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Hi All,

Its been a while - mostly because I bought a violin that kept me happy.  Unfortunately, it met a rather sad end and now I am looking for a new voice.

I came upon a Luiz Bellini - actually as I had only glanced at the third violin on the testing bench I thought the dealer had put out a real Strad for me to try (it would not be beyond him, and no I am no expert!).  The instrument is exquisitely responsive and has a powerful sound from bottom to top.  there are of course a few notes that are a little weaker or stronger but nothing that looks like a problem.  Its extraordinary how I can hear both notes totally clearly when I play double stops.  So, I am serious about this.

Two questions - why is it so hard to find any price history of his violins?  It seems that nobody ever sold one!  Thus, its very hard to gauge if I am at the right price range.  I know that Luiz was very highly rated when he was alive but are his instruments still equally highly rated in comparison to the current luthier stars?

Details: Luiz B Bellini; 1993 Baron Knoop Strad copy.  One owner (who commissioned it from the luthier).  Seemingly in perfect condition.

Thanks all..

ee

 

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25 minutes ago, elisemusic said:

...Two questions - why is it so hard to find any price history of his violins?...

Two possibilities:  1.  Very few have been sold at auction.  2.  You're not looking in the right places.

I vote for #2, because I find five auction sales listed in the 2012 "The Red Book."

What's your second question?

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Hi Brad - Thanks for the reply.  The reason I posted here is that I don't have access to the sales records and figured that maybe you guys do.  Apparently that was right :)

The second question was 'are his instruments still equally highly rated in comparison to the current luthier stars' or have they paled".  Bellini was in the limelight when Ricci bought one of his Lord Wilton copies and used it for concerts. 

If anyone has an estimate of their current retail sales value I'd love to know to be sure I am in the right range. 

[BTW is there a reasonable factor to go from auction price to dealer retail?]

Thanks again - from snowy Ontario...

ee

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Thanks Jim - those sales seem to imply that the value has stayed quite stable - but has not increased so much.  As mentioned above, how do you translate the auction price to the dealer price?  And why can't I find any dealer sales!

ee

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I wouldn't worry too much about the increase of the price. It will go up because there are not too many of his instruments around. When I visited him long ago I think he said he can make 4 violins per year. 

I admire his work because it has a great personality. 

 

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If you look around the net, most dealers are rightly cautious about posting exact prices of fine violins, although some do. You are much more likely to find an 'enquire for price' or sometimes violins grouped in blocks 25,000 to 50,000, 51,000 to 100,000 to give some context for those who really aren't experienced in the market place. Dealer prices can reasonably be twice what an instrument goes for at auction but are not necessarily so. With someone like Bellini, most people aren't selling so the data will be necessarily scant

Edited by Televet
spelling

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If your goal is to make money, go to B school. If you want to have a life partner for the musical part of your life, buy a violin (but very carefully)

As you know, Bellini is one of the very top modern makers, and as the song goes, "If you can make it here [New York] you can make it anywhere!"

 

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AtlVcl I'm buying my voice - but obviously I also want to be sure I am getting a fair price.  If 20 years from now I can recover my investment thats fine by me.  Thus far I'm pretty sure that it is...

Televet - thanks for that estimate, it was sort of what I thought. 

Andreas - I get what you say.  The first time I played it my reaction was 'what dooo we have here'??  And that reaction is only growing.  I'm having to change how I play - and the first victim will be my German bow.  Its a nice one and matched my workshop german violin very well; you could really dig in - but this one plays without  pressure and needs something much more refined.  I have a low-to-mid-level French bow which is terrific but this will be the next journey.

 

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6 hours ago, elisemusic said:

Hi All,

Its been a while - mostly because I bought a violin that kept me happy.  Unfortunately, it met a rather sad end and now I am looking for a new voice.

...

Didn't you just buy that violin, like 3 years ago?

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4 hours ago, Televet said:

If you look around the net, most dealers are rightly cautious about posting exact prices of fine violins, although some do. 

You say “rightly”. What would you say were the reasons for this caution?

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

You say “rightly”. What would you say were the reasons for this caution?

Martin, I admire your work in the business and applaud your straight forward approach on your website. I do, however, sympathize with those who choose not to put the prices of their finest violins up on the web for all to see. We already live in a world where everyone can very easily window shop and price shop almost everything and we also live in a world where there are many relatively unsophisticated purchasers with decent budgets who very much have still have a price shopping attitude to everything.

If Robin Henry’s Fine Violins has a Multisyllablioni violin on his website for $150,000 and Benn, Dover and Brace also have one at $115,000 on theirs, Dr New-Monay may assume that Robin’s Violin is overpriced and not even enquire. I think this is the concern that makes many folk nervous about putting prices up on the web.

Of course, there are a host of factors which may explain the difference, but many people still struggle to understand the difference between auction and retail prices let alone the differences for the same name between two shops. The well of human ignorance is deep and I am never surprised at how little understanding many people have when spending large (to me) chunks of change on all manner of high priced objects.

I honestly can’t say whether this concern is truly founded or not, but I see price shoppers every day, and often if you get the chance to speak to them it gives an opportunity to educate them. If they don’t call we have no chance. I also applaud your website for its educational content.

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18 hours ago, Televet said:

If Robin Henry’s Fine Violins has a Multisyllablioni violin on his website for $150,000 and Benn, Dover and Brace also have one at $115,000 on theirs, Dr New-Monay may assume that Robin’s Violin is overpriced and not even enquire. I think this is the concern that makes many folk nervous about putting prices up on the web.

 

I genuinely hadn’t thought of this ...

 

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When you put a product up for sale without a price, you invite inquiries... then during the inquiry the seller has the buyer's full attention and there is the opportunity to "sell" and close a sale. You can't do that if the customer does not enquire:)

Cheers, Mat

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OTOH if you don't put a price the customer may just pass on and go to a place that does.  The 'price range' idea works pretty well as it partially satisfies both needs.

If the item is rare or the search very specific (for example for a particular luthier) it probably makes no difference.

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I agree with Elise.

I'm also always very skeptical - when there's no price listed (or at least a price range) - and then I'm asked for my budget - the asking price will magically rise to meet the high end of my budget...

"How much is this violin?"

"It's a lovely instrument!  For the discerning buyer! You have a good eye!  Several people have shown interest! What's your budget?"

"Oh! Yes! My budget is between $10,000 and $100,000, but I'd prefer to stay near the low end of my budget."

"You are in luck! This violin is only a little over your budget! Only $110,00! With it you will play like James Ehnes! You will never regret this purchase! It's the opportunity of a lifetime! But you need to decide if you want it immediately - the other interested party is coming back this afternoon."

"Oh! Yes! I will take it! I will go and arrange the financing. I will need to take out a second mortgage, but it won't be a problem."

"A wise decision. You won't be sorry! I'll go ahead and ring up the sale!"

---one year later---

"What's this? My beautiful $110,000 violin was just evaluated for insurance purposes  - at only $10,000!!!?"

 

 

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A comic-tragic tale that has its kernel of truth Rue.  We should perhaps revisit pricing and its vagaries (and yes frauds).  But this particular example reminds me of one of my father's favorite sayings: "a fool and his money are soon parted"!

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3 hours ago, Rue said:

 

I'm also always very skeptical - when there's no price listed (or at least a price range) - and then I'm asked for my budget - the asking price will magically rise to meet the high end of my budget...

"How much is this violin?"

"It's a lovely instrument!  For the discerning buyer! You have a good eye!  Several people have shown interest! What's your budget?"

"Oh! Yes! My budget is between $10,000 and $100,000, but I'd prefer to stay near the low end of my budget."

"You are in luck! This violin is only a little over your budget! Only $110,00! With it you will play like James Ehnes! You will never regret this purchase! It's the opportunity of a lifetime! But you need to decide if you want it immediately - the other interested party is coming back this afternoon."

Exactly so. This is why, when you walk into a lot of violin shops, the first (and only?!) question you'll get is, "What's your budget?"

Most players shopping for an instrument have been there repeatedly.

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I think it is necessary to deal with someone you know as being honest.  If dealers are overpricing and hard pressure selling it would be known in the business at large.   Some sellers give the buyer a period of time within which the instrument can be returned for a refund.  With a seller like this the buyer has the opportunity to have the instrument evaluated by someone other than the seller.  You can't judge by what an insurer says because in my experience if you show the insurer your receipt they will insure the instrument for the price you paid.  Finally, if you see a violin you like you can look at explicit prices or "range of prices" for the instrument to decide whether your seller is setting a reasonable price.  Finally, the price of an instrument depends on more than "by luthier X made in year Y" type of description.  Condition, authenticity  and provenance are also involved. 

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Since most instruments in shops are on consignment, I rather assumed that failing to show the price was a way of avoiding being caught selling something for more than you told the owner you would sell it for ... seems to happen a lot. Or a way of facilitating fuzzy trade-ins.

I’m sure there are pros and cons either way, but I would rather have more transparency and fewer tyre-kickers and bargain hunters ...

 

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1 hour ago, gowan said:

Finally, the price of an instrument depends on more than "by luthier X made in year Y" type of description.  Condition, authenticity  and provenance are also involved. 

Interesting that 'tone', 'articulation', 'evenness', etc etc (psst, some people actually buy them to play on them) don't make your list... 

Funny thing is that often I'm not contradicting you - you are quite right.  Each violin dealer has a stack of dreadful violins that are priced in 5 figures because of name, workmanship, 'authenticity' - and I'm not referring to the top-level truly collectable violins that have an intrinsic value beyond that of the poor musician.  Clearly the driving force for violin costs can not be by the orchestra violinist as, short of inheritance, they often don't have the resources to buy an instrument that they clearly deserve and need.

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