From Nathan Ashe
Posted May 24, 2006 at 03:48 AM
Even if you posted pictures, your violin still needs to be handled by a professional.
You need two pieces of information: "What would the violin be worth in playing condition?" and "How much would it cost to get it into playing condition?"
If you can take it to a couple of violin dealers, most of the ones I know will give quick, casual evaluations
- not formal appraisals - for free. They'll usually give you an idea af an instrument's age, country of origin, and very approximate value, or at least the quality level. (Don't be surprised if opinions differ.) You need to be sure whether they are quoting retail, or fair market value. Fair market is what a violin might go for at auction or in a private sale.
Any repair shop that does a fair volume in violin repair can give you an estimate as to what it would cost to get it into playing condition. Often the violin dealers do their own work and can provide you with a repair estimate as well as an evaluation.
I wouldn't give too much credence to an evaluation from the shop that would be doing the repair work. Conflict of interest warps objectivity.
I work on violins a bit, and used to buy and sell them as an adjunct to my main business. If you can get your pix down to a manageable size, and Email them to me, I MAY be able to tell you whether it's even worth pursuing. Ideally, I would need good straight-on shots of the front and back, a side view, plus a decent close - up of the scroll from the side, and a close-up that shows a one of the sound holes and a corner.
In the meantime you could start by getting a little inspection mirror, like a dentist's mirror and a small flashlight. Look inside the violin and see whether it has blocks in the corners where the C bout (the cutaway part) meets the upper and lower ribs, and whether the bass bar (long bar running the length of the violin) is made of a separate piece of wood glued in place, or whether it is carved in.
No corner blocks + carved bass bar = very cheap violin. Might be playable, but never worth much.
I'm sure this may happen in some shops (unfortunately), but frankly, most decent repair/restoration persons I know are turning away business at this point... choosing to support those who are already clients and/or selecting more interesting jobs on better instruments. Also, a good appraiser/restorer will evalutae first and estimate second. If you're not familiar with the shop, passing through the door with your personal BS meter on should help avoid pitfalls. Referrals are usually handy as well.
Now then, that would bring up what the definition of decent is.... which I'll refrain from expanding on a public forum. :-)
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