A violin bought by a Massachusetts pawn shop for just $50 has ended up being worth about 5,000 times that much.
The local television station reported that a new employee at the LBC Boutique and Loan in Somerville accepted the rare, handcrafted violin. He had no idea what the instrument’s actual worth was when he offered $50 for it. The violin is an original Ferdinando Gagliano, made in 1759. It is valued at $250,000. Store manager Dylan McDermitt says the bows alone are worth $16,000 to $18,000.
Police say the violin was stolen during a house break-in. It has been returned to its rightful owner. The seller had no criminal record, and police are still investigating how the violin ended up in that person’s possession.
By law, pawn shops are not allowed to purchase items they can identify as stolen. But antiques like this one—with no serial number—can be difficult to track. McDermitt says in the future, shop employees will ask people who bring in violins to play them. He thinks that might help to prove the instruments are really theirs. But that only works if the owner is a musician. For many people who inherit—or give up on learning—the test simply won’t work.
Making a wise judgment may take more than a few minutes on a shop floor.
(Photo: The pawned violin was one produced by the Gagliano family violin workshop, like this 1760 model by Nicolo Gagliano, seen for sale by seller of instruments Florian Leonard of New York and London.)
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” — John 7:24