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Violin/Great Grandpa's violin


Violin 2
Violin 2  
Violin 1
Violin 1  
QUESTION: I have a violin from my great grandfater.  It is need of repair and just want to make sure I have the right repairman to work on it.  It will never be sold but if it has significant value I may be looking for a more high end repairman.

It has no markings other than a hand written inscription in the body that states: "Graduated by E.H. Lewis 3-14-1921"

Supposedly "patterned" after a Stradivarius but no markings to indicate that.

Any information you can provide will be appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Grant

Unfortunately there is little that I can tell from these pictures and your description. It appears to be of German origin from early in the 1900's but much better pictures would be needed  to determine that for sure and even then it really would be best to have it looked at in person. If it is what I think, then I suspect that it is a German trade instrument and as such will be worth no more than $2000. However, given that I can't really evaluate it properly, it could be worth considerably less. Because Lewis "graduated" it, I suspect that it is in the $1000-2000 range.

I would recommend that you first find a violin shop where you can get an evaluation done prior to deciding what work you will get done.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your prompt response David.  Is there anything you can tell me about Lewis? I agree, in person assessment would be the best. Do you know of a decent shop in southern/central California?
Thanks again.

Hi Grant

E H Lewis had a violin shop in Chicago in the early 1900's, other than that I really don't have any knowledge about him. There are lots of violin shops in central and southern California. Here is a list of some of them that I know:

The Violin Shop  
10505 Sorrento Valley Rd, San Diego, CA ‎
(858) 909-0319 ‎ ·

Metzler Violin Shop Inc  
604 S Central Ave, Glendale, CA ‎
(818) 246-0278 ‎ ·

Benning Violins  
11340 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA ‎
(818) 762-1374 ‎ ·

M & R Weisshaar & Sons Violin  
1763 Orange Ave, Costa Mesa, CA ‎
(949) 287-5715 ‎ ·

Foster's Violin Shop  
224 S Olive St, Orange, CA ‎
(714) 639-4480 ‎ ·

Hammond Ashley Violins  
6255 Ferris Square, San Diego, CA ‎
(858) 623-0036 ‎ ·

Here is another list of California Violin Shops -  


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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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