Violin/JTL Violin worth


Certificate content
Certificate content  
Cover of the certificate
Cover of the certifica  

I've just bought a JTL violin in HK with HKD 60000 (around less than 9000 US). I would very much want to know the real value and approx date of the violin.

The only information I've got from the violin itself is its JTL label, a number 6 (or 9 ?)label, craved 'L' and a hand-written label of F121260. The seller gave me a certificate issued by the French.(please see attached)

The sound box of the violin gives it a deep echo, and the quality of sound is good. I would just like an estimate of the value and the possibility of the date.

Feel free to email me for the photo of the violin.

Thank you.


ANSWER: Hi Amanda
I ma not sure what to say, you stated it is labeled JTL but the certificate says Jerome Thibouville Lamy. Those are two very different things. A JTL is a factory instrument that at most sells for around $2500-3000 US and many models under $1000. The ones bearing the full signature I have seen auction for as much as $3000 and generally sell retail for no more than around $7000 US. Obviously I have not seen the specific instrument in question so I can not evaluate it fir its own merits. I can tell you this, when they were made, the price range went all the way from around $3 to around $100. So assuming everything went up equally in value those at $3 that are worth $500 today, the $100 ones would be worth $17,000.

Assuming the number 6 or 9 is a model, which may or may not be true, both numbers are in the JTL catalog and put the original price at $9-20, that would equate to $1500-3300.  But of course, that is not how violins are valued.

The only way is to have it looked at in person. Assuming the number is not a model and it can be determined that it is the highest grade instrument, I would feel that the value is a little high for the market (at least here in the US. I have no idea what premium the Hong Kong market gets.

As far as date range goes, you are probably looking from around 1880-1920. A photo would only tell me if it was a lower grade instrument rather than a higher grade one. Feel free to send it to me if you would like.  

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


Thanks for all the information, however I don't know whether mine should be a factory-made or hand-made. According to the certificate, it should be hand-made right? So that should've pulled the price up.
The JTL factory label- is it a harp icon with 'JTL' typed below? Or do handmade violins have Jerome's signature?

Please see attached for the violin photo.
Thank you so much!


Hi again Amanda

All violins of that era are handmade, the factory ones were just made by many hands in an assembly line format. Some of them can be very nice. Looking at your instrument, it is certainly not at the bottom of the list of factory instruments, but I just can't tell where it is in quality. All of the violins that I have ever seen that have the JTL harp logo, are factory ones, I do know that the very best Jerome Thouboville Lamy instruments were signed and did not have that factory label.

I would really need to see it close up to tell much more. Many of the violins also had an additional label that gave them a model name, that would certainly clinch it as I can't say if the 6 or 9 has any relation to model.  The longer number you said was in it may have been added later, as I have never seen that kind of number in any JTL instrument and firms did not use serial numbers back then.


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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.

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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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