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Oliver

Tarisio May Auction

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Hi Everyone,

Can anyone relay their experiences going up to Tarisio and trying out violins? Any suggestions on how to make this a successful endeavor? I just looked at the catalog and it appears overwhelming....Thanks! O :)

What do "fine" vs. "good" refer to?

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Overwhelming is probably the best word to describe it. I've never gone to try out instruments -- just looking at them is overwhelming. Hundreds of instruments are laid out on tables in a big room. A dozen people are playing at the same time.

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I went to the London viewing in March.

This is what I found. At the entrance they had a coat check with a couple of shoulder rests on the counter in case you forgot yours. I walked into the room, which was a hotel meeting room filled with rows of long tables. The violins were just laid out side by side on the tables. Each one had its number on a sticker I think at the top of the fingerboard. At the end of the room just to the right of the door was a table with violas and a group of cellos in floor stands. There was room there to stand and play if you wanted to. At the far end of the room was a row of tables with nothing on them. Behind those tables was a Tarisio rep. If you wanted to see a bow, you would tell the rep the number, and she would hand you a large drawer with about 10 bows in it. She would set the whole drawer down in front of you.

I was looking at lower end bows. (I got outbid on the 3 I liked, by the way. Evidently I have GREAT taste in bows. One of them went for 2.5 times its high estimate.) I was on vacation and had not taken my fiddle. I picked up one from a table and took it to the bow table with me. I sat down and tried a couple of bows. I would just try some short on and off string strokes sitting there. If I had wanted to play I would have moved back a bit. There were two dealers sitting on either side of me. One of whom did not look terribly impressed at having to sit next to someone making NOISE with a bow. The other one was fabulous, btw. In fact, he handed me a bow and suggested that I try it. Turns out it was a $50,000 Peccatte. Nice stick, btw. :)

There were a couple of people there while I was there who were seriously trying out instruments. One young man would go to the back of the room and play with his back to us. He was quite good. An older man who was bow shopping, brought his violin back to the bow tables and stood right behind the tables and tried a couple of bows. He did not play any of them for long. Although, one thing I noticed was that I formed an opinion very quickly about bows. Obviously, I couldn't tell how they would sound on my violin, but I tried the 3 I was interested in on 2 different violins and used that to form my opinions. I was looking in the sub $700 range, so I was willing to take some risks.

If I were interested in doing serious shopping at the May auction, I would go to New York instead of Boston. The viewing period is quite long. I would probably go towards the middle. If you want to play in private with a violin or bow, contact them directly in advance and make arrangements. I was invited to schedule a time to come by the London office and try something in private if I wished.

Hope this helps.

Elaine

Norman, Oklahoma

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I went to the London viewing in March.

This is what I found. At the entrance they had a coat check with a couple of shoulder rests on the counter in case you forgot yours. I walked into the room, which was a hotel meeting room filled with rows of long tables. The violins were just laid out side by side on the tables. Each one had its number on a sticker I think at the top of the fingerboard. At the end of the room just to the right of the door was a table with violas and a group of cellos in floor stands. There was room there to stand and play if you wanted to. At the far end of the room was a row of tables with nothing on them. Behind those tables was a Tarisio rep. If you wanted to see a bow, you would tell the rep the number, and she would hand you a large drawer with about 10 bows in it. She would set the whole drawer down in front of you.

I was looking at lower end bows. (I got outbid on the 3 I liked, by the way. Evidently I have GREAT taste in bows. One of them went for 2.5 times its high estimate.) I was on vacation and had not taken my fiddle. I picked up one from a table and took it to the bow table with me. I sat down and tried a couple of bows. I would just try some short on and off string strokes sitting there. If I had wanted to play I would have moved back a bit. There were two dealers sitting on either side of me. One of whom did not look terribly impressed at having to sit next to someone making NOISE with a bow. The other one was fabulous, btw. In fact, he handed me a bow and suggested that I try it. Turns out it was a $50,000 Peccatte. Nice stick, btw. :)

There were a couple of people there while I was there who were seriously trying out instruments. One young man would go to the back of the room and play with his back to us. He was quite good. An older man who was bow shopping, brought his violin back to the bow tables and stood right behind the tables and tried a couple of bows. He did not play any of them for long. Although, one thing I noticed was that I formed an opinion very quickly about bows. Obviously, I couldn't tell how they would sound on my violin, but I tried the 3 I was interested in on 2 different violins and used that to form my opinions. I was looking in the sub $700 range, so I was willing to take some risks.

If I were interested in doing serious shopping at the May auction, I would go to New York instead of Boston. The viewing period is quite long. I would probably go towards the middle. If you want to play in private with a violin or bow, contact them directly in advance and make arrangements. I was invited to schedule a time to come by the London office and try something in private if I wished.

Hope this helps.

Elaine

Norman, Oklahoma

I was there too. I think we could be met.

And you forgot most important thing!

"There are free drinks and foods"

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If I were interested in doing serious shopping at the May auction, I would go to New York instead of Boston...

The advantage of going to the Boston preview is that you can also see the Skinner auction, held at the same time across the street from the Park Plaza Hotel. The disadvantage is you probably won't be able to arrange a private session with Tarisio as you can in New York.

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the insight! It sounds like a difficult way to choose an instrument unless one has narrowed the search to a few I guess. When they list something with the "good" or "fine" designation, it seems like a seal of approval and I wonder what they think of instruments without such a designation. Are such designations referring to the tonal qualities or workmanship or pedigree or???? Are the majority set up to play? Regards, O

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the insight! It sounds like a difficult way to choose an instrument unless one has narrowed the search to a few I guess. When they list something with the "good" or "fine" designation, it seems like a seal of approval and I wonder what they think of instruments without such a designation. Are such designations referring to the tonal qualities or workmanship or pedigree or???? Are the majority set up to play? Regards, O

Your budget could be one way to narrow your search. The "good" and "fine" designations are not tonal evaluations. They refer to the quality of workmanship and the reputation of the maker. I would guess that about half the instruments have been set up at the previews I've attended.

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Looking at the Tarisio May auction list - I find myself thinking there is something rather strange going on with Lot 143 = a bow by STEPHANE THOMACHOT, particularly given the fact that there are still 29 days to go before the end of the sale.

I'd love to know if anyone has a play on the Landolfi, one of the most gorgeous violins I ever had the chance to try was a Landolfi, stunning sound, I wanted to run away with it...! :) But I notice this one seems to have had some bad damage on the back?

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I think "good" or "fine" has more to do with condition than with the reputation of the maker. It is important to ask for a condition report. Tarisio does not list all the cracks, repairs and other problems. They will only give that information if you ask for a condition report. Just one example: they have listed a small "good" Gagliano viola, but the condition report lists many repairs and, including a soundpost repair on the back.

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I think "good" or "fine" has more to do with condition than with the reputation of the maker. It is important to ask for a condition report. Tarisio does not list all the cracks, repairs and other problems. They will only give that information if you ask for a condition report. Just one example: they have listed a small "good" Gagliano viola, but the condition report lists many repairs and, including a soundpost repair on the back.

From their website-

Fine: of exceptional materials and/or workmanship

Important: of historically significant provenance or authorship

Good: of good quality materials and workmanship

So it has more to do with the materials and/or workmanship then condition. Many of the items in these auctions have condition problems- often that is why they are in the auction- repairs, size, lack of repairs etc.

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Stern said:

"Many of the items in these auctions have condition problems- often that is why they are in the auction- repairs, size, lack of repairs etc."

I agree. I've found no free lunch when I examined instruments in a NY viewing. The good instruments were priced accordingly for an auction house.

The good thing about auction houses is that if you are a good, cultured player, you can find a good sounding violin there for a quite reasonable price.

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This weekend is the Boston viewing for both the Tarisio and Skinner auction lots. There is nearly 800 lots between the two. At the Tarisio London auction $10,000 seemed to be the limit at which most buyers were willing to spend not many sales above this amount.

It will be interesting to see how many lots sell above this 10k amount especially with 800 lots available in the same week and the current economic conditions. Christies recently stated in their last New York art auction that prices were generally down 20% from last year with 30 percent of lots unsold in the auction.

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At Skinner's Auction you will notice that not many items sold over $10,000. There were a few that did but many more that had estimates at 10k or better did not.

It will be interesting in the Tarisio Auction this Wednesday and Thursday to see how many lots with estimates over 10k sell.

Perhaps this will be a better economic indicator then "ebay" sales.

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Any opinions by people who looked at or tried lot 139, a bow by Sartory? The combination of worn stick, later frog, and lift behind head probably destroy its value to a collector, but what about to a player?

Dave

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At Skinner's Auction you will notice that not many items sold over $10,000. There were a few that did but many more that had estimates at 10k or better did not.

It will be interesting in the Tarisio Auction this Wednesday and Thursday to see how many lots with estimates over 10k sell.

Perhaps this will be a better economic indicator then "ebay" sales.

and

This weekend is the Boston viewing for both the Tarisio and Skinner auction lots. There is nearly 800 lots between the two. At the Tarisio London auction $10,000 seemed to be the limit at which most buyers were willing to spend not many sales above this amount.

I'm sure that the economy is a factor for auction results at "the houses", but there are several other factors that at play which may make comparisons of average price level & economic condition difficult. For example, the accuracy of the catalog and quality of the instruments & bows themselves has a huge bearing on the average sale price realized... This waxes and wains, seeming to have little to do with the economy. Since I'm not a person who seeks out auction offerings, I can't speak to what the actual factors are that have bearing on what is available at any specific sale, but I imagine that it has more to do with what is available (sellers who are interested in offering their property at auction) at any specific time, and their relationships to any specific auction house... and the energy devoted by the house to find items for thier sales.

In the case of Skinner's results this time (of this particular sale), I'd say (my opinion is) that the majority instruments that "should" have sold over $10,000 did sell for over $10,000 (meaning most of those priced over $10K that didn't sell, probably shouldn't have). Within that price offering category, I saw several instruments offered in this sale that have been offered at past sales and have gone unsold (re-offered lots).

In the case of Tarisio's sale in London: as I recall, many lots were sold during the "second round" of bidding, and a good number of these sold at or above the original low estimate, correct? That might indicate that buyers are still willing to pay for what they want, but are less willing to stretch for them?

Anyway, it seems to me that the auctions in Boston were pretty well attended, and that there are many faces I hadn't seen before (many who seemed to be players).

I agree with Stern; If conclusions can be drawn from any specific sale, the Tarisio sale (which seems pretty well rounded) will probably be more telling than Skinners this time around... or Ebay in general.

Nice to see you in Boston, Stern... I saw a good number of MNers there, and had the pleasure of speaking with a number of you. :)

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I observed that of the approximately 40 Lots with estimates at 10k or better approx. 10 of 40 sold or 25% at Skinners Sunday.

Could be numerous reasons some of which you list above including over estimating- which includes misidentification, the economy, etc.

Interesting to see how many lots sell at Tarisio in the initial auction for over 10k and what that percentage is.

For the most parts in most sectors of the economy it has been a buyers market for the past year. Deals are there to be had if you have the cash.

Mr. Holmes nice to speak with you again in Boston.

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