Violin/Fritz Moennig Violin

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QUESTION: The label in my violin doesn't have a letter or a date like other Fritz Monnig labels I've seen. Mine has no. 83 and a signature. Also mine doesn't have MARKNEUKIRCHEN under the label. Can it be dated? Is it factory or handmade? I would like to pass it on to someone who can appreciate it only if it's worthy.

ANSWER: Hi Mike
I am not very familiar with Monnig violins, but I do know that labels are changed all the time. What might have been used one year as a style and what information was included, may not be what the next years models label looks like. None of my books have a picture of any of his labels. At the time that they were made, they were considered on the higher end of the trade instrument grade. In the late 1920's they were exclusively distributed by Tonk Brothers in Chicago. They were hand made but for the trade rather than being marketed directly to players. This was the more common way that makers sold their instruments during that time because they didn't have to find the buyers.  
I have sold a couple of them over the years but I didn't pay too much attention to the details of the labels as that really is not that important as labels themselves are more often wrong than right anyway. The best way to know the quality of the violin is to have it evaluated on its merits, not on what the label says. Although some of the Monnig instruments can now bring close to $10,000, it really depends on the instrument and its condition and of course sound quality. They are not considered a collectable at this point in time.
As far as a date goes, if it is a Monnig it could not have been made prior to 1891 when the McKinley Tariff Act required instruments to be marked with the country of origin,  as Monnig was not even born until 1890. Although often these labels were secondary and it could have been removed or it fell out. The only way to be sure of the legitimacy of the instrument is to have it seen in person by an appraiser, but what little I can see of the varnish in the picture, it is of the same color tone as many of his instruments. Many things can determine value and quality, the least being what something is labeled. An appraiser might be able to pinpoint it as an early or late work.

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QUESTION: Fritz Monnig - MARKNEUKIRCH and Fritz Moennig - Vienna the brother or cousin of Willam Monnig - Philadelphia? I wonder which one I have. It was my grandmothers. She could play almost anything with strings. And the piano. I remember years ago the fella that put a bridge on it for her said it was a pretty good one. But that's all I remember. I will take your advice and find an appraiser. Here is another pic. so you can see the varnish color better just for fun. Thanks again for your time. Mike

Answer
I tried answering this earlier from my Kindle but I guess it didn't go through. There were 4 generations of William Moennig's from Philly. The first one was born in the late 1880's and trained first with an Uncle named Adolf Monnig and then by a maker in the US before opening his own shop in Philly. He may have had his name changed to Monnig when he came to the US as he is listed with both spellings while the other Williams only are known as Moennig. There doesn't seem to be any connection to either of the Fritz Monnig's.  I am fairly sure that yours would be the Markneukirchen one and the varnish is definitely in that vein.
Dave

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David Lashof

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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.

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