Violin/Ruggeri violin copy?



I have a violin my father purchased in Germany sometime in the 1930's. I have done some reader has on this but cannot come up with.the answers I'm looking for. I am positive this is a copy made in the 1900's, but for the life on me I cannot ce up with a manufacturer of this. The label inside says " francefco ruggeri dett' il per in Cremona l' anno 16. Any further information and possibl value would be much appreciated . Thanks!!

Hi Gary

Sorry for the delay, I always check my email for questions several times a day and I answered that question on Saturday, but for some reason it got lost in cyberspace.

You will probably never know the manufacturer of your violin.  It is a trade instrument from the early 1900's.  Typically these were made by a number of different firms all producing instruments to the same specifications that were requested by an exporter, yours may never have been exported since it was purchased directly in Germany, which was not unusual. Only the large firms that made instruments and that were also the exporters tended to label their instruments with more than just the model, often times a brand. As I am sitting here, I can think of half a dozen dealers that sold these instruments in the early 1900's.   Even the catalogs didn't say where they were made, often not even the country of origin. After 1914 the country of origin had to be on the label and after 1921 the label also had to use the words "Made in" with the country of origin also in English.  This was of course for actual imports to the US, yours, if it was sold in Germany, did not need those requirements.

The typical value of this level of trade instrument is usually in the $750-1500 range. Getting any closer to that would mean an in person evaluation would need to be made. Very rarely I have seen these go up to around $2000.  

Violins are valued in this order: WHO made it, (manufactured) WHEN it was made (early 1900's), WHERE it was made (Germany - probably, although some Czech instruments were taken across the border and sold as being made in Germany), MATERIAL quality (? - can't access that from these photos), CONDITION (? - can't access that from these photos), and SOUND (? - obviously I can't access that). So because of the Who, When and Where that we have a good handle on, the value range can be fairly well set. No trade instrument, unless it can ve clearly identified, ie. a model VR Ernst Heinrich Roth Ruggieri copy, will currently be worth more than a certain amount and then only will be valued at that amount depending on it's condition and sound. So a great sounding trade violin made from wonderful materials with an unknown origin that sounds great and is in great condition will be valued no more than let's say $2500. The same instrument that sounds poorly may only be worth half that. It also means that no matter how good the trade instrument is, even if it were to sound as good as a real Ruggieri, it can only be worth that $2500 or so.  

Again, please forgive the delay. Feel free to ask any follow-up questions.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.