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Thread: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    My mother-in-law played this mandolin throughout her teens and young adult years. I was told it was bought in the 1920s. It came with sheet music of songs from the 1920s, so perhaps her mother played it before she did. But as she was born in 1924, it might have been purchased in the 1930s.

    I saved it with the hope that one of my grandchildren would want to learn how to play it. I stored it in our basement in a steel chest.

    We had a flood in our basement last month. The chest was not waterproof. The mandolin is severely warped and the case is molding and falling apart. I'm sick about the loss of this instrument that represents family history.

    If I want to file a claim, the insurance company said that I must have an appraiser write up a “cost of valuation” as opposed to an appraisal.

    A google search on “Prize Burdwise Mandolin” gave a result for one that was sold. It looks very similar to my mother-in-law’s. It was described as having a mellow sound. But the selling details are not available.

    A search on “Burdwise” brought me to this forum. A few comments mention that there were a lot of Burdwise mandolins on the market in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Dear Mandolin Aficionados: Is it worth time and money to find an appraiser for this particular mandolin?

    Photos are attached.

    Thank you in advance for any advice!
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    Burdwise is listed in the Mugwumps Encyclopedia as being a Baltimore based brand. I believe that mandolin was actually made by the Harmony Company of Chicago, IL for the trade somewhere around 1920. They basically made that same model well into the 60's. It's similar to models made by Regal in Chicago. It was an entry level instrument. In perfect shape it has a value of $100.00 or so in good shape. Many fail to sell weekly. The brand label was added by the distributor. If the instrument has sentimental value then you might consider getting it restored. It will cost many times over what that mandolin will ever be worth to make it playable. If you want to pay to have it appraised contact George Gruhn in Nashville. You'll pay more for the appraisal than any insurance company will ever pay for it.

    As to the question of should you file a claim that's one you need to think abut. An appraiser might value it higher if they aren't familiar with it. If the insurance company believes what they write than you might come out with a small amount of cash. The insurance company might want to take the instrument for subrogation. I work for an insurance company and I doubt that would make it past us but who knows.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    One thing you might consider doing is finding a luthier in your area that will give you a price to rebuild it (and is willing to do the job). It will be steep. In many cases insurance companies will pay for damage if it's repaired. Get them to agree to the repair cost before you do anything. It won't make the instrument any more valuable but you would have a playable instrument.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    Though the sentimental loss is large, the financial loss is tiny. If you need an appraisal, you will spend more for it than you could hope to get in return from the insurance company. I'm sorry that you lost personally valuable items in the flood. I hope that you are able to quickly recover financially and emotionally. Best, Al

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  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    This was an entry-level, inexpensive instrument. If your primary goal is to have an instrument that your grandchildren will play, getting it restored would make no sense; you'd be miles better off buying a modern student-grade instrument. You could get a very decent instrument for a fraction of what restoration would cost.

    Mike E's take on its value is correct, IMHO. If you have a local instrument dealer who'd be willing to give you an market value appraisal for a few dollars, that's as far as I'd go. It the mandolin was in fact sold originally in the 1920's or '30's, it might have been priced at $15-25. I'm looking at a catalog photo from 1928 of a similar Regal instrument, and it lists for $7.50. If you have a deductible on your insurance policy, and if your other losses are only slightly above that amount, adding the mandolin's appraised value to your claim won't come within miles of funding a real restoration.

    Could someone with some woodworking skills, provide a purely cosmetic restoration -- clamp and glue the separated sides, perhaps try flattening out the warpage to the top -- and produce a non-playable "restored mandolin" that could be hung on the wall as memorabilia of your mother-in-law? That might make some sense from a family-history viewpoint. But I'd forget trying to restore this one to playability, for grandchildren to take up.

    Sorry for your problem; it's tough to lose a piece of family history. But, of course, from that perspective, it's not really lost, just made unplayable -- at least in terms of reasonable cost.
    Allen Hopkins
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  8. #6

    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    Mike and Allen,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post your very helpful advice. I don't want to try to get anything past the insurance company. They told me that they would pay for "cost of valuation" but not for an appraisal. The former is to determine how much it would cost to replace it. Is that correct?

    I'll check with the insurance company as to what my policy would cover in terms of repair for displaying it.

    The main reason why I kept the instrument was in case someone wanted to learn to play it. Today I learned I would have discovered that buying a new one would be preferable. I do still have the vintage sheet music!

    If I can find someone to do a "cost of valuation," I'll probably go the route of replacement rather than restoration. The insurance company might accept it from an instrument dealer.

    Thank you for your kind words, Allen. We were very fortunate in that we lost very little in the flooded basement and that we even had the insurance. I took out a rider some years ago when all the basements except mine flooded from the sewage drain after a torrential rain. It could have been much worse.

    Again, my appreciation! I enjoyed reading the background history on Burdwise. It's fascinating that you have access to old catalogues.
    Last edited by bct_hk; Jul-20-2018 at 3:46pm.

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Should I file a claim for a Prize Burdwise Mandolin?

    Hi Everyone,

    Wanted to weigh in as I am the great-granddaughter of Mr. Aaron Burdwise, proprietor of A. Burdwise Musical Merchandise. Here is an article about some of the history of the company: [https://jcrc.org/news-events/blog/ce...t-grandfather/. The mandolin wasn't produced in the 1930s because the company wasn't operating at that time, it went under around the time of the great depression, which is also when Mr. Burdwise passed away. As others noted, this mandolin isn't any different from other mandolins produced at that time, it just is labeled as a "Prize Burdwise" and was sold through my family's company. I'm so sorry your cherished mandolin was destroyed, which makes me sad as I love to see the Burdwise instruments being celebrated and utilized! That said, this particular "Prize Burdwise" line of Burdwise brand instruments are not expensive and go up for sale somewhat frequently -- if you check google / ebay periodically, I am sure you can affordably buy another Burdwise Mandolin in time. If there was a way I could contact you, I'd send you potential sale opportunities, too.

    -Aimee Ellis

    Quote Originally Posted by bct_hk View Post
    Mike and Allen,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post your very helpful advice. I don't want to try to get anything past the insurance company. They told me that they would pay for "cost of valuation" but not for an appraisal. The former is to determine how much it would cost to replace it. Is that correct?

    I'll check with the insurance company as to what my policy would cover in terms of repair for displaying it.

    The main reason why I kept the instrument was in case someone wanted to learn to play it. Today I learned I would have discovered that buying a new one would be preferable. I do still have the vintage sheet music!

    If I can find someone to do a "cost of valuation," I'll probably go the route of replacement rather than restoration. The insurance company might accept it from an instrument dealer.

    Thank you for your kind words, Allen. We were very fortunate in that we lost very little in the flooded basement and that we even had the insurance. I took out a rider some years ago when all the basements except mine flooded from the sewage drain after a torrential rain. It could have been much worse.

    Again, my appreciation! I enjoyed reading the background history on Burdwise. It's fascinating that you have access to old catalogues.

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