As I tune and repair instruments, I’m occasionally asked to provide an
appraisal. I know this is a service that many builders and technicians
provide, but it’s not something I’ve ever been comfortable with.

For those that do provide appraisals, I’m curious about the process - is
there a certification required to make your appraisal “official”? Do
insurance companies require any specific documentation beyond the word
of someone in the field? (I’m in Canada, in case that makes a
difference) And how the heck do you come up with a dollar figure for
something so unique, and so dependent on different markets? The selling
price for an identical instrument might be vastly different in Toronto
versus rural Nova Scotia, for example, assuming one could find a buyer
at all.

I feel like I have at least a somewhat-decent idea of the cost of
lower-end instruments - the many small kit-built ones that come up
often, for example. But professional-quality instruments are much harder
to estimate, and I really don’t know where to start with antiques,
though I guess in all cases, a starting point would be to simply look at
recent similar sales, if such a thing can be found!

I’d appreciate any insight anyone might have!

Jonathan Addleman

A bit embarrising if you have to value a Morley instrument.

Be careful. Know your country’s laws.

Appraisal for insurance purposes, in the US, is fairly simple, generally taken as the cost of replacement with a new, similar instrument. The insurance company will charge according to the amount of coverage.

Appraisals for tax, divorce and inheritance purposes could get you into legal tangles. Things get serious at about $3000 in the US.

When I was in business I avoided written piano appraisals when the customer was trying to support a sale price. “You can ask any price you want if you’re ready to advertise as far and wide as needed to find the buyer.”

There are a small number of certified musical instrument appraisers. Anne Acker, I believe, is one. Better to pass the problem on to someone who can deal with it knowledgeably.

Will reply at length. Rather swamped right now. In brief, you need to be “official” to do appraisals for donations, tax, divorce, etc. purposes. Some insurance companies care, others don’t.

AA yes, I do these for stringed keyboard instruments of all types.