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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Importance of Provenance


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/92376

TedLehmann - Posted - 09/01/2007:  07:22:05


I own a Deering 30th Anniversary model Tennbrooks, number 20 of 30. My wife owns a Gibson Alan Bibey signature mandolin, number 35 of 50. I wonder, in seeking to establish and maintain the value of these instruments, how importanct provenance is. I'm planning to write letters for Jens Kruger and Alan Bibey to sign about the instruments and keep a copy (notarized?) with each instrument. Do you think this is a worthwhile effort? - Ted

Ted Lehmann
www.tedlehmann.blogspot.com


Edited by - TedLehmann on 09/01/2007 07:22:53

Bongshang - Posted - 09/01/2007:  07:28:10


I would do it. The added signatures will make a great addition to what will be some sought after instruments.

Bongshang

cockneybanjo - Posted - 09/01/2007:  07:29:37


I can't comment on the actual value of these particular instruments, because I don't know. I dare say someone does.

BUT, as a general comment, provenance is very important in this situation. Otherwise it would only be worth what it is actually worth as an instrument!!

mainejohn - Posted - 09/01/2007:  07:41:12


Ted...that's an excellent idea. As an attempt to maintain the integrity of the few modest vintage Vegas that I own, I've written a brief history of each one describing as much as I know about the ownership, modifications, and price paid and leave that info in the case. Whatever happens to all that info after I go to the big jam session in the sky will be up to someone else.

Cheers,
John
Scarborough, Maine

Mainechowder - Posted - 09/01/2007:  08:26:30


quote:
Originally posted by mainejohn

Ted...that's an excellent idea. As an attempt to maintain the integrity of the few modest vintage Vegas that I own, I've written a brief history of each one describing as much as I know about the ownership, modifications, and price paid and leave that info in the case. Whatever happens to all that info after I go to the big jam session in the sky will be up to someone else.

Cheers,
John
Scarborough, Maine

John,

I'll make sure they are all well cared for and loved

Don




Alex Z - Posted - 09/01/2007:  09:59:01



To TedLehmann:

What might the letters attest to, and how do you see the letters figuring into the provenance of the instruments?

Thanks,

Alex Z

Mike Casey - Posted - 09/01/2007:  10:07:58


Provenance is especially valuable if the item becomes collectable in and of itself. One episode of The Antiques Roadshow will demonstrate the value of provenance in not only establishing the item as genuine, but also in raising any value the item might already have. Artist &/or maker signatures (don't forget the maker's signature), photos with the artist, advertisements describing its unique features, receipts proving purchase dates and anything else you can come up with to associate the item with you and its time will all add value one day. The big trick is figuring out what will gain and hold future value in the future. The RB, the flathead tone ring, the one piece flange, the simplist of features, no prominant artist endorsements, the dying embers of the banjo hay days, who'd a thunk it? Then if one can prove the item is all original, in great condition and with provenance, BINGO, we have a winner! Take good care of the original containers too.

Mike Casey
and The Assembly Line Grinders

mikeyes - Posted - 09/01/2007:  10:44:06


I think having signed letters from Jans Kruger and Alan Bibey would be nice, but they are not provenance since neither artist had anything to do with the manufacture or selling of the items. They probably will add a few hundred dollars to the price for an eager buyer, however.

What would be good provenance is bills of sale or a letter from Gibson OAI (say from Danny Roberts or whoever signed the mandolin - unless it was Charlie Derrington) attesting to the fact that they made the item and that you are the original owner. If not the original owner, then letters from prior owners documenting the transfer(s).

With modern instruments, provenance would not really be needed (at this point) because the record keeping is so good, but in the future, when the next owner of Gibson runs it into the ground and burns down the entire set fo factories and offices for the insurance, it might be a good idea ;'}

If you go to the usual sights (ebay, bernunzio, mando bros, elderly), you can find the retail value of the instruments. The instrument is worth what the market will take for it and ebay is your best indicator and the most likely place to find one for sale. The retail stores need to make a profit, so you can subtract about 30% or so to see the street value.

Right now those instruments are of value as players. Since their namesakes are still alive and not that well known in general, the letters are only of mild interest (but worth getting). The latest example of a value-added endorsed instrument is the Gibson Bill Monroe F5L built a number of years ago. They are overpriced as far as playing instruments go, but are probably at the market/collectors price due to the Monroe signature and the fact that he is dead so there will be no more (yes, I know that these are "limited" editions, but you can buy those from the Franklin Mint, too - so called "collector's items" are generally not worth much. Try and sell your Beanie Baby collection now.)

There may be a time 1-50 years from now when they will take on an aura of immortality like the Lloyd Loar mandolins. That is the reason to have a provenance. Mandolins by Dudenbostel, Kemmintz, and Gilchrist (all living luthiers) have done so. The hint is that once you wait 7 years to buy one at the agreed price, you can turn around and sell it for 5 times the same price the same day. Of course provenance is fairly easy to establish in these cases.



Mike Keyes
http://www.banjosessions.com
http://www.mikekeyes.com

stanger - Posted - 09/01/2007:  11:24:43


Hi, Ted...
Yup- write the letters.
The reason provenance is so important lies in the future. Provenance is the surest way of informing someone in the future that your instruments are the genuine article, how much they cost when you bought them, how many were made, etc.

Anything that provides ancillary evidence reinforces the sales slip, which is the most important piece of provenance. Any other documentation you have from the time of purchase is second most important.

Provenance is a long-term thing. If you are going to hang on to your instruments, it will take around a decade for provenance to become important. It becomes increasingly important with each passing decade.

Much knowledge of instruments is a short-term thing. Tomorrow's experts will probably be ignorant of a lot of the less known makes and models, and it's always unpredictable of what will remain historically important. Even if a future expert has good knowledge, provenance seals the deal. Never take for granted that stuff that's well known will always be well known.

It is also important for reasons outside of just selling in the future- provenance will be a big help to your children in settling your estate after your death, will be absolute evidence if family recollections fade or change over time, and is the best evidence in any legal dispute.

If you change the instruments in any way, you should ask for provenance on the changes... things like refinishing, parts replacements or swaps, etc. may actually improve value on musical instruments sold in the future. Musicians and musical collectors are a different bunch than the antique furniture and other collectible buyers. Tastes always change.
regards,
Stanger

"Sometimes I like green shade, and sometimes I like dry shade"

GerryH - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:01:24


I am fortunate to own the Fairbanks Whyte Laydie No. 2 that Adam Hurt used in recording many of the tunes on his "Intrigue" CD. I have a handwritten letter from him detailing his ownership of the banjo noting the serial number and when & where he bought it. I don't know how much value this adds to the instrument as Clawhammer players rarely hit the "big time." But as far as I am concerned it is priceless. I do not anticipate selling the banjo in my lifetime. I think the letter does help document the history of the instrument. Hopefully, my heirs won't sell the banjo at a yard sale. :)
GerryH

stanger - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:23:16


Hi, Gerry...
The surest way of keeping that good banjo in the family is to make sure one of your kids learns how to play it. I know many families where musical traditions have gone on for 3 generations or more, and in all of them, the kids were encouraged, and the parents always made sure they knew the importance of passing things down to their own kids in time. Ya gotta make a big deal out of it, and if you do, it will happen.
regards,
Stanger

"Sometimes I like green shade, and sometimes I like dry shade"

TedLehmann - Posted - 09/01/2007:  15:45:38


In the case of Irene's mandolin, we bought the instrument through Alan Bibey who picked it out at Gibson OAI in Nashville. In April at Down Home in Johnson City, TN we attended a Grasstowne show. During their second set, Alan took a new Alan Bibey signature model from a case, sang his song "Side by Side" about his grandparents walk through life, and then stepped off the stage and handed her instrument to Irene. When we tell this story, which is often, she still tears up. It was one of those special moments that seem to happen more often in bluegrass than in other places.

My Tennbrooks is quite a different story. We bought it at the banjo.com store where we went for a minor repair on the mandolin. I understand that its being a limited edition does not add great value to it. I have asked banjo players to play it and have pictures of Little Roy Lewis, Eric Gibson, and others playing it. That adds interest to the instrument, though probably not value. On the other hand, it has great sound and plays like a dream.

Neither instrument was bought as an investment and I'm not foolish enough not to realize that such instruments are built to appeal to consumers that can afford them more than to musicians who work directly with the builder to have an instrument crafted to their personal needs. Nevertheless, the instruments are delightful to own and play. I would want to protect their value for our heirs and my question grew out of the added value the stories attached to the instrument create.

Thanks for all your thoughtful responses to the question. - Ted

Ted Lehmann
www.tedlehmann.blogspot.com

mainejohn - Posted - 09/01/2007:  18:19:24


quote:
Originally posted by stanger

Hi, Gerry...
The surest way of keeping that good banjo in the family is to make sure one of your kids learns how to play it. I know many families where musical traditions have gone on for 3 generations or more, and in all of them, the kids were encouraged, and the parents always made sure they knew the importance of passing things down to their own kids in time. Ya gotta make a big deal out of it, and if you do, it will happen.
regards,
Stanger

"Sometimes I like green shade, and sometimes I like dry shade"

I wish it were that easy. Two of my kids have indicated they wanted to learn the banjo. I've worked with them, and one has even taken lessons. But...they just don't have that passion. One and two years into it, they still have to ask me how to tune the dang things. They claim they "don't have time to learn." I'm afraid I'll be selling all mine in next 10 years or so.



Cheers,
John
Scarborough, Maine

GerryH - Posted - 09/01/2007:  19:24:41


Stanger,
Thanks for the suggestions. I am not sure my children will take up the banjo but I am working on the grandchildren. As MaineJohn says having passion helps immensely. Sometimes you catch the passion sometimes it develops on its own. TedL this has been an interesting thread you started. I think it is neat how both your wife's mando and your banjo have been played by noted musicians. It is great you could capure that on camera!
GerryH

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