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I have always wondered, if I were born in Italy in 1700, could I afford a brand-new Stradivarius violin. After some years of research, my wife and I finally finished a mini study on the original sales price of Stradivari violins. It is published in the Strad magazine, Feb 2022: https://www.thestrad.com/lutherie/making-matters-the-price-is-right/14321.article The table below is a summary of what we found. A Stradivari violin could be purchased locally for around 100% GDP-per-capita during thre 18th century. If exported to England, the price doubles (England's GDP per capita is also double of Italy's) , according to Benjamin Hebbert's excellent research on the English market. In today's terms, Italy's GDP is ~32K USD, and the USA ~64K USD. In a nutshell, if Stradivari were working today, an international customer could probably buy his violin for 60K-80K USD. Many professional violinists can still afford it. In our article, we discussed the income range of Barqoue musicians. It seemed that musicians with decent emplyment could still afford a new Strad back then. The biggest surprise in our research was how David Tecchler was almost starving in 1708 depite being the leading maker in Rome. The market for new master violins was already dwindling by 1708 and destined to be doomed very soon. String makers and organ makers were making much more money. Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu tried their best to survive by producing innovative violins that proved to be superior. Fortunately, they held on long enough to leave us with their masterpieces. Prices in Italy (GDP per capita ~600 g of silver, 1550-1750) Maker Price (gram of silver) Note Ordinary violins 30 Similar in price to ordinary guitars Mattheo Morales 80 Maltese guitar maker, 1698 Anonymous Brescian 180 1637 Ordinary master violin 240 1724 Michele Platner 250 1759 Francesco Rugeri 260 1685 David Tecchler 380-490 1710-1724 Cremonese (Amati?) 550-690 1637 Cremonese (Amati?) 720 1572 Antonio Stradivari 720 1729 testament Antonio Stradivari 460-790 1750-1775, posthumous Jacob Stainer 790 1708, posthumous Nicolo Amati 1080 1685, posthumous
I've been contemplating/discussing the challenges of selling 'common' products in a saturated marketplace. Violins fall into that category. Everyone knows what a violin is. There are low end (mass produced), middle range, high end (bench made), and what I'd group as luxury instruments (where provenance is everything)...so anyone can find one at any price point to meet their needs/wants. The internet is great - but it's also overwhelming. If I start looking for something (anything) I find myself in a confusing forest almost immediately. Often times I can't tell what's what. However, while the internet is evolving, it's not going anywhere, so this overwhelming access to 'stuff' isn't going to disappear. I predict it's only going to get worse. A. How do you establish a niche for yourself in this climate? Most MNers would fall into the middle/high end market. How do you advertise? Do you have enough clientele? Where do they come from? What led them to you? B. If you are a consumer of any similar product (ie. where you want something handcrafted and not mass produced) - how do you search for what you want? How do you sort through the mass of items to narrow it down?