You are here:

Violin/Violin Maker and General Information

Advertisement


Question
I bought a violin at an estate auction for my daughter for $50.  I am trying to get general information and value on the violin to see if it is worth to repair and refurbish for my daughter.

Inside it says "Copie de Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 1721", "France", "149" and a stamp with an "A" and "S" with a cross above the letters.

It came with a Joseph Richter bow and in a Lifton violin case.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you kindly.

Answer
Copie De Label
Copie De Label  
Hi Jared
It is hard to evaluate a violin with only that information. Obviously it is just a copy of a 1721 Stradivari. Since the "Copie de" is in French, that would put its date of manufacture after 1914 and more likely after 1921 because of the McKinley Tariff Act's requirement of certain wording on imports. The AS is just the copied monogram of Antonio Stradivarius.

As far as value goes, they are very common and are of a student quality, some are much nicer than others, but I would put the general price range in the under $1200 range. These instruments were put out by the thousands in Mirecourte France. One company in Mirecourt was known to have made over 10,000 instruments in just one year, and there were many companies working in that time. I will attempt to attach a picture from my archives of the label as yours probably appears. Condition of the instrument makes a huge difference in value as does the actual workmanship since many levels of quality came with this type of label. These instruments typically sold from around $5 up to $100 in 1921.

The Richter bow is made in Germany, some are of a very standard student quality and others can be nicer and even mounted in Sterling Silver. The range of value can also be wide from worth almost nothing to $350 or so.

Lifton cases were very popular in the late 50's into the early 70's, I had one myself for my first violin. They really don't have any value, but if still in good condition they can be used.

The best advice that I can give is to take it to a violin shop for an evaluation. It may be worth repairing but it could need so much work to make usable that it would cosy more than the instrument is worth especially if it won't end up sounding very good.

Violin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


David Lashof

Expertise

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.

Organizations
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.

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.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.