What Is My Fife Worth?

What is the value of my presentation fife made by Walter Crosby of Boston presented to the Fife Major of Grant’s Army given to him at Lee’s surrender?

These are all great questions, and one’s that I receive every day.

The answer to all of them is plain and simple:

The value is what other people are willing to pay!

Let’s say that again:


Fifes, for the most part, are a very inexpensive collectable to buy.

Most unmarked fifes can sell in the $25-$100 range and most marked fifes, depending on the mark, sell for $50-$250 range.*

*Per EBay’s sold file as of 04/25/2016

Things can go a higher depending on the type of make and if it is a presentation instrument, etc…..

Is a fife that you poses worth $10,000 because someone in your family said it was played by great-great-great-great-great grandpa at the Battle of New Orleans?

Most likely not.

I have purchased and own well over 400 historic fifes.  Some marked some not.

I buy most of my fifes off EBay, but I do find them in various other places from time to time.

The most I have ever purchased a fife for was $2,500, which was for a documented Civil War, maker marked presentation fife that had the photo of the fifer with it.

And I purchased that some years ago and don’t believe I could get that price today if I were to sell it. (Civil War items tend to be selling for less these days as many of my friends in the business tell me.)

Most of the marked fifes I purchased, and many have been from rare makers, have been selling from $125-250.

Cloos/Crosby models sell for less, as there are a million of these out there, and no, they were not made for the Civil War! (See my essay on Civil War fifes for more on this.)

Unfortunately fifes, in the general musical collecting world just are not that exciting.

Most museums would rather have an antique clarinet or flute from a rare maker than a fife.

Fifes tends to be “common” instruments that nobody, except me and maybe 2 or 3 others, get excited about.

But with all that said, I will restate what I said at the beginning:


So, drop me a line, as I am always buying, or better yet, put it on EBay, where I’ll be one of the bidders.