Priceless treasure? or piece of trash?

you decide:


Look through the grunge at the tone holes.

A closer view shows that these are Cloos-style tone holes.

A closer view shows that these are Cloos-style.



Machined ferrule of nickel silver (don’t be fooled by the splits — these are not a burnished seam).


Would be pretty hard getting this fife into playing condition…or even display condition…

I guess you know my decision, but I’d like to know yours.  Treasure or trash?

Photos courtesy of ebay seller, NQAC.  To see all photos plus the seller’s text, please visit


5 thoughts on “Priceless treasure? or piece of trash?

  1. You meant 20 cents, right? and not 20 dollars. . . I sent him a note, too, and asked what made it worth so much money. . .odd, neither of our questions appear on his ebay page. . .only 6 hours left to the auction, though, and I would be surprised if anyone bids!

  2. Finally had a chance to look at this. This poor fife has seen better days. I think the seller is smoking something. Save the ferrules and start a funeral fire.

  3. I inherited a fife recently. It looks just like a Eisenbrandt fife ca 1811 Philadelphia but there are no markings indicating the maker. I’d love to know how old mine is and who made it. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, thanks for your question. I would really need to see it before making any comments. Can you send some images? I would need one shot overall, maybe with a yardstick or ruler placed beneath it, as well as closeups of both ferrules, the tone holes (all in one shot will do, not individual shots), the embouchure, and the middle section between the embouchure and first tone hole (sometimes a faint mark is visible here; if not, I can get some idea of the wood grain and tone).

      You could look for evidence of a mark yourself using a magnifier and holding the fife under a raking light. Sometimes these are impressed very lightly or not at all, so chances are 50/50 that you will find one.

      If there is any kind of marking on the fife, I’d need a shot of that, too. Sometimes there is an area of unusual wear, or maybe someone tried to carve his initials. . .

      I don’t know if you can post images here, but you can send them to and I will check them out.

      Thanks! I love to look at these things, never know what you are going to find 😉

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