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What is this violin? Estimate was £100 sold for £37,000

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9 hours ago, J-G said:

Some of us may remember the "little old lady from Pasadena" who was identified as the previous owner of hundreds of used cars. 

"Go Granny, go granny, go granny, go."  Jan and Dean...The California surf sound, before the Beach Boys... Here's the story behind the song, "The origins of "The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)" stem from a hugely popular ad campaign that the Dodge automobile maker debuted in early 1964. Starring actress Kathryn Minner, the commercials showed the white haired elderly lady speeding down the street (and sometimes a drag strip) driving a modified Dodge. She would stop, look out the window and say "Put a Dodge in your garage, Hon-ey!". The song soon followed and she enjoyed great popularity until she died a few years later."

 

Edited by l33tplaya
to more diretly address J-G's comment

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14 hours ago, Delabo said:

Surely the first step to identifying it after seeing a W.E.Hill case and a scroll with the back half done in Testore style would have been a simple phone call to the auctioneer and ask them if there is a 4 digit number stamped on the end of the fretboard which is lying there detached with the other stuff.

Then it should be a  case of phoning Beares and paying a fee to find out if the violin had been through there workshop at some point in the past.

Mind you, it would still seem like a high risk strategy with such a very large sum involved. I think someone somewhere is having sleepless nights at the moment.

 

Thats assuming the particular violin had been anywhere near Hills. Hill cases like that are not exactly rare ive had loads of them over the years ..

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3 hours ago, fiddlecollector said:

Hill cases like that are not exactly rare ive had loads of them over the years ..

You should have brought them to country auctions, with some junk violins inside.

At least the former owner of the violin will have a good day now.:)

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One never knows the truth or not of "property of a lady" ...

In this case I'm quite happy to believe it's a Testore of some kind, but as an auction offering it has a particular smell about it, and I would expect it will be worth no more than what the buyer paid for it, and that would be going downhill with the wind behind it.

For some types of buyers there is a virtue in the simple fact of getting a Testore at auction for under £50k, and the actual retail value is pretty irrelevant.

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6 hours ago, martin swan said:

For some types of buyers there is a virtue in the simple fact of getting a Testore at auction for under £50k, and the actual retail value is pretty irrelevant.

Under 40K in this case... if real for another 10K one can have it restored and still be under 50K. I've seen pretty bad Testores starting at 150K with painted purfling and material that looked as if it was ripped from the hard wood floor of the workshop in downtown Milano... 

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1 hour ago, germain said:

Under 40K in this case... if real for another 10K one can have it restored and still be under 50K. I've seen pretty bad Testores starting at 150K with painted purfling and material that looked that was ripped from the hard wood floor of the workshop in downtown Milano... 

£37k plus the buyer's premium plus the online premium (total 25% plus VAT or 30%) is closer to £50k.

This one has at the very least a bad case of having been stood on - the f-holes are execrable, and I can't see a really good restoration costing much less than 20k. After which it might be worth slightly more if it's not wormed or composite. Actually selling it again is a whole different ballgame, given that there's no guarantee whether it sounds.

There are many violins out there with justifiable price tags, but which will never sell ...

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3 hours ago, germain said:

Under 40K in this case... if real for another 10K one can have it restored and still be under 50K. I've seen pretty bad Testores starting at 150K with painted purfling and material that looked as if it was ripped from the hard wood floor of the workshop in downtown Milano... 

According to what I’ve been told, the Testori family got their wood wherever they could, so pulling up a plank of the floor on Wednesday to finish a fiddle by Saturday seems quite plausible.

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

£37k plus the buyer's premium plus the online premium (total 25% plus VAT or 30%) is closer to £50k.

This one has at the very least a bad case of having been stood on - the f-holes are execrable, and I can't see a really good restoration costing much less than 20k. After which it might be worth slightly more if it's not wormed or composite. Actually selling it again is a whole different ballgame, given that there's no guarantee whether it sounds.

There are many violins out there with justifiable price tags, but which will never sell ...

You're making a lot of assumptions about the motives of the buyer. Particularly the idea that everyone is some sort of dealer that's looking to resell. Sometimes people want things for reasons completely unrelated to profit. It even motivates people to buy at full retail where they will be in the hole immediately and often for a long time.

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7 hours ago, deans said:

You're making a lot of assumptions about the motives of the buyer. Particularly the idea that everyone is some sort of dealer that's looking to resell. Sometimes people want things for reasons completely unrelated to profit. It even motivates people to buy at full retail where they will be in the hole immediately and often for a long time.

I don't think this is something that's going to be bought by a musician ... it takes a high degree of expertise or recklessness to buy something for nearly £50k that's estimated at £100!

A collector might have the expertise to recognize and buy something like this, but collectors like pristine examples.

 

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I am a professional musician myself and I know a good number of colleagues in the NY orchestra scene whose understanding of instruments is above average. They are always on the hunt for such bargains. I'd probably buy it too at this price if I knew for sure the fiddle were a real Testore. 

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1 hour ago, germain said:

I am a professional musician myself and I know a good number of colleagues in the NY orchestra scene whose understanding of instruments is above average. They are always on the hunt for such bargains. I'd probably buy it too at this price if I knew for sure the fiddle were a real Testore. 

But you are also a dealer from what I hear? Or at least, you sell some of the things that you buy ...

So even with a guarantee of authenticity, would you buy a knackered Testore family violin, committing yourself to a total expenditure of £60k, without knowing if it was going to sound any good, and knowing that if it didn't, you would probably have to sell it for around what you paid for it?

This is really not my experience of professional musicians, however knowledgeable. The very fact that you use the word "bargain" implies that resale value is very much at the forefront of your mind.

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7 minutes ago, martin swan said:

But you are also a dealer from what I hear? Or at least, you sell some of the things that you buy ...

So even with a guarantee of authenticity, would you buy a knackered Testore family violin, committing yourself to a total expenditure of £60k, without knowing if it was going to sound any good, and knowing that if it didn't, you would probably have to sell it for around what you paid for it?

This is really not my experience of professional musicians, however knowledgeable. The very fact that you use the word "bargain" implies that resale value is very much at the forefront of your mind.

True on these points... I also know people that can make it sound decent if not great. 60K is something that will make me think very hard...

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3 hours ago, germain said:

True on these points... I also know people that can make it sound decent if not great. 60K is something that will make me think very hard...

Well, if it has a back sp crack it probably will never sound good... If I was able to inspect the violin and thought it was Testore I would've bid on it but not 50K including premium. The condition is quite bad, to make the front appear it wasn't hit by a truck would require several thousands and months of restoration work which is something a dealer doesn't want to do... I strongly start to think it was bought by a collector with enough money, dealers always (try) to buy something they can sell within a reasonable timeframe.

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I'm no conspiracy-monger but I'm still suspicious of the description "19th century" and super-low estimate, that look like an invitation to infer complete ignorance on the part of the seller and the auctioneer. Surely even a small-town auction house would wonder if it could possibly be the real thing and have someone more expert take a look? If it was a cunning ploy it seems to have succeeded.

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6 minutes ago, matesic said:

I'm no conspiracy-monger but I'm still suspicious of the description "19th century" and super-low estimate, that look like an invitation to infer complete ignorance on the part of the seller and the auctioneer. Surely even a small-town auction house would wonder if it could possibly be the real thing and have someone more expert take a look? If it was a cunning ploy it seems to have succeeded.

Although its a small rural country auction its has some very impressive results in the art field of late including a pair of famille rose figures which made £68,000.

You can pretty much guarantee that they will have a few violins in every sale at low estimates. I have noticed that they regularly have bundles of bows for  sale which indicates a luthier or dealer offloading his junk. At the end of the day it only had a reserve of £100 so I guess they would have let it go for that if no other bids were forthcoming. As the amount was so large, and it takes an underbidder to achieve the figure it achieved, one wonders if they had not informed London dealers of the potential and who might have thought the 100 mile drive worth it to view and thoroughly inspect.

 

 

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11 hours ago, chrissweden said:

Well, if it has a back sp crack it probably will never sound good...

Are you saying this for this instrument specifically or as a general statement?

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45 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Are you saying this for this instrument specifically or as a general statement?

In general.

Now I'm sure there are folks who would disagree but I've heard several instruments before and after there was a back SP crack and they all sounded worse. Of course there are exemptions... There's a reason why a crack in the top is generally accepted for more expensive instruments yet on the back incurs a heavy price decrease. 

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48 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

I think it might be a  bit presumptive to assume the bidders on the violin were experts on what they were bidding on?? Maybe had just  a bit too much money floating around, and were willing to take a risk.

You would need at least two bidders with too much money and no common sense to spend $47000 on a violin that you were not even sure was correct.

And without knowing how the bidding went from £100  to  £37000 its not even possible to know how many original bidders were in the game who dropped out at some point.

If someone bid  blind on a violin that they had not even inspected - and for such a large amount - then forget about getting a cert for the violin - it would be themselves that  need certifying !

 

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When it comes to buying possible sleeping Testores for £37k at auction, it's a pretty small world ... 

I am quite sure that the buyer and the underbidder knew it was "correct" ie. some kind of Testore.

With regard to the price attained, I don't think it would have got anything like that price if it had been in (for example) an Amati specialist sale with a realistic estimate. 

Who buys this sort of thing? Either a smaller dealer who doesn't need a big profit margin, or someone who has both expertise and the ability to do the restoration work but who isn't too grand ... it really isn't a proposition for a collector or a musician.

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This is all speculation. One could just as well speculate that some nit-wit has cut himself deeply in his finger, to borrow a German idiom (in die Finger geschniten)

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Its not speculation that this little rural country auction has big ambitions and has an office in South Kensington London.

Its also not speculation that all decent auction houses have a list that informs clients  when they have something that they think might interest them and that there are a number of prestigious dealers in the South Kensington area who are likely to be on that list.

Also, this violin was seen by a worldwide audience through an online auction broker which just requires a word search of "violin" to bring up all violins which are about to come under the hammer.

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