Descriptive title in auctions
Have anyone had experience in buying an instrument from auctions?
They are such descriptive terms as "fine", "good", "intersting", "probably by..." which appear quite eye catching
I wonder if these terms correlate with more superior instrument/ sound quality
And for those "probably by..." instruments, to what extent can it be authentic?
There's no official lexicon but my non-comprehensive interpretation goes:
I thought most of the top auction houses published a list of definitions of these terms. Maybe look at Tarisio?
I've never come across a published list. The only reference I can find on Tarisio says "The precise meaning of words used to describe instruments, how payment is received, and the amount of the auction house commissions vary by company". The auctioneers aren't always very knowledgeable. At the last one I attended the man with the hammer told us that a violin was labelled "Garnius".
Fine - very good/excellent in condition (soundpost crack + minor cracks possible)
I'm sure it varies from place to place but in the UK "A fine violin..." doesn't refer to its condition. The condition report comes separately and is another can of worms!
The terms used in auctions to describe instruments are based on condition and quality of workmanship. The terminology is very carefully worded to reflect the amount of confidence the auction house has in each lot’s authenticity.
Rich, can you tell us where you found those terms like "excellent" and "outstanding", very good" and "good" describing condition because it isn't my experience in the UK. To illustrate the variation that occurs, I've just been through the catalogue of a specialist auction by an established company that took place in the UK 9 days ago. The cheaper lots are listed with absolutely no comment, presumably on the premise that the buyer would need to discover their condition by personal inspection. In the better half of the sale comments amounted to no more than "has condition issues", "in need of extensive restoration", and "neck detached from body"! Other auction houses are certainly more assiduous, for example Amati shows a detailed diagram of the cracks and other defects, but one cannot absolutely rely on the descriptive material or its absence to gauge the state of the instrument.
Stan found the thing I was thinking of. How those crude terms would apply to a rare antique violin, however, I have no idea.
Steve, those terms are often used at Tarisio. I consider them standard auction terminology, and as I mentioned above, auction houses that specialize in instruments are careful to use specific terms like these.
The "by", "attributed to", "ascribed to", etc., are fairly clear, even if the divisions between them won't be.
Something else that can dictate the difference between multiple items by one maker is the materials. A gold-mounted bow is going to valued more highly than a silver one, assuming both are in similar condition.