What's the inflation rate for violins?


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I was looking at an English violin at a dealers with a price tag of £4000. I found details of a very similar instrument online, same maker same year, possibly even the very same one, who knows, but sold at auction in London in 1997 with an estimate of £300-400 and sold for £260 apparently. 

Just interested. Thanks. 

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It is not possible to answer your question as stated. Some makers come in and out of vogue, some makers don't do well in the auction market in spite of being good instruments, and some makers have instruments that consistently go up and up. Some makers die and you can then purchase thier instruments for a fraction of what they were asking, and getting, when they were alive. Some instruments do the opposite.

You might be able to, and I have read some articles and papers, quantifying rates of return based on particular makers, their works being the benchmarks for historically what a violin is (Strad, Guarneri, ect), but not a general picture or metric that can be applied to the violin trade as a whole.

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21 minutes ago, phillip77 said:

I was looking at an English violin at a dealers with a price tag of £4000. I found details of a very similar instrument online, same maker same year, possibly even the very same one, who knows, but sold at auction in London in 1997 with an estimate of £300-400 and sold for £260 apparently. 

Just interested. Thanks. 

If you knew the exact condition, model and size of the one sold at auction, and were sure it was genuine, then you could work it out. 

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You will have different sorts of price levels for factory instruments (which will, in turn, be influenced by where they were made) than fine antiques.  On the antique side, fashions change, not only among makers, but between violins and other luxury goods.  As a result, it is hard to get any reliable numbers.  Even if you solve the problem of getting transparency on actual retail prices counting from the mid-60s will get a different sort of appreciation rate for Strads than if you are measuring from 1928.

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17 minutes ago, deans said:

Are you talking about increase in value over time  or dealer markup? Both depend on numerous variables.

Just general increase in value. I have no clue what markup dealers put on them but I'd assume that would be fairly consistent. If they were putting 50% on them 30 years ago I'd assume they're doing about the same now, ish? 

I was just wondering if violins that generally went for a few hundred quid 25 years ago are now typically selling for a few thousand. 

Really just out of interest. 

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12 minutes ago, phillip77 said:

Just general increase in value. I have no clue what markup dealers put on them but I'd assume that would be fairly consistent. If they were putting 50% on them 30 years ago I'd assume they're doing about the same now, ish? 

I was just wondering if violins that generally went for a few hundred quid 25 years ago are now typically selling for a few thousand. 

Really just out of interest. 

Remember that the auction price itself doesn’t necessarily have much relationship to a retail price. 

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16 minutes ago, deans said:

That's one assumption that I believe is way off. Depending on both the dealer/instrument the markup could range from 20% to 1000%. 

I would have thought there's enough people in the know that profit margins have to be fairly consistent no? 

But then we're talking about violins aren't we. And it's all smoke and mirrors as far as I can gather. There seems to be a very small number of people "in the know" and that same group of people go to some lengths to keep it that way. 

I'm enjoying visiting different shops and playing lots of different instruments though. 

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 I think it's safe to say that any violin that fetched a few hundred at auction in 1997 will now cost a few thousand in a shop.

There are many reasons for this other than inflation (which on average in the violin trade might be compound at 5% per annum).

Probably the main reason is that in 1997 auctions were an exclusively trade affair - dealers were never bidding against trigger-happy musicians prepared to go to a retail price or more for the violin of their dreams. Indeed like the antiques trade, dealers used to operate in rings, not bidding against each other, and then having a second auction in a pub afterwards to sort out who got what. So even if you exclude questions of condition, size, authenticity etc, a 1990s auction result is not any kind of reliable guide to the value of an item.

There was no online catalogue, so auctions were only available to those who could attend in person - none of this globalised price acceleration, where dealers from Japan will pay more at auction for a Sartory than a dealer can sell it for in the UK.

Call that smoke and mirrors if you like, but it's just the plain truth.

These days auction prices for really good examples are sometimes close to retail, sometimes even surpassing a legitimate retail price, but back in the 90s the entire economy of the violin trade was very different.

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The difference between auction price then and now is easier to track - you should be able to find some sales history. Fluctuations in retail prices are going to be much more varied and they don’t necessarily correlate because the price you pay in a shop will include extra costs involved in preparing that instrument for sale.

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1 hour ago, phillip77 said:

I would have thought there's enough people in the know that profit margins have to be fairly consistent no?  

So you think that if, for example, a dealer buys three early 1890s Collin-Mezin violins for £1000, £3000 and £5000, he would sell them for £2000, £6000 and £10000?  I  think you would find that they would all be the same price, that price being whatever the market will currently stand. In other words there is no such thing as a standard markup. 

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There is no "inflation rate" for violins, etc.

One example I note, Ifshin VIolins' Jay-Haide instruments are the same price they were in 1997 for the same model. The subsequently issued, more expensive models are sold new at their original issue prices.

For antique instruments the price tends toward some relationship to the highest price that maker "made" at a recent auction, but seller need and buyer taste will tend to balance - even in retail sales where negotiation goes on.

In 1951 my father bought me a brand-new beautiful antiqued copy of the Emperor Stradivarius - from the maker. The "list price" was $500, he got it for $350. Even now, almost 70 years later the highest auction price for that maker's violins is only around $2,000. I tried one in a DC area shop about 40 years ago priced at about $2,000 retail. Today I think they are selling for about $4,000.

. In 1974 I tried out Stefano Conia (a Cremona maker) Strad-model violin from SHAR priced then at $1,500. Conia (and his son) have since become quite popular and "papa's" auction prices tend to range between $7,000 and $15,000. BUT when I was able to compare my 1951 violin with that Conia in my home for a week there was no question those two violins sounded exactly the same on the E,A, and D strings - but the G string on my violin was far superior.

 

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