Violin/Antique violin



We purchased this violin at a music store and were wondering on the approximate value of it. The label inside says:
         Josef Guarnerius fecit
         Cremonae anno 1728 IHS
In a separate sticker below it says "Made in Germany" in a different letter style. Above the IHS is a small cross. The whole lable is printed in black ink.
The finish is a darker brown with light "blonde" places on it. It has a few cracks and scratches on it with some that have been repaired. The back is 2 piece and the top is solid. It has light flaming on the back, sides and neck. The tailpiece, chinrest and pegs are all wood. If you think it is worth looking into, could you recomend an appraiser in Missouri that would look at it? Also, do you think the age is authentic? We have more pictures of the instrument and the label.
Thank you.

Hi Beckie
I am sorry to say that it is neither authentic nor an antique. The Made in Germany cinches the date as being no older than 1921 and from the varnish I would say it was probably made in the 1950's or newer. The Guarneri label is just a facimile label of the model that the instrument was designed after, Cremonae was a town in Italy that is famous for all of the greatest violin makers from the 1700's. I cannot tell from the pictures, other than the "f" hole wing crack, if the cracks are really cracks or only scratches, but in either case they do effect the value on this level of instrument. Without seeing it in person I really could not give a value, but I would estimate it between $500-1200 probably on the lower end of the range. This is a commercially made instrument intended for the student market. Here is a listing of some violin shops in Missouri that could take a better look at the violin.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2016 All rights reserved.