Mismatched equipment

December 11, 2022, 12:21 PM · My violin is one of those late 1800's German factory violin's a copy of a flat Strad with lots of intarsia. These were popular back then, the instrument still plays well and we're good partners.

The bows are quite different. The bow that came to America with my wife's Great Grandfather is a nice round Pernambuco made by a archetier who's name began with an "H" (the rest has worn off over the decades).

My other bow is an Adolph C. Schuster*** silver mounted, octagonal complete with Eagle impression on the frog (yeah, it's the real deal). This is my power bow. It has the ability to create volume from the violins it has worked with. It is definitely for the stage, not the studio. I acquired it when I was looking for a "better" violin (that's another story).

While the "better" violin has been sold to a better musician, I still have the Schuster.

I did a bit of searching as part of updating my home insurance and discovered that my Schuster has a market value well over $3000. My family violin isn't worth near that much money.

As I noted, the Schuster is too loud for my studio and it can be a bit much.

I have the feeling that I should sell it. I no longer preform on stage because my osteoarthritic hands have become quite unreliable. A community orchestra doesn't deserve a second violin that can disappear when the hand cramps hit hard.

If you were in my position, what would you do?

Replies (8)

December 11, 2022, 12:58 PM · I would take it to someone qualified to write an appraisal, not an insurance appraisal, and possibly even give you papers for it. And depending on the value, I would probably sell it on consignment through a respected and honest dealer. The higher the price you think you can ask, the more likely you are to find a buyer through a dealer. In your shoes I would want to (a) make sure the bow landed in the right pair of hands while (b) asking a fair and justifiable price that (c) puts as much money in my pocket as possible.
Edited: December 11, 2022, 5:15 PM · George,
Here is an alphabetical list of bowmakers by name:

If you still had the bow you could post some photos at the Maestronet.com "The Pegbox" and probably get a lot of replies.

I would be interested in the "other story."

December 13, 2022, 8:59 AM · Mary Ellen,

"...the right hands" That is a real issue for me. My fear is that somebody will simply monetize the bow rather than put it to good use.

Like, "Joe's Violin" I think about donating it to a good music school/program where it goes out on loan to a good violinist who will grow through it to an even better bow and cycle through the program.

I've amortized the cost a long time ago and, despite it's market value, it owes me nothing. And a donation gets me a good tax deduction in the process.

I've actually thought about doing the same thing with my violin although it would be something of a first full-size in a program.

All of this is due to being in my mid-70's with diminishing skills. While I don't "give-up" easily, the day is coming when I last close the lid on my violin case and pass it along as I close my studio.

December 13, 2022, 9:21 AM · Depending on your tax bracket, a donation might end up being nearly as effective (financially) as a sale-- when you account for the uncertainty of sale price, dealer's commission, or similar hits if you send it to an auction house. And then there is the psychic income of seeing it well-used.

December 13, 2022, 1:24 PM · One of my violins plays beautifully, is of professional quality, but has no papers, no provenance, and a very low probability that I will ever be able to get papers on it. Unless by some miracle I can find an expert who is willing to authenticate it as being worth many times what its paper value is right now, my plan is to hold onto it for as long as I can keep playing at all (while eventually selling my more conventionally valued equipment), and then donating it to one of my alma maters for use by deserving students who cannot afford a professional quality violin on their own.
December 13, 2022, 1:29 PM · You're doing the Lord's work, Mary Ellen!
December 13, 2022, 5:24 PM · Just a question not relating to selling the bow: could you ask the community orchestra if you could still practice with them occasionally? You seem to enjoy playing in an orchestra and even if you cannot perform, you might be able to enjoy the experience of playing together now and then. Or otherwise look for people (online maybe) who meet to play together just for fun! Then it will not bother anyone if you drop out now and then.
December 14, 2022, 9:02 AM · George, I think a player that can disappear when the cramps hit hard is of more value than an empty space. Who knows whether you weren't of crucial value in putting that 2nd violin-section solo on the map even if the cramps stopped you from playing everything else?

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