It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, But We Like It!

It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, But We Like It!

Last year proved to be a smash hit for musical instruments and rock 'n' roll memorabilia for the Sworders Design sales, with collectors' grade and players' instruments, as well as an important collection of ephemera relating to Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones going under the hammer. As we turn our attention to our May sale and beyond, we thought we’d reflect on some of the highlights of last year.

1 March 2023

For our January sale, we saw a fantastic consignment of players' grade vintage instruments, showcased in our inaugural Jam Night, allowing bidders and enthusiasts to get together with our specialists to try out some of the lots going up for offer. In the line-up were several rare pieces, all of which had seen their fair share of action. These included a 2005 MiJ Fender Telecaster made by Tokai Gakki (£650), a 1940s Kalamazoo KG-31 (£910) and a 1968 Gibson Folksinger (£1,170). Buying and selling players' grade vintage instruments is a growing trend on the auction market, with estate sales of great guitarists - both famous and unknown - of years past, offering players rare opportunities to buy vintage pieces not necessarily found down at your local music shop.

A 1968 Gibson F25 'Folksinger' acoustic guitar

 A 1968 Gibson F25 'Folksinger' acoustic guitar (£1,170)

The sale also featured an extensive collection of photographs taken by American photographer Ed Finnell, who spent the golden age of rock 'n' roll on the road with some of the genre’s giants, from Elton John and David Bowie to Led Zeppelin. With up-close-and-personal depictions appealing to bidders all over the world, hammer prices ranged from £78 to £975.

As winter turned to spring, we received an extraordinary consignment of collectors' grade instruments from a private home in East London. Passed down from the vendor’s father, who had spent considerable time and money bringing together a truly unique collection, these had spent the majority of their lives in their respective (hard) cases. Numbered in an edition of no more than 100, these included a 2010 Gibson Custom Shop Randy Rhodes '74 Les Paul Custom (£8,450), a 2005 Gibson Custom Shop BB King 80th Birthday 'Lucille' ES-355 signed by BB King (£9,750), and a 2010 Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 'Beano' Les Paul (£13,000) from the rare, autographed run. All pieces of the collection sold to a collector in France.

A 2010 Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 'Beano' Les Paul electric guitar

A 2010 Gibson Custom Shop Eric Clapton 'Beano' Les Paul electric guitar (£13,000)

The most remarkable lot of rock 'n' roll memorabilia, however, sold in January 2023 in the form of a small group of letters exchanged between the vendor and Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. Reading their exchanges, taking place between June of 1965 and 1966, offered a unique insight into the life on the road of the late guitarist, who was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool,aged 27. The correspondence ended up selling to a devoted Stones fan in Germany for £5,850.

We are currently looking forward to our Two-Day Design sale in May, to which we are currently consigning instruments and music memorabilia. We have already been approached with some great valuation requests and have seen more rare pieces consigned, with a 2008 Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page 'Black Beauty' (est. £12-18,000) leading the charge.

2008 Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page 'Black Beauty' (est. £12-18,000)

A 2008 Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page 'Black Beauty' (est. £12,000-18,000)

To discuss a valuation on an instrument or a piece of memorabilia, contact Otto Billström at or Tony Salani at, or call 01279 817778.

All hammer prices include buyer’s premium.


To find out more about our 16-17 May Two Day Design Sale, please contact




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