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Have prices gone completely crazy?


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Hello all. I have recently tried to go for 2 Jeffries anglos locally. The first was in Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne, Somerset. Guide price £500-£700. I know that was a silly estimate but the bidding started at £2,100 and, within 15 seconds sold for £3,400. With the commission and VAT that's £4,746.

Last week there was another in Charterhouse in Sherborne that sold for £4,200. With commission that's nearly 6 grand! As far as I could see from the picture, they both needed work.

Who's buying them at these prices? I've given up any idea of ever getting a Jeffries now, short of finding one in a charity shop for £100!

I guess we have the power of the internet to thank, which means everything finds its own level.

Any thoughts?

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Jeffries have been fetching big money for a long time now. I recall recent stories, from Ireland, of people paying £8000 for a good one. That was before the ecconomy took a nose dive. In some ways I do not see that as a ridiculous figure; for those who will be making a living from playing, if that is the sound you desire, if that is an instrument you might play for the rest of your life.It is an investment... in other words, as long as nothing goes seriously wrong with the instrument or the ecconomy, when time comes to sell a Jeffries, or any vintage concertina for that matter, history tells us that you do not lose and usually you can make a small profit. So owning a good instrument is like living 'rent free'.

 

It probably does not cost any more to restore a Jeffries than a lachenal so the profit margin for a dealer might be sufficient that he can just out bid the oposition.

 

There is ,of course, the conspiracy theory that some dealers would like to corner the market so that if you want one then you just have to pay their price.

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You don't have to own and play a Jeffries to play good music. There are makers today whose instruments are every bit as good and as well made (better for the most part) as old Jeffries. The sound will be different- but not every Jeffries is remarkable either. Noel Hill plays a Carroll concertina. Tim Collins and Michael O'Raghaillaigh play concertinas made by Jurgen Suttner. Billy McComiskey recorded with an old Lachenal. Doesn't Jacqueline McCarthy play an old 26 button Wheatstone? Here is somebody playing a -- gasp -- hybrid. Can you really tell from the clip that it is in fact a hybrid? I cannot. This concertina would cost about a fifth as much as a primo antique Jeffries.

 

I do play a great old Jeffries that I bought twenty years ago and I wouldn't sell it. But you have to wonder how much Jeffries lust is composed of something other than the desire for a good, playable instrument?

Edited by David Levine
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Jeffries have been fetching big money for a long time now. I recall recent stories, from Ireland, of people paying £8000 for a good one. That was before the ecconomy took a nose dive. In some ways I do not see that as a ridiculous figure; for those who will be making a living from playing, if that is the sound you desire, if that is an instrument you might play for the rest of your life.It is an investment...

 

And compared to other types of instreuments it is quite modest, fiddles from renowned old makers regularly sell for five figure sums and much more, guitars and other stringed instruments too seem to change hands for significantly more than teh best cosnertinas.

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Andy

 

You may need to check your calculations. Buyer's premium at Charterhouse is 19.5% and VAT of 20% is only charged on the buyer's premium so the total bill to the auction house was only £5183 (assuming you could have collected yourself and didn't need their packing service - there seem to be 2 levels of buyer's premium quoted in their terms but 19.5% seems to be the highest) - so that's a litle shy of £6,000, even though this instrument does appear to have sold at a relatively high level.

 

Charterhouse only had one photograph and didn't know the pitch of the instrument or have any other good description of the quality. Nevertheless the picture seemed to indicate that the instrument was in good external order. Let's assume that the winner had seen the instrument, had a chance to play it had been able to look at the reeds and reckoned this was an instrument at the upper end of quality needing no repair work and no tuning and was in the preferred keys of C/G. Such an instrument would be on sale through a recognised dealer at £6,000 and maybe even well above (and I think we can assume that the recognised dealers would have heard of the auction and were bidding), so the auction price still represents a profit of £800 - or at least 13% to the dealer and if a private person bought it, then he saved 13% on the "retail" price. Even in today's econmomic situation, £6,000 to £7,000 for a top quality Jeffries is not unreasonable. Even recognising the availability of quality instruments made by others, a Jeffries sound and history still carries a cachet that many will prize and pay for.

 

Of course, if the instrument required repair and tuning and was in a less preferred key, then the dealer might be taking a bath or be hopeful of selling it for more than £6,000.

 

The instrument at Lawrences didn't look to be the same quality, but again, if you can physically see it and determine what work needed doing to bring it to top quality level, then you might make a judgement that it was worth every penny.

 

If you still want that £100 Jeffries in the attic or charity shop, it may be there, but you may have a long time to wait and be exceptionally lucky. Don't expect such a bargain at a public auction though!

 

Alex West

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Surely, if people weren't prepared to spend £7,000 & £8,000 for a Jeffries, then they would be a lot cheaper and I agree with the opinion that they are an investment.

 

After all, if you can be charged £62,439 for a Fancy Banjo, then surely a good Jeffries is worth the money. ;)

 

Cheers

Dick

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Andy

 

You may need to check your calculations. Buyer's premium at Charterhouse is 19.5% and VAT of 20% is only charged on the buyer's premium so the total bill to the auction house was only £5183 (assuming you could have collected yourself and didn't need their packing service - there seem to be 2 levels of buyer's premium quoted in their terms but 19.5% seems to be the highest) - so that's a litle shy of £6,000, even though this instrument does appear to have sold at a relatively high level.

 

Charterhouse only had one photograph and didn't know the pitch of the instrument or have any other good description of the quality. Nevertheless the picture seemed to indicate that the instrument was in good external order. Let's assume that the winner had seen the instrument, had a chance to play it had been able to look at the reeds and reckoned this was an instrument at the upper end of quality needing no repair work and no tuning and was in the preferred keys of C/G. Such an instrument would be on sale through a recognised dealer at £6,000 and maybe even well above (and I think we can assume that the recognised dealers would have heard of the auction and were bidding), so the auction price still represents a profit of £800 - or at least 13% to the dealer and if a private person bought it, then he saved 13% on the "retail" price. Even in today's econmomic situation, £6,000 to £7,000 for a top quality Jeffries is not unreasonable. Even recognising the availability of quality instruments made by others, a Jeffries sound and history still carries a cachet that many will prize and pay for.

 

Of course, if the instrument required repair and tuning and was in a less preferred key, then the dealer might be taking a bath or be hopeful of selling it for more than £6,000.

 

The instrument at Lawrences didn't look to be the same quality, but again, if you can physically see it and determine what work needed doing to bring it to top quality level, then you might make a judgement that it was worth every penny.

 

 

If you still want that £100 Jeffries in the attic or charity shop, it may be there, but you may have a long time to wait and be exceptionally lucky. Don't expect such a bargain at a public auction though!

 

Alex West

 

You're right Alex, I did my sums wrong. I'm sure there were many bidders from far afield interested in it. You're also right about the attic, I'm not holding my breath!

Cheers

Andy

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yes, prices have gone through the roof, but no, it is not new, and they may even be down just a sliver of a tad at present. here in the u.s., you would expect currently to pay $9K to $12K for a jeffries. i disagree that these prices are "not unreasonable"---but they are emphatically the market value, and that is not going to change anytime soon.

 

just keep repeating to yourself, "vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the......" then keep reminding yourself that many purchasers of so-called "jeffries" concertinas are unknowningly buying reeds which are in fact lachenal or lachenal-quality reeds subbed in over the course of a hundred years of repairs. then get yourself a wonderful contemporary concertina for a wonderful lower price, make gorgeous music on it, and laugh all the way to the bank.....

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At today's exchange rate, $9,000 - $12,000 is roughly £5,500 - £7,500. The Button Box have a couple of Jeffries within this range and Andy's auction results seem to indicate that the retail price of a restored Jeffries from a recognised dealer in the UK is also within this range; maybe higher for a particularly good example. So I think it's OK to say that if you particularly want a Jeffries, it's reasonable to expect to pay £5,000 - £8,000

 

In 1899, a good Jeffries cost 7 guineas - using the concertina.com historic convertor, this is the equivalent of around £3,000 today, so on that basis, I agree, the relative price of a Jeffries has increased to an unreasonable degree.

 

That's the trouble with a relative price for an antique - it's only unreasonable if it's a high price compared with the going rate. There is no "absolute" value on such things to be able to say whether today's prices are unreasonable or not....

 

It's not unreasonable that if you want a painting by Monet, you're going to have to pay many millions of $ or £, no matter how much Monet charged for them new or whether the prices are high compared to a modern piece of art

 

Alex West

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in guitar-land...you could certainly pay five, seven, twelve thousand dollars for a vintage Martin guitar. Or more. But you can make equally gorgeous music on super-duper guitars available for, say, $1500 to $3000. there are arguably some superior acoustic guitars coming out of asia for around $1000. so while you "can" buy the vintage Martin, there are marvelous, extremely responsive, exquisite-toned instruments, including lifetime-investment Martins, available for a fraction of the vintage prices. same is true in accordion-land, at least, for PAs. it's even true in fiddle-land--the $20,000.00 fiddle is out there but you can get a wonderful one from about two grand. this is a rub in concertina-land. the contemporary concertinas are less than the jeffries, but they are still very expensive. yeah, yeah, concertinas involve hundreds of little parts, and they're works of art that are time/labor intensive to build, etc. but....guitars, PAs, and violins will play any musical genre from bebop to classical to folk, in all levels of chromaticism in all keys, and will play music of all ranges of complexity. i love the concertina, but it has substantial limitations for the price tag. current economic conditions do inspire hard thinking about what is a "reasonable" musical investment...i guess these musings are partly inspired by the comment on the other thread about parents being key to getting kids interested in concertina. i would want to resort to extraordinary measures as a parent to find a way to provide for a child who was wild to play concertina....but as far as interesting a kid in concertina "cold," a lot of parents might find good playable instruments out of reach, vintage or otherwise, and might also feel that the capabilities of the instrument were out of whack with the prices.....

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It's supply and demand. The concertina may be limited instrument compared with others, but there are still plenty of players wanting good quality instruments relative to the number of good quality instruments on the market. What's more there aren't many makers turning out traditionally-made concertinas - there isn't the equivalent of the good-quality Asian guitar or violin. So whenever a good-quality instrument comes onto the market, it's going to attract a high price.

 

The Jeffries name seems to attract a premium - whether this is justified is open to debate, but that's how it is. You want one, you pay the price, or you pay rather less for something which may be just as good or better.

 

The situation is much better than it was a few years ago - you can at least now get a good-quality hybrid for a price which most serious amateurs can afford. The real problem, which has been discussed repeatedly, is finding entry-level instruments that a player won't outgrow very rapidly.

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The Jeffries name seems to attract a premium - whether this is justified is open to debate, but that's how it is.

 

There is the issue of competitions in Ireland. There is pressure on young players who feel that to have a shot at the All Ireland they need to be seen to play a Jeffries concertina. I have seen (parents of) very fine young players replace perfectly fine Wheatstones and Crabbs for much more expensive instruments in hope their offspring might have a better chance.

 

The same sort of thing is going on with other instruments, whistle players at regional and provincial level competitions are told to get a 'better' instrument (a more expensive one effectively) so they are seen to have committed t otheir music. A pefectly fine Cillian O Briain whistle won't do. It needs to be John Sindt. Same for the flute. A keyed flute is a must on the higher levels, even when the keys aren't used at all.

 

Appearances count in that field.

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just keep repeating to yourself, "vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the......"

..... then get yourself a wonderful contemporary concertina for a wonderful lower price, make gorgeous music on it, and laugh all the way to the bank.....

 

Since I play a Crane duet, I really don't have an option to go "contemporary." Perhaps I haven't been reading thoroughly enough. Has this topic, Vintage versus contemporary playability and other "pain in the ass" issues, ever been discussed? I might not be able to contribute to such a conversation, but I'd sure read it.

 

Thanks,

 

Kurt

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just keep repeating to yourself, "vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the ass. vintage concertinas are a pain in the......"

..... then get yourself a wonderful contemporary concertina for a wonderful lower price, make gorgeous music on it, and laugh all the way to the bank.....

 

Since I play a Crane duet, I really don't have an option to go "contemporary." Perhaps I haven't been reading thoroughly enough. Has this topic, Vintage versus contemporary playability and other "pain in the ass" issues, ever been discussed? I might not be able to contribute to such a conversation, but I'd sure read it.

 

Thanks,

 

Kurt

 

 

Hmmm,

I think a topic "Contemporary versus Vintage" is a great idea Kurt. Anyone care to start it ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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