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Posts posted by jamesbuchanan

  1. 3 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

     The chart is blank with the exception of mention of the table being loose.... hence my question

    Ah - understood. Closed cracks are yellow. Not as visible as the scarlet red we use for open cracks, but they are definitely there. Thanks for the clarification and thanks @martin swan for getting there ahead of me. 

    Best wishes to you all - and thank goodness January is over.

  2. 16 hours ago, Blank face said:

    Of course disappointing that most of the auction houses don't give views of the inside if an instrument is opened already. Maybe they will give it privately on request.

    Morning Blank Face - always happy to do it on request. It is a bit like label shots, just get in touch and we will ask the photographer to take some. Mostly this is just down to managing the work-load for staff, it's can be challenging aligning all the cataloguing / condition reports / photographs / checks and then pressing the button to put a catalogue live.

    TL:DR - any special requests, just get in touch!

  3. 17 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

    Off subject just a little; Why is the condition report essentially blank? If the top was loose from the table, there would be little to no struggle to see and notate repairs...

    Morning Jeffrey,

    You are absolutely right. The table being off makes it a LOT easier to spot repairs etc., and I hope that we mentioned all the condition issues that were there. I have taken a quick look at the condition report for the violin and it seems pretty complete.

    On a wider point - and please bear with me if this sounds slightly defensive - we take a huge amount of care over our condition reports. Every instrument has its own condition report (unless one slipped through the gaps) and they can take an absolute age to go through. In my Christie's days we didn't do condition reports at all - things have moved a long way in the last twenty years - and if anyone has any suggestions on how to improve them then please DM me, I would love to know.

    There is a danger of 'whisky tasting' to condition reports, where long days staring at small repairs fry the mind and boil the brain and we can't make any claim that our condition reports are exhaustive (exhausting perhaps). We all make mistakes, but I would like to believe they are a heck of a lot more thorough than anything you would get on Ebay.


  4. 2 hours ago, Ray Weaver said:

    I suppose I was specifically tending towards  a belief that external economic factors might be at play but that was only a tentative idea and wanted to get more informed opinions

    On your specific point (with apologies for derailing the discussion), external economic factors may be at play, but currently they are generally positive for the market. A weaker pound will certainly have made an impact, but so too will have been a general intention to get ahead of inflation. The latter is a supposition, but based on this last sale where most instruments went above their high estimate, I suspect a fair one.

    @martin swan@Yogic et al. This was fun. We should do it more often!

  5. 1 minute ago, martin swan said:

    With regard to Bromptons, we met there in 2010 I think ... so more than one decade surely?

    More than one decade but not a plurality of decades. 2005 was kick-off. In a bar off St. James with Laurent Perrier Rosé and an absolute conviction that all would be well. 

  6. Morning all - lovely day for it etc.

    I do feel that there is a conversation to be had about the best way to run an auction house. I don't know a single auction house with a 100% sale rate, so I think we can all be accused of over-promising at points.


    We value our sale-rate very highly and it is genuinely a key metric for us when we finish an auction, so on this Martin and I are at variance. There are some business reasons - it is more efficient and generally better for the vendor to sell first time; and personal reasons (I don't like letting people down). These points are specific to Amati though. It wouldn't be wise for me to comment on other auction houses as I would be guessing what their motivations were. 

    A couple of quick points from earlier posts though:

    8 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

    String instrument auctions are not immune from external economic factors.

    @GeorgeHIt looks like the market is as strong as ever. In fact Liz Truss while destroying the pound might have even added an extra 2% to last week's auctions.

    56 minutes ago, martin swan said:

    Bromptons have been running specialist string instrument auctions for decades

    @martin swanNope. I'm not that old.

    8 hours ago, Yogic said:

    The auctioneer has a responsibility to try and sell every item consigned to them.

    @Yogic Yes. 

    A bit of an over-view of how auction houses work in real-life. I am on my third cup of coffee. Sarah is beside me working through after sale offers (not too many - c.75% of the sale sold on the day) and I am about to start packing for a week on the road, as the January specialist is just round the corner. 

    And, much more importantly, Elena has decided that we can now play Christmas carols in the office from this point. 

    My best (not yet Christmas) wishes to you all,





  7. 5 minutes ago, martin swan said:

    Each has ended up with a slightly different formula, and in my view the number of items sold in the initial auction is not a very significant metric …

    Do you think so? I genuinely find that interesting.

    After each auction we unpick the stats to work out what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong, a large percentage of after-sales is definitely one which would earn me a frosty look from The Boss.

    Perhaps we need to meet up for a pint in the run up to Christmas? I am very much in a listening frame of mind at the moment.


  8. Being rather interested in auction houses in general and my own in particular, I thought I would add a few of my own suggestions, for what they are worth.

    Firstly @martin swan  while you may be correcting in ascribing a strategy to all the auction houses, I think it is unlikely that much of their character comes from this.

    Both their ownership structure and the 'immediate' nature of auction houses' business models, lend themselves to a very reactive approach. I don't mean that we don't have strategies, but I think that most auction houses gain their character more from their DNA than from a grand vision.

    There are qualities that we all have in some measure which play into the auction houses. At its core, perhaps, an appetite for risk, knowledge and integrity. On the whole though I think these are more issues of ethos than strategy.

    (Side note - I took ages to write this. I don't think the fifth draft is any more cogent than the first - am happy to clarify if I have called it badly)

  9. Dear All,

    This is utterly my fault - and thank you for flagging it up.

    At the first pass, I thought the brand looked like that of Fetique. I was wrong - it was Caressa & Francais. I changed it in the title, but it seems I forgot to change the brand in the description. Entirely my fault - changed on the catalogue and a small sale-room notice of shame.

    Sorry again - and thank you for pointing it out!

    Best wishes


  10. 16 minutes ago, matesic said:

    James - I'm looking at lot 20. Why doesn't Monsieur Breveté's name appear in Jalovec I wonder..?

    Oh Urgh - slightly hard to answer this one, but it is a fair point. It's a cataloguing problem more than anything. J T-L probably but not entirely definitely, so I thought I would catalogue generally. Happy to revise if you can come up with a more satisfactory description. Truth be told it is far from being the instrument I focussed on the most.

  11. 21 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

    Amati auction now up

    UK) Amati - October 22nd - November 3rd (2021) - Specialist Instruments - https://app.amati.com/en/auction/1082-amati-specialist-3rd-november/detail

    Thanks Shelbow,

    I can't speak for other auction houses, although I suspect it might be the same, but this is the first almost-normal auction we have had since the pandemic kicked off. It feels good to get back to some semblance of normal. A lot of the clients that we have seen over the last few months have been frustrated by not finding it easy to sell lately, so estimates should be rather fun. 

    There's another thread on how auctions might cope post-Brexit in London. I think - and pray fervently - that we should be fine. I have popped abroad a fair bit (and everything is abroad now) and it is almost like the old days... with just a lot more paperwork on our side to pick up at the end of it.

    My general, meandering post-auction release thoughts are... this auction, after a 20 month lacuna is probably the new 'normal', we have done our best our side, but it will be interesting to see how it goes.

    Best wishes to all,


  12. 1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

    expect admonishment from Amati shortly:)

    No admonishment - but FL is definitely not closing. As with quite a few dealerships it ends up that there is more wood than any workshop could use in a few centuries. Storage space in central London is hardly cheap so...

    A lot of the wood has passed through a few hands before FL - the keen eyed will recognise quite a few workshop marks. There is even some wood from Hills in there.

    Hope that helps!

  13. 15 hours ago, violinnewb said:

    WHERE IS THE AMATI catalogue that was supposed to come out May 14???  Been looking for it non-stop lol

    Moring Violinnewb, yes, sorry. The sale proved to be much larger than we had expected and between cataloguing and pulling together our June Specialist sale I think our catalogue deadline was more aspirational than normal.

    One of the main issues I have is how on earth to catalogue wood. This is our fourth (?) makers' sale and I don't think I have managed to find the perfect description of what are - at their most basic - blocks of wood. If anybody wants to kick in once the descriptions are live and tell me how to improve clarity, please crack on.

    So, apologies - it should be up today, ideally before lunch. The team are just casting their laser eyeballs over the descriptions for typos.

    Best wishes,



  14. 19 minutes ago, twcellist said:

    Took a quick peak and rather disappointed at the celli they have. :mellow: Not sure why Amati in general have not had any good celli lately...

    Good Afternoon Mr. Twcellist - nobody regrets the absence more than I, but you can probably guess why it is hard to find good cellos in the current climate.

    My experience is that it is much harder to do any business at all during Lockdown V3. We managed to keep spinning along through 2020, but - and with good reason - people are less likely to meet at all now that they know the vaccine is round the corner. 

    I am praying that when things clear up then I can leap around the UK like a gazelle, and, then, when things become easier internationally hop on planes, but in the meantime you are definitely looking at a tightening of supply.


  15. Pah - it's not the Welsh Police I'm worried about, I have just been nobbled for speeding by the Gloucestershire Constabulary. You would have thought they had better things to do on an empty road on a Sunday morning.

    @matesic we will be doing a collection day in London. Most likely (almost certainly) after the December sale - which should go live today. That way I can combine collection for the two auctions in one go.

    By the way, thank you to everybody who bid, or even who took the time to go through the stuff. Genuinely grateful.

    From a Maestronet hive-mind perspective, we will have c. 330 lots in the December auction, and we are going to have to split it over two days. Should I do two 'book-matched' auctions i.e. each day leads with cellos, then violins etc., or should I just do the first day all violins and cellos, the second violas, bows... other stuff?

    Any views gratefully accepted.


  16. 1 hour ago, Yogic said:

    Customer feedbacks are important and if the auction house is smart they would listen to someone who buys from them regularly and is a regular customer  than someone who has nothing to do with them.

    Thanks @Yogic, totally agree about customer feedback, although I am not sure that a public forum on a website is the perfect vehicle for it. Thank you for buying from us. The curse of anonymity is that I don't know what you have bought, but as any buyers are good news. Genuinely - thank you. One of the dangers of anonymity is that we attack the person, thinking we are attacking the argument. I hope I haven't done so, but apologise if I have.

    I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of attributions publicly. If you wish, I am happy to answer any private messages you wish to send.

    On the same subject of feedback @Shelbow thanks for the point about the scroll. Not sure why we have never done it - we shall. Hopefully over Monday / Tuesday. I think we might be able to do it in time.

    Oh - and on sending bows / violins to the States. @PhilipKT a lot of buyers are from your side of the pond. We do all the paperwork (and shipping) our side and it is fairly effortless (says the man who isn't working until 11pm trying to pack ten cellos for shipment). If you have any questions, do get in touch with Elena or Sarah. Both masters of their art.

    We do our best, but I am totally aware we drop the ball sometimes - thanks to you chaps who put a good word in. Genuinely grateful.



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