How to sell a valuable violin, viola and violin bow in NYC?

July 1, 2007 at 07:11 PM · I live in New York City and would like to know the best way to sell my violin, viola and violin bow, which are pretty valuable. Is it best to try to sell them privately to avoid the dealer's 20% commission, or go through a dealer anyway? What are the best places to advertise if I want to sell them privately? What are the best/most reputable dealers in NYC to sell valuable instruments and bows? Before I sell, do I need to obtain a certificate of authenticity and/or appraisal? Sorry for so many questions, but your advice is appreciated.

Replies (8)

July 2, 2007 at 10:31 AM · Instrument dealers have years of experience and, more importantly, many contacts. Depending on the type of instrument you are trying to sell consigning it with a professional can be the best way to have it seen by the largest amount of possble buyers. Another plus is that the shop is responsible post sale instead of you.

You must first figure out what exactly you have and acertain the market price...something of which a shop would have a better idea. Certainly if you have an instrument of worth a certificate is necessary....this a reputable shop can also provide tagging the cert to sale price. Consignment agreements are tricky and should be rock solid...for ex: a comission based on sale price or flat fee agreement.

July 2, 2007 at 07:48 AM · Dealers specialize in certain types of instruments and price ranges. Accordingly what might be for one dealer an instrument selling like a hot cake would be for another dealer just a shelving item.

first question:

To which price ranges belong your instrument and bow?

second question:

Do you want to sell on commission or against cash?

Third question:

What condition is your instrument and bow?

Only if those parameters are known a useful sale strategy can be build to put the items on the market.

July 3, 2007 at 02:42 AM · My violin is by Azzo Rovescalli, 1932 - around $22,000-28,000 - very good condition (needs new strings; may need new bridge).

My violin bow is by James Tubbs - around $10,000+ (don't remember the year it was made) - very good condition (just needs to be re-haired).

My viola is by Gottfried Raabs, 1985 - around $6,000 - $10,000 (?) - very good condition.

I would like to maximize my profit and I am not in a rush, but need to know the best way to go about selling, preferably in NYC.

July 3, 2007 at 03:33 AM · If you don't mind waiting a few months and a little drive, wait until the VSA, take the instruments and bow and put up a notice on the bulletin board. Since it's a non competition year usually only shop owners and manufacturers are going to be there, so lots of dealers to see and potentially buy your instruments and bow. This year the VSA conference will be in Wilmington, Delaware (a short drive from Philadelphia or a short train ride from the city). and takes place (usually) the first week of November, check out the VSA website for exact dates.

The more dealers who see your instruments, the more potential customers that each dealer may have that may be interested.

July 3, 2007 at 10:51 PM · Kristine,

take it from someone who has recently just been putting a lot of stuff on consignment...

nothing you have there will really warrant the attention of the bigger shops in NYC. The assistants at Morel and other places will be very nice to you and will definately take it, but those aren't really the types of things they like to spend their days showing. When you say "valuable", it means something different in NYC. You have to remember that some of these shops make more from a repair than they'd make from those instruments.

That said, if you want to sell it there, look for small dealers. Don't go to one of the big shops. Personally I've had a lot of success with a guy who travels around a lot on the east coast and in California, and he is getting my stuff sold pretty quickly. I think something like that is the best for you, in your price range.

July 4, 2007 at 02:59 AM · joel,

This is my personal experience and that of others. Big shops usually just don't care about affordable instruments.

It's not that they get shelved, it's that often they don't care or are completely unaware of the violin. It's understandable... they're worrying about selling Tourtes and Del Gesus, not my little violin or bow. So of course after 6 or so months, it's understandable that they forgot they even had it, and never ended up showing it.

It's something that happens pretty often, at least with people I talk to... it also happened with something I had at a big Chicago shop.

I think in any event, a small outfit which is quite active in the sales of your type of instrument is the best way to go. Even with my limited experience, I've always found that the best stuff is to be found in the hands of collectors/private sellers.

July 5, 2007 at 01:23 AM · Ok joel...

It's far from all bad, but the case I describe (and I'm not going to name names), is not uncommon. Maybe things have changed since you left.

July 5, 2007 at 05:08 AM · I know how they deal from the inside and unfortunately it isn't always ethical or pleasing

Joel do you care to elaborate?

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