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PhilipKT

INVESTMENT VIOLIN

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I love a good cello bow, and it's amazing how quickly the wood wears on a consistently played bow. I doubt I could ever afford an excellent condition Voirin that weighed about 81 grams(most are much lighter, OR are terribly worn)

I'm not a good enough cellist to benefit from a top-o-the-line bow. Only a top-flight player can really take advantage of the virtues of a best quality bow, so anything above a certain moderate level would be wasted on me.

I'd love a nice Otto Hoyer bow, though

I got a call a couple summers ago from a cellist friend who had just bought 3 perfect condition bows from Jacque Francais:

"Philip, come over<pause> bring your cello."

And he showed me a Voirin, a Lamy, and a Victor Fetique he was adding to his collection

I was flabbergasted...

"MY GOD, How much did these cost???"

He laughed and said "Now, never you mind."

but you can bet they were top dollar...:::sigh::: being rich is nice...

Michael, next time I'm in Chicago, I'll pop buy your shop and ogle that Voirin of yours

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There are a few nice bows locally. Most of them have a lizard skin (like the thumbpiece) over the back facets which the frog doesn't cover, and then surgical tubing over the wrap, extending over the thumbpiece of the frog--it would make a good photo. The bottom line is that flesh never touches the stick. But if you're going to put away a violin and not play it, how is this different from doing the same with a bow?

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Speaking as a player who is looking at violin prices, I think it's downright unethical to buy a fine instrument for investment purposes rather than to be played!

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quote:


Originally posted by:
RS

Speaking as a player who is looking at violin prices, I think it's downright unethical to buy a fine instrument for investment purposes rather than to be played!

The prices can be pretty painful, can't they?

Some of the nicest violins and bows you have available today are those stashed away by collectors in the past. Maybe it all works out?

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I have another friend who has a perfect condition pecatte cello bow with provenance stating that it has never been haired. On the one hand it's appalling to thnk of such a bow never being played, on the other hand it's nice to think of such a bow being preserved.

Oh well.... I agree that great violins should be played, and investment ones too... just sparsely and carefully...

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quote:


Originally posted by:
PhilipKT

I have another friend who has a perfect condition pecatte cello bow with provenance stating that it has never been haired.

I'm always suspicious of cases like that. Maybe the reason it was never haired is because Dominique or Francois thought it was a dog and stuck it in a drawer after finishing it.

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I have a JJ Millant, gold tortoishell... it was bought by a collector from the maker, and seldom if ever used. I think the dealer said that the guy bought 2, one which he played on, and another which he stashed away for investment. It's in prestine condition, and I still have to take it in to be leather bound, as I can get sweaty. I'm having Michael Vann make a new frog so that I can protect the very valuable tortoiseshell. So, that is a way that I as a player have benefited from someone stashing something away.

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So how do you makers feel about the idea that someone might buy an instrument you just made to put it away and hope it will accrue value? Don't you make instruments to create an artistic voice? Isn't a violin in a closet like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it? Yes, sometimes good things come out of bad - and players occasionally profit from finding a pristine, never-played instrument. But I'd wager there are many more players out there struggling to afford instruments in a market that is inflated partially because of the collectors who are just sitting on (figuratively speaking!) unplayed instruments.

By the way, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments has, or at least used to have, a 3/4 size Stradivari violin. There are probably other fractional sized instruments by great makers in other museums. I think that can be justified, because a Strad probably shouldn't be in the hands of a child.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Erika

quote:


Originally posted by:
PhilipKT

The violin I refer to in my original post is a 1996-ish matsuda.


I agree with the points mentioned above.

Matsudas are really nice instruments -- my husband has two; used to have three. However, speaking from personal experience, I would consider them more as tools than investments. The one he sold was originally purchased for $8K (I think?) in the '80s and sold in the early '90s for $15K. On paper that's a nice profit, but you have to factor in all the expenses. Dealer commission was 20% of the sale, then you have a 10 years of maintenance, insurance, home alarm fees, etc to figure in, plus adjustments for inflation. Once you subtract all that, the profit margin is just not that high. There's also the "liquid" factor -- if you need money in a hurry, you can't instantly cash in a violin. It takes time to sell a fine instrument. Plus, instruments are just a lot more hassle to keep up than a nice 401(K) or investment fund. If you're simply after investment return, I suspect you can go about it more efficiently.

If I were better with math, the thing to do would be to run alternate scenarios... what would $8K have become if you'd put it into Coca-Cola stock or a 5-star mutual fund or some other investment. I read somewhere that if you average 7.2% return, you'd double a $15K investment in ten years.

There is a Matsuda now on Tarisio, estimate $2500-4000. Don't tell anybody!

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RS,

While I believe my other posts in this thread have indicated that I

think violin purchase as an investment is foolhardy at best, and I

also believe that violins should be played, I think that perhaps

your statements of "unethical" may be just a little bit

overboard.

The pinch that you and I, as average players, find on our wallets

is not due to collectors.  It is due, in a large sense, by the

declining "real wages" we make in this age of globalization, paired

with the fact that a fine hand made instrument is going to cost you

in terms of the time invested.  But that is neither here nor

there.

The other factor that is driving much of the costs is the

perception in many professional music circles that you are almost

"nothing" unless your violin has some sort of rather old pedigree

and provenance.  (I know what this is starting to sound

like...but please, no one accuse me of being Fritz Reuter...)

In the realm of "new" instruments, I daresay collectors aren't out

snapping them up in an effort to see which ones are "good

investments".  There just isn't that large of a speculative

market in new instruments.  It's in the rarified air that

contains OLD and provenanced European violins, particularly

Italian, where the wealthy collectors are indeed assissting in

driving those prices.  Auction houses help too.

I for one disagree with collecting violins just to lock up...except

with violins that are of historical significance.  In that

case, seeing them preserved is also noteworthy.  If you have

the kind of money to compete to buy one of those albatrosses...then

why are you complaining on an internet message board.  

The point of this long ramble is that "unethical" was too strong a

choice of words...and for all the reasons listed in this thread, I

just don't think so many people are "hoarding" violins as to impact

you or I.  A benchmade violin is expensive because a single

maker can only make so many at a certain quality level per year.

 It's simply time and money.  If you want "cheaper" you

can buy a factory violin and start bludgeoning our esteemed

luthiers with the forces of globalization that are eviscerating the

rest of the middle class to benefit the rich.

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The violin most averagely-endowed (financially) players are looking for most most often seem to require the following characteristics:

1. Should be Italian

2. Preferably classical

3. Should have a good tone, response, etc (just mumbo-jumbo for "good violin")

4. Should be affordable.

The fact that these four characteristics are rarely combined in one violin violin routinely causes a lot of buyer confusion and belly-ache.

If I were a player, I would arrange those characteristics in order of importance to me as a player, and buy accordingly.

Strangely, the traits I would go for if I were a player (#3 and #4) are fairly easy to find in one violin, but putting aside ambition, dreams of "investment return" and plain old snobbishnesss seems to be extraordinarily difficult for many players.

There are enough affordable good new makers' violins to go around these days - in fact, too many. But what self-respecting violinst wants to be caught dead with a new non-European or non-American violin? Except perhaps a Chinese VSA winner at 50% off market price or something like that.

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Banzai,

Sorry, sometimes you can't hear tone of voice on a message board. My "downright unethical" statement had a satirical tone, but you wouldn't know that without knowing me. I agree, taken seriously, "unethical" is too strong a term. But I still don't approve of locking up a violin and waiting for it to appreciate. And, no, I don't have the money for an "albatross." I was just surprised that all the discussion was about the investment side, and not about making fine instruments (of whatever period of time - I don't think I mentioned old Italian, although the conversation seems to always go there!) unavailable to be played.

Jacob,

Not sure what you mean by "preferably classical." Are you referring to a period of time, or an instrument suited for classical music as opposed to, say, fiddling?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
RS

But I still don't approve of locking up a violin and waiting for it to appreciate.


If you honestly think that's what a collector (at least one with brains of any kind) does and how they are motivated, I think you simply don't understand what's going on...

Collectors tend to buy what they love. Instrument collectors may be motivated by a desire to gather an impressive selection (ego, interest or desire), or by the idea of stewardship, may enjoy playing the instruments they own, or all of the above. Many are also motivated to support specific artists and will loan certain instruments from their collection... or buy one specifically for an artist.

The fact that some rare instruments do tend to appreciate over time may make the idea of spending a good deal of money slightly more palatable at the time, but I bet these same individuals could select other, more profitable, ventures if "investment" were really the primary motivation. I know a player/collector who purchased a Strad, then figured what the stock he cashed out would have been worth a number years later... I think we came to the conclusion that to equal the investment performance, the Strad would have to sell for about 3 or 4 times the market price at the time (to equal the increase in the stock's value over that period). He still owns and loves his Strad.

This thread has already established that, in general, contemporary instruments aren't all that great an investment in comparison to older ones, but there are a few who do collect modern fiddles. Why, do you suppose? Probably the same reasons as those who collect older ones.

I can pretty assure you that serious collectors of modern, contemporary instruments are relatively few in number, and not the reason that prices of new instruments go up. That has to do with relative economy (inflation) and supply/demand (by players who desire particular maker's works).

Really, I believe the acid test for any true collector of anything fine, is the desire to obtain an object that they truly appreciate having... and they aren't even considering parting with at the time they acquire it. Not really the definition of investment, at least in the Wall Street sense, is it.

On the other hand, a working player, purchasing a tool (that may appreciate over time), may have advantages a collector does not... Understand that I'm not a CPA... and that one should check with one before counting on the following, but: If one is making an income, the expenses associated with the purchase (travel, shipping, etc.) and maintenance may fall into the category of a business expense (against the income). If a loan is used to acquire the instrument, the interest may be deductible... and since a player really needs to own an instrument anyway (do his/her job), any increase in value is icing on the proverbial cake.

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