Trash or Treasure? Stradivarius Violin may be worth millions

Credit: NBC Charlotte

Trash or Treasure? Stradivarius Violin may be worth millions


by DION LIM / NBC Charlotte

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 9:05 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- After seeing hundreds of items in person, and sifting through all the photos you mailed in for our Trash or Treasure series, we realized you never really know what you’re going to get. But each piece has a story.

On this particular day, we met Gail Whisnet, who, along with her son and daughter, brought an old violin, inherited from her sister, who passed away on Christmas Day in 2010.

“This is marked with the Stradivarius name. We all know it’s wonderful and super, and about 450 are known worldwide,” says our expert appraiser, Jan Durr of Robinson Appraisals. 

(Click here to view images of the items)

While real Stradivarius violins have been known to sell for millions, Durr immediately recognizes this one as a fake.

“That’s what we find with Stradivarius.  Labels [inside] are replicated frequently,” explained Durr as she squints through a magnifying glass to examine the label inside the instrument.

But it’s not all bad news.  Even though the violin is a replica, Durr says these have been known to sell between $500 and $1000.

Staying with the instruments theme, our next Trash or Treasure guest is Robin Rash with a blast from the 1960s past.

“Today, I brought these toy Beatles bongos from my childhood-- box and all!”

These were a birthday gift from 1964.

“I remember playing them some, but remember them sitting on top of my closet, a lot,” she joked.
While Rash wasn’t the biggest fan of the gift, Jan Durr says America’s love of the Fab 4 works to increase value.

“Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson.  All of those celebrities still have a following.”
Durr even says some die-hard collectors will even pay top dollar, and want only the box in order to complete a set.

The estimated value for these bongos is $1000 to $2000.

When asked if she’s willing to part with her former birthday gift, which, by the way, is estimated to have been purchased for a bit over $7, Rash seems eager.

“I don’t really have any emotional tie to these, [so I’d] take some great pictures before, but I’d sell them!”

Our last guest is Sherri Jackson with a sentimental item passed on for four generations!

“This is a plate…it belonged to my great-great-grandmother.”

Durr explains these kinds of pieces are called “reticulated plates” with little grooves along the border, to allow the owner to string a ribbon through the piece and hang it on the wall.

“These were very popular in the 50s and 60s,” nods Durr.

While popular, the plate proves to be anything but pricey.

“It would probably sell for three to five dollars.  In an antiques shop, 15 to 20 dollars.”
This news from Durr doesn’t faze Jackson.

“I think it’s neat because I didn’t know my great-great-great grandma, so I kinda like having something of hers.”

It’s a feeling Jan Durr understands completely.

“It doesn’t have to be worth a million dollars.  It’s what you feel in your heart about the piece.”