We have offered a wide variety of antique musical instruments over the years at our auctions. We recently sold the largest number of instruments that we ever had at a single auction in our April 25th sale. Many of the family members from an important estate in Amherst, MA were musically inclined. The home contained 6 violins, 2 silver flutes, a church bass violin, a soprano recorder and a mandolin. Another home in Oxford had a saxophone and a clarinet. (that we also sold, just to clarify)
Item age is an important factor with instruments, as with other antiques and collectibles. The craftsmanship and quality displayed in old instruments isn’t seen in the mass produced items of today. There are exceptions of course. Guitars created by guitar legend Les Paul in the 1950’s can sell for 10’s of thousands of dollars. Instruments played by rock legends of the 1960’s can sell well in the six figures or even seven figures.
The violins that we sold were mainly from the 1920’s. We check inside the violins for labels. Some of the violins were mass produced but some were created by exceptional violin makers. They often took pride in their work and labeled their violins with their name and the date it was created. We’ve had some violins sell in the high $100’s. Condition play a role but is not the only important factor. We once sold a cello by a craftsman from the 1700’s. There were holes in the face of the wood, the top and bottom were splitting apart and strings were loose. It still brought $1,300.
The mandolin we sold in this auction was of lesser quality but we sold a mandolin by the famous stringed instrument maker, Gibson in our previous sale. Despite some damage, it sold for over $500.
One of the more interesting instruments we sold was a Hawaiian steel guitar. There are a number of makers of steel guitars. The one that we sold was made by National Steel. It fetched $2,800 at auction.
One of the highlights of this auction was a silver flute by Paris, France maker signed “C. Rive”. Claude Rive was a well know craftsman who created his flutes in the late 1800’s. They are scarce now and highly sought after. This flute brought $2875.
Great instruments, like many other antiques, get thrown in the trash and sometimes people sell them for far too little at yard sales not realizing what they have. You might have an instrument worth more than the C. Rive flute tucked away in your attic. As with every other antique, it’s wise to have your items evaluated by a professional before you sell them and make sure that you get a fair price for your items. You don’t want to later realize that you sold your instruments for a song!
Have an antique that you think could be valuable or just want to learn more about it. Write to us at the address below.
If you have any questions about antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
Our articles are published in the Webster Times, Spencer New Leader, Auburn News, Blackstone Valley Tribune, Charlton Villager, Killingly Villager, Putnam Villager, Sturbridge Villager, Thompson Villager and Woodstock Villager.