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Options for selling your instrument:

There are 3 ways you can sell your instrument through this dealership:

  1. If I like the instrument enough, may make an offer to buy it from you.

  2. I can take the instrument on consignment and sell it in your behalf. In such a case there are two options:

    Option 1:
    We pre-agree on an amount you will accept, and I sell it for what I can get and keep the difference. In this case no commission is involved and the cost of improvements on the instruments is borne by myself, but will become recoupable, should the instrument be returned to you.

    Option 2:
    I sell it for a price we agree on. In this case I take a percentage as commission of the sales price, plus any recoupable costs I may have incurred in effecting the sale, such as fitting a new bridge and strings, supplying a decent instrument case, etc. The percentages commission that apply are outlined further down, under the heading 'Commission'.
    However, it must be understood that a buyer might make an offer to purchase below the agreed price, in which case the offer will be relayed to you, the owner. A period of negotiation might be entered into and the instrument may eventually be sold for an amount other than what was agreed on.

  3. I can assist you in having the instrument put on auction by a reputable auctioneer abroad. Dealing with auctioneers for string instruments is complex as there are many different auctioneers in many different countries, with many different trends and specialities and rates. For example, import and export laws and duties vary from country to country and are a major consideration, etc. I am experienced in this matter having dealt with many different auctioneers in different countries. It is a process that is fraught with risks for those who try to do it alone.

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First steps:
Should you consider offering your instrument for sale through this dealership, please do the following:

  • Contact me directly, preferably be e-mail at info@violins.co.za. Give me as much information as possible about the instrument you wish to sell, it's age, history, condition, repairs, etc.

  • If in any way possible, provide me with good quality photos of the instruments, the front, back, side views, and the scroll from front and side. Please ensure that the photos sharp.

  • The ideal would be to have the instrument delivered to me personally, and to be kept by myself for an agreed period of time. Not only will this enable me to make a better assessment of it and to photograph it, but it will then be in a better position for potential buyers to look at it and try it out.

  • Please give any details you might have of the instrument's value, what you think it is worth and any supportive documentation.

I reserve the right to refuse pursuing a deal with a seller or concluding a sale should I at any stage feel that an expected price is unrealistic, or that it has been inflated in order to recover the commission, or that market norms are not being respected.

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The price:
I go to a lot of trouble to research instrument prices and international market trends. There are effective price histories and pricing structures in place relative to certain makers, instruments types and qualities, with scales relative to an instrument’s condition and repair history. These structures are very exact and I make every effort to work within accepted price norms. Pricing has many variables and other dynamics that influence it.

I also take into account what a seller expects, but will advise according to what market realities dictate. However, should a seller expect more than I feel the instrument is realistically worth, or should I be in disagreement over expected procedures, or should I feel that a seller’s expectations will make it difficult to conclude a sale, I reserve the right to refuse pursuing business with a seller.

Furthermore, as much as I respect the views of other dealers, or may take into consideration other persons' evaluations, certificates, opinions and assessments of instruments, I will only accept as final assessment my own evaluation of an instrument, unless I am presented with compelling reasons to change my view.

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In the case of selling an instrument on consignment, I prefer establishing a pre-agreed amount the seller will accept and keeping the balance. Such an agreement will take into account the following information outlined for commissions: in the event of commission, I take 45% of the sales price for instruments up to R35 000, thereafter commission is negotiated on a diminishing sliding scale until it is 30% on high-value instruments (of over R100 000).

Why so high?

It is in fact not high compared to practices in Europe and the USA where dealers commonly take 50% or more on the sale of instruments left with them on consignment. It is based on this rhetoric:

Any instrument left on consignment with a dealer competes with the dealer's own instruments and obviously affects the dealer's profit margin in the event of a sale of a consigned instrument rather than of the dealer's own instrument. As a simple example - if a dealer sells one of his own instruments at R20 000, his profit is R20 000. If the buyer however buys the consigned instrument instead, the dealer's profit will be much less since he still has to pay out the consignor. It should be worth the dealer's while to promote a consignment instrument, hence the high commission.

The dealer works hard at sourcing buyers. If the consignor wants 100% profit in a sale, he must find his own buyer.

Furthermore, it is a standard legally accepted practice that in the event of a seller finding a buyer for his instrument while that instrument is with on consignment with a dealer, the dealer will be entitled to the commission as if he had found the buyer. That practice applies with this dealership.

Note: The seller pays the commission. This means that commission will not be added on top of the instrument's price, thereby in effect over-inflating the price and forcing the buyer to pay the commission.

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The utmost care is taken with all instruments and bows throughout the time that they are with me. I was a professional violinist and have years of experience as player - only musicians with demonstrable ability are allowed to handle instruments and bows in my possession. Furthermore, since the founding of this dealership in 2000, not one single instrument or bow has been lost or damaged due to any negligence on my part.

However, sellers remain responsible for the insurance of their instruments, even when the instrument is physically with this dealership. The reason for this is as follows: Other than my own instruments, I hold at any given time a considerable number of instruments and bows on consignment, meaning items belonging to other people, but which are physically with me. If I were to insure all those consignment instruments for their full value along with my own instruments, the cost would become crippling and not tenable.

Furthermore, the cost of full-value insurance during transit or shipment by postal service or courier is to be paid for by the seller. I have to date not had one instance of loss damage in post or courier, both in South Africa and internationally.

Should a seller not have insurance for the instrument or bow he wishes to sell, then the risk will be shared as follows: if it could be demonstrated that, in the event of any loss or damage to an instrument or bow left on consignment with me, that such damage or loss has occurred as the result of negligence on my part, then a settlement can be negotiated between myself and the seller. If however such loss or damage was a consequence of factors completely beyond my control, then the loss will be borne by the seller.

Inasmuch as everyone wishes to conduct business in a risk-free environment, the reality is that there is no such a thing as a totally risk-free business environment, no matter what precautions are taken. If a seller feels he requires a 100% risk-free situation to sell his instrument or bow, then I suggest he find his own buyer or another dealership.

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Displaying on this site:
I will place your instrument on this website free of charge for as long as it requires to sell it, or until you decide to have it removed, but subject to the following:

It is a lot of work to photograph and prepare the photos for the site, and ultimately to write the instrument up onto this website, with text etc. Should an instrument be entrusted to my dealership and be displayed on this site, it will mean that I have exclusive agency in selling the instrument for at least 6 months and will have the further right to sell it for at least another 6 months, totaling 1 year of agency. Should the instrument be withdrawn from sale during that period, I will reserve the right to recoup costs I may have incurred in preparing it for sale and for the website.

Furthermore should the instrument be sold by the owner to a buyer of his own procuration during that initial 1 year period, I will be entitled to the commission as if I had sold it, and will reserve the right to claim such commission.

I reserve the right at my discretion and without explanation to remove an instrument from display on my site.

Inasmuch as it is possible, I will require the instrument to be in my possession. It is difficult to sell an instrument I don’t have with me.

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About photographs:
All photography undertaken by this dealership is copyrighted and belongs to this dealership for the exclusive use by this dealership. Submitting an instrument for sale through this dealership does not imply that the seller has a right to large-format high-resolution photographs of the instrument, should they be taken.

Sellers may download photos off the website, once they have been uploaded to the site and are technically in the public domain. Such downloaded photos may be used for personal purposes, but not for financial gain, in which event a claim could be raised by this dealership.

Furthermore, such downloaded photos may not be supplied to any other dealership or person for the purpose of promoting or furthering the sale of the instrument in any way extraneous to this dealership. Should it become known that photos from this website have been supplied in any way by the seller to another dealership or person in an effort either identify the instrument or to further the sale of the instrument elsewhere, then a claim for the full commission could be brought against the seller as if this dealership had sold the instrument.

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Information about my clients and who I sell to (and inversely, who the seller is) is at all times strictly confidential. I divulge no information about a buyer to a seller, nor vice versa. Neither am I obliged to divulge an instrument's provenance. This is a global norm applied internationally in such dealerships and a principle I adhere to. This applies to all deals.

Potential buyers contact me directly. All deals are negotiated directly with me, Johan Grobbelaar. If it seems that a sale may be in the offing, I will advise the owner.

Furthermore, in the process of establishing the origins or authenticity of an instrument, I may consult other dealers or experts, both locally and abroad. Although dealers and experts generally freely exchange opinions, advice and other information among themselves on a global scale, this is done in confidence. Consequently, the use of another expert's name and opinions, whether given casually or formally, to promote a sale or for any other form of financial gain, is extremely serious and could result in a financial claim by that individual and would obviously damage further relations. The more important the authority, the more serious this becomes. For this reason my sources of information, whatever or whoever it may be, remain confidential and not open to disclosure.

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Trial period:
The seller understands that it is a norm for a buyer to try out an instrument for a reasonable period of time and that such a trial period in no way implies that the violin has to been sold. Furthermore a trial period is part of the normal purchasing process and must not be seen as a rental that has to be paid for.

The provision of a trial period for each purchase will depend on the respective locations of both the buyer and the instrument, hence each situation is largely dealt with according to its own circumstances.

Matters concerning a trial period are decided on by myself.

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Time scale for a sale:
Almost every instrument finds a buyer sooner or later. Sometimes a good student violin may sell very quickly, within a few weeks or days, while a good fine violin may be with me for three years before it sells. There is no telling how long it will take.

Presently in South Africa I find that for every 10 people who contact me, about 8 or 9 want to sell – 1 or 2 may want to buy, and then only at very low prices.

This situation is exacerbated by the current economic climate which has made this a buyer’s market – everyone wants to sell their instruments, and there are very few buyers entering the market. Those who do buy generally have so many instruments to choose from that they are forcing prices to an all-time low. For example, three to four years ago a good violin by Eugenio Degani would have sold for an average of £30 000 to £40 000 on open specialist auctions. Today they can hardly get sold at £18 000 – which is a clear indicator of what is happening to the violin market. This is global and applies to almost all makers and auctions.

You’ll probably, or almost certainly, get your instrument sold sooner or later, but if the price is right and with a lot of patience.

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I handle the financial side of all sales. Payment is made directly by the buyer to me and once the funds are available, I pay you the seller, minus my commission and recoupable costs, if any.

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It is understood and accepted by the owner of the instruments offered for sale, that I provide no assurance or guarantee that the instrument will be sold through this website and furthermore that nothing I said or wrote can be construed to imply such an assurance or guarantee. Hence I cannot be held responsible for an instrument not being sold, nor will I effect the reimbursement of any costs incurred by the owner or of any loss suffered in having the instrument offered for sale by means of this website.

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