Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 11:23 UK

'Penny' Stradivarius makes $1.2m

The 'Penny' Stradivari
The instrument was made in the 1700s

A Stradivarius violin named after its pioneering female owner has been sold in New York for $1.2m (600,000).

The instrument, made in the 18th century, belonged to Barbara Penny, the first woman to play in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra strings section.

Ms Penny, who played as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, died last year.

The violin was sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous, said auction house Christie's.

The instrument, the sound of which is described as "sweet and bell-like", was owned by Ms Penny from 1965.

The sale was far below the $3.5m (1.75m) paid in 2006 for a Stradivarius instrument known as The Hammer, thought to be a record.

Italian Antonio Stradivari made some 1,100 pieces during his working life, with 650 still in existence today.

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