Information on Appraisals, Consignments, and Instrument Identification

Instrument Appraisal Information

 Lashof Violins performs Appraisals of instruments for Insurance or Market Value purposes for a flat fee.

    With an Insurance Appraisal, previous repairs have less to do with the instrument's replacement value. If a violin has a repaired crack or a non-original scroll and you lose the violin, you are probably not going to go shopping for another violin with the same repaired crack and replaced scroll, therefore, the Insurance Appraisal is the replacement value of the instrument.

    Unlike the Insurance Appraisal, the Fair Market Value Appraisal takes in all of the factors that affect price, especially condition. With this in mind, a violin with an Insurance Appraisal could be valued $2000.00 but (because of previous damage) have a Fair Market Value of very little. A person will typically ask for a Market Value appraisal if he or she is selling or looking to buy the instrument from someone.  What you pay for an instrument may have little to do with the Insurance Appraisal Value.

In general, the newer the instrument, the better the condition it is in, and the "cleaner" the provenance, the closer the Insurance and Market Value will agree with each other. Appraisals done at Lashof Violins clearly state which version of appraisal you are getting. Our Appraisals are prepared using guidelines from the Appraisers Association of America. 

When you purchase an instrument at Lashof Violins, the price is based on the Fair Market Value, not the Insurance Value. In addition, when you purchase an instrument from Lashof Violins an Insurance appraisal is available for that instrument at no charge at the time of purchase.

Please note: Due to the numerous factors involved in determining an instrument's value, Lashof Violins only offers appraisals (written and verbal) for instruments physically in the store. Photographs of an instrument or a description of the label do not provide enough information about the instrument for us to accurately determine a value, nor are they enough to say where the instrument was made or who may have made it.  If you wish to have an evaluation/appraisal of an instrument, we recommend bringing the instrument into Lashof Violins (or a reputable violin store near you-- visit the Strings Directory if you live outside the Washington, D.C. metro area) for identification.

 

Your Grandfather's Strad. Unfortunately, the odds that the violin tucked away in your grandfather's attic is an authentic, genuine Stradivarius are very low. In fact, you might have a higher chance of being struck by lightening than finding an authentic, unaccounted-for "Strad" in anyone's attic, basement, crawl-space, or neighborhood dumpster. But don't turn Granddad's fiddle into a planter just yet, there may still be some value to this hidden heirloom!

A Little Bit About Instrument Labels. There has been much written about violin fraud and fictitious labels being placed inside instruments. The label that appears inside an instrument may have little to do with its actual origins. It only takes moments to place a label in a violin from the outside. If fact, there are many books (written to aid in the identification process) with actual reproductions of labels inside that many unscrupulous violin dealers have copied and inserted inside instruments. The true appraiser will only look at the label after they have determined the most likely origins of the instrument. 

Is Your Grandfather's Instrument Authentic?

The Cremonese masters who created our modern violin design are the most imitated makers. For example, during the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of instruments were made in the design of these great makers (the Amatis, Stradivarius, Guarnerius, Maggini, etc.). The 19th century makers would insert labels into the instruments as a way to distinguish the different models of instruments they were distributing (see the image above for a common "Strad" model label). The customers who purchased the instruments during that time knew the instrument they were purchasing was not an original, but was modeled after a great maker and was, therefore, labeled with his name.

Today, as more people are beginning to unearth these instruments which have been passed down through generations, the original understanding of the instrument's origin is often lost and many people, after reading the inside label, are misled into thinking they have an authentic Amati or Strad.

A Little More About Labels.

In 1891 the McKinley Tariff Act required items that were imported into the United States be marked with the country of origin. In 1914, this act was again revised to require the words "Made in"  also be used. Once again in 1921, the act was revised to require the country of origin name be written in English. So, assuming the label is authentic, a violin labeled "Bavaria" would most likely have been made between 1891 and 1914. "Made in Italia" might be before 1921. 

A violin labeled "Made in Japan" was probably made after 1921. Prior to 1921, instruments most likely have been labeled "Made in Nippon."  After WWII, during the US occupation of Japan, items made for export were marked "Made in Occupied Japan" or perhaps "Occupied Japan."

Violins labeled "Made in Germany" are most likely manufactured between 1921 and WWII. After the split of Germany until its reunification in the 1990's,  labels were marked "Made in West Germany" or "Made in East Germany."

So, if your attic violin says that it is an Antonius Stradivarius 1707, but it also says "Made in Germany," the violin is NOT an authentic Stradivari, but a factory-made copy. In this instance, you don't need an appraiser to tell you your instrument is not authentic, but you still may wish to seek out a professional opinion to find out the actual value of the instrument.

 

Consignment Sales

Lashof Violins occasionally accepts instruments for sale on a consignment basis. This means, at our discretion, we will accept instruments for sale which have been sold either by our store or by another dealer.  For this service, on instruments we have previously sold, we will charge a commission fee for the sale and deduct from the original sale price any devaluation due to market changes, physical condition and repairs that are needed. (Other conditions may apply for instruments originally sold through another store.)

It is impossible to predict how quickly an instrument will sell--as with any instrument sale, we are at the mercy of the customer who comes in through the door. We equally show stock and consignment instruments based on the request of the customer. Some instruments sell in a matter of days and others might take several years to find the right home.

When a consignment instrument is accepted for sale, we will determine its value, decide on a fair selling price, deduct the commission and the repair costs, and the remaining balance will be the net amount the consignee/seller will receive when the instrument has sold (sale price minus commission fee & cost of repairs= consignee net). A consignment contract will be issued when the instrument is dropped off for sale.

Please note the following conditions:

We can modify our policy: We reserve the right to cancel or modify this policy at any time. All prior contracts  will remain valid as written.

Limitations and terms: This policy applies to our instruments only.  
Not all instruments will be accepted for sale on a consignment basis:  Please inquire prior to bringing in an item for consignment.
All instruments sold through our store must meet the construction and playability standards of quality required of our stock and, as a result, not all instruments brought to our store will be accepted for sale on a consignment basis.

Not Part of the Purchase Agreement

By accepting an instrument for sale on a consignment basis, Lashof Violins does not offer to purchase the consigned items when they are dropped off or in the future. We can exercise our right to exclude any instrument from this program at any time.  All aspects regarding consignment sales are entirely at our discretion.

 

 

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