John and Jude Lubrano, the husband-and-wife team of J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians, have long held an important, even unique, place in the field of antiquarian music. They specialize in historically significant material relating to music and dance through the centuries. Their business dates to the pre-Internet era, having been established in 1977. In a few days they will be launching, via the auction platform Invaluable, their first auction, to take place on October 6th.
In their 41 years in the trade they were first traditional dealers, located near the summer music paradise, Tanglewood, in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, also the site of the country’s oldest summer dance festival, Jacob’s Pillow. They began by selling to both visitors to the festivals and associated conductors, musicians, and dancers, and later broadened their business by selling by mail and telephone. In time, they would issue several catalogues a year, and over the ensuing years, publish more than eighty in total. In the early 1980s they joined the ABAA, the primary American association of antiquarian booksellers, and soon thereafter became regular exhibitors at ABAA book fairs. In the 1990s they began to both buy and sell online, launching their first website in 2003. Their website and online catalogues have since become their primary sales vehicles.
But times change, and the Lubranos are changing with them with this new auction venture. More, and younger, people are buying at auction, and this tendency is as noticeable in antiquarian music as it is in the myriad other categories of collectible printed and manuscript material that have increasingly seen younger buyers prefer market-determined valuations. With the staging of this, their first auction, the Lubranos are moving into this realm.
The collectability of the categories of music and dance is beyond dispute; these fields have been actively collected for centuries. The primary question for new collectors is just how much to pay for items they find of interest.
Auctions fall into two categories: those houses that sell their own material and those that provide this service to others. Initially, the Lubranos will be selling their own material, and it is material that they know very well. Their plan is to set conservative starting prices and allow the hammer, or price realized, to be determined by market interest. For newer collectors who are more accustomed to, and comfortable with, buying by competitive bidding, such an approach makes sense.
The material offered in their current auction, some 465 lots, is posted on the auction site Invaluable and a link to the sale posted at the end of this article.
Here are a few examples that express both the subjects and price ranges reflected in the sale:
Lot 224: MENOTTI, Gian Carlo
Two solo songs from the composer's cantata Landscapes and Remembrances: "The Abandoned Mansion (South Carolina)” for contralto: 1f. (title), 5, [i] (blank) pp. and "Farewell at a Train Station in Vermont for tenor." 8 pp. Autograph musical manuscripts in piano-vocal score. Signed "G. Menotti." Ca. 1976
Estimate $6,000 - $8,000
Starting bid $4,500
AUTOGRAPH LETTERS OF COMPOSERS
Lot 384: VERDI, Giuseppe
Autograph letter signed "G. Verdi" to his accountant Luigi Peragallo
Estimate $4,500 to $5,500
Starting bid $3,000
Lot 246: MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus
[K527]. Il Dissoluto Punito osia Il Don Giovanni Dramma giocoso in due Atti... Ridotto per il Pianoforte da C. G. Neefe. [Piano-vocal score]. Hamburgo: Giovanni Augusto Böhme [without PN], [ca. 1810]
Estimate $600 - $800
Starting bid: $500
Lot 473: [DUNCAN, Isadora] Walkowitz, Abraham
Original full-length pencil drawing of Duncan in a dance pose by the American modernist artist Abraham Walkowitz
Estimate $450 - $650
Starting bid $350
Here is a link to the sale on Invaluable: https://www.invaluable.com/catalog/yyaxwpv6w7
The sale begins at noon EST on October 6th.
J. & J Lubrano
Synosset, New York