This probably explains why I prefer vintage Steinways with perfect original soundboard over new Steinways of any sizes. Money can't buy the 'age' of a well-seasoned soundboard and its unlimited potential... No?

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From the BBC Online:
Rare violin fetches £608,750

Stradivari's instruments are considered the best in the world. A rare Stradivarius violin, thought never to have been played in a public concert, has sold for £608,750 at auction in London.

The final amount was less than the £650,000
to £850,000 predicted sale price, but a spokesman said Christie's was "delighted" with the outcome of Wednesday's sale.

The identity of the buyer was not disclosed but was described as a "private collector" who attended the event in person.

The world record auction price paid for a
Stradivari violin was £947,500 for The Kreutzer
at Christie's in April 1998.

Antonio Stradivari is considered the most
distinguished violin maker in the history of the
instrument.

This 1726 example of his work was the highlight of the Christie's bi-annual musical instrument sale.

There are thought to be only 500 remaining examples of Stradivari's skills and the Christie's violin was made when he was 82 years old.

The violin, labelled Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis, Faciebat Anno 1726 AS, had had
several owners before Wednesday.

It was once owned by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, one of the greatest French violin makers and foremost dealers of the 19th Century.

The instrument was then acquired by the
distinguished violin collector, David Laurie of
Glasgow.

Excellence

In 1885, Laurie sold it to William Ebsworth Hill,
a specialist violin restorer and an authority on
string instruments.

The violin then passed through the hands of
various private collectors, including James H
Cecil Hozier MP, a prominent Mason.

Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy, in 1644
and began his career in 1660, as a pupil of
Nicoḷ Amati, and continued producing
instruments until his death in 1737.

Coveted

During the 18th Century, Stradivari's unrivalled
reputation for excellence extended throughout
Europe.

His instruments were coveted by royalty,
noblemen and church dignitaries, as well as the
most renowned musicians.

Stradivari's later works are said to be some of
his most powerful sounding instruments and
the most coveted by musicians.

Despite advances in modern technology, many
concert violinists feel instruments created by
17th Century Italian masters like Stradivari
have the better sound.

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AndrewG