Violin/Re: fiddle/2nd ??


Munter Fiddle
Munter Fiddle  
QUESTION: My Dad had a fiddle from at least 1942 or earlier.  When I was 3 he and my mother were playing for dances at a local Grange Hall in Oregon.  The inside of the fiddle has a sticker " the Guldan, made by, The Jackson Guldan Violin Co., Columbus Ohio.  There is also another "circular" sticker that has "Made in" on the top of the circel and the bottom says " USA'.  The center of the circle os \JG/.  
I am wondering the age of the instrument and where possible he could have maybe purchased it.  I know that these were sold through Sears/Roebuck and also Montgomery Ward.  
Just curious.  Addiing info to a genealogy project that has been ongoing for about 25+ years.
Any info would be wonderful. And I thank you in advance. Lots of memories and music from it.

ANSWER: Hi Alice

The Jackson-Guldan instruments were US made and the company was in business from around 1920 into the early 1960's. Yours could have been made any time during that period but the case looks to be from the late 30's or 40's and the lower bow looks like it is from the period of WWII(1939-1945) when there was a trade embargo. Neither the bow nor case necessarily is original to the violin though.  A close up examination might be able to more closely tell, but possibly not. There were a number of different models including at least one that was fully hand made, but all of them are what are referred to as "trade violins", violins that were sold to firms that were in the trade of selling violins, rather than sold directly to the public by the makers. Yours, because of its color, is one of the factory instruments, probably from the middle of the different grades. As a trade instrument made in Columbus OH, it could have been purchased at a number of different locations.  In addition to sales at Sears and Wards, a company called Targ and Dinner distributed the instruments, but to dealers all over the country, so it could have been purchased anywhere. The Jackson Gulden Co. (JGV) was very busy indeed, during the year 1923 they produced 36,000 instruments. They were student grade instruments and as such today retail in the $200-800 range depending on the model, condition and sound. After WWII they had difficulty competing with the German imports and slowly drifted into obscurity in the late 50's.

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Munter Fiddle
Munter Fiddle  

Munter Fiddle
Munter Fiddle  
QUESTION: I have read your critique and am very happy you answered my questions. The inside labels on the fiddle have never been removed or damaged in anyway, as the case was always closed when not in use.  In  the center of the case there is a lid that covers a small compartment that held string, rosin and bridges.  There used to be a small medallion on the top of that lid that was a circle as well but I see that it is gone now.  I was very surprised about the bow.  I'm sure my Dad acquired all of it at Montgomery Wards.  The second bow was one that had been given to him by a repairman in place of another of his when he had it restrung.  Why the guy "swapped" it out I'll never know.  The second bow had been given to him as a gift and this was a shock and disappointment for him because no arguing with the clerk changed their minds.  This second bow # On the top # is an old metal grunge and my Dad never played the fiddle after that.  He was old then and I think it broke his heart.
Now, I took the old strings off the fiddle as they were frayed and cracked & very tight, which of course released the bridge.  I just trimmed the loose hairs on the bows and loosened them a little.  Unfortunately the fiddle is not being played which I know is bad for any instrument.  But it is secure and kept without moisture in its original case.
The neck of the fiddle is golden in color as Dad wore all the color off over the years of playing.  The front is in okay condition and I think the back is beautiful. I've included a few more pics.

The case may have been made by GSB, a US case company from Charlestown, New Hampshire that made violin cases from the late 1800's to early 1900's. Metal bows were made during the war because of the embargo of imports, these were Aluminum with plastic frogs and often had a washer between the bow screw and the metal stick. Not that it was correct, but there were times that dealers swapped bows hoping that the owner didn't notice, the original bows were often better (often silver mounted) than the violins that they came with. I have seen bows worth several thousand dollars that were original equipment with violins that were worth only 1/4 that amount. These bow makers were often at the beginning of their careers and just making lots of bows and trying to make a living. They would wholesale their bows to distributors that would just include them with violin outfits.   Later of course these bow makers became well known and their bows rose considerably in value. Given the pictures of the violin that you sent this time, I think it is the model "125 - Student" which sold for  $22.50 in 1953.


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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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