Yes, the Christie’s website is poorly designed. Striking? Yes. But with terrible navigation. Some (most? I haven’t counted) of the books had been put up for auction before. Yeah, those prices will draw bidders and then the results will probably suppress the prices of those books already in dealers’ and collectors’ hands.
Thoughts about the stave and notes in the Field book (lot 395). Realize that in the technical sense I am essentially immusical: Instead of f-e-f-g with the bottom line of the stave missing, could it be d-c-d-e with the top line missing? Or instead of the treble clef, is this the bass clef? Is it a code? A bar from an aria Dmitri, the bass, sang?
A Dutch Nabonut friend, Martin Kaaij, who is also a professional musician, wrote me:
You are right about the clefs. There are three kinds ( the third is called tenor) and you can put them anywhere on the stave. They only indicate where the g, f or c is and then you go up and down from that point. So the code may be any three letters with the same relative positions in the alphabet. agab, babc etc. A bar from an aria by Dmitri is possible as well. Or it might be Dmitri’s name in music: d mi=e (do re mi = c d e) tri=c, or something a bit less far fetched. Or the missing line on the stave might be a pun on Field’s sloppy work. There are simply too many possibilities to find a conclusive answer. And what’s more, if it is a riddle the solution should be an elegant one.