At the April auction at Tarisio New York there was considerable interest for violin cases as investments, and no longer simply as utilitarian objects, reinforcing a trend which has been in the making for some time now and distancing the object from its mere purpose.
At Tarisio, most of the cases sold went for at least double the high estimate value (estimated by the auction house) and one sold for ten times that! Interestingly, the latter was not an antique case but a contemporary oblong by M.A. Gordge, which had sold new for about a third of the hammer price just a few years ago.
I myself have a Gordge case in my collection, which was purchased brand new for $700 in 2007 and has been displayed only, never used. By this yardstick it is now worth about $2,000, meaning I have so far realized an almost 20% yearly return on my investment (if I chose to sell it now, which I won’t). My only regret is that I had bought only one!
These results mirror another auction late last year, in which several collectible cases approached or surpassed the $5,000 mark. Not to mention Heifetz’s double case by W.E. Hill & Sons, which sold for over $20,000, ten times its purchase price at Sotheby’s in the late ‘80s.
So more and more, it seems to me that violin cases are finally losing their relegated status as “violin accessories” to enjoy a dignity of their own. With the value of selected cases increasing this can attract investors and collectors that don’t even play the violin at all, which in turn can only broaden the market and thus vastly increase the potential of investment return. There is something for everyone: people can be attracted by rarity, aesthetics, provenance, or historical importance.
Of course, it goes without saying that not all cases are potential investments, au contraire. To appreciate over time, a case must meet a number of important prerequisites, and most importantly, it must be in absolutely perfect or refurbished condition (unless worn out by Paganini or someone like that).
What does this mean to us V.comers? Well, I think that for those with liquidity this may be a moment to invest in something that is more fun than a Treasury Bill and can offer a substantially higher yield. More and more collectibles seem to be coming online these days.
And, likewise, it’s also a moment to poke around in the attic for Grandpa’s old violin case, not because of the Made-in-Czechoslovakia Stradivarius it contains, but because it could very well be a treasure in its own right! That could be even more rewarding.
Any thoughts on this?
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