E. Sartory cello bow with repaired head

August 10, 2017, 9:15 PM · I am currently looking into purchasing a cello bow by E. Sartory from a reputable dealer. He told me that the head of the bow has been repaired. Apparently the lower half of the head was detached at one point and had to be pinned and glued back. I was not able to spot the line where it cracked since the repair was done very well but the dealer was honest and told me there was work done on the bow. All the wood is original and all by E Sartory. He is asking $12,000 for the bow. Is that a reasonable price? The bow is the best bow I have ever played but I am hesitant about buying a bow that has that kind of major repair done to it. Any advice is much appreciated. [EDIT]

Replies (15)

Edited: August 11, 2017, 12:42 AM · Two thoughts occur to me. 1) The usual valuation for a bow with a broken and repaired tip as you describe is a MAXIMUM of 30% of the value if it weren't broken. Would the unbroken bow be worth $40,000+? And 2) my understanding is that the most reliable repair for that type of break is done by installing a spline. The downside to a spline is that it's visible forever after. A pinned repair will likely fail again someday, and then it might be repaired with a spline but having been glued once before, and bored for the pins will leave it somewhat compromised. Doing it right the first time is always the best course of action. At very least I would get an expert second opinion about the condition of the repair, but experts are reluctant to offer opinions about another dealer's inventory. You might also consider asking your dentist to x-ray the tip for you, so you can see exactly what's going on. Anyway, perhaps you can begin to understand why a bow broken in that way takes such a valuation hit.
August 11, 2017, 6:25 AM · What is the mounting - silver/ gold? That goes into the determination of the value before the damage.
August 11, 2017, 9:04 AM · Silver
August 11, 2017, 9:08 AM · Sounds high. Do your homework before spending that kind of money. If you spend enough time looking, $12k will get you everything you want in a bow, twice over. Regarding damaged Satory bows, I'd check the Tarisio price history. Other auction houses will also have price histories. A number of them have sold over the recent years, and ones will pinned/splined heads are marked as such. The subscription will cost a few bucks, but I'd rather be out $50 than overpay by a few thousand. Also, dealer markup is lower for bows than for violins. Bows tend to fetch pretty close to retail prices at auction. My guess is there are fewer surprises that can occur when buying a bow. Good luck.
August 11, 2017, 11:26 AM · You can get free access to auction price histories at https://www.bromptons.co/reference/ Why pay Tarisio?
August 11, 2017, 2:37 PM · I don't know what Sartory cello bows cost, but when I was looking last year, Sartory violin bows without damage were in the $35k range. Cello bows are, as far as I know, usually more expensive.

So the pinned head is a sharp devaluation, and probably reasonably priced if it's a reputable dealer. (You've used Ifshin's in the past, if I recall correctly, and they should be fairly priced, though the price might be mildly negotiable.)

You should ask how stable the repair is, and if it's likely to need work during the lifetime that you expect to own it.

Repaired bows are more difficult to sell and do not tend to appreciate as quickly. But if you are buying this bow to play, not for its collectability, it may represent a great value.

August 11, 2017, 3:35 PM · Was it a complete break, or a partial crack? That will have a big difference in price too...

If it's a fantastic playing example of Sartory, it may very well be worth it...see if the dealer has some wiggle room on the price. If it's a consignment, they may be able to go down a bit.

If it's the last bow you'll ever need, then you're in good shape. If the dealer will accept it back for credit towards a different bow, then you just have to hope they don't go out of business...;).

I have a few bows with broken and repaired heads, I love them...they are great values. If you buy it, keep it insured.

August 11, 2017, 4:02 PM · I'm not sure how informative X-rays are on wood; they would tell you where the pin was and how big; I m not sure what else - You may need ultrasound or NMR.
August 11, 2017, 5:48 PM · You should be also concerned whether this bow has good tone.
August 12, 2017, 4:38 AM · It's a very tricky thing to take something to another dealer and ask what they think of it. They want to sell you something of theirs and it is too tempting to put down something offered by a competitor. BUT, if at all possible, try to find someone very knowledgeable in your area who is somewhat disinterested, to look at the bow.

Aside from the valuation, I'd always be worried about a seriously damaged and repaired bow giving way one day. Also, there has developed this Sartory cult that has pushed prices way too high for this maker. William Salchow, who was long considered the dean of American bow makers, teachers etc. used to say that Sartorys are over-evaluated. He felt that EA Ouchard was the best of that generation. (I happen to have an EA Ouchard, though my current overall favorite is a Louis Bazin.) Anyway, be very careful!

Edited: August 12, 2017, 4:47 AM · don't walk.... run away!
Honest dealer sounds like an oxymoron to me.
Let's put Sartory of of equation for time being.... you are offered a repaired bow. What does it mean?
it means that is is not in a mint condition. Today, with dentist-like repair technologies, anything can be done, but it will affect the quality of the bow.
Ask yourself: what the dealer did not tell you about this bow? Has it been used for many years in the orchestra? Has the camber been corrected a few times?
Buy from a maker - with a new bow you know exactly what are you buying.
August 12, 2017, 6:10 AM · "Buy from a maker - with a new bow you know exactly what are you buying."
Not exacctly true, bows change over time and faster if they are new.
I would put it simple:
If the bow is better than other 12k bows in both sound and playability it is worth it. You need an insurance that would cover a headflip though!
If this is your budget, some great contemporary makers are availabke. Also look at good old Germans, they are better in price/value than french ones mostly, esp in that specific price range.
August 14, 2017, 12:06 PM · I didn't know Bromptons was free. Thanks for the tip!
August 17, 2017, 8:37 AM · As an experienced amateur wood worker, typically wood joints that are perpendicular to the grain are the weakest. Parallel to the grain (such as the joints used for the top and bottom plates) can be stronger than the wood itself. This is why there is a pin/spline that is installed in this case.
As I'm not a bow maker and have no experience as one, I certainly can't comment on the probability of failure with normal use. I agree with others is that you are buying this for how it sounds and plays, not as an investment. 12K should give you ALOT of other options. I'd look around.
Edited: August 17, 2017, 11:02 AM · Mark Bouquet wrote:
"Two thoughts occur to me. 1) The usual valuation for a bow with a broken and repaired tip as you describe is a MAXIMUM of 30% of the value if it weren't broken. Would the unbroken bow be worth $40,000+? And 2) my understanding is that the most reliable repair for that type of break is done by installing a spline. The downside to a spline is that it's visible forever after. A pinned repair will likely fail again someday, and then it might be repaired with a spline but having been glued once before, and bored for the pins will leave it somewhat compromised. Doing it right the first time is always the best course of action. At very least I would get an expert second opinion about the condition of the repair, but experts are reluctant to offer opinions about another dealer's inventory."
__________________________________

I very much agree with Mark's opinion.



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