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Violin/Francesco Ruggieri violin??


QUESTION: Dear Mr. Lashof,

I would like to ask you about my mothers violin,
this piece is in family for a long time.
I read a manny of articles about old vintage violin and i think its a little bit possible to think about this like an really old violin.
I explored, some photos of Ruggieri master pieces and found a harmony in few details.
I would like to ask zou for your opinion.
Thanks a lot for your answer and please forgive to me my amateur language skills.

I attach a few photos for u.

Kindly regards

Michal Zahor
Czech republic
i can attach only two photos so if u will want more i will need your email adress.

ANSWER: Hi Michal

Thanks for all of the great pictures, they told me what I need to know.  Unfortunately the violin you have is a copy of a Ruggieri.  It was made in the late 1800's to early 1900's most likely in Germany or possibly Bohemia or Czechoslovakia. The label is what is called a facsimile, and is in way to good a condition to be that old and appears to be made from modern paper vs. rag paper and not block printed as a real one would be.  Books of labels were printed in the late 1800's with hundreds of copies of the great masters labels reproduced in them. These were available to the firms that made "trade" instruments, ones made to be sold by dealers in the trade of selling violins. They were assembly line hand made instruments.  The violin you have was clearly not made 350 years ago, almost all of the antiqued look was done when it was made, including all of the artificial aging of the varnish. In addition there is no neck graft. Any instrument, unless still set up for baroque music which this one isn't, made prior to around 1820 will have had a neck graft as the angle of the neck and its length was changed when the tuning pitch of the orchestra was raised because of modern music styles.

Yours is certainly a nice example and could still be worth some money. Usually these trade instrument are worth up to around $2500 and I think that yours depending on condition and sound could be worth in the $2000-2500 range. I can't see all of it to access the condition and obviously I can't hear its sound.  

As always it is best to have it looked at in person.  To get a true value, you should take it to be seen in person at a violin shop where everything can be evaluated.

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

thank You so so much for very quick answer.
If you dont mind i have a few more question.
Im sorry if i understood not all or something wrong.
Is this violin hand or factory made?
infprmation for u: this varnish is after renovation, this violin maker who made renovation told to my
mom that he never saw so nice piece long time or never.
Im not sure if i clearly understood what is the "neck graft" exactly is?
Found some ruggieri original picture and head and neck is similar, also used varnish colour is the one of he used.
Ofcourse u are expert and i knew its copy, but from all i read from your experties and pictures of all stradivari or amati and all kinds of violin from famous cremona maikers this one is from other wood type.
I think label inside is really from rag paper.
Sound is really nice wish to u listen my favourite boccerini menuetto played by my mom:)
Neck is also look like strongly used...
violin is also "typical" ruggieri sized as i read its look smallerthan others but is 4/4.

Again i must thank u so much for your expertise im really glad!

Its not about money, i really believed that this piece could be ruggieri work...

Ruggierri top
Ruggierri top  

Ruggierri Scroll
Ruggierri Scroll  
Hi again Michael
The violin is both hand made and factory made, it was made in an assembly line factory by hand, in fact by many hands. Someone made the top and someone else the scroll and so forth. As far as the neck graft goes, here is a link to show the difference and where to look - look at the bottom of the page- there are pictures.  
I have attached a photo of a real Ruggieri.  Although the varnish color is similar, the varnish technique and workmanship are very different. If the restorer re-varnished the instrument, then he destroyed much of the value, so I am sure that he just did some touchup and cleaned things up.  Yours has artificial aging to the varnish and wood working. These things really need to be pointed out to you in person, not by someone trying to describe it through words in an email. It just isn't possible to explain 40 years worth of experience in a few sentences.  As I said before, yours is one of the nicer trade instruments that I have seen, so it would be at the top of the value range. I have also attached a picture of a real Ruggieri scroll. Many things are subtle and take the eye of an experienced appraiser to see. It is always best, as I have said, to have the instrument looked at in person


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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.

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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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