For the first time in 40 years, vinyl records are set to outstrip the sale of compact discs. Despite the cheaper option of online streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon and Apple Music, by the end of 2019 it is estimated that 4.5 million records will have sold in the United Kingdom.
But it is not just nostalgia for the crackle and hiss from old vinyl, as many of these buyers are millennials.
A recent UK survey found that one in four 18-24 year olds purchased a vinyl record in the past month, showing that millennials too are enjoying the ritual of taking a 12-inch glossy black disc from its sleeve and placing it onto a turntable.
In tandem with this rise in record sales is the demand for old record players, which were once considered destined for the same fate as tape-recorders.
The forthcoming Mid-Century Modern sale by Adam's of St Stephen's Green on November 19th features a classic Brionvega Radiofonografo, originally designed by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1966.
The modular unit, whereby speakers can sit side by side or on top of the turntable depending on space, hit the headlines in 2016 when a white custom-designed Brionvega player, similar to the one listed in the Adam’s sale, achieved just short of €300,000 at a Sotheby’s sale.
The reason for the extraordinary price was that it had been the "musical pet" of the late singer David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The estimate for the record player in the Adam's sale is €1,500-€2,000.
Lot 68, a pair of sculptural midnight blue armchairs with ottomans designed by Augusto Romano (€6,000-€8,000), are a rare find, according to the curator of the sale, Nicholas Gore Grimes. Romano graduated in 1944 from the Politecnico di Torino just as the second World War was ending and, "while he emulated le Corbusier's concept of the house as a 'machine for living', he considered human needs paramount, and his own interpretation embraced Danish and Swedish design," says Gore Grimes.
Contemporary art featured in the sale includes work by Robert Ballagh, Callum Innes, Patrick Graham, Sean Scully, Richard Gorman, Elizabeth Magill and Mark Francis, in addition to Patrick Graham.
Born in 1943, Mullingar artist Graham abandoned painting after completing his scholarship to NCAD until 1978. Since then he has received international acclaim, in addition to being elected to Aosdána in 1986, and awarded the President's Gold Medal, Oireachtas Exhibition in 1987. Mayo Series, Approaching Storm, a significantly large (183cm x 204cm) oil on canvas, is listed at €10,000-€15,000.
For collectors of mid-century classics, the sale includes works by Franco Albini, Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi, Max Ingrand, Gianfranco Frattini and Carlo de Carli.
Asian tales behind Kildare sale
The Sean Eacrett sale of the contents of Griesemount House in Ballitore, Co Kildare on November 19th at Kilkea Castle Golf Club will feature an interesting lot from the 1950s along with a host of Asian antiquities.
Husband-and-wife team Carolyn and Robert Ashe first met in Zimbabwe and returned to Ireland in 1982 when they purchased Griesemount House, the Georgian pile which they ran as a guesthouse until its recent sale for €900,000.
One lot dating from the 1950s is a carved Chinese box (€600-€1,000) inherited by Carolyn from her family’s time in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the middle of the 20th century. The wooden box, which came from Hong Kong, is said to be a replica of the present from the colony of Hong Kong to the queen (then Princess Elizabeth) on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Philip. It is said that duplicates were made in case of an accident during delivery, and this piece was brought to Exeter in 1953, after Carolyn’s father and grandmother survived internment by the Japanese during the war.
Along with other Chinese offerings, including carvings, rugs, sewing boxes and opium pipes from Carolyn’s family, are equally interesting pieces from Robert’s family residence in India.
His grandfather, a middle-ranking civil servant, met an untimely end as he travelled by train in India during the coronation of George V in 1911. A local freedom fighter decided to mark the occasion and, after boarding the train, he shot Robert's grandfather dead before turning the gun on himself. Undeterred, Robert's father returned to India with the British army, where he remained until Indian independence in 1948 before moving to Dublin.
Included in the Indian treasures is a 1sq m pith carving of an Indian temple (€600-€1,000). Pith work, a form of Indian decorative art, is the where stalks of an herbaceous plant (here it is thought to be palm wood) are dried in the sun and subsequently carved into a decorative piece.
The sale also features a 1758 Bible along with paintings by John Skelton, Ben Marshall and Hugh Douglas Hamilton.