Violin/Hopf Violin


Violin 2
Violin 2  
Violin 1
Violin 1  
QUESTION: Dear David,
My father-in-law bought a violin at auction in southeast Washington state, He had it for several years, since passed it down to my daughter who used to play in high school. I have no knowledge of violins and have read some of your responses to others talking about corner blocks and such. It is all Greek to me, so describing the violin would be difficult. Inside is clearly marked HOPF. The date beside "HOPF" are two un-readable characters then nno. I believe the piece in very rough shape but like I said I know nothing about musical instruments. It also appears to have been refinished and some repairs done to it. There is (I think) an interesting feature which is the tuning leavers do not protrude out from the violin but straight down with a gear drive. I will send a few pictures.

ANSWER: Hi David
The violin you have is certainly of the Hopf family or Hopf copy, but there were no less than 18 different family members that produced violins of varying degree of quality as well as many copies produced in the late 1800's to early 1900's. The varnish has been redone and the gears that have been attached instead of the pegs are not original. Both of those things have hurt the value, but even without this is an instrument at the lower end of the quality range. These gears were probably attached around 1900 or later and were done either because of a rack to the peg box or because the player was unable to use the normal pegs because of poor fit. The other thing that it looks to have is a pin in the neck that goes through the fingerboard. This was probably done after the neck crack at some point. The violin was made in the mid to late 1800's. Given all of the problems as well as the lower quality of workmanship to begin with, I really don't think that this instrument has any real value remaining to it.  None of the real Hopf's ever obtained much value either as they were not of the highest quality.

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

QUESTION: I just realized that I omitted the date inscribed visible through the f-hole which is 1765. It could be even 1715 possibly . The date is very legible with the exception of the one or six. Although I still feel there is little value I just thought I would mention it. Thank you again. Dave K.

Hi again
As I mentioned, by looking at the photos that you sent, this instrument was made from the mid to late 1800's.  It is certainly not from the 1700's as it has a modern length neck - this was changed in the early 1800's to compensate for a higher pitched tuning of the orchestra to obtain a brighter sound. Because of the discrepancy between label date and manufacture date, this would indicate that it is indeed a copy. Labels are so easy to install and are more often incorrect than correct. The copies used facsimile labels that were inserted to denote the model and not to deceive.


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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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