Violin/ancien violon


QUESTION: Bonsoir j'aimerais si cela est dans vos possibilités d'estimer mon violon celui-ci à une étiquette à l'intérieur difficile d'accès elle contient cette phrase "Pietro Antonio dalla costa fece in treviso anno 17 celui-ci mesure 58,5 cm en tout le plateau fait 35,6 cm il y a 2 fines lignes noir qui harmonise le contour et forme du violon , il est accompagné de 2 archets et d'un étui celui-ci n'est plus en très bon état mais j'espère que vous serez m'en apprendre d'avantages cordialement

ANSWER: Hello Jeremy
From the pictures supplied, from what I can tell, the violin is made in the late 1800's and is of a commercial quality and not Italian Dalla-Costa from the 1760's when he used that style of label. The varnish on a real one is also much richer in texture and they are all in the orange to red color and not so brown. I really can't tell you anymore based on just these pictures as they are not very useful. The measurement that you give is fairly standard for a 4/4 violin however Dalla-Costa is known to make his instruments slightly small, so that would be another reason to say this is a commercial copy. It was extremely common to use facsimile labels inside commercial instruments to denote the model.

Instruments that are made by him fetch at auction in the $50,000 range so I would recommend having it looked at in person as that is the only way to be sure of its make but also to access its needs for repair which will be many as the pictures indicate. But my interpretation from the pictures is that it is a much more modern copy and fixed up it could be worth up to $2000.

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QUESTION: tout ce que je sais c'est que c'etait a mon arriere arriere grand pere alors alors je sais qui et vieux ce violon et qu'il est reste longtemps dans son etui ranger dans un armoire depuis longtemps merci d'avance

ANSWER: If the violin was your grandfathers, then the late 1800's still works as he would have been young  lad as that is now 130 years ago. Also, not that I think it happened, but it is not uncommon to find an instrument that was swapped for another by some unscrupulous person or that family lore as it is passed down has been misconstrued. My real opinion is that the instrument was fairly new when he got it as a young man and as such the date of it being made in the late 1800's still fits. I wish I had better pictures to work from or better yet the instrument in hand, then I could really tell a lot more.

I wish you the best of luck with it and I would love to be wrong, but these copies abound in such large numbers, I have seen many, many thousands of them. The look is so very different from a fine Italian made instrument from the 1700's.

Dave Lashof

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QUESTION: voila une autre photo de ce violon

These pictures, although still not very good, clearly show an instrument made between 1880 and the early 1900's that was almost certainly made in Germany. It has the telltale edge work, button style, wood selection, varnish style and modern neck without a graft(although that is a little hard to say for sure) Italian instruments from the late 1600's-the 1700's have a much deeper depth to the varnish, a very unique wood selection and the workmanship is very different.  I wish I could have given you better news.



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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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