Determining worth of a vintage clarinet

Dear Mr. Friedland,

My grandfather gave a clarinet to me for my 12th birthday in April, 1956. It is a Leblanc Symphonie II, B Series, Model Number 1076, Serial Number 6171. I have the original bill of sale and the warranty certificate.

The Leblanc website says it does not have any information on clarinets made before 1964. Please tell me what you know about my clarinet. It is in perfect condition, as I have had it completely rebuilt. For insurance purposes, I need to determine a value. If you can estimate a range of values for it, I would appreciate that also.

I have just given it to my grandson, age 11, who chose to play clarinet in middle school.

Thank you,

Dear RJB:
This is also for the many who request a determination of value for insurance purposes for their instrument. In one sense it is a difficult question to answer for so much depends upon the actual playing condition of the instrument and also, the appearance, including the condition of the keys, whether there is pitting or other wear which is discernible, for these things can diminish the value of an instrument almost to nothing. The cost of replating is prohibitive as it also includes a compete reconditioning and replacing of all the springs, corks, etc.

In the case of the Leblanc 1076, this was the model preceding the 1176, the LL, which is perhaps the best clarinet ever made by Leblanc, but it too is subject to all of the conditions of the first statement: playing condition and appearance. The playing condition really can only be determined by a clarinetist, and then, it depends upon whom you ask, for there can be a dozen different opinions, for instance, if the player prefers another brand or bore or almost any of the variables, these can be part of the determination as to worth of the instrument. I would also have to suggest avoiding having a dealer make the determination for those and other reasons, perhaps too obvious to mention here.

So, considering all of the above, there is still a place to get such a determination, which also may be difficult to use for insurance purposes.
These are the various auction sites for musical instruments  . On these sites one can compare ones instrument with others of the same brand and model .

One thing is quite important to remember and that is, as a rule, clarinets do not appreciate. These instruments were made in great numbers and while the quality of Leblanc is quite high, the years of use take their toll on the instrument. Many request a determination for insurance purposes, however they usually have in mind to sell the instrument and do not know what to ask and this is really in how you value it yourself and your ability to accurately describe its provenance. Photographs always help and an acurate description is the most important. On this particular clarinet depending upon its condition the comparative prices will be all over the map. It is a good or high quality instrument, part of the determination. For insurance purposes there are many who will give you an official appraisal which you can use, however the actual value can besomething else again.

I hope this has been of some help.

best regards, Sherman


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