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Bob Dylan's High School Harmonica
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $6,380.00
Bob Dylan's "Echo" harmonica played by him during his high school days in Hibbing, Minnesota. The words and music that would soon captivate an entire generation had their genesis in the notes that were first produced on this harmonica. This harmonica, manufactured by M. Hohner, has a very special place in the earliest years of Bob Dylan's music. It is especially interesting to note that this is an "Echo" model harmonica, chosen because the name of the harmonica model was the same as Dylan's girlfriend in high school, Echo Helstrom. Dylan's love of music and song writing constantly manifested itself throughout his high school days. During that period his high school sweetheart, Echo, recalled: "That whole eleventh grade when Bob and I went steady, he had the music teachers snowed. Nobody else could stand how he sung or what he played especially the electric stuff, but people like Mrs. Peterson and Bob's English teacher, Mr. Rolfzen, they had a feeling. Bob would play for anybody, anytime, and I guess that enthusiasm made a difference, too. He was such a sweet convincer." This harmonica originates directly from Dale Boutang, who was one of Dylan's closest friends in high school. Dale Boutang was also responsible for saving Dylan's 22-page handwritten high school paper on The Grapes of Wrath that Robert Edward Auctions sold in 2004 (which Dylan gave to Dale to help him with his paper, and which has since been displayed in a special exhibit on Dylan at Paul Allen's The Experience Museum in Seattle, Washington) as well as the earliest known Dylan poetry from 1956 offered separately in this auction. In his accompanying letter, Boutang attests to the provenance of the harmonica: " was a classmate and close, personal friend of Bob Zimmerman, who later changed his name to Bob Dylan. Bob and I used to play guitars and harmonicas together as teenagers and were typical high school chums. Additionally, I am mentioned in numerous Bob Dylan biographies. I do attest that Bob Dylan personally played this harmonica in high school. Because we could not always afford our own instruments, Bob and I shared many of our harmonicas and guitars. This is one such harmonica, which I ended up keeping from our high school days. I have had the harmonica in my possession ever since." This is an extraordinarily important piece of folk and Rock 'n Roll music history, and one of the few surviving musical instruments dating from Dylan's formative years. The harmonica bears the name "Dale Boutang" carved on the front and displays normal wear consistent with its age and use. Excellent condition overall. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000.
The item in this lot is currently on loan by special request to the Experience Music Project's museum exhibit entitled Bob Dylan's American Journey 1956-1966, which runs through April 2006. Over the next two years, this landmark show will become a national traveling museum exhibit that will go to five additional venues: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Pierpont Morgan Library in NYC; the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis; the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC; and one other venue to be named. It is hoped that the winner of this lot will allow the continued display of this item through 2008, and if such permission is granted by the winner, arrangements will be made conveniently and directly with EMP museum officials. SOLD FOR $6,380.00
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