Violin/French JTL Violin


Hello David,

occasionally I bought a 4/4 (36.5/50 cm long, 20/11/16.5 cm wide) violin, obviously of french origin. Searching for informations about the instrument I found this interesting website.

The violin is labelled twice:
(1) "Fabrication Garantie de Jérome Thibouville-Lamy & Cie
Luthiers à Paris - grand Prix Hanoi 1902 et grand Prix Milan 1906"
(2) "d'aprés Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonensis Faciebat 1711"

The instrument needs some restauration work, although the body as such seems to be in good condition without substatial cracks. Unfortunately the bridge, one original peg and the nut are lost. No further stamps or labels are visible without opening the body. Especially no series number or specific handycraft name is there. It might be an low to average quality model. Both front and back sides are made of two pieces. Frame, back sides neck and pegbox are made of maple with nicely flamed tiger stripe patterns. The pegbox and the joints of the frame still carry their original black contour lines. The whole varnish is in warm dark red. The original tailpiece is also present. Unfortunately laquer of the front side is very mat yet. The instrument must have been stored for ages not very careful in a humid and very dusty attic or even in a cellar since the cage was full of dead rough woodlouses...

The case seems to be the original one. Made of wood, covered with some dark leather mimiking fabric and blue felt interior. It is without cracks, but in unconfortable overall status.

The bow is stamped "Nicolas Duchene" with silber wound silk winding. Beside the synthetic bow strings which needs to be replaced this bow is complete. Near the frog the bow has an octagonal shape which turns into round. There are typical mother of pearl applications.

My first interest is to get some more information on the violin itself, such as potential manufacturing date.
How long JTL used these labels? The only ones I could find in the fabulous internet have labels citing Faciebat 1721 and later and different grand prix's.

Any information about the bow is also highly appreciated.

I will ask a violin maker on potential costs and value of restoration.

Best regards and thank you in advance for any information about this violin and/or the bow,

Bernd (Germany)

Hi Bernd
Without seeing the instrument in person it is difficult to say what model JTL violin you have. The original company goes back into the late 1790's but JTL did not take over the firm until around 1855 and it is believed he worked with the firm until around 1890 when the firm again changed hands but the name brand was kept as it had garnished worldwide fame. The violin you have was made after 1906 (per the label) which may even be after JTL's death although no actual record of the year is known. The d'apres ... label was used in many different models and the prices are all over the place from around $300-3000 at auction. The color as you describe it however, tends to lend itself to the lower quality models of the Medio Fino and the Le Célèbre Vosgien which when they sold in the early 1900's sold for under $5.00 and today are in the $500-1000 range. The reference to the Grand Prize was just a way to garnish more sales and not that the specific model had won a grand prize. JTL labels were used all the way into the late 20's when the company seems to have folded.

The case has little value either collectable or monetary.

The bow is also a JTL brand, although there was a real maker by that name. I would tend to bet that it is a JTL since it is with a JTL instrument and they were sold typically as outfits. The bow should be looked at however, since if it turned out to be a real one, they are worth many thousands if in fine condition.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


David Lashof


I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)


I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

©2017 All rights reserved.