Violin/value of violin


         Luthier de S.M. l'empereur
         et de la Cour de France
         Fecit anno 1810"          on yellowed paper inside, which I just read through the "f hole".

What value can I place on it when I sell it?


Hi Caroline

Most experts agree that this label was used by the JTL (Jerome Thibouville Lamy)company of France as one of many of their products. Ones labeled like your instrument were not made by him as there may actually never have been a maker with that name. The instruments were made more likely by a number of craftsmen working in Mirecourt France and labeled with that name.  These instruments were made in the 1880's - 1920's and it was common for them to predate some of the instruments by 100 years and include dates like that of yours as many of the instruments come dated in the early 1800's.

Many have one-piece backs and some have a red to dark brown color varnish or a light yellow that is often highly polished.

The instruments are typical of the Mirecourt style from the late 1800's and the ones that have sold at auction in the last 10 years sold for around $400-800.

As your instrument does not say "Made in France" in English on the label, it was made prior to 1914 when the McKinley Tariff act required that wording on imports.

These instruments often tend to run a little long in body length (often 14 3/16") which makes them not as sale-able as most people don't care for the way the extra length feels.

Given all of this, they tend to be worth retail in the $1000-1800 range in good condition. Actual value would be dependent on the physical and maintenance condition and the sound.

I would take it to a violin shop for a formal "Fair Market Value" appraisal.  


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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.

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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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