QUESTION: I have a violin  Antonius stradivarus cremonensis faciebat anno 1714 made in Germany with 2 circles inside are the letters A S with a cross at top or t would you know what it is worth?
It was my Mothers father and possibly his father who came here from Sweeden. My mother died at 82 and her father died at 75 so I do know its that old and maybe older they case is black and inside has a pkg of german string and tuner in case with bow it is not broken or with any holes just looks like it needs some love.  What I thought was strange is that its tied in the case with copper wire instead of string?  I would just love to find out more about it as I'm 66 now and wondered about?  Thanks for any info you have

ANSWER: Hi Kathy

Your violin was made some time after 1914 as it has the words "Made in" on it. Prior to that it would have simply had the name of the town or simply "Germany" on the label, or if prior to 1891 the country of origin would be written in German not English. All of this was due to the McKinley Tariff act, and since the information was in English, the violin was made for export to the US. It is what is referred to as a "trade" violin as it was made to be sold to the trade wholesale and then resold retail. From 1870-1930 was the most prolific time for trade instruments and there were hundreds of factories in Germany, France and Czechoslovakia that produced over 5 million of these instruments over that time period.

As far as value goes, there is no way to give you an exact amount since I can't see it, but these instruments are generally valued from next to nothing to around $2000. The value is based on condition, workmanship and sound, all of which need to be seen in person to evaluate. Some of these instruments can sound very nice and often better than a more expensive instrument. However, value is determined by the quality and reputation of the maker since those are a constant whereas the sound and condition of an instrument changes over time.

I would take it to a violin shop for a close up evaluation.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for answer.  Wondering why it has 1714 for a date if it was made after 1914?  Kathy

Hi again
The instrument was "modeled" after a 1714 Stradivari violin. Sometimes that is of the outline, sometimes even mimicking the varnish and workmanship. Other times it is just a label with the instrument having absolutely no resemblance to a Strad violin. As these instruments were made for the trafe, they had to havw some way to identify the different models that each firm sold. That way the dealer could easily reorder what they needed. In the late 1940's, model numbers started to appear on labels and the names of the great masters were used less prmominantly.


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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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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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