Violin/violin

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Question
my violin
my violin  

my violin
my violin  
My fathers old violin it was his grandmothers what do you think?

Answer
Hi Michael

I am assuming that you are asking if this could be a real Stradivari based on the information on the label.

Keep in mind that Stradivari only made around 1400 instruments and we know exactly where almost all of the surviving instruments are. It would be more likely for you to be struck by lightening twice than to find a previously unknown instrument. All of these instruments have been cataloged and if you had one, you would probably already know it from certificates and other reasons. No unknown Stradivari has been "found" in decades. However, on the off chance that one in many million of Stradivari labeled violins would turn out to be real, I always recommend to have it examined.

During the period of 1870-1930, many million "trade violins" - http://violininformation.webs.com/tradeinstruments.htm were made in Germany, Czechoslovakia and France. One of those is what you have.  I can tell this from the differences on your label to that of a real Stradivari label. Spacing of the letters, the quality of the Logo, the type style and even the paper.  In addition, the wood selection that is visible from your photo is below the grade that Stradivari used in his violins.

Many of these copies will state "Made in XXX" country, but not all and sometimes this often separate label has been removed. These instruments were always sold as copies and the original buyers knew they weren't buying a real Stradivari, these labels were inserted to show the model and to pay homage to the great Italian makers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Some of these trade instruments can still have some value, sometimes as much as $2000 or so. It will depend on wood quality, condition and sound. To get a more accurate value assessment, you will need to have it looked at in person at a violin shop or a musical instrument auction house. They may also be able to pin down a smaller date range and country of origin.  

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David Lashof

Expertise

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.)

Experience

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.

Organizations
Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials
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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