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Found 1 result

  1. Over the last several years I have participated in several of the East Coast and UK auction house stringed instrument sales.as an online bidder. The experience has been a lesson and one which leaves me questioning whether auction houses can do more to provide information to online bidders who don't attend viewings. Since I am rather new to these institutions and have never attended a live auction, I am hoping those with more experience will set me straight and/or give me some perspective. I suppose a specific example will help me explain the above sentiment. One of several violins I won at a November auction arrived and it has been discussed in this thread. I suppose that my block against seeing this as a Chinese violin was that I expected something else based on the lot estimate ($800 - 1200....not to imply that Chinese violins can't be worth that amount) . This auction house has rather small pictures and a minimalist description; in this case the description basically said it was a violin and gave the label information and LOB. I knew the label was phony but I thought it looked decent in the small pictures. I won it within the estimate. When it arrived my first impressions were of the thick varnish and how new it looked. I did a quick setup and the tone was not very pleasant. Seeing the plate thicknesses were not appropriate for the arching, I opened it to improve the tone and saw several things that bothered me. There was varnish overspray inside the violin indicating that the varnish had been sprayed on. I have been around violins for a while but this is the first time I have come across this (any thoughts on the quality implications of this practice?). Further, it was obvious that the label had been poorly glued over the remnants of an original label which, If I had shone a flashlight in the f-holes, would have been visible. As others pointed out in the thread, it has characteristics of being of Chinese origin. I contacted the auction house and let them know that I was not expecting a new Chinese violin with sprayed on varnish and that I thought their estimate had been too high (an assumption on my part since I have little experience with Chinese violins and zero experience with sprayed varnish). I also requested that, since online bidders are unable to hold the violin in their hands (this obvious statement is really the crux of my post), bigger pictures and more specific descriptions were needed. In the response that I received was the information that the 2nd high bidder was a live bidder in the room (that did make me feel better), and a copy of the Conditions of Sale, which read: "2. All property is sold “as is,” and neither the auctioneer nor any consignor makes any warranties or representation of any kind or nature with respect to the property, and in no event shall they be responsible for the correctness, nor deemed to have made any representation or warranty, of description, genuineness, authorship, attribution, provenance, period, culture, source, origin, or condition of the property and no statement made at the sale, or in the bill of sale, or invoice or elsewhere shall be deemed such a warranty of representation or an assumption of liability. Maybe this is a standard liability limitation clause but, in my opinion, it is almost unethical, especially because of the online bidders who are not able to pick up and inspect the violins in person. I responded with this sentiment and added that, in light of the probable immense profits from online bidding, auction houses had a responsibility to provide better information to these bidders-and take some of those profits to provide bigger pictures and a description which at least gives an approximate age and an origin, if known. I suggested that this particular lot could have been described as, " Chinese violin, ca. 2010, labeled xxxxxxxx (over original label). Condition report: "Varnish overspray on inside of back) , I also asked this appraiser what he thought the violin was when he set the estimate, but I have not heard back and doubt that I will. By the way, After the regrad and rebar, it sounds much better. Any thoughts (even if it is just, "bidder beware")? Or, would you care to comment on how online bidding has altered auction bidding in general? For instance, let's say you attend a live auction in person after attending the viewing. You like lot 82, even though you saw that it needs a neck reset and the peg holes need bushing. When lot 82 comes up, you are outbid by 5 different online bidders who bid significantly more than you had planned because they had no idea that the violin needed the reset and bushing. Or, you liked the looks of hypothetical lot 142 but, after playing it, you quickly put it down and walked away, thinking to yourself that the plates were too thin. During the auction, you sit that one out but are amazed by the bidding war for that lot by online bidders. Given the vast amount of information available to live viewers that is unavailable to online bidders, can auction houses do better in trying to level the playing field? How do you, as one who has been a regular live auction participant over many years, view the increasing(?) encouragement of and participation of online bidders?