We offer a range of valuation services from free verbal valuations and bespoke expert advice to legal and insurance matters. These include written valuations at a fixed fee for insurance and probate. With our experience and constant monitoring of the market, we can provide accurate and up to date opinions for most fine stringed instruments and bows. Any valuation or opinion is provided at our discretion. We only undertake these services if we feel we can provide you with an accurate report.
Selling my musical instruments
We offer competitive terms for purchasing instruments and bows that are suitable for our stock, or for selling instruments on a consignment basis. Please contact us in the first instance by email or telephone for a preliminary discussion about your property and terms of sale.
free verbal opinions
We are always pleased to provide a verbal opinion on your instrument or bow. Whether you are thinking of selling a family heirloom, or think you have a Stradivari in the attic, we are able to give you practical advice about its value and prospects for sale. Our initial valuation by email is free of charge and without any obligation, and we can normally determine by photograph if you have a good factory-made violin, or a fine instrument of professional standard. If an instrument is of interest or significance we will need to inspect it in person in order to assess its condition and attribution before giving a realistic assessment. A verbal opinion or initial non-binding email assessment is free of charge, but fees apply for any formal opinion.
We are pleased to assist with purchases from other dealers through the provision of verbal second opinions. We simply ask you to try other instruments of similar price or quality from our stock. In cases where a detailed report is necessary, we will discuss any possible charges before undertaking work on your behalf.
Valuations for insurance purposes are calculated as the cost to replace an instrument or bow within a reasonable amount of time after its damage or loss. Generally speaking the valuation is slightly above the retail price, allowing for short term appreciation in the value of the instrument, and the expense it might take to find a similar replacement. Written valuations are provided according to a sliding scale of fixed fees.
This is the most common form of valuation requested by our clients. An Insurance valuation evaluates the cost of replacement value (the cost to replace the item on the retail market within a reasonable amount of time) of an instrument or bow.
for CITES certification
The Animal and Plant Agency, a part of DEFRA is the UK government body that administers import and export permits for items comprising materials derived from endangered species (known colloquially as ‘instrument passports’) for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. We are able to produce supporting documents for any application, where in my expert opinion the endangered materials were worked prior to 1947 or where they fall within the relevant exceptions. Our letters should only be used in respect of seeking a government permit, and should not be relied upon at international borders. See the UK Government website for downloadable forms and information here. Please note that the scope of legislation on endangered species is constantly changing. It is your responsibility to make sure you are operating in line with the latest policy.
Executors and solicitors acting on behalf of a deceased estate are often required to commission an independent ‘probate valuation’ in order to assess Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability with HM Revenue & Cusoms (HMRC).
We regularly carry out valuations for revenue purposes including probate valuations on fine musical and historic musical instruments of all kinds (including historic or early keyboards, plucked strings and wind instruments) in accordance with Section 160 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (in the United Kingdom) and deal directly with executors to help arrange a probate valuation of the deceased’s estate.
We also carry out valuations of musical instruments for Capital Gains Tax, and as cultural artefacts for the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme in the UK and for equivalent schemes overseas, and advise on sale at auction, private treaty sales and other options after probate is granted.
All IHT valuations are HMRC compliant and our probate valuations are prepared quickly and discreetly.
for family division
We provide valuations of musical instruments for the purposes of family division which can be used for the equitable apportionment of chattels between family members. We offer a discreet and professional service and can supply a range of figures or an agreed value as appropriate. It is usual to receive joint instruction from solicitors and valuations can be provided to meet all requirements. We have a long-standing relationship as associates with Drummond Read, Chartered Art and Antiques Surveyors, and where required we submit our reports in partnership with them.
for museums and institutions
For museums and institutions we are able to provide independent valuations and assessments for musical instruments to assist with applying for grants or fundraising, for insurance and loans or for donations made under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme or its equivalents overseas. To date we have assisted in applications to the ArtFund on behalf of UK museums, assessments under “Treasure National” in France and for Gifts of Capital Property in Canada.
how to photograph my violin
If you have a smartphone with a good camera its normally good enough to send me photographs for an initial assessment. Resting the instrument on a chair, take direct shots of the front and back of the instrument looking head on. To photograph the profile of the scroll, hold the violin at arms length, and make sure it is perpendicular to the camera. It is better to have a smaller photograph than a distorted close-up image.
What it costs
We undertake free verbal appraisals of any instrument indicating the general worth and identification of any instrument.
For second opinions if you are considering purchasing a violin from another seller, we are willing to provide a verbal opinion on the simple provision that you undertake to try whatever instruments we have in stock of a similar value or quality.
All written appraisals require direct physical examination of the instruments in question. Our fees vary depending upon the complexity of the instruments to be researched. For instruments below £15,000 in value I charge a flat fee of £180 for a letter. Other instruments will be proportionately higher, although it is unlikely for a written appraisal of value to exceed £500 in cost.