One way or another an antique violin has made it into your possession. Once you have gotten over the initial buzz that it is not an original Stradivarius, you settle into dealing with the question of just what do you have? And what is it worth? And how do I find out the answer to these questions?
In modern times, the first step is to realize that you are blessed to be living in the age of the greatest research tool of all time, the internet. Up until now you would have been dependent on your local area’s violin enthusiasts for information and pricing for your instrument. A novice’s ignorance and the local expert’s control of information were used indiscriminately to take advantage of the uninformed in the past.
Now you can spend a few hours on the internet and find out about the violin market, browser search whatever clues are on the inside and outside of your violin and see multitudes of pictures of violins. There are many sites with old and antique violins for sale for you to compare your violin with. Your initial research should include reading through these sites to get an understanding of what your violin is. In the process you should come to understand a few things about the violin market.
First is that you have probably found a diamond in the rough. It may be cracked or broken or in a state of disrepair. It may cost a little or a lot to get it to salable condition and price.
Second is that it can take a long time (sometimes years) to find the person who will pay you full market value for your violin. For the discriminating buyer it can take as long to find the eastman violin that they are suited to as well.
If you want cash for your violin and want it now, you will get a very low price compared to full market value. This is because those who will market it may have to hold it in inventory for years so they will only be willing to pay wholesale price. If it is in disrepair the price for your violin may be discounted at a retail level by those who buy violins, fix them up and then sell them. It is only fair that they buy them cheap as they will do a lot of work, have the expense of marketing the finished violin and will need to make a profit for their efforts.
You will also get some very confusing information and signals from those in the violin marketplace. It is a very diverse market and everyone has an opinion. They have varied opinions on what is a good violin, who makes good violins, who is good at repairing violins, what are the best violin accessories to add to a violin and any other facet of violins that can be open to more than one opinion. And all of these opinions are put to you the novice with great bravado by self appointed experts.
If it sounds like it is a challenge, you are beginning to understand that this little violin windfall will be a challenge. It is not easy money by any means. You may even find that for just one violin, it will hardly be worth the effort to try selling it. To even get an accurate reading on its value should cost you money. If you still want to pursue finding a value for your treasure, there is only one thing to do. You need to find and honest and qualified luthier to appraise your violin. We will now address the questions of what is such a luthier and how do I find such a person.