Last week, I had some folks drop into the shop to purchase two whistles for their collection. They pointed out some things I would not have thought about if I were purchasing a whistle to be a collectible. Here are some of the items I wrote down in my daily notes that seem like good ideas.
1. Try and make a visit to the whistlesmith of your choice and see what is available and do a little inquiring about projects and future instruments that are in the works. Prototypes and unfinished items that relate to your collection might be available if you seem interested. Out of inventory instruments that are no longer being made are another possibility for the collector. One of my “collaborator kids” has every sample whistle and mouthpiece I ever made for him to try in a box and keeps them with his collection.
2. Take some notes about the maker and keep them with your instrument. Collectors like insight into who and where the collections were made.
3. Keep the bill of sale, auction printouts, posted information on the web about the instrument, and record the instrument number if it is available.
4. Keep the box, instruction sheets, fingering charts and music in a folder that is marked to identify it and the instrument it pertains to.
5. Take down some written notes on playing the instrument. Sound, feel, if you play it a lot, if it is enjoyable to play and how it plays best, would be some categories you might consider making an entry on.
6. Ask for a signature on the bill of sale or letter from the maker and date it to validated when you made the purchase.
7. Take photos of your visit and include them with your paperwork and the instrument to make a nice bundle of information.
8. Base you collection on whistles that have value ( whistles that are no longer made, custom whistles from small makers, unique designs and materials, etc.) are all good areas to look into. Mass produced whistles made over a long period and altered instruments are not good collectables unless done by Stradivarius or other famous persons. Authentic James Galway instruments would seem to be a good idea even if they have been scratched up a bit by the player.
I think the above items are good advice and will make your whistle purchases much more interesting and valuable.
Oh, I forgot some personal Whistlesmith advice!
1. Pick a really old Whistlesmith so your collectable whistle will be worth a lot in a shorter period of time.
2. Only buy whistles you want to play right now. It takes patience and a lot of time to become a collector and you might want to play a tune while they are becoming valuable.
3. You might want to buy a duplicate whistle to play and another to collect providing the price is right.
4. Become a dealer and buy all your whistles at wholesale pricing.