We spend a lot of our time looking for concertinas wherever they may pop up. A lot of people come straight to us when they’re looking to sell their instrument (which we obviously prefer!), but we’re always keeping an eye on online auction sites, auction rooms across the UK, and other places where items can be bought and sold. You’ll probably be aware of our presence in these settings- there aren’t many concertinas sold in auction that don’t come to us, and if they aren’t then they’ve either been sold for too high a price, or seemed beyond repair. However, recently this hasn’t necessarily been the case. Over the last few months, a couple of Jeffries concertinas have come up in auctions, and the price they have sold for has been fairly staggering. As any concertina-lover will know, Jeffries are the most desirable instrument in the concertina family. The 38-Key is the King of Anglo concertinas although, like all instruments, different periods of Jeffries are preferable to others. Based on the condition of the instruments in auction recently, it’s fair to assume that they belonged to musicians- people who really loved and looked after the instruments. All too often, we see concertinas left behind by their owners who have sadly passed away, and put into auction by family members or house clearance companies. In this post, we’ll explain to you why that isn’t the best way to get close to the true value of these instruments.
Looking at the prices these Jeffries concertinas have fetched at auction over the last year or so, you’d be forgiven for taking a Jeffries you’ve inherited straight to your nearest auction house. 2020 has seen the two highest auction-sale prices of Jeffries on record, so it may seem like this is your best option. A lot of people forget one major thing though- commission. When we (Barleycorn) bid in auctions, we know that we’ll pay 20-30% commission on top of the final hammer price, so that will obviously impact the price we will bid up to. The same goes for everybody else bidding in that auction too. For example, if our absolute top price to pay on a concertina would be £4000 and that auction house charged us 25% on top of the hammer price, the maximum we would bid up to would be around £3200/£3300. But that’s not all. The auction house will also take a percentage of the hammer price from you, the seller. This would usually be around 10%, so let’s use that in this example. A concertina that we would pay you £4000 for ends up with a hammer price of £3200, and then you lose £320 in commission to the auction. You’re left with £2880.
That example probably makes the point in itself but, in case it isn’t clear, a concertina that we’d be prepared to pay you £4000 for directly would instead leave you with £2880 by selling it at auction. Ultimately, it would most likely still be Barleycorn buying the concertina too, so it’s a scenario which doesn’t suit either party.
It would be understandable to think that selling to us, a dealer in these instruments, would be a bad move. The important thing to tell you is that we’re really not looking for as much profit in each instrument as possible- we’d rather buy and sell as many instruments as possible than making a huge chunk of profit on a much smaller amount of instruments. We will always pay a fair price, and we have a very long history of doing so- often paying much higher than the seller is asking for if the instrument is worth a lot more than they realise. The truth of the matter is, if you have a Jeffries to sell then we will pay you more, directly, than anybody else, and we’ve already explained how much of that price you could lose by going to auction with it. You might be thinking to yourself ‘well that’s all well and good you saying that, but surely there are other sellers of concertinas who would be interested, or a private sale might be a better option.’ We really don’t say this as a soundbite, and there’s no deception about it- we will pay more for concertinas than anybody else will, that’s just a fact. Other sellers of these instruments have far fewer numbers of concertinas than we do, which means that profit per instrument is a crucial factor. We won’t go too far into how we operate as a business because that would be extremely dull, but like we’ve said, we operate on having as many concertinas as possible so that everybody who contacts us wanting to buy can leave with the instrument they’re looking for. From examples we’ve heard recently, some dealers would offer you £2,500 (or in that ballpark) for a top Jeffries. Whilst that’s completely understandable, it’s just not how we operate. In terms of a private sale, we can only talk from experience. People looking to buy concertinas want something specific, especially when they’re looking at spending that amount of money. You’d really need a perfect set of circumstances to get a private sale with a Jeffries- somebody who’s prepared to pay that amount of money, close enough to your locality that they can come and try it out, and somebody who isn’t going to waste your time. Some of our top Jeffries have been with us for years- not because they’re not incredible instruments, but because the right person for that concertina hasn’t come along yet. You could be waiting a long time to get rid of that way.
To conclude, taking a Jeffries concertina to auction really isn’t the ideal situation that you might believe it to be. If you want a quick sale, the best price, and a no-hassle sale then look no further than Barleycorn. We’re completely transparent about what your instrument is worth, and our offer will reflect that. If you’re reading this and you’ve inherited a Jeffries or have one lying around the house doing nothing, please do get in touch.
We’ll be posting another blog shortly about the opposite end of the spectrum- selling other concertinas in auction and how you might be losing out.
If you’re the owner of a Jeffries concertina or know somebody who is, please share this post with them. We know it’s not something that anybody particularly wants to talk about, but if something were to happen and the instrument was left with somebody not knowing what to do with it, ultimately they could end up losing a lot of money on it by taking it to auction.