We did instrument and bow appraisals for insurance purposes. If we did an appraisal for you in the past and you have a copy of that appraisal, Jay can update it for a modest fee.
What does a good appraisal include?
A detailed examination and documentation of the instrument's (or bow's) specifications and notable characteristics
Examination of any documents you have on the instrument
Research of the literature on the instrument or bow in question
Research of current/recent sale prices for similar instruments or bow
A letter detailing the results of the luthier's examination and research, with their opinion on the current value
The appraisal should include a statement on whether the estimate is for insurance, retail, or auction purposes.
Please read "Your Heirloom Instrument" below, before paying for an appraisal on a family or 'found' instrument..
Your Heirloom Instrument or Bow
If you have an instrument that has been in the family for a long time, or if you have found one that you think might be old and/or valuable, you are right to want to know what the instrument is worth. Once in a while, a long-stored or "found" instrument will turn out to be better than average. But you need to be aware that in most cases, these instruments are not of great value, despite any labels or apparent age.
Around the turn of the 20th century, many stringed-instrument factories in Europe labeled their mass-market instruments to identify the master instruments (Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri, etc., and year) on which the models were based. As far as we can tell, there was no (or little) intent to defraud the public; at the time it was generally understood that these were inexpensive, mass-market instruments and that the labels were simply to identify the models followed.
Now, however, the public is not generally aware of that labeling practice. Many of us watch "Antiques Roadshow" (we do!) and know that sometimes, unknown treasures are handed down in families or found at a bargain price. So when people find an heirloom instrument in a
closet or attic, or find a labeled instrument at an estate sale, of course their hopes go up.
By all means, take your heirloom instrument to a reputable shop for a verbal appraisal, if they are offered. While your chances of having an important master instrument are slim, it's certainly possible that your ancestor had a good instrument that has appreciated in value. If the instrument turns out to be better than average, you may want to get another opinion before committing to a paid appraisal. In the unlikely event of an important instrument "find," the appraiser should suggest having the instrument certified. (Only a few top experts worldwide can do that, but a good luthier should be able to refer you to them.)
Be careful! If someone appraises your instrument as being of low value, but seems anxious to buy it from you on the spot, please go to another appraiser for a second opinion. Your instrument may be of greater value than they are telling you. We aren't aware of this occurring often, but we regret to say that we have heard of it happening.