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Violin/Violin - Original or Fake?


Hi David (if I may refer you to your first name) - I am wondering if you could let me know your estimated value (I have read your notes - I just would like your experienced estimate from the description) of my grandfather's violin.  I know he purchased it himself (when I do not know) but he passed away in 1979 (and I always remembered him playing).  Kicker is - sticker in the inside shows "Antonius Stradiuvarius Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 17 (then there are 2 numbers I think which have been obliterated [I think one too many brandy after his performance]) with the ATS in the circle like most.

I had an appraiser from The Antiques Roadshow (Canada where I am located) take a peek at it a few years ago, and he advised that although he was not an instrument appraiser, he believed that this violin was not an original strad (which apparently are very few and far between) but said that I could contact someone in Ontario (across the country - I am located in British Columbia) to get a value on it, but said that someone he knew would pay around $3,000.00 - $10,000.00.

Are you able to provide anything more than that?

I value your response.  Thank you for your time.


Hi Bonnie

The only thing I can say for sure, from the information provided, is that it is not a real Stradivari. As he never pre-printed any numbers of the date on his labels after 1700 other than the first 1.  So  for a  violin with the date of 1713 for instance, he would only have the 1 pre-printed and the 713 would be in ink by his hand. The vast majority of the copies are like yours with the 17 pre-printed and then the last two digitis hand written.

These copies can run from next to nothing to several thousand dollars, I think $10,000 would be a real stretch but without an in person evaluation, it is impossible to say. Most of the copies were made between 1870-1930 in Germany, Czechoslovakia or France. Many had additional labels or markings but certainly not all of them. I would estimate that yours is from this time period since the label as you describe it was used by the hundreds of thousands in that time.

Keep in mind that more violins have false or misleading labels than real ones, so a label is only a guide.  But, no one would insert a fake Stradivari label inside a real one. A good appraiser will only look at the label after they have already made a determination

I too would recommend you have someone take a look at it close up.  Just Google "British Columbia Violin Shops" to look for something near you.


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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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