. I’ll put the link here once it’s done. BTW: a maker in Paris, now deceased, had apparently removed all the strings about 20 years ago and kept them. Mystery.

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Here’s the link to all my photos from 2015:

Page Marinis 1768

Google drive, open access.

There’s a copy of the auction text and some more info here:

Festes de Thalie / Salomon

I’ve had some comments saying this should be declared a Monument Historique and pre-empted: any thoughts on Historical nationalism?

Correction to previous post: the maker who was said by the seller and actual owner to have taken the strings off is not deceased, thus not CMY.

What is CMY?

Lovely pictures Thomas, and very informative.
Very well taken indeed.

Pity the way they are shown in the webpage:

  • Files just downloaded from the camera, apparently with no process.
  • No check for repetitions, no picture icon to see what you get before downloading it.
  • Filenames original from the camera: normally they are edited to show the picture contents.
  • Webpage does not allow either to browse from one picture to the next, or to download them in bulk.
  • Therefore you have to spend (unnecessarily) a long time downloading each one.

Thanks anyway!

Some conclusions I get from these pictures (experts may know better …):

  1. A picture shows, on the soundboard, evidence suggesting that both 8’ bridge and 4’ hitchpin rail (but not the 4’ bridge) were at some point moved from its original position, shortening the scale: this was common to get a higher pitch.

  2. The keyboards look old, but it could be decades, not centuries.

  3. If the keyboards are original, then they were fixed to perfect key alignment in the restoration dated 1925.

  4. The instrument appears to have never had a buff stop: this is common in French instruments before Taskin.



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Therefore should have been who is CMY. :slight_smile:

No idea everybody was aware of that abbreviation.

Of course I know well about him, once I had a lovely LP played by many players on many different instruments, he put this together c.1970 with a lovely booklet explaining how an antique harpsichord is built, and lots of colour pictures, an absolute marvel unequalled in later CD.

And he was a fine player too.

Yup, sorry abou the photos, I groaned too about the whole Drive thing. Pinterest was even worse. But as the sale is next week,it’s a hasty job. I have my old laptop, a hard drive for storage and a portable telephone for tethering! Perhaps I’ll try to move them around the webpage a little. With a gmail account can you download the entire drive folder? The individual photos werel loaded one by one.
Yes Claude Mercier-Ythier, not a computer code. The seller was very cagey about who looked at it last. I had to play a guessing game too!

I’m pleased that you saw a sign of revision of the bridges,I shall take a closer look.


Here I was thinking CMY is Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and the K had gone astray.


@ThomasM thank you very much for your brilliant information and photos. It’s great.

This is what The Jackrail is for!

Thank you andrew,
I’ve just added my string lenghth mesurements to these files:
Strings mm Marinis
Sale is tomorrow!