Jean Laurent Clément Violin with Alligator Case
Appraised Value: $30,350 - $40,350 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 9
Appraisal Video: (3:09)
GUEST: It was my grandfather's. He was a musical director at WJR radio station in Detroit for 20-some years. And it was the violin he used in his orchestra, and it's passed down in the family. And I don't really know anything about it.
APPRAISER: And you brought in these two fabulous photos.
GUEST: (chuckling) Yeah. I have a lot of pictures of when they were recording at WJR, but they didn't write the names on the back of the pictures, so I don't know who they are.
APPRAISER: Well, they all look very glamorous and dressed to the hilt. And by the way they're dressed, it looks like maybe the 1930s, early '40s, do you think?
APPRAISER: This is clearly your grandfather.
APPRAISER: Paul de Voy?
GUEST: Le Voy.
APPRAISER: With the violin in both photos. And he's having fun.
GUEST: Yeah, I'd like to hear the story behind that one.
APPRAISER: So your grandfather was a professional musician.
APPRAISER: And he had an orchestra for the radio.
GUEST: Yes, for the WJR radio station. They had their own orchestra.
APPRAISER: And this was the instrument that he used for his whole career?
GUEST: As far as I know, yeah.
APPRAISER: Well, I am noticing that there's a very serious crack running right along the whole belly of the instrument. Any idea how that happened?
GUEST: No, I have no idea.
APPRAISER: There's a label inside the violin, and it says "Jean Laurent Clément." And he was a maker in Paris.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: In the early 1800s. So he moved to Paris from the city of Mirecourt, which was a big musical instrument making area in 1810.
APPRAISER: And he set up his shop there. It's not thought that he was a violin maker himself, but he employed some of the top makers of the period. Among them was a maker by the name of Georges Chanot, who became very famous and highly regarded. We can't be absolutely certain, but the quality of the work, the quality of the materials, the varnish is absolutely typical of Georges Chanot. And it would have been made about 1820. The wood that the violin is made out of is absolutely typical. It's the same wood that violins were made out of starting back in the 1500s, and that is spruce for the belly, and for the back and the ribs, the neck and the peg box, it'd be maple. It's very beautiful maple. A violin like this in the retail market would sell for at least $30,000 to $40,000.
GUEST: Oh, wow. Wow!
APPRAISER: And it would be worth more if that crack were fixed.
GUEST: Yeah, okay. So it is fixable?
APPRAISER: It's very fixable.
APPRAISER: It would not be inexpensive to fix this crack, and I suspect there's about $2,000 in repair work.
GUEST: Oh, okay, okay, that's great.
APPRAISER: I just want to mention this case because it's so fabulous. It's alligator, and the leather has been preserved. It's also just very sharp and very much of the period of these pictures. We've seen these alligator cases from this period sell for at least $350.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: So just the case itself I think is significant in the world of cases.
APPRAISER: I checked with my colleagues, and they assured me that alligator from this period would be absolutely fine to resell. Alligator is now farmed, so it's not an issue anymore.
GUEST: Yeah, okay.
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