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Hello. I'd like to ask you if it is true what I've been told about violin certificates issued by "experts". Is it true that they charge you depending on the value of your instrument? So if you have a Strad you'll never be able to pay for it? Which is the reason why they have to benefit from your property? I guess that to identify a Strad is possibly easier than, for example a Jais. Can anyone explain this? Without knowing the reasons it evidently seems to me dishonest the less... but I'm almost always evil-minded. Thanks in advance.

 

PS: I don't have a Strad to certify...

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Experts are paid for their knowledge and responsability, as in other professional fields. It is a job, and a difficult one. There are just a few experts whose documents are respected. Your doctor is not benefitting from your health, he is just working and being paid for that.

 

99.99% of Strads are already identified and need no certificates but the violin world is much bigger. 

 

A good certificate will ad value to your instrument.

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I am under the impression that a real certificate from an expert who's opinion carries weight in the violin world would cost about 5% of the price of the instrument, give or take.  The expert is putting himself and his reputation on the line and though it is not directly stated as much as says "if this instrument is not what I say it is I will eat it"  He takes a risk of sorts every time he writes a certificate.  At the same time I wish if you bought a good instrument from a legitimate shop for full price that you would get a certificate as part of the purchase, this is not always the case, but like most things I may be negotiable .

 

 

DLB

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I guess it depends on the age of the certificate and who is still alive.  For instance a Bein and Fushi certificate from a few years ago would be pretty solid, but now that both the founders are gone I don't know who their expert is.  I only use this as an example and I am not casting any aspersions on B&S because I have done business with them and they have treated me like I mattered (even when I really didn't)  I would think a certificate from Jeff Holmes or J&A Beares would be a good place to start if you needed one right now.  I am sure there are many other good ones but I do not run in such rarified circles.

 

 

DLB

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Is the maintenance of a Ferrari more expensive than a Toyota Corolla? I imagine so, but I may be wrong. I just make new instruments.

:D In addition to this great comment I would say that ideally one doesn't buy something which could not maintain afterwards..although in the real world there are many exceptions of this "rule"

 

But I don't see why a first class bridge, from respected shop, or top maker/restorer would cost different if made for 30$k modern fiddle or 5.000 000$ Strad.

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But I don't see why a first class bridge, from respected shop, or top maker/restorer would cost different if made for 30$k modern fiddle or 5.000 000$ Strad.

 

 

I don't think it would.  but I have a hard time imagining that working on a Strad would not give a person a heightened sense of purpose!  I Imagine a good bridge for a violin or viola would be around $150 to $250 depending on the location and reputation of the luthier.

 

DLB

 

I think I paid $150.00 for my last viola bridge (top grade Milo Stamm)

 

DLB

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When the expert dies, is the certificate "worth" anything?  Or would you have to get another certificate from a living appraiser?

 

 

I think depending on the source it would be fine.  I don't imagine there are many Hill certificates that are considered way off the mark.  If the whole shop is out of business that may be a consideration.  People and shops do not last for ever and in my life time some of the biggies have left us, but that is the natural way of things.  I wonder if a data base like Cozio could not be established to catalog as many instruments as possible.  Kind of like the way music of particular composers is organized and codified. (Bach - BWV, Mozart KV, etc.) Like everything else new techniques and new recovered knowledge would have to make any such collection a living document.  A central depository for day books and ledgers of instruments from the benches of living makers would prove to be very valuable in the future.  Some makers number their work and have a running catalog or notebook of their work.  Could you imagine if we had Stradivari's shop ledger or day book!  A physical or electronic depository of that information would be wonderful down the line.

 

DLB

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Hello. I'd like to ask you if it is true what I've been told about violin certificates issued by "experts". Is it true that they charge you depending on the value of your instrument? So if you have a Strad you'll never be able to pay for it? Which is the reason why they have to benefit from your property? I guess that to identify a Strad is possibly easier than, for example a Jais. Can anyone explain this? Without knowing the reasons it evidently seems to me dishonest the less... but I'm almost always evil-minded. Thanks in advance.

 

PS: I don't have a Strad to certify...

If one happens to stumble into a historical or museum piece by chance he/she could start with Jeffrey Holmes.  I assume he can provide a certificate.  Then the next step would be to get another certification by someone else at a different place.  If a certificate is given by the first do not tell the second that you already have the first from elsewhere.  When the second is obtained, compare the two.  Then compare the new certificates with any old ones that can be found.  Also, look for previous repair information and previous owner information, if possible.   

   I do know that the bow experts from France charge a fee of 10% the value of a bow that they appraise.  Sure, it will be certified but the wallet/purse can take a hit, ouch.  I'm sure a violin or such would hurt worse, oh well.     

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When the expert dies, is the certificate "worth" anything?  Or would you have to get another certificate from a living appraiser?

Depends upon the expert. If the old certificate continues to be unchallenged by the current expert knowledge then it is certainly worth as much as any new certificate.

 

Bruce

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Where does one start to find a professional certificate authority? How do you evaluate and compare them?

IMHO, the suggestion of starting with Jeffrey is not at all bad, also, the Beares in the redecorated barn are available again.  For Eastern/Central European, I'd ask Jacob S. for his recommendations.

 

Things are soooo much more complicated since Machold closed up shop.  I understand that he just had stacks and stacks of blank certs laying around ready to issue.........  :lol:  :lol:

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 I wonder if a data base like Cozio could not be established to catalog as many instruments as possible.  Kind of like the way music of particular composers is organized and codified. (Bach - BWV, Mozart KV, etc.) 

DLB

Sounds a great idea in theory. ("The internet of Strings?")

I'm trying to think of an equivalent data base in another field.

Products from a single manufacturer might be simpler,

an agreed corpus of recognized instruments across the board might be unwieldy, if at all possible.

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IMHO, the suggestion of starting with Jeffrey is not at all bad, also, the Beares in the redecorated barn are available again.  For Eastern/Central European, I'd ask Jacob S. for his recommendations.

 

Things are soooo much more complicated since Machold closed up shop.  I understand that he just had stacks and stacks of blank certs laying around ready to issue.........  :lol:  :lol:

Great advice.

 

;)

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Thanks a lot for your reply. I would understand that there were fees for certificates as they are for making a bridge. Is it more expensive a brige for a Strad that for a Bernardel? ¿10000% more?

When an instrument gets auctioned, the buyer usually has to pay a "buyers premium". Is this a set fee for every instrument? No, it's a percentage of the sale price. Same thing applies to certificates.

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Gosh...  My name used in the same sentence as Charles Beare's is flattering, but I'm not worthy.  I believe Charles is probably the best expert of our time.  He did tell me once that people would start paying more attention to what I had to say when my hair turned gray. That time is certainly here.   :)

 

I have quite a bit to say about this subject, but probably don't have the time to devote in writing the details for the next several days...  so for the time being I will keep things on the shorter side.

 

To return to the road Violadamore started to head down, there are many experts with specific, somewhat specialized, or specialized knowledge (Classic Italian instruments, Modern Italian instruments, British Instruments, French instruments, French bows, English bows, German Instruments, German bows, American instruments, Flemish instruments, etc. etc.), and among them, some very good generalists.

 

A certificate is an opinion.  That opinion carries weight based on the authors reputation among their peers and acceptance of the market in general. It should be stressed that no one I know of, past or present, is/was perfect.  To put things in perspective, a truly great expert who makes calls with a "99% accuracy rate still gets one out of a hundred opinions wrong" (the second portion is actually a Robert Bein quote).  Besides the accuracy rate, the difference I see between the most reliable experts opinions and those who stretch a bit is that the "mistakes" made by the best experts are less far from the "mark" than those who are stretching.  Maybe it's partly because the better experts know what they know...  and don't take chances on things they don't.  When they don't know, they know who to refer the piece to, or who to discuss the piece with.

 

A good opinion, by an expert with a widely accepted reputation for reliability, is often not only a document that comforts an owner, and one that can sometimes support or establish provenance or place the piece in historical perspective, but is also a market tool when the piece next changes hands.

 

Certificates are often charged for by computing a % of an estimate of value.  Some experts do have flat rates, but these are usually "tiered" according to value ranges.  In reality, if a private owner approaches an expert for an opinion, they are asking that person to use knowledge obtained by study and experience to establish and/or verify the authenticity based on, and possibly at risk to, their reputation. That has a cost, and the opinion has a value. If the service is provided by a reliable expert, it seems the market itself has accepted that value as around 5% of the market value... which the expert has supported or helped establish.

 

In a perfect world, reliable opinions and appraisal documents work together, maybe especially so when authored by different qualified people.  In an imperfect world, there are errors or worse...  I recall a person who made a living by traveling around Texas "discovering" Strads in the homes of various wealthy individuals, convincing them of their good fortune and improvement in social status (often loudly and in public), and charging good money to certify them.  I had no idea Strad was so prolific in Germany.   :(  My point is that there is surely a danger of conflict of interest if the person performing the "service" has no stake in their reputation.

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I'm trying to think of an equivalent data base in another field.

 

The equivalent exists in the fine art field, and it is called a "catalogue raisonné."  According to Wikipedia, "A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks by an artist...The works are described in such a way that they may be reliably identified by third parties."

 

The closest thing to this that I am familiar with in the violin world is Ernest Doring's book "How Many Strads," which was, I believe, an attempt to list all the known Strads and give the ownership history and some additional information about each one.  But this book differed from a catalogue raisonné as defined above in two important respects:  1.  It is not a comprehensive list because some instruments that are now accepted as Strads were unknown to the author.  2.  It does not serve as an identification guide.

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I'm not sure if the Goodkind is more or less thorough than the Doring, or how it's different, but I'll mention it anyway:

 

"Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari, 1644-1737, the definitive study of all 725 known Stradivari instruments."

 

BTW, I just checked with Amazon and there are copies of the Goodkind available.  It looks like there might be a new reprint for $499.

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I was thinking of a central repository like the library of congress (or the Vatican secret archives :-) for day books, and personal papers of makers wether original or copies.  This would become a real treasure very soon.  In this era of electronic communication and Data storage you could probably have every scrap of knowledge on bowed string instruments in a 2 TB removable hard drive including pictures and sound samples.  A rule of thumb that is handy is the entire bible in plain text is 1 MB.  You can get a lot of print in your back pocket. Can you imagine if we had Da Salo, Maggini, Rogeri, Amati, Stradivari, etc.  receipt books?? wow!  Or their shop ledgers.  So much invaluable stuff is lost.  Our present day heroes will become those guys for future generations.  I bet Maestro Net will be quoted in Doctoral dissertations in the twenty second century!

 

DLB

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The equivalent exists in the fine art field, and it is called a "catalogue raisonné."  According to Wikipedia, "A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks by an artist...The works are described in such a way that they may be reliably identified by third parties."

 

The closest thing to this that I am familiar with in the violin world is Ernest Doring's book "How Many Strads," which was, I believe, an attempt to list all the known Strads and give the ownership history and some additional information about each one.  But this book differed from a catalogue raisonné as defined above in two important respects:  1.  It is not a comprehensive list because some instruments that are now accepted as Strads were unknown to the author.  2.  It does not serve as an identification guide.

I seem to recall a case where someone who published a "catalogue raisonné" was sued by owners of artworks that were not included in the catalogue on the claim that their investments were damaged by the exclusion.

 

Bruce

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I seem to recall a case where someone who published a "catalogue raisonné" was sued by owners of artworks that were not included in the catalogue on the claim that their investments were damaged by the exclusion.

 

Bruce

 

I recall the same.  I believe it came up in a class I was in a couple years ago.

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