Buying and Selling an Antique Violin
Violins, a member of the string family of instruments, have been around for centuries. One of the most popular and beautiful instruments in an orchestra, the violin is the centerpiece of many concertos and symphonies. This rich history has not only bequeathed a host of beautiful compositions that can be still heard today, but also a bevy of violins of similar age. There is nothing like hearing a beautiful piece emanating from an antique violin, particularly one that is the same age as the composition.
Antique violins can range in price from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on their age, manner of construction, and the history and prestige of the antique violin maker (the luthier). Famous makers through the centuries include Amati, Stainer, Bergonzi, and the well-known Stradivari.
There are many reasons people seek to buy and sell antique violins. For musicians, many appreciate the quality of sound that can be produced from the antique violin, as many of the great masters’ secrets of stunning acoustical quality have been lost over the years. The violin also may have a history of interest to the violinist, like if it were played by a famous violinist or made by a famous maker, or has some other significance within history as a whole. Many an antique violin also exhibits craftsmanship, including engravings and carvings, not found in contemporary violins.
Some seek out a particular antique violin because they enjoy collecting them. They may not play them, but instead like to showcase them in their home or in a museum or concert hall.
Buying an Antique Violin
Perhaps you are an aspiring professional violinist, in need of the pedigree of the masters, or perhaps you are a collector, desiring the most exquisite and storied violins you can find. In either case, you may be interested in purchasing an antique violin that will fit your needs. Before taking the plunge, educate yourself on the options available, and consider what qualities of the violin are necessary to satisfy your needs. You may be interested more in the look or the age of the violin, if you’re a collector, than the sound or the pedigree, if you’re a musician. Though purchasing a violin online certainly opens the market up for you, you should try to see the violin in person before you purchase it, and even give it a test play if necessary. A violin can look beautiful, or be very old or prestigious, but sound terrible; these would only be “worth” something to a collector. Violins can sound different in different players’ hands.
In the end, what violin is good for you depends on your personal preferences and budget. Whatever your decision, make sure you have the violin appraised yourself, and obtain any supporting documentation that verifies the age, make, and value of the instrument. You may also consider purchasing insurance for your investment.
Selling an Antique Violin
If you own a violin that is very old, it could be worth something. If you desire to sell it rather than keep it or pass it down through your family, you should make sure to identify and receive its full value. If you know something about your violin’s history and quality, you can compare it online to other violins of similar background to get a ballpark value for the instrument. You may wish to have your violin appraised, either by an antiques dealer or by someone well acquainted with old violins. These individuals can be found online with a quick google search. They will evaluate the qualities of the violin, including its age, manufacturer, condition, looks, and sound, in order to identify its market value. The materials with which is made, and the construction quality (that is, how it was made, whether by hand or in a factory) of the violin, will significantly affect its value. It is then up to you to bring it to the market if you desire.
If you decide to go ahead and sell it once the value of the violin has been ascertained, it is then time to put it to the market and see what it can fetch. There are many online venues that will help you market your instrument. The key is finding a place which maximizes the contact between buyers and sellers. You need to be satisfied that you are receiving the highest price possible from the market for your violin. Similarly, if you are a buyer, you want to receive the greatest value for your dollars.
A reminder: you may not receive the full value of the violin in your pocket if you sell it. If the violin is in poor condition, you may need to invest money to bring it back to sellable condition or to maximize its value. Also, if you decide to sell it through a third party, like a store or auction, that entity may take a cut from the final sale. Keep these facts in mind when deciding whether or where to sell your antique violin.
Antique Violin Bows and Accessories
Now that you have an antique violin, you may wish to obtain accessories, like bows, that will complement your fine instrument. There are markets for these online as well, and have their own standards and specifications that you will need to familiarize yourself with. Similarly, if you own an antique violin, the accessories that come with it may be just as valuable. Be sure to get them appraised, and don’t let them go free when you sell the violin without getting adequate value for them.