Violin/Nicolaus Amatus


Left side of label
Left side of label  
Right side of label
Right side of label  
QUESTION: Can you tell me if the obvious copy markings are visible from these label photos of my Nicolaus Amatus Violin? Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Robert
I can't say for positive 100% but these are the reasons that I think that it is a copy.
1. the label is identical to the ones in the book, down to the exact spacing and size of the hand written portion of the date.
2. The ink is entirely too new looking and dark for a label that would be 350 years old.
3. The paper looks to be much too thick and in too good a shape for the paper that Amati used and for paper that should be 350 years old.

From the label only, I would date  this in the early 1900's

Pictures of the violin would be a lot more helpful, labels generally mean almost nothing.  If I tried, I could do a much better job of counterfeiting a label. This one is very typical of those that were easily available in book format in the early 20th century.

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back view
back view  
top view
top view  
QUESTION: I'm attaching more photos. Unfortunately, I'm limited to 2. I can send you more if you like. In your opinion, is it worth getting an appraisal or having it refurbished?

ANSWER: Hi again Robert
There is no question that this is a copy.  It dates from the early 1900's and is very typical of the average to better quality trade instruments made in the thousands from around 1900-1920.
It looks to be in good condition other than needing an actual setup which could run several hundred dollars depending on what all will need to be done. Typically these instruments are worth in the $1000-2000 range and without setting it up, there is really no way to say the final value. If you take it in to get it in working condition, the shop should be able to confirm this. Unless there is some damage that I can't see in these photos, these instruments are usually well worth putting in playing condition.

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body up close
body up close  

tuning knobs
tuning knobs  
QUESTION: Thank you for your help. Your expertise and know-how is much appreciated. You confirmed what I already thought. Please allow me to impose on you one last time. What did you see or not see on my violin that secured what your originally surmised from the fake label? This is totally for my own edification and to satisfy my curiosity. I attached two more photos so you can see condition of the wood. Thanks again, Bob

There is so very much that just screams early 1900's German.  The varnish, the workmanship, this specific instrument has all of the earmarks to the Amati copies. Even the wood selection is German.
BTW - here is a typical example of a real one



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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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