While sending a newer violin through the mail is commonplace and straightforward, when sending an older violin through the mail, one must take certain precautions. If best, avoid sending old violins (over 100 years) through the mail; if this cannot be avoided, take care to follow these following points.
– Be aware that sudden changes in temperature, humidity or atmospheric conditions can potentially split or damage older violins. This is a risk one must take during shipment. However, chances of splitting can be reduced by purchasing a violin humidifier for a small fee and placing it inside the violin for the duration of shipment.
– Be sure to completely unwind the strings and pack some sort of foam under the chin rest and tailpiece. The jostling during shipment has the potential to rip these items from the body of the violin, or seriously damage them,
– Do not skimp on the packaging material. Wrap the violin in bubble wrap; tape it. Set it inside the case; fill the case as much as possible with more packaging material. Square “hard” cases work best for shipments; wooden ones, however, will work too.
– There are specially designed boxes for sending musical instruments. Ask for one at your local instrument shop, or search online for one that can be purchased and sent to you. Under no circumstances put an old, brittle violin in any old box you manage to find at Fed-Ex or UPS. You are asking for trouble.
– Again-packing material. Fill the entire box with plastic peanuts and/or bubble wrap.
– Once you’ve done this, tape the box with heavy duty tape. Write “fragile” in big letters. Be sure to send your violin through a good tracking service, such as Fed-Ex or UPS, and insure it for the amount it is worth on paper.
– If being sent to a university, inform the university a fragile instrument is arriving, and ask if it could be not stacked under other items.
Again, if possible-don’t send the violin. However, if you must, these are handy must have tips.