Violin/Purchasing violin

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Question
French with crack
French with crack  

French Violin top
French Violin top  
I am planning to purchase a violin and have borrowed 3 from a store to try out.  The first one is a French violin with identifying information "Lutherie d'Art E. de Cristofaro - Paris"  There is no date stamp or number.  It has a crack in the side that was repaired (see attached image).  I was wondering what it's value is and if the crack will affect its resale value in the future should I decide to upgrade to a different violin.  The crack concerns me, but I am told it has no affect on the violin.

The second violin has identifying information "Joan. Udalricus Eberll fecit pragae 1743".  This one the sound box looks a little different than most violins.  It is slightly narrower but the area under the bridge bulges up higher than most violins.

The third violin has identifiying information "David Lashof No. 151 Facieb anno 1998".

Thanks for any help you can give on the values of these violins and how they compare with each other.

Karl

Answer
Hi Karl
Let me first apologize for the delay, I had my answer all written and my computer froze while trying to send it. So here we go again.

First off, I cannot obviously give you any opinion on sound and all of what I say is based on not seeing any of the instruments in person.

The Cristofaro is a French maker from around 1900.  They have auctioned in the $1000-2000 range making them generally retail in the $2000-4000 range.  That rib crack is really nasty and was extremely poorly repaired at least visually.  I cannot tell how it was repaired internally, but no good repair person would leave it that way.  The other thing that I can see from the pictures is that someone has overcoated or revarnished the ribs with some dark varnish where the plates meet the rib, this is not original and can hurt the value both now and in the future for resale.

The Eberle, as you noted has a narrow waist and high arch, this makes them sound great under the ear but they tend to not carry so much in a hall. They have auctioned from $2000-10,000 but typically they retail in the $5000-7000 range if in good condition.

Obviously I know the Lashof one well. I didn't make many after that one but they sold in the $8000 range. Again, I have no way to compare the sound of it against the others, so that is up to you.

Only you can decide what works best for you and your needs and the sound that you like. Old instruments sound the way they sound and that sound won't improve with time. You also have to deal with any repairs, good or bad that have been done. New instruments are obviously much more stable, but the sound may change in the first decade or so.  This is usually towards the best, they tend to mellow out and get more powerful with time. New instruments are harder to get values for, especially living makers. Instrument values and their appreciation are kind of like the stock market, there is no guarantee.  An instrument today could be worth more or less 10 years from now, there is no crystal ball.  

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David Lashof

Expertise

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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