Violin/Violin Manufacture


Hello David,

I have had for years an old violin and have been recently trying to identify a little more about it.
On the back at the top it has etched Paganin1, I know he didn't manufacture violins. Inside there is a paper label hand written and as far as I can tell it shows the following:
Avril 1845
53 Reu de San, Paris
I cannot find that address on Google, although there is a Reu de Sante in Paris.
Any thoughts?

Hi Brian

The address is not familiar and mistakes on labels are common. In the 1800's and early 1900's there were many violin manufacturers in Paris and I certainly don't know them all as addresses changed from year to year.

The fact that is has Paganini branded on the instrument, makes it a student grade instrument and probably made by one of the large firms like JTL. The Paganini model was a common one. Usually these are in the $500-1200 price range and are average quality trade instruments. Niccolo Paganini never made any instruments and by the early 1800's he was a well known virtuoso. His name like many other popular artists as well as known violin maker's names were used as models to assist in sales.

The only real way to get a better sense of the instruments origins and specific value is to have it examined in person, even quality photos would help. In the end, the only things that might be able to be determined is the approximate date of manufacture and where it was made. An exact factory may never be determined and really doesn't matter as the quality of the work and materials as well as condition and sound will set the value. As more instruments have false or misleading labels than real ones, the label inside an instrument is only a small clue and it is the last thing an appraiser will look at when evaluating an instrument.


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.