Queen Liliuokalani’s Music Console on eBay

The conducting podium where Queen Liliuokalani penned Hawaii’s most famous song, “Aloha ‘Oe”, may soon be auctioned on eBay in August–with a starting bid of 99 cents. That is, unless the current owner is able to come to an agreement with the Smithsonian Institute by Fall 2011. The Smithsonian is just one of several international organizations who have made offers for the artifact. Some hope the console will become part of the Iolani Palace’s collection of Hawaiian artifacts.
In 2007, local news station KITV interviewed a man named John Cook, who said he bought the console for $100 at Goodwill. He had no idea what it was or who it belonged to until he started researching the console’s origins. Cook originally believed it was owned by Princess Kaiulani, but over the past few years further research has concluded that the music podium was crafted in England for Liliuokalani by an artisan named William Cowie, who worked for now-defunct manufacturer Shapland and Petter. Cowie’s original sketches of the console were discovered in Great Britain in 2005, helping to establish this connection. The current $21 million eBay “Buy It Now” price tag is likely a ploy to draw attention to the relic. In 2007, the console was listed on eBay for $6.5 million. According to the current auction’s description, the music console was discovered in 2006 after over 100 years in hiding. Wherever Queen Liliuokalani’s music podium goes next, it is hoped that meticulous care and preservation are given to such a historic monument to Hawaii’s sovereign heritage and music. Liliuokalani wrote over 160 songs in her lifetime. She passed away at the age of 79 on November 11, 1917.

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