Author Archives: Stefan Hersh

Great Expectations in the String Instrument Trade? A Matter of Margins and Guarantees

Consumers are frequently shocked by gross profit margins that are normal for retailers. A downtown department store buys a pair of socks from an overseas factory for 15% of the eventual full retail sales price. Your local specialty coffee shop … Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

An American Family: A Reminiscence by C.F.C. Arensberg

Conrad Frederick Covert Arensberg purchased a handsome Gemunder violin in the summer of 1890. It still remains in the possession of his family. As the history that follows indicates, the Arensbergs may not be a “typical American family,” but their … Continue reading

Categories: History |

A Violin by George Gemunder (with Its Original Bill of Sale)

The Arensberg Gemunder violin, complete with receipt from the firm of George Kappel, Pittsburgh, June 2, 1890 is a rare example of unbroken provenance for a fine art object. We can presume that the 1890 sale of this Gemunder in … Continue reading

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Rethinking the Concert Program: Toward a New Paradigm

In the last three decades, the once anomalous summer chamber music festival has become the most common venue for chamber music performances in the U.S. While fiscal exigency has forced regular season series in major cities to scale back or … Continue reading

Categories: Performance | Tagged: , |

How to Try a Violin, Part 2

I am frequently contacted by string players needing help with tonal issues in their search for an instrument. Many string players have trouble sorting out what tonal criteria are important in the process of selecting an instrument. Problems arise most … Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace, Players |

A Rose by Any Other Name: What’s in a Certificate?

Authenticity is one of the more vexing issues for the string instrument trade. The consumer point of view regarding authenticity of instruments and bows is often simple: Will a highly regarded expert issue a certificate? Or even more naively, is … Continue reading

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Understanding Appraisal Bafflegab

The Segelman lawsuit, covered elsewhere on this site, is just one of a few scandals in recent times which have been particularly murky due to problems of widespread ignorance among non-professionals in their interaction with the string instrument trade. Likewise, … Continue reading

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A Scandal for All Seasons?

The headlines have been sensational: “Dealers Gain Collectors Trust, Score Multi-million Dollar Bonanza” “London, Chicago Experts Finagle Holy Grail Cache of Violins” “How Nazis Targeted the World’s Finest Violins” “Trail of Treasures is Lost in Secret Rare Instrument Trade” “Survivors’ … Continue reading

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Sotheby’s Chicago Sale

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the health of the world economy, and especially the U.S. economy in doubt, questions linger about the current viability of the fine arts … Continue reading

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Ten Keys to Identifying a Violin

How to identify violins? The short answer of course is to find a qualified expert, and they are rare, who will give you their own best information. There is no shortcut to genuine expertise in the fine string instrument world. … Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |