Skinner to Auction Duke Ellington Memorabilia

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – April 27, 2011 – Skinner, Inc., one of the world’s leading auction houses, will host a Discovery auction of ephemera and collectibles on May 11, 2011, featuring a collection of Duke Ellington memorabilia. The collection comes from Ellington road manager and friend, Al Celley.

Included are 78s, transcription and acetate recordings, long-playing (LP) and reel-to-reel recordings, business and personal correspondence, signed songwriting and other contracts. Also, a large assortment of photographs, both previously unseen personal images and publicity shots, along with a set of Don Bronstein contact sheets will be offered. In addition, this material is interlaced with items from Duke Ellington’s band and orchestra members.

As Ellington’s road manager from 1942 to 1964, Al Celley handled every aspect of the band’s business: booking, logistics, staging shows, and organizing tours. This also included housing, feeding, and paying Ellington’s musicians. When he joined Ellington in 1942, the United States was at War and politically segregated; Celley overcame considerable social and political obstacles to find lodging and accommodations for the African-American band members when others could or would not. After 22 years of service to Ellington, Celley retired following a fall on the ice in Stockholm, Sweden, in which he fractured his skull. His story was archived as part of the Smithsonian Duke Ellington Oral History Project in 1989.

“Duke Ellington was one of the greatest jazz composers and band leaders of the time,” says Garrett Sheahan, Specialist in the Discovery Department at Skinner, Inc. “As the composer of such iconic standards as Sophisticated Lady and Mood Indigo, Ellington’s music is a staple of the Great American Songbook and is loved by millions worldwide.”

Sheahan adds, “Pieces in the Celley collection range from $75 to $2,500. Material like this, offered in our monthly Discovery sales, affords anyone the opportunity to own a piece of history. The recordings, letters, photos and publicity materials capture singular moments of this legendary jazz master’s life and times. We’re really honored to be able to bring this collection to auction.”

Skinner’s Discovery auctions are held monthly at the Marlborough gallery. Free and open to the public, the auctions offer the opportunity to acquire unique items at affordable prices, and learn about art, antiques, and collectibles, in a relaxed, non-intimidating environment. In addition to the Celley collection of Ellington memorabilia, the May Discovery sale will feature Wedgwood ceramics, toys & dolls, furniture, decorative arts, American & European paintings, prints, sculpture & works on paper.

The Skinner website provides full-color images and descriptions of each lot. Skinner offers confidential absentee bids and real-time online bidding over the internet with SkinnerLive! You can also sign up here to receive Skinner auction and event announcements via email.

Auction Previews and Catalogue Information

Previews will be held Tues, May 10th from 12-5 p.m., Wed, May 11th from 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. and Thurs, May 12th from 9-10 a.m. Auction catalogues are available for purchase at the gallery for $9.00. For questions regarding property in the auction, please contact the Discovery Department at 508-970-3202 or email

About Skinner

Skinner, Inc. is one of the world’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art and the only major auction house headquartered in New England. With expertise in over 20 specialty collecting areas, Skinner draws the interest of buyers from all over the world and its auctions regularly achieve world record prices. Skinner provides a broad range of auction and appraisal services, and it is widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the auction business. Skinner’s appraisal experts regularly appear on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, and its specialty departments include American Furniture & Decorative Arts, American & European Paintings & Prints, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, Fine Ceramics, Fine Silver, Fine Jewelry, Couture, 20th Century Furniture & Decorative Arts, Fine Musical Instruments, Asian Works of Art, Fine Judaica, Toys, Dolls & Collectibles, Science & Technology, Fine Clocks, Oriental Rugs & Carpets, American Indian & Ethnographic Art, Fine Wines, and Discovery. Skinner galleries are located in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, USA. For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s web site



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *