Violin/Neuner 4/4 Violin

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Question
I have a question about a Neuner violin, which I showed to an expert in New York. He told me that it was made in Mittenwald by someone from the Neuner family, but he wasn't sure specifically by whom. The violin is labeled Stradivarius with the date of 16something. Do you know which of the Neuner family used this type of label? The varnish is reddish, like a French violin, and the sound, even after not being played for nearly 100 years, has a lot of quality. Actually I showed it to an instrument dealer before the expert, and he thought it was a French violin. I would really appreciate any insight you might have into who made this violin. Many thanks and all the best.

Answer
Hi Rafael
The label probably has nothing to do with any Neuner that may have made your instrument. It is more likely that that was inserted at some other time.  All of the Neuner instruments that I have ever seen that had original labels said nothing about Stradivari or any other maker. The labels listed the name,city, date and sometimes instrument number and that they were a violin maker or Geigenmacher. Often times the public will not purchase a violin without a label and someone decided that it would be better to have something rather than nothing in the inside of the violin.
As far as which Neuner made it, if it was indeed made by someone in that family. A number of the Neuner family used a warm red brown varnish, so that doesn't help much. Good French instruments tend to be extremely clean in their workmanship - almost machine like, whereas prior to around 1880 German work was a little more individualistic. Honestly I feel too many dealers/appraisers jump on the Neuner family bandwagon when they really just do not know and should just say that they do not know. Without seeing the instrument closeup, I of course can't really render much of any real opinion other than these generalities.

As you can see the Neuner family was very big and long lived.

Lastname  Firstname   From   To   Country   City 1          Products
Neuner   Willibald   1687   1710   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Simon          1666   1706   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Matthias (5#   1851   1880   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Matthias #4#   1820   1840   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Matthias #3#   1785   1830   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Matthias #2#   1720   1773   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Matthias #1#   1640   1670   Germany   Mittenwald   Viols Lutes etc.
Neuner   Martin          1836   1860   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Manfred          1861   1861   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Ludwig #2#   1861   1897   Germany   Mittenwald   Both/Bows
Neuner   Ludwig #1#   1830   1830   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Joseph #Josef#   1790   1812   Germany   Passau          Instruments
Neuner   Johann Georg   1820   1824   Russia   St. Petersburg   Instruments
Neuner   Johann #3#   1829   1849   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Johann #2#   1800   1815   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Johann #1)   1749   1764   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Hans          1897   1934   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner   Eduard          1882   1882   Austria   Innsbruck   Instruments
Neuner   Barthel          1730   1750   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments
Neuner & Hornsteiner    1750   1970   Germany   Mittenwald   Instruments

I wish you luck in getting a more definitive answer by someone who can see the instrument in person. No expert can know every makers work, and as such you must keep looking. It is the honest appraisers who will tell you they don't know. When you find someone that is sure, you want to get a Certificate of Authenticity, not just an appraisal.  This puts the appraiser on record with his reputation at stake. This is of course if the value of the instrument is determined to be significant as papers like this can cost a good deal more than a simple appraisal.

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David Lashof

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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.)

Experience

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.

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

Education/Credentials
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.

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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.

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