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50,000 items of opera memorabilia to go under the hammer

6 August 2014, Gloucestershire, UK

The first tranche of one of the largest and finest private opera memorabilia collections ever known will go under the hammer at Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Gloucestershire, UK, on Wednesday 17 September.

The collection of 50,000 items was assembled over 60 years by Anthony Gasson, an optometrist from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, who died in 2012. A lifelong opera lover, Gasson’s collecting centred on the operatic greats of the 19th century, though his collecting zeal ran the full gamut of operatic history from printed music by Handel, Purcell and Mozart to signed photographs and pictures of Maria Callas and other stars of modern times.

A small number of autograph letters and other material has already headed towards the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum, but the heart and substance of Gasson’s collection remains intact, including books, paintings, bronzes, prints, photographs, autograph letters, visiting cards, stage and costume designs, programmes, conductors’ batons and more.

The auction on 17 September will offer The Anthony Gasson Opera Collection, Part One: Printed Books and Selected Memorabilia, with further Parts scheduled for auction in October and on into 2015.

Highlights of the first auction include a fine lifetime oil portrait of Rossini, a bronze bust of the child prodigy Mozart, drawings of Richard Strauss and Enrico Caruso, a first edition of an aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute published a month before he died, photographs of operatic celebrities by the great portraitist Nadar, and autograph letters by Wagner, Puccini, Rossini and Britten.

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