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The Myths and Mysteries of Violin Pricing

Part Seven of Seven

by James W Robinson

In conclusion, newer is not always better than older violin family instruments. Some old instruments also have an antique value, rare and highly sought after, making them more expensive The quality of sound is very subjective, so their price is a factor of who the maker is, when and where they were made, the condition they are in and their provenance.

In auction house sales, such as in Sotheby, Phillips, Bonhams, Christie's, etc., it used to be that often hundreds of instruments would be laid out on long tables, many without even strings or any set up at all. You would almost never hear any instrument being played. Large crowds of buyers/dealers would mingle, looking and picking up instruments. Bidding decisions were made based upon their expertise alone and the often scant information in the saleroom catalog.

While some of these auction houses still exist and operate this way, some have discontinued their violin auctions but continue with their auctions of fine art, etc. Also, a lot of violin auctions are now online. Tarisio is very active in this area. Some are even also in the retail space at the same time. There are also very good and extensive databases available online mostly by subscription. 

(copyright James W Robinson)

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