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I thought some might find this interesting - This is written by Robert Cauer APPRAISALS AND CERTIFICATES: DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE? Even some inexperienced dealers don't know it. In the violin world, the terms "Appraisal" and "Certificate" are used often interchangeably but there is a big difference. A Certificate is a document used to declare the Authenticity of an instrument. A Certificate often (but not always) has accompanying pictures and is as credible as the person who wrote it. There is no price stated on a certificate and it will accompany the violin whenever it changes ownership. Certificates are considerably more expensive than an appraisal. They usually cost 5% plus of the instrument's value if they are written by a known and respected connoisseur. An Appraisal is a document used mainly for insurance purposes to state the replacement value of the instrument. As opposed to a certificate it has to be renewed every few years to state the current value. A dealer without much knowledge about the originality of instruments can still make an insurance appraisal for an expensive violin, even a Stradivari, if he has access to the original certificates by known and trusted connoisseurs. This appraisal is usually a bit under $200.00 for very expensive instruments. Unless the dealer writes an actual certificate, his appraisal it is not an individual confirmation of the authenticity of the violin. It is merely an opinion about the value of the instrument while relying on the existent certificates. The owner with a fine instrument, which is well certified does not need yet another certificate to get an evaluation for his insurance. Sometimes the statement in an appraisal contains the sentence: "Made in our opinion by..." if the instrument has already strong certificates, which state that it is genuine. This is sometimes done to elevate the status of the dealer who writes the appraisal. This sentence rarely appears on appraisals if there are no strong certificates for instruments with "expensive" labels. Of course there are some experienced dealers, who know and recognize the maker of the instrument. However they would never make the mistake of calling an appraisal "certificate" as we have seen several times lately. Insurance appraisals usually state the value higher to include the sales tax. Therefore they should not be taken for coin value by a buyer who buys an instrument from a private party. In some instances appraisals are made to state the wholesale value at which a dealer might buy it, or for a price the instrument may fetch in an auction.