Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Historic Dopyera instrument collection for auction, 27 Nov. 2012

Resophonic instruments may be more popular at present than at any time since they were invented and developed in the 1920s by John Dopyera (1893-1988) and his brothers, originally from Slovakia.

Since John Dopyera's death, his son Dr John E. Dopyera has sought for a museum that would be interested in purchasing and displaying the collection of instruments from the last shops of John and Rudy Dopyera. These instruments, along with other 'last shop' furniture and artifacts, were exhibited in Syracuse in 1988 and at the Erie Art Museum in 2000.

For some time the collection was featured and offered for sale by Elderly Instruments. As it appears that the collection cannot be kept intact, all the instruments (except for a resonator violin) are to be sold separately by auction at Christie's in New York City on 27 November 2012. They are, as follows:

Dobro - a 12-string resonator guitar, CA, c.1974
Dobro - a resonator guitar, Los Angeles, c.1932-4
National - a resonator tenor guitar, Los Angeles, c.1929
Dobro - a resonator mandolin, Huntington Beach, CA, c.1970
Safari - a resonator mandolin, Huntington Beach, CA, c.1970
National - a tricone ukulele, style 2 variant, Los Angeles, c.1928-9
Rudy Dopyera - an electric-acoustic bass, CA, c.1975
Dobro - an electric lap steel guitar, Los Angeles, c.1936
Dobro - an electric-acoustic Hawaiian lap steel guitar [see photo], c.1970
Rudy Dopyera - two balalaikas, CA, c.1973

Revenues from the sale will be distributed to the grandchildren of John Dopyera (as per his wish). The auction can be watched live on Christie's website by viewers who register to do so. Arrangements for online bidding need to be made before the sale.

Thanks to members of the bluegrass community for passing on this news, which comes from Mrs Margaret Lay-Dopyera, wife of Dr John E. Dopyera. The EBB adds that her memoir My life as a Dopyera is available from Elderly Instruments and Amazon.