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Violin/"HOPF" violin with a paper tag.



HOPF neck
HOPF neck  

Thank you for your time.

I have a very nice old violin that has very nice linings, full blocks, installed base bar, is 13 cm from the neck side of the nut to the body, 26 1/2 cm fingerboard, and a gradating wedge under the fingerboard raising it ~2 cm at the end of the neck. No neck/scroll graph, a couple nicely fixed top (non sound post) cracks cracks on the very nicely flamed back. Darker brown with a reddish hue in color. It's a very nicely made violin with a paper tag in it that is simply stamped "HOPF". It was presented in 1914 (see picture), and then it was owned by a music teacher/professional viola player from ~1920 and in the same family until I bought it a couple of years ago with some violas and bows.  I've seen, held, and owned many violins & violas over the years, so I can't help but think it's a trade violin, however it's too well made to be just a common trade instrument.
Please share your thoughts.

Hi George

I am sorry to have to tell you this, but it is a trade instrument and one that was not very well made in my opinion.  It may have a carved bar, linings and full blocks, but the quality of the workmanship and wood selection is on the low side of the range of trade instruments. The neck button is a good place to start. Any shaped liked this one that slants so much toward the neck, is of a low quality. The carving on the upper neck heel is rough.  The varnish is a fairly chippy spirit varnish that was not applied very well. The repair work is also very sub-standard.  The long top crack on the bass side is very poorly done, the neck wedge is sloppy, the filling of the screw holes in the sides of the peg box are also very rough. It needs many hundreds of dollars worth of work to make it into a nice looking violin again, if that would even be possible.

I have seen thousands of trade instruments and this one, when new, is probably in the 30% range of quality, so somewhere in the $600 range, assuming it was in good condition which of course it is not.

I am sorry to be so blunt about it, but this is a fairly rough example of what is out there in the "trade instrument" genre.  


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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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