Violin/Branded Violin

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Question
Hi David,

I have a violin with a branded impression above the label. The brand is the same inscription or logo as in the label but when I look online I can not find any info about this. Can you take a look at my violin and give me an idea of this branding? Also looking through the end hole I see some faded writing on the upper left rib and a #58 on the lower left neck block. Could that be a serial number? Photo's here http://s1297.beta.photobucket.com/user/Chateau14/library/Paolo%20De%20Barbieri?&

Thanks for your help

Answer
Hi Cam
I have never seen the logo on anything but on the label, that doesn't mean that he didn't use it, it is just not my forte of knowledge. There are some dealers that do specialize in modern Italian makers, probably in New York. The numbers could be a serial number but I have not seen closely inside a de Barbieri.

Not that you asked, but since you have me, let me give you some additional thoughts on your violin.

My initial feeling from your photos, comparing them against the other 12 known examples and my memory of those that I have seen in person, is that this is a copy. At least from your photos, the varnish looks to be much more of a matte finish than all of these examples rather than an almost wet looking feeling you get from looking at his varhish. His varnish is very soft as are many modern Italian instruments of that period, so soft that many of them have sections of the varnish that have actually been pushed around. I am also wondering why someone deliberately put all of those damaging marks all over the top of the instrument and other locations, they are clearly deliberate and not having to do with the maker Barbieri.  This is commonly done to make an instrument look older and de Barbieri didn't do that on his own instruments.  In addition, the repair to the neck and button may need attention. The marking on the top under the bridge feet also looks very different and deliberate from what a true 75 year old violin normally looks like and the instrument as a whole does not show wear at the points an instrument of 75 years should show. The varnish drip in the bottom of the bass "f" hole is not what you would see on a fine Italian violin, but rather on a cheaper made instrument where care was not taken during the varnish and set up procedure, as this can cause a serious buzz to occur. As a whole, the instrument has many of the earmarks of a copy. I am however only looking at pictures and those are not three dimensional vision which is really needed when evaluating an instrument, I could not be seeing some things that would be helpful to see. As always it is best to show the violin to an expert, in person where they can evaluate it directly and in good natural light. As labels are very easily falsified, it is the instrument itself that determines its authenticity.  

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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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