Clarinetists, music shop owners, school band directors and vintage woodwind collectors are always amazed that so many Vintage Martin Freres Clarinets are extant even though manufacturing began nearly 200 years ago. Many examples of the French, Canadian and American made woodwinds under the Martin Freres brand, regardless of age or value, are still in decent playing condition to this day.
We receive numerous inquires daily concerning the value of various Martin Freres instruments. Needless to say, as with any hand-crafted piece, the value depends upon several key factors. First we need to consider the obvious:
- Current condition; Is the horn playable? Does it need an overhaul? Are there any scratches, cracks, leaks, missing components?
- Popularity and market acceptance of the model both at it’s initial release and with clarinet enthusiasts today;
- Where the piece was made; The French pieces tend to have a higher value, for example, than do the clarinets manufactured elsewhere;
- Current demand versus available supply for the piece by collectors also affects the clarinet value.
Next, we need to dig a bit deeper to determine the Martin Freres clarinet’s value. We answer the questions:
- How well has the clarinet been preserved, stored and/or maintained over the years of its existence?
- Even if the clarinet is currently in good, playable condition, did the piece require significant repairs such as cracks, misaligned posts, replacement keys, at any time in its history?
- Is the clarinet all original? Meaning: Is the bell original? Is the barrel original? Are the keys the original keys installed by its clarinet-maker? Do the serial numbers on the upper and lower joints match? Is the mouthpiece a Martin Freres? Is the ligature a Martin Freres? Originality of the clarinet certainly affect its value;
- Which of the various Martin Freres maker’s stamps (logos) was used on the clarinet?
Because of the trickling supply of Martin Freres Vintage clarinets online, Vintage Martin Freres Clarinets have become appreciable assets. French-made Martin Freres woodwinds that are described online as “FOR PARTS ONLY” are selling between $40 and $100 US. In addition, the demand that we receive for original replacements parts is increasing. Even though brand new components to fit the Martin Freres brand of clarinets are readily available from Asia, original Martin Freres components remain far more valuable. This remains true despite the fact that the quality of the Asian components is improving year by year.
Further, retail prices of re-fabricated (or overhauled) vintage Martin Freres Clarinets are stable, and actual sales reveal that trend as well. Recent retail prices online for a re-fabricated example of the last model release of the “LaMonte” series MARTIN FRERES clarinet has seen rising sales trends with an average selling price of $400 (2014).*
The value of all original Grenadilla Wood and Rosewood Martin Freres Clarinets with manufacture dates before WWII which are highly sought by woodwind collectors can bring as much as $1200.
The value of all original English Boxwood Martin Freres Clarinets with manufacture dates before WWI are nearly extinct in playable condition. Reconditioning of Boxwood Clarinets is ill advised, aside from restringing the tenons, as museums and collectors value the originality above play-ability. Regardless of condition, these clarinets can be worth thousands of dollars.
The Martin Freres Company is keeping an eye on the market of vintage woodwinds in order to be certain of the value of its vintage clarinets and other instruments. In addition, we provide the Vintage Martin Freres Clarinet Appraisal Service FREE OF CHARGE as follows:
Send your request to: service@MartinFreres.net
Please include photos (at least 800 pixels x 800 pixels) of
- The clarinet fully assembled
- The clarinet barrel on the logo side
- The clarinet bell on the logo side
- The clarinet upper joint keys up
- The clarinet upper joint register key up
- The clarinet lower joint keys up
- The clarinet lower joint thumb rest up
- Additional photos for unusual markings, scratches, cracks or other defects
Note: The value assigned to the clarinet, although highly useful for insurance coverage purposes, is no indication of what it WILL ACTUALLY SELL for if it’s listed at auction. The appraisal will describe the MARTIN FRERES COMPANY Retail Value considering the current market, and the current demand by collectors and dealers.
If your Martin Freres clarinet is in need of service, have it factory re-fabricated. Requests can be made at: repairs@MartinFreres.net.
- Martin Freres
If you wish to comment on this article, please email us at: editor@MartinFreres.net