Violin/Antique Cello



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Cello top  
Hi David,
I have an antique cello with a label inside that says:

Antonius Amati di Cremona
Fecit 1671

The label is printed with the date 71 handwritten.

I know that it came from England in the late 1800's and was played by my great grandfather in the early 1900's. It has been banged up over the years. Has a wooden patch on the bottom where it fell out of a horse drawn sleigh on their way back from a gig.

It has brass? colored mechanical screw tuners not wooden pegs in the top scroll head.  Any thoughts on possible value or origin?

Thanks so much!

Hi Jeff

I can't tell enough from these photos. The full instrument picture is much too blurry to see anything of use and the varnish on the scroll shot looks different from the cello, but that could also be the photography. The brass gears were probably added some time after 1880, either for ease of tuning or because the scroll was cracked, I can't see the scroll well enough to see if there are any cracks. Roughly, the instrument looks prior to 1880 or so, but it is certainly not an Antonio Amati as he died in the first half of the 1600's. There are several dates given for his death, but none are after the 1640's. A good close look at the label may determine if it is pre or post 1850, when the type of paper that was used changed. Although labels are easy to insert and more instruments have false labels than real ones.

The best way to have this evaluated is in person, condition and the quality of previous repairs can greatly impact that value. If the patch is very noticeable, that means that it was most likely not repaired properly and as such will greatly effect it's value. I would seek out a violin shop or a musical instrument auction house so that the instrument can be looked at in person. From what little I can see, your cello is not just one of the run of the mill commercial factory instruments from the late 1800's, however, it might end up not being worth much more than one depending on it's condition and quality of work.


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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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