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Violin/1704 Hendrik Jacobs violin?



Hello my name is Albert.  I am writing you in hopes you are able to assist me or lead me onto the correct path.
I have a violin. It Measures approximately 23" long from end to end. The body Measures approximately 14", the bottom is 7 5/8" wide, middle is 4 3/8" long, top is approximately 6 1/4". The middle depth is about 2 1/4" with the edges measuring approximately 1 3/8 throughout. Inside there is a label that reads "Hendrik Jacobs Me Fecit In Amsterdam 1704". Under that, a separate label that reads "repaired by G.E Russell Dec 23 1921". Any input about this violin would be appreciated including authenticity, possible value or repair needs.

Thank you.

Hi Albert
It's going to be difficult to access this instruments from these photos, they are too blurry when I try to enlarge them to see any detail in the edges and the full "f" holes. The closeup of the label isn't good enough to tell anything about the label. The measurements given are basically similar to all full-size violins. The metric system is used to measure violins as it is more accurate and since differences in violins vary by only a few mm's, the measurements need to be very accurate as a tool for identification.

Jacobs died in 1704, so if it were to be one of his, it would be a very late instrument. There are some tell-tale signs of a late Jacobs but I am unable to see enough in the photos to see if they are there. The two things that primarily lead me to believe that this is a copy are that he made his instruments long in his later years, so if the length is truly 14", then that is standard, not long. The second thing is that he used a thick very dark red varnish at the end of his life, whereas this appears to be more of a thinner orange varnish. Your violin's varnish is also not very worn as would be expected in a 300-year-old instrument.

However, I am not able to see enough to determine what quality of workmanship and materials go into it, so I can't put a value on it. The instrument also needs some repair work as some of the past work was poorly done.

Because there is a slim possibility that this could be a fine instrument as a real Jacobs violin could be fairly valuable, I would be remiss if I didn't recommend you take it to someone to have it evaluated in person. Most any violin shop should be able to give an approximate date, and if it is a copy as I suggest it is, it will most likely be made more than 100 years after his death. I can't see it well enough to provide any details of repairs needed.

Please feel free to send me as many good quality pictures as you can, I will be glad to look more closely. You can send them to me directly at as AE only allows two at a time. In this particular case, several close-ups of the edge work and full "f" hole would be great as well as standard close up ones of the top, back and treble side of the scroll.  


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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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