Let’s meet Peter
What is your background in music and how did you start Bromptons?
I started out working for Sotheby’s in the early 1980’s and was originally hoping to be placed in one of the art departments such as Modern Art or Old Master Paintings but found myself working in the Musical Instrument Department. I started as an administrator but quickly fell in love with the instruments and the business and the great musicians coming through the doors. – Menuhin being one of the first I met when he came to try a Strad.
Peter Biddulph (known as the “flying fiddle”) became consultant to Sotheby’s, and I learnt a huge amount from him when I spent some years working for him, before moving onto Bein & Fushi in Chicago. At the time Bein & Fushi were probably selling more important violins than anyone else and it was a great opportunity to learn and to travel through the U.S.
Following this, in January 1991, Bonhams asked me to form a new Musical Instrument department. This was a great project to lead and gave me the experience to consider launching my own business, and so in 2005 I started Brompton’s; a new auction house specialising solely in fine and rare musical instruments alongside James Buchanan, though James left a decade ago to pursue other interests.
What have been some key moments in the business since you have been there and what are the plans going forward?
Some of the best moments in my time at Brompton’s have been discovering instruments that have lain untouched, and their true value and identity unknown to the owner. Over the past few years, I have found several fine violins by Giuseppe Rocca, oddly both were known as old school violins bought for the owners when young. More recently a superb violin by Alessandro Gagliano, and a fine violin by Peter Guarneri of Mantua – It is always nice to give somebody good news.
What is the best thing about running a business like Bromptons?
The world of musical instruments continues to fascinate me, and I feel incredibly lucky to be involved in a business that I love. Meeting interesting people around the world and hunting for musical treasures is a joy.
What is your advice for someone who wants to work at a place like Bromptons?
Be enthusiastic, be prepared to lend a hand with anything, be prepared to put in the hours learning about the various makers, and do not be afraid to ask questions.