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twcellist

Mystique of Cremona and prices

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16 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Ditto.  Mine will inherit some interesting cutlery, paintings, and tools, as well.  :lol:

No, it's not.  Something ignored in this thread so far is that, besides the bespoke makers, trade fiddle workshops can be found there as well.  Here's some articles about current Italian production in a more "newsworthy", but similar, "vanity" industry, where "Made in Italy" on the label boosts what you pay for things:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/16/the-chinese-workers-who-assemble-designer-bags-in-tuscany

https://qz.com/1397139/italian-workers-are-earning-near-sweatshop-wages-to-make-luxury-clothes-in-their-homes/

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-feb-20-fg-madeinitaly20-story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/fashion/italy-luxury-shadow-economy.html

Given that most (or all) of the big name designers are doing it, anybody really think violins are any different?   If investigative journalists rooted around in Cremona, one wonders what they might come back with.  :huh:

 

Wow... thanks for sending these articles and giving some perspective from the angle of different industries. I'm shocked, but then again I guess I/we shouldn't be so shocked that labor from China that's in Italy is considered "Made in Italy." On a separate note I don't think that could happen here in the US because minimum wage and labor laws. (i.e. If you get Chinese labor from China and have them come to the US you have to pay them at least American minimum wage.) And then of course there are the immigration policies that are making it harder and harder for immigrants to stay in the US. :wacko: 

I do have one comment/response to this and that is established and famous brands in Italy hiring foreign labor to work in Italy is not the same as no name or foreign brand coming to Italy and making goods in Italy (at least in my eyes.) I guess for lack of better analogy it's like saying the modern day Stadivarius hiring Chinese workers to come to Cremona to make his instruments vs a Chinese maker coming to Cremona to make instruments. Am I making any sense? Anyways, this is all very interesting stuff! 

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19 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I have learned that for most people, investment return is a happy reward that comes after a lifetime of playing a well-chosen instrument.

A friend bought an 1860 Bernadel( the best one, she was told, Auguste Phillipe Sebastian...one of those) at Bein & Fushi when she was 14. 42 years later she still has it. It’s is perfect, but dirty condition. Never even adjusted the soundpost. She can sell it for thrice her cost or more. But she didn’t buy it as an investment, but as her life-long instrument.

Ill never sell  the cello I’ve had for 13 years, but I could sure sell it for a profit if I chose.

Yes, I couldn't agree more with your comment. So I play on an Albert Phillipe Gaud cello made in 1965 that I got it in 1993 and it's my only cello and I still very much love it. At this point it's been with me more than 1/2 my life (13/20th's of my life to be exact :P) and just for sentimental value I would never sell it. With all this said I was rather surprised (I'd like to say disappointed, but then it's not really so much disappointed) that the cello I paid $18K for it back then and now it's "only" appraised at $28K. Then again it's like you said the investment is a lifetime of playing the instrument so I guess I have to keep in perspective.

For curiosity sake if I chose a well made Cremona made instrument back in 1993 and paid the same price I wonder if it would be more today? I guess the answer is not a straightforward as I thought it would be ... :wacko:

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

What comments do you expect from all makers here on this forum who don't work in Cremona?

I see parallels to Markneukirchen between 1875 and 1940. There is in Cremona a huge number of violin makers working to deliver instruments in large quantities to a specific market. Ultimately this it how the Cremona school instruments of the 20th and 21st century will be seen in 100 years as a whole. 

And just as a very few makers from Marknwukirchen sticked out if the crowd this is true for contemporary Cremonese makers as well. 

I hear rumors that some makers employ a lot of machines and hear as well rumors that the instruments are produced somewhere else and only finished in Cremona. Looking on the massive production of some individual makers I can't say that this is complete nonsense. 

Difference to Markneukirchen is that many makers can label their instruments and there is probably a huger varieties of brands and names than what is left from Markneukirchen. Then the work organization in part makers assemblers and finishers seems not to exist. But I wouldn't be surprised if better known makers deploy work force of newcomers to Cremona. 

Now, if you think about 'investment potential' you will figure out yourself what will be best. Deep market research is everything and I d look into other countries, regions or cities for comparison as well.

There is so much to unpack here.

It would be great for makers to comment on potential insights regarding geographical significance. Would Ann Arbor become then next Cremona? 

To your point, Maestros Borman, Kishony, Cooper or that crazed powertool posessed wildman Dungey, continue to make progressively interesting instruments. 

Labels help. A Konia, Conia, Bissolotti, Antoniazzi, Scolari, Scolari, Bergonzi, Bergonzi, Villa, Villa, might only be identifiable by its label to the average shop in the future. Once the label is scraped out and replaced with a ___________ label, who knows? The experts here sharing knowledge and advances in understand each maker's technique, identity or philosophy might help in the overall understanding of who made what or the value of their instrument.

I will say that some Italian Master's works currently are unique enough that we might think, Salvadori, Levaggi, Fehr-Borchardt, Quaranta?  Can we add Sora to this list?The Sora videos are well made and by viewing the process, we "see," even feel the quality, and consequently believe in the workmanship. Would we recognize his work when we first encounter a piece, due to the repeated viewing of the videos? Very few of us have heard Heifetz or Oistrach in a concert hall but through the recordings that exist ( and stories to help build a better narrative ) we are convince that their skills were great. The recent photos - the first one - of BigFryMan's re-worked instrument reminded  me of Barbara Piccinotti's varnish color and the chosen figure. It is similar to that of one her works I have seen here in the US. That individual quality is more important than geography. Identifying those individual qualities and seeing an instrument through a maker's "eyes" is what gives me joy and value.

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1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

When I was in Cremona last year I learned that there were over 1000 luthiers many from East Asia where the cachet of Cremona is highly valued. I was amazed to find so many examples of their handiwork in the storefront windows. However, there is no guarantee of high quality with instruments or parts bearing that provenance.

In the town's fantastic Museo del Violino, there is an enormous display of Cremona's modern master makers who have won awards. If I were to invest in a modern Cremonese violin I would select one from our friend, Davide Sora, who has a proven track record regardless of his connection to Cremona. BTW, he is not a carpetbagger. Davide was born in Cremona.

Thanks Michael,

in fact, given my long waiting list, my violins increase in value compared to the purchase price even before they are born.:D

This is hard to beat as an investment value.:lol:

More seriously, Cremona is still a strong brand name for violins, unfortunately too often abused

 

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A very passionate subject to consider. If the goal is happiness and fulfillment then the pay back of an investment should be measured by the many years of having played the instrument and maybe someday using it to get a better instrument or maybe give it to a good friend. I am too old to move to Cremona, but if I did it would be to learn the techniques used there  to make better instruments, not to jack up the price of a violin. 

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27 minutes ago, twcellist said:

 ( ... )

I do have one comment/response to this and that is established and famous brands in Italy hiring foreign labor to work in Italy is not the same as no name or foreign brand coming to Italy and making goods in Italy (at least in my eyes.) I guess for lack of better analogy it's like saying the modern day Stadivarius hiring Chinese workers to come to Cremona to make his instruments vs a Chinese maker coming to Cremona to make instruments. Am I making any sense? Anyways, this is all very interesting stuff! 

Anyone willing to go to learn a craft far away from home, to commit to that experience, is courageous. Politics and borders aside, there are large risks taken by many of these woodworkers. It still puzzles me that some kids are willing to spend $200k to study music performance. If one is to go hungry for their art, instrument making might be a slightly lower risk. 

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25 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Thanks Michael,

in fact, given my long waiting list, my violins increase in value compared to the purchase price even before they are born.:D

This is hard to beat as an investment value.:lol:

More seriously, Cremona is still a strong brand name for violins, unfortunately too often abused

 

The point of my longer post above was to remind starry-eyed inexperienced violin buyers that merely having "Cremona" on the label doesn't come even close to putting a fiddle in the same league as one of yours, or those of other reputable, established bespoke luthiers resident in Cremona.  I view the current exploitation of Italian branding in general (particularly by large corporations) with no little disgust.  Thank God it hasn't yet affected the brand of Montepulciano D'Abruzzo wine I'm fond of, or most of the cheeses I like to nibble with it.  :)

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2 hours ago, twcellist said:

 I'm shocked, but then again I guess I/we shouldn't be so shocked that labor from China that's in Italy is considered "Made in Italy." On a separate note I don't think that could happen here in the US because minimum wage and labor laws. (i.e. If you get Chinese labor from China and have them come to the US you have to pay them at least American minimum wage.) And then of course there are the immigration policies that are making it harder and harder for immigrants to stay in the US.

 

You are delightfully naive.   Of course it happens here.  Illegal immigrants are routinely exploited and abused by employers (for that matter, so are a lot of legal ones).  To avoid another riot, I'll leave it at that.  :ph34r:

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

You are delightfully naive.   Of course it happens here.  Illegal immigrants are routinely exploited and abused by employers.  To avoid another riot, I'll leave it at that.  :ph34r:

Well of course exploitation happens in the US, but I'm referring to legal immigration and legal status and I assume the articles reference legal stuff. I'm not sure of the laws in Italy, but it sounds like they are move encouraging to foreign workers. And as for the US I guess it depends on the state too because I'm in California and they're pretty aggressive in my experience. There are always tons of minimum wage lawsuits going on here. 

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21 minutes ago, twcellist said:

Well of course exploitation happens in the US, but I'm referring to legal immigration and legal status and I assume the articles reference legal stuff. I'm not sure of the laws in Italy, but it sounds like they are move encouraging to foreign workers. And as for the US I guess it depends on the state too because I'm in California and they're pretty aggressive in my experience. There are always tons of minimum wage lawsuits going on here. 

If you read the linked articles, you'll see that Italy lacks any sort of a minimum wage law (one wonders what creative lobbying has maintained that during Socialist majorities in parliament).  What protections they do have, the "brand names" avoid through subcontracting, then sue and claim innocence when challenged about it.

BTW, please don't assume, but read.  The articles discuss illegal immigrants in Italy as well.  There seems to be a slew of them.

I could say a great (and meticulously detailed and documented) deal more about the US situation, but this ain't the place for it.

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3 hours ago, Greg Sigworth said:

A very passionate subject to consider. If the goal is happiness and fulfillment then the pay back of an investment should be measured by the many years of having played the instrument and maybe someday using it to get a better instrument or maybe give it to a good friend. I am too old to move to Cremona, but if I did it would be to learn the techniques used there  to make better instruments, not to jack up the price of a violin. 

Today, Cremona simply makes modern violins, some good, many not.  But fundamentally the same as New York, London, or Lisbon, etc.

They are not nuturing any informed continuation of the old making.  They do not have of the old 'techniques of making better instruments'.  Though the do have some innovative modern making, but no more than the rest of the world.

Cremona today does present an advantage in observing artifacts of the old making.  But, efforts to revive the old making methods remains a less popular subtrend, scattered around the world.  Modern Cremona is no center for this.

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The difficult part of this exercise is guessing which makers will appreciate in value (especially since there are so many in Cremona).  Also, do they have to be in Cremona proper or do the surrounding cities or any other city in Italy count?

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2 hours ago, jacklinks said:

The difficult part of this exercise is guessing which makers will appreciate in value (especially since there are so many in Cremona).  Also, do they have to be in Cremona proper or do the surrounding cities or any other city in Italy count?

I figure, 100 years from now, while Italy will still have superior cachet as a provenance overall, that except for the violins from a handful of makers considered extremely fine, which will appreciate considerably, the common run and the trade fiddles will be getting dismissed as "the usual 20th./21st. Century Cremonese rubbish" by whoever the resident curmudgeon on MN is by then, while "200 year old Markies" will be all the rage.   Oh, and they'll still be having riots over the Stradivarian secret. :ph34r::lol:

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The "investment" question comes up often when I'm speaking to those interested in the purchase of an instrument or bow... and at pretty much every price level.

There is a noticeable appreciation advantage for instruments by dead makers *if* they were good, the market treated them well historically, and if your buying one that's authentic.  I have suggested to many living makers that it might attract more speculators to their product if they listed dangerous hobbies they might have (like sky diving or race car driving) on their web sites.  No takers so far. :) 

 

Seriously... I think it's enough to find an instrument one really likes, that one can afford, that will hold its value relative to the market segment it belongs to.  I "invest" in instruments (I travel, identify, buy, insure, restore, and sell them.. or sometimes I find one that doesn't need work that I like and is priced reasonably enough that I can resell it with minimal work required).  In return, I make a fair profit.  Please note I din't say anything about "holding" them for upturns in the market.  Over time, this does happen, but it's enough for me that the market is strong enough that the instruments don't go down in value while they are waiting for restoration or being restored.

 

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