Violin/Stainer Violin


QUESTION: Violin has Stainer on the back  is in fair condition inside has stamped Jacobus Stainer in Absam  1 65  oenipontum   made in Checoslvacia   A symbol  like a pillow with a violin on it with the letter K and H also like the top of a atlas under it with the word   schutimarke   Any info would be appreciated

ANSWER: Hi Julia
Your violin was made between 1918 and 1921. From 1914-1921 the words "Made in" were required for import and Czechoslovakia didn't come into being until 1918.  After 1921 labels had to have the country of origin be in English, so the Checoslvacia would have changed after 1921. So that fixes your instrument to be made after 1918 when Czechoslovakia was formed and before 1921 when the labels country would be in  English.

Schutimarke just means trademark. Oenipontum is Latin for Innsbruck. The symbol I can't say I remember seeing before but the K H could refer to Karl Hermann who had a factory and exported many to the US of both German and Czech origin. The label for Stainer is just what is called a facsimile and not a good one at that. Stainer hand wrote his labels and they were often difficult to read, so the copies almost always are printed/stamped in a type or block face print. Stainer also never etched/carved or whatever his name on the back of the instrument. The Stainer copies are almost always higher arched in the tops than the originals and this hurts the sound. The real ones are a light amber color while many of the copies are fairly dark varnished. The copies are fairly easily spotted.

You didn't ask but as far as value goes, Czech made instruments are not as valuable as German made ones. I have seen Stainer copies that are so poorly made that they have no value other than  that for decorative purposes or for sentimental reasons. I have also seen a few that might have reached the value of around $2000.  In either case, condition means a lot. To get a true value it would need to be seen in person.

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QUESTION: Where would it be possible to find more information on the trademark symble that is etched inside   It looks like a violin on a pillow with the letters K and H at the top with the one leg of the H in the violin.  The bottom is sitting on a globe ? and top looks perhaps like a palm tree top

ANSWER: Hi again Julia
It will be very hit and mostly miss to find someone that would just happen to remember or recognize that symbol. As a violin expert, we look at labels last and then only to see if the label might be real on good instruments. Since it is so easy to install al label at any time, more labels are incorrect than correct and on trade instruments like yours, the label doesn't really matter. The value would be the same regardless. I do understand wanting to know the history of your instrument regardless of its labels merits. There are almost no reference materials having to do with the trade name instruments since it has never been a high priority for dealers to reference it. I do have a few books that I will look through, but when  I looked for K H before, all that I came up with was Karl Hermann and there was no reference to what the labels looked like. I also did al little web image search and also did not find anything. I have seen a number of Hermann instruments, and I don't remember any such trademark. I will let you know if I find out anything more.

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QUESTION: The label is not a paper one but stamped inside the violin beside the other information.  I am sure it must have been put on from new as the only other way would be to take the instrument apart.  Also the date is 17 small 65  not 1 65  I must have made a error in typing.

I spent some time looking through the trade instrument books with no luck finding something with that style of trade mark.  As I said it has not been a high priority for researchers as it isn't very relevant for value and that's what fuels the whole market.

If the trade mark is stamped/burned in rather than on a label, then it would have been done when the instrument was apart, keep in mind that it only takes a good repairmen less than an hour to remove and reglue a violin top. The cost involved has more to do with risk than actual time if the instrument was properly glued together. Often times, the paper labels are very thin and match the wood color, over the years the edges thin further, add years of dust and the printing appears to be on the wood directly. There have been many times that I needed to clean the insides of an instrument to even find the edges of the label.It is extremely rare to find the makers or factory name directly in the wood as it tends to be very difficult to print on a curve and  old ink tended to bleed easily into the wood.   

AS for the date, Stainer died in the late 1670's to early 1680's depending on what reference is used. I am attaching a picture with the typical real Stainer label.


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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.

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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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