Violin/old violin


QUESTION: I have an old violin in pieces, the label says A Adelman, Dec 1912, ------, Oklahoma    Does it have any value

ANSWER: Hi Gerald
Unfortunately the only Adelman in any of my reference books, databases or auction result lists is for an Olga from Germany in the mid 1900's. It could very well be that the person was an amateur maker and didn't make many instruments or just that they were not very well known. Obviously not every maker that ever lived can be accounted for and the ones that get in the reference materials need to be seen to be known.

If you can get the instrument to a violin shop, they will be able to tell the quality and give you a value range.

Good luck and I hope you find out some information.

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QUESTION: Have another old violin, label says "Manufactured in Berlin, special copy of Antonius Stradivarius.   Also has a capitol letter L with some kind of branches or twigs around it as a design. Any ideas or comments on this violin. thanks

ANSWER: Hi again
Sorry for the delay, I was doing some research.  Although I am not 100% sure, I think it might be made by Lowendall, probably Louis. I can't find anything about the art but the "L" was used by him and he worked in Berlin vs. the other more prominent violin making places in Germany like Mittenwald or Markneuchirken. Sorry that I can't be sure. One note is that many of the Lowendall instruments have a slightly murky brown varnish with very little red and no yellow. To be sure, show it to someone in person as color photography often doesn't show up the subtle color hues that are needed to be seen to help identify an instrument.

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QUESTION: Thank you for your follow up on the second violin. Now for a third violin. My sister and I used to play violin when we where young. Our teacher was an older german pastor and he would order violins from Germany if someone wanted to buy one. This is about 40 or 45 years ago. The only markings on the inside are the letters "A" and "K". they are kind of fancy and they slightly overlap each other. The A first and then the K. The back of the violin has a striped looking wood. Kind of an orange tone to it. looks kind of like tiger striped wood. This violin is in really nice condition.

There were many, many makers in Germany during that time period whose initials were A.K. The only one that I could find that did use his initials on the label was Albin Kampffe circa 1930 - Markneukirchen auction value - $3000.  This of course does not mean that he was the only one and in this example the letters were not overlapping.

In the end, it probably doesn't mater, none of the makers with those initials during that time period are specifically high in value, but a number do reach several thousand at auction. As I have said before, the best way is to have it looked at in person. Labels are more often wrong than right. If it is still not bale to be decided who made the instrument, it is the makers talent, when it was made, where it was made, the condition and sound that will set the value.  


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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.

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