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Violin/introduceing a valued violin


Dear Mr. lashof
I teach at university in one of Iranian border cities.We invite a minstrel who was playing his old violin very nice to interview in my class.
He was subsisting by his arrangement at cafes before Islamic revolution but his job slumped after revolution and he was living hardly.
He died eight years ago and I want to sell his worthy instrument helping his family and introducing the valued violin(ofcours the best price).
There is an eggshell and constricted label in the violin that says:
Joseph Guarnerius fecit
FaF-cremonae-ANNO 1713
Reading this label was difficult and I could not read two or three characters of that carefully.
please help me to help it and them.
Thanks for your your help.

Hi Ali
Without seeing the instrument I cannot give you any real information on it, even if it were actually made in Italy. However I can tell you from what you have provided that the instrument is not a Guarneri. It is very commonplace to find instruments with false or misleading labels, often they were just put there to denote the model the instrument was fashioned after. He worked in Cremona and not Milan and so only the Cremona city name was on his labels which I have photographs of (below are the actual wordings of his various labels). Secondly he never learned English and so the "Made in" would never appear on a label of his.  This actually points to an instrument that was made for the US market and would have been made post 1914 as that is when this wording in English became a requirement to import instruments into the United States.  The violin could still have some value, but it would need to be seen in person to determine the country of origin and its value. I might be able to see some evidence of this in high quality photographs, but it is always more accurate to see a violin in person. I am sorry this didn't turn out to be an original Guarneri, but they just don't show up anymore.

Joesph Guarnerius
Alumnus Andrea Gisalberti
fecit Cremona.  17--
Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu
Fecit Cremona 17--
Joseph Guarnerius Cremonensis
faciebat 17--


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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.

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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