Violin Buyer

[Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, July 1986]

We started [Alberta and I] that morning from Keddy's Motel at Port Hastings, Nova Scotia. All the way on this trip I had been watching for violins to add to my collection. Most of the instruments I already owned were nothing extraordinary, and I was sort of hoping I would find a real good one cheap.

While stopping in New Glasgow, we saw an advertisement for a household auction that had two violins to be sold. The auction was to be held the following day. It was early in the day and we didn't want to wait for the auction if the violins were nothing that I wanted or were too expensive for us.

So I phoned the auctioneer and he agreed to show us the violins that day. So he met us, bringing them along. One was of ordinary quality but the other was real nice. The owner was an elderly gentleman who had just gone into a nursing home and his belongings were put up for auction. He had played the first fiddle all his life and finally after many years he had splurged and bought this fine one made in Miracourt, France. He only played it on special occasions and it was his pride and joy.

We told the auctioneer we were interested and would return the next day for the auction. In the conversation we mentioned we were from New York and, if I bought it, I would be adding it to my collection. Apparently he got the impression I was a rich New York City collector.

When we attended the auction all eyes were upon us. The word had spread some rich New Yorker was there to bid on the fiddle. The poorer one was sold first and went for a reasonable price for one of that quality. Then the French one came up and the bidding was brisk. After each bid everyone looked our way to see if I would raise it. I didn't bid at all until bidding began to lag. The auctioneer had kept his eye on me so he could see any move I made to indicate a bid. Apparently most of the people didn't see my motions, and as the bidding was almost at an end some of the people stared at me, as if asking, "aren't you going to bid?" But I already had the high bid and owned a good violin. We then had only to get the money exchange rate figured out. But we always get a chuckle out of it when we think of the rich New York buyer who came to Canada to buy a fiddle.

Charles E. Page, 2004