Appraisal Video: (2:55)
Vice President & Department Head, Musical Instruments
GUEST: It's a violin that I don't know much about.
GUEST: I have an older neighbor who gave it to me, and I was going to just display it in my house, clean it up, which, obviously, I haven't done yet. Um... and so I thought I would bring it in and see what it was worth.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, let's take a look at it. Barb, it definitely needs some cleaning, I think, before it goes up on the mantle.
GUEST: Well, I was going to.
APPRAISER: (laughing) Okay. We've got a bit of dust here. Um, and it... (blows air)
GUEST: Whoo, geez.
APPRAISER: This is probably French work, mid-19th century. Looking inside, I can see the label and it says "Francois Ricard, Paris," not dated, but it doesn't need to be. It's classic, not Parisian work, though it's labeled that, but Mirecourt, which is a town in... more south of Paris, a town of all violinmakers. That's just about all they do there. And it's what we refer to as trade work. It's sort of mass-produced, but all carved by hand. Not the best fiddle around.
GUEST: If it were restored, how would it sound?
APPRAISER: Well, um, it'd probably sound pretty miserable. Most of these French fiddles, because of the very hard, crisp varnish that's on them, the length-- they tend to be very long-- tend to be awfully nasal-sounding, but probably great for the mantle. The case is period, about the same time, I'm going to say 1850, and well moth-eaten. The moths are having a great time in there. And also, the moths are having a great time with the bow, which is why all this hair is all broken.
APPRAISER: There's actually a beetle that eats it.
APPRAISER: Yeah. My advice is, when you get this home, throw some mothballs in it.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: But let's take a closer look at the bow. It's what we say in the trade, a nice stick.
GUEST: Is it?
APPRAISER: Yes, it's a very nice bow. The bow is of about the same period, a little bit earlier. I'm going to say 1830 or thereabouts and stamped by the maker right at the butt end of the stick.
APPRAISER: "J. Dodd." And that was John Dodd, working in London in the early 19th century. Excellent bow maker. This is really quite a nice bow,
GUEST: Oh, is it?
APPRAISER: a very nice quality. Silver-mounted, the frog with a silver ferrule, abalone pearl eye and an abalone slide. The button, again, silver mounted on ebony, and it has a wonderful, wonderful pearl eye on the end that looks like oyster, which, English, when they weren't eating oysters, they were saving the shells and making bow eyes out of them. We see this often where people open up a case, they look at the violin, and it's like, "Eh, it's an okay violin." But yet the bow is worth more than the fiddle. Um, any idea what this bow is worth?
GUEST: No, do you want to tell me? Because I'm afraid that if it's worth money, I'm going to have to give it back to my neighbor.
APPRAISER: Well, if your neighbor's watching he's going to come banging on your door. This bow would probably fetch, easily, $8,000 in this condition.
GUEST: (laughing) No, you're kidding.
APPRAISER: You know, it's a great stick.
GUEST: Well, I'll have to think about what I'm going to do with it.
APPRAISER: Take up the violin, or, uh...