Violin/violin

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Question
I have a violin purchased in 1954. It was not new then. In side it is labeled Hopf. It also has the numbers A296 and 4289 written inside.
the body length 13 7/8 in
   upper bout   6 1/2 in
   center bout  4 1/2 in
   lower bout   7 7/8 in
   varnish     deep golden brown
   one-piece back of flamed maple

excellent condition.
I would like to sell it. Could you give me a ball park price.
Thank you for your time. Do you know anyplace to sell it in southern California.

Answer
Hi Maria

Unfortunately this is not enough information to provide but a wide range of value. This description could be a copy or a real one, pictures would help but may not be conclusive, you can send as many as you like to me directly at davidlashof@yahoo.com  There are 42 different confirmed members of the Hopf violin making dynasty going back to the 1600's and many thousands of copies made in factories from the mid 1850's to early 1900's, many of which could fall under that description. Pictures might help to narrow it down, but in the end, an in person evaluation will need to be made to get a close estimate of value and authenticity. The copies can run anywhere from next to nothing to around $2000.  Real ones aren't huge in price, the worst can be like the copies and have little to no value while the best, made by David Hopf, can run upwards of around $5000.

The numbers that you have listed don't sound like anything a maker would use during the Hopf family reign.  They are more likely from when it was listed for sale, some kind of catalog or stock number. Based on the color of the varnish, it is probably not one of the real cheap ones as they were very dark red brown to almost black. One thing that will need to be determined is how the neck is installed into the instrument.  If it is the traditional way, that is a good thing.  If not, the cost to fix it could easily out way the value.

The best advice I can give you is to have it seen in person at a violin shop or musical instrument auction house. I would search Google for Southern California Violin Shops, there are certainly a number of them in the LA area, probably the best is Weisshaar.  

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David Lashof

Expertise

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.)

Experience

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.

Organizations
Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

Education/Credentials
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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