Missing 9ft Challen!

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ben_abbots
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Missing 9ft Challen!

Post by ben_abbots » 07 Jul 2007, 21:33

A gorgeous 9ft concert grand (built specially for the BBC in the '30s) was recently removed from my school (they paid to have it removed, and it was replaced by a hateful Yamaha C3). I phoned the piano movers, who told me it would be 'disposed of' but i subsequently found it on eBay. Does anyone know the whereabouts of this piano? It is fairly recognisable, being quite scratched and having a piece of plywood holding the pedals on (!) but otherwise the best piano i have ever played, leaving Steinways and Bechsteins far behind. If you know where this instrument is, please reply!

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Post by PianoGuy » 07 Jul 2007, 22:12

Interesting.

In the '30s, Challens graced many a concert platform, as did Chappells and Webers. I'm sure it's a good piano. Can't be too many around, but its market value is virtually zero.

Good luck tracking it down.

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Post by ben_abbots » 08 Jul 2007, 16:56

On the contrary, a professional piano restorer gave a 'conservative' estimate of 10,000 pounds!

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Post by PianoGuy » 09 Jul 2007, 07:11

ben_abbots wrote:On the contrary, a professional piano restorer gave a 'conservative' estimate of £10,000!
Ha ha ha ha!

Then he was a desperate sheister looking to fleece the school by charging to restore a worthless piano. No Challen is worth 10K unless diamond studded over snakeskin and built originally for the Maharajah of Jaipur, and supplied complete with matching Rolls Royce Phantom III.

First step in tracking it down is to find the suppliers of the new C3. Chances are that they gave a part-exchange sum for it. and now need to shift it on. It has no commercial value, so they'll be looking to offload it very cheap...

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Post by fumbler » 09 Jul 2007, 17:12

Hi,

I'm a little confused. Assuming that you want this piano, why didn't you offer to take it off the school's or the remover's hands? And if it has been on ebay recently why don't you contact the seller/buyer?

Rgds.

ben_abbots
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Post by ben_abbots » 09 Jul 2007, 21:01

Firstly, 'PianoGuy' assumes the estimate was given by the school, in fact i sought the estimate myself (i am a student at the school) , by which time the piano had already been removed. This quote was its approximate worth UNRESTORED! I tracked down the C3 suppliers (paid to take it away), who told me it would be 'disposed of'. It subsequently appeared and was sold (for 700 quid) on eBay. Secondly, 'fumbler', i don't know what sort of cavernous mansion you inhabit, but the average schoolboy living at home doesn't have room for a 9ft grand ( especially having already 'rescued' a Kemmler upright!) eBay wouldn't let me contact the seller or buyer without credit card details, which i don't have. I physically don't have room for the instrument, i'm just trying to find out where it has ended up.

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Post by PianoGuy » 09 Jul 2007, 22:28

ben_abbots wrote:Firstly, 'PianoGuy' assumes the estimate was given by the school, in fact i sought the estimate myself (i am a student at the school) , by which time the piano had already been removed. This quote was its approximate worth UNRESTORED! I tracked down the C3 suppliers (paid to take it away), who told me it would be 'disposed of'. It subsequently appeared and was sold (for 700 quid) on eBay.
QED.

It's worth 700 quid, i.e. virtually nothing in piano terms.

Do you not think that piano dealers trawl eBay? The "professional restorer" you spoke to was an ass for even suggesting it was worth money.

"PG"

ben_abbots
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Post by ben_abbots » 10 Jul 2007, 19:43

So eBay-trawling piano dealers buy pianos for what they're worth, do they?

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Post by PianoGuy » 10 Jul 2007, 20:08

Well let's put it this way.

Everybody uses eBay, so bargains are rare, but if a piano worth 10K comes up on the 'Bay, likely as not a few dealers will bid it up to about 8K so they can make a few quid. With the profit on a new Yamaha being so tiny these days, the decent money is in second hand stuff.

That Challen was realistically unsaleable by a retailer. That's why it fetched a derisory sum. Why do you think the dealer who sold the school the C3 was less than glad to have it? Why did they not sell it for 10K?

The "restorer" who told you it was 10K's worth was either giving you an inflated sum for insurance purposes (it does happen) or was pulling your leg. Or of course he could be clueless. Sadly in this trade, many are.

Now get over it.

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Post by ben_abbots » 10 Jul 2007, 20:49

OK, let's clear this up.
The piano merchants who removed it saw an old, beat-up grand.
No-one told them that it was built as one of a very limited series for the BBC in the 1930's to a very high specification because the available microphones were so bad, and is (i believe) possibly the only one remaining. The fact that a piano restorer knew instantly what the "Challen BBC Pianos" were (and immediately valued it on this basis) should tell you how well-known the quality of these instruments is. Any old beat-up '30s grand is, as you say, worthless, but this one isn't. One bargain has slipped through the (inter)net, and I only want to contact the lucky purchaser to find out where the old joanna has ended up. Spread the word throughout the land!

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Post by Jerome » 10 Jul 2007, 22:03

Perhaps there is some confusion between musical and commercial
value. The Challen might be a superior instrument to a Bechstein of the same era which would sell for 10k plus but if the name recognition isn't there it will be hard to sell.

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Post by Openwood » 10 Jul 2007, 23:36

OH, IT'S SOOO BIG.......

://www.pianoworld.com/fun/bigpiano.gif

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Post by PianoGuy » 10 Jul 2007, 23:47

Jerome wrote:Perhaps there is some confusion between musical and commercial
value. The Challen might be a superior instrument to a Bechstein of the same era which would sell for 10k plus but if the name recognition isn't there it will be hard to sell.
Exactly.

Challens from the '30s were amongst some of the best instruments ever built, and used at the BBC (as this one appears to have been) and in many high-profile roles. Fiendishly clever jazz legend Billy Mayerl often used one and Abbey Road Studios still owns a Challen upright in regular use.

There was no technical difference between a BBC Challen and a regular instrument, so unless you have photographic evidence or corroborative provenance that is is in some way 'famous' then you're on to a non-starter for value. Even then it'd have to be fairly impressive stuff like a signed letter from Semprini or the Mayerl himself that he had indeed played it, so you're probably still on a sticky wicket. I'd certainly not risk my cash on a punt on it.

You'd have thought that your restorer geezer, once on the scent of such a valuable bit of kit would have attempted to buy it himself don't you think?:wink:

I'd not argue that it would be interesting to track it down if you're that interested though. Do you have the eBay listing number or description? Maybe then someone with a valid account could search completed listings for you.

PG

PS:
If it was bought by eBayer 'raymanboy' or 'chelseadollshouseantiques' we are bound to see some flowery descriptions on the 'Bay very soon.... Just don't part with yer cash!

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Post by David B » 11 Jul 2007, 08:55

Its too long ago to come up in an eBay search, I'm afraid.

Your only hope is if you know the item no, the seller or the buyer.

ben_abbots
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Post by ben_abbots » 11 Jul 2007, 18:22

Luckily, I saved the 'Bay for sale page in my favourites! The item no. was 180115435957, the seller was mlex2005 and the buyer was 123neuschulz. This is the page

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ... NARL:UK:12

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Post by fumbler » 11 Jul 2007, 23:23

That's better. One of us should contact the seller - there's no feedback for the Challen so I don't know if the sale has been finalised.

I don't mind doing it but I shan't be able to do so until Friday evening. I'm intrigued now.

Rgds.

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Post by David B » 12 Jul 2007, 08:28

Hmm, all is not well, I think. It was "sold" in April, and they "buyer" left the following feedback:

Feedback / Item From Buyer / Price Date/Time
What a weapon! This will be awesome when re-built.. Many thanks bobsclearout ( 110) 25-May-07 08:58
Challen 9ft Concert grand piano. (#180108835465) £711.11 View Item

The re-listed item says that this buyer didn't pay, however.

The second buyer was located in Germany.

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Post by ben_abbots » 12 Jul 2007, 19:12

Thanks, David! Is it possible to contact the buyer directly (email etc)? Luckily I did German GCSE and could probably cobble together a message.

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Post by David B » 13 Jul 2007, 08:18

Ben,

If you want me to send the buyer a message through eBay, I'm very happy to do so for you, please pm me the text.

Cheers

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Post by Byrolinda » 13 Jul 2007, 09:13

I think potential bargains do slip through on Ebay from time to time. There is a satinwood art - case Erard which made just £80 at the Conway Hall sale last year, which then reappeared on ebay and made £400. It is now on sale at Besbrode Pianos in Leeds for £10,000

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Post by A440 » 14 Jul 2007, 09:10

Bought for 400 and on sale for 10,000!!!!
That's what I call mark-up. (I wonder if he'll throw in a stool?).
Good old Besbrode, thank goodness there's one born every minute.

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Post by PianoGuy » 14 Jul 2007, 12:45

But think of the work that'll have gone into it. Spot-welded to another sawn-off Erard, a change of serial number and a respray.

Money well earned if you ask me.

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Post by David B » 14 Jul 2007, 17:38

Methinks you are something of a cynic, my lord 8)

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Post by PianoGuy » 14 Jul 2007, 18:26

That I be, that I be......

Sadly, a cynicism based on an intimate knowledge of the industry....... :wink:

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Post by Byrolinda » 15 Jul 2007, 21:53

So cynical!!!! I don't suppose anyone in the world will agree with me, but I'd rather spend £10,000 (if I had it to spend) on the Erard than some ghastly Yamaha.

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Post by PianoGuy » 15 Jul 2007, 22:52

I think for just this once, you'd be better off finding one for 400 quid on the 'Bay rather than handing 10K over to dubious dealers whether it's a knackered out old Erard or a 'ghastly' Yammie, don't you?

Taking a punt on eBay's not usually a course of action I'd recommend, but over 9 1/2K in change isn't to be sniffed at. Why, you could even get someone decent to restore it and still be quids-in!
Last edited by PianoGuy on 16 Jul 2007, 08:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by fumbler » 15 Jul 2007, 23:04

Yes, yes, yes, but any news on the Challen?

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Post by Openwood » 15 Jul 2007, 23:38

Ghastly Yamaha? :roll:

Any piano's capable of sounding ghastly if it hasn't been set-up and maintained properly but if we're talking rotten to the core I don't think the piano police should go knocking on Mr. Yamaha's door anytime soon.

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Post by hammer man » 09 Aug 2007, 00:56

Bet I can guess who valued the Challan at 10k, the same one who rebuilt the same model and tried to sell it at 15k. This trade is too small to hide things for long.

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Post by PianoGuy » 09 Aug 2007, 07:27

hammer man wrote:Bet I can guess who valued the Challan at 10k, the same one who rebuilt the same model and tried to sell it at 15k. This trade is too small to hide things for long.
Oooh!

And they call me cynical!

:lol:


Probably not far from the truth though!

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Re: Missing 9ft Challen!

Post by barless » 11 Oct 2007, 11:28

It is alive and well, and living in Wales, pending a full re-build.

If you have any real evidence of a BBC provenance, I would love to see it...as is, the piano has been much abused by the school, and is, I feel, effectively worthless! I like it, though!

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Re: Missing 9ft Challen!

Post by PianoGuy » 11 Oct 2007, 19:46

barless wrote:It is alive and well, and living in Wales, pending a full re-build.

If you have any real evidence of a BBC provenance, I would love to see it...as is, the piano has been much abused by the school, and is, I feel, effectively worthless! I like it, though!
There you are!

Valueless, but rather lovely.

I'm glad someone is going to love it and use it despite realising that its fiscal value is low.

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Post by Openwood » 12 Oct 2007, 00:04

That's the point, isn't it? If you're the director of music in a school do you keep a battered 9ft Challen that has no value and needs major restoration, or do you replace it with a new Yamaha C3 that will last a couple of lifetimes?

I'd say the music teacher was bang on the money.

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challen again

Post by ben_abbots » 14 Oct 2007, 22:32

couple of lifetimes?
though the challen seems at face value 'battered', as it is built (as my dad would say) like a 'brick chickenhouse' it is perfect inside; surely the purpose of the case is to take the knocks?
on the other hand, though i can't really comment on the c3 (as it is only played rarely, being in the school hall) the music department's few-month-old fleet of yamaha b1 uprights are already showing signs of 'batteredness' (keys sticking etc). as a fanatical piano enthusiast, it's my (unofficial) job to keep these pianos playable. i can, however say that it's far easier to repair (or bodge) the school's 40-year old danemanns and broadwoods because their build quality is good enough to work with.
how can you comment on the musical worth of an instrument without having played liszt on it much too fast and much too loud after school on a wet friday afternoon - btw you feel like horowitz- hands reflected in the fallboard, lid up - good times :)
ben

remember - piano repair - it's where the action is

(p.s. i apologise for my shameful pun)

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Post by Openwood » 15 Oct 2007, 16:09

Alas, it always comes down to money and if your school has bought B1s there probably wasn't a lot of it to go round. Sounds like restoring the Challen was too expensive, hence the new C3. I can fully understand that a C3 must be a disappointment after you've had a 9-footer to enjoy. Shame the Challen was allowed to get into that state in the first place, especially as it had a nice bit of history to it, but such is the lot of many a school piano.

I wouldn't get too exercised by sticking keys on the new B1s - you'd be lucky to get away without any teething problems on new instruments - hopefully the technician will be paying a follow-up visit over half term?

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Post by ben_abbots » 15 Oct 2007, 17:06

believe me, it's not a lack of money (it's a specialist performing arts school) - they bought the b1s and the c3 without playing either. as for a technician visit, not very likely. why pay someone when a helpful 6th - former will fix them up for free?
one of a trichord group of strings on another yamaha grand has been broken for months, but it still hasn't been replaced regardless of how many times i say that it puts stress on the hammer, the repair of which will cost more than a new string
i think part of the grade 8 piano exam should be concerned with how the thing actually works - i know a few grade 8 pianists who don't know what the middle pedal's for!

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Post by Gill the Piano » 15 Oct 2007, 17:16

I know a few Grade 8's who wonder where the piano plugs in...

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Post by PianoGuy » 15 Oct 2007, 17:19

ben_abbots wrote:believe me, it's not a lack of money (it's a specialist performing arts school) - they bought the b1s and the c3 without playing either. as for a technician visit, not very likely. why pay someone when a helpful 6th - former will fix them up for free?
Er.... Because with the best will in the world a helpful 6th former with no formal training in piano technology may well louse them up entirely?

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Post by ben_abbots » 15 Oct 2007, 18:12

sorry you may have misunderstood me; the 'why not..' part was what the music dept. would say, not my thoughts
i may not have formal technician training, but then i haven't had a single piano lesson yet i can play the rach 3. what i do have is enthusiasm to learn, and i wouldn't attempt any repairs on someone else's piano i hadn't done on my own instrument first.

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