As historical instruments go, interest at auction ranges from the prestige of an instrument's previous owner to the mileage of the instrument itself. Recently, a weathered and war-weary cello that belonged to a fallen soldier was, at auction, sold for £6,000. The cello had survived traveling to the south of Africa during the 19th Century's bloody Anglo-Zulu Wars.
The handwriting of Beethoven can be indentified by its furious and sloppy appearance. Hardly meant for future generations to admire, notation was an inconvenience to Beethoven---a means to capture music as quickly as it came to him. To composers and appraisers like Brendan Ryan, Beethoven's handwriting is, as he put it, "unmistakable", but for homeowners who might not know the value of their basement treasure troves, his handwriting could easily be dismissed as worthless chicken scratch. In the case of a Greenwich, Connecticut homeowner, who had originally hired Ryan to appraise furniture and miscellaneous items, fortune stumbled their way as Ryan unexpectedly glanced upon a Beethoven sketch leaf of the King Stephan Overture (König Stephan) hanging on their wall.