Saturday, July 30, 2005

Direct Auction Galleries Sells Carl Becker Violin for $32,000

Chicago auction house Direct Auction Galleries reached a final hammer price of $32,000 ($35,200 with the 10% buyer’s premium, an additional fee buyers must pay for their purchase) on a rare Carl Becker violin, signed and dated 1920. The Becker violin was one of over 600 lots of antiques, jewelry, and collectibles that were on the auction block Tuesday evening, July 19.
The violin came from a Chicago estate of an eclectic collector who had a library of over 1500 books on antiques and collectibles. Bidding began at $7,000 with multiple bidders to $18,000; then it became a spirited bidding war primarily between two private individuals, reaching the final $32,000 price. Separately, an Albert Nurnberger violin bow sold for $3100 ($3,410 with the buyer’s premium) to the same north shore suburban individual.
The Becker violin had an estate appraisal at $18,000. A Carl Becker violin was appraised on the Antiques Roadshow Web site at $25-$30,000. Becker is part of a family tradition of fine American luthiers [violin makers], a grandson of Herman Macklett, who was active in the mid- to late-19th century. Becker created original designs, moulds, and varnishes and incorporated concept elements from the legendary Stradivarius, Guarnerius, and others.
The Becker violins are noted for an Italianate, big, focused and brilliant sound and have been employed by orchestral members and soloists. Family members carry on the great tradition in Carl Becker & Son shops in Chicago and Minneapolis. Another shop opens this October in Taipei.
“Although European makers have the greater reputation, Carl Becker and many other American-made violins are also quite excellent,” says John R. Modica of Direct Auction Galleries. Prior to the bidding, a man stepped from the audience to play the Becker violin, sending rich, sonorous sounds throughout the auction showroom.
Direct Auction Galleries is a Chicago auction house specializing in estates and fine antiques, founded in 1962 by Mike and Barbara Modica, located at 7232 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Auctions are held every other Tuesday with inspections Monday prior to auction day and an hour before auction time. Upcoming auctions, catalogues, and results can be viewed at