QUESTION: Hello David Lashof,

Few days ago I bought a Violin with an Aristo Label that you can see in the pictures. I search in the internet and I found a little info about Aristo. These were apparently made in france between 1880 to 1930?, have few models after Maggini, Strad and Amati Guarneri made by some Fiat Musica atelier. At first sight looks fine. My violin teacher says this where mistreated and mishandled and not look french, looks German. I'm a little sad now. Can you take a look to the pictures and give me your advice and guess apprisal about this violin please? I have more images in my computer if these are usefull.


ANSWER: Hi Andres

You are correct that it is a French made instrument. Depending on if it says "France" or "Made in France" will help to determine when it was made and imported into the US. These were made in Mirecourt France as you say between around 1870-1930.  There are some people that believe that they were imported by the violin firm of Lyon and Healy.

In a 1910 catalog these were the descriptions of the Artisto model violin:

9850 - F. Breton Model in a fine red amber varnish, highly polished finish, mounted with ebony pegs, finger-board and tail-piece - $16.90

9854 - Stradivarius Model in a fine amber varnish, highly finished, mounted with ebony pegs, finger-board and tail-piece - $20.45

9856 - Stradivarius Model, in a dark brown varnish, highly polished and slightly shaded finish,  mounted with ebony pegs, finger-board and tail-piece - $24.00

9858 - Maggini Model, in a medium red amber varnish, featuring a double row of purfling, highly polished and finished, mounted with full ebony trimming - $28.45

9860 - Guarnerius Model, in a reddish amber color, highly polished and finished, ebony with gilt mounted pegs, fingerboard and tailpiece in ebony - $35.60

9862 - Stradivarius Model, in deep red color, highly polished elegant finish, featuring a fine flamed back, full ebony trimmed - $42.70

9864 - Amati Model, in a fine amber color, highly polished and finished, artistic and pronounced edges, pearl inlaid tail-piece and pegs, all ebony trimmed $42.70

9866 - Maggini Model, in a orange amber color, featuring a double row of purfling, highly polished and finished, fine flamed back, full ebony trimmed - $60.45

9868 - Stradivarius Model, in a grand pattern, of amber colored varnish, highly polished and finished, the highest grade of workmanship, beautifully flamed back, with full ebony trimming - 78.25

As your teacher mentioned, it is not in the best of shape, having suffered a serious sound post crack to the top which can really hurt the value of an instrument at this level. Obviously since I can't look at it in person, an appraisal would be as you say a guess. My guess is that this is probably the model number 9864 and if it was in better shape, it could be worth around $2000 depending on the sound. However, because of the damage, I would guess that the value would be less than $1000. I would recommend that you take it to a violin shop for an in person evaluation.

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


After your kind help I see I forget to tell you something that is a little misterious for me. In fact the Aristo label have superimposed another label that says Made in Germany.  And says Copy of Antonius Stradivarius Fecit in Cremona 1715. Please see the pictures.


ANSWER: Andres
I have seen this done before with labels. Perhaps because during a certain time "German" made instruments of this level were more sought after than "French" made ones. Although I am not seeing it very well in the picture, are you sure that it says Aristo and not Artist, the T certainly appears to be in front of the I. You weren't clear if your instrument had the Fiat Musica label, or just what you researched. That will make all the difference in the world. Some of the Artist model violins, were made in the French style with an amber colored varnish. Seeing the instrument close up would be easier to evaluate the country of origin and thus better able to say for sure. Many of the Artist model instruments were made by the Lowendall firm in Markneukirchen Germany, here is one that is similar to yours -

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

Fiat Musica
Fiat Musica  

QUESTION: Hello David,

Sorry for the bad picture. I'm a newby taken this kind pictures. Please see the other pictures. As well these are no pictures of the full label, but these complete the whole. Thanks again. I apreciete much your help.


Thanks for the pics, they do sinch it as an Aristo as those "eagles" and the L & H, assumed to be for Lyon and Healy, around the edge of the label define it for certain.  The "Made in Germany label is erroneous in my opinion,  so my initial findings are still good.


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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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