Dating violins

The dating of each violin was given as a calendar year (end date), as is usual in dendrochronological reports. We demonstrate how to interpret such reports in.
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Most bore some sort of label with the name of a famous maker. Countless people have experienced that moment of hope, peering inside the f-hole of a family heirloom and recognizing the name of a famous Italian maker: These labels were not intended to deceive. Who today would walk up to a row of brand new student violins labeled Stradivarius and mistake them for originals?

Often the famous names reflected the maker used as a model—sometimes quite loosely.

Dating a Musician

My first violin, handed down from great-grandpa, was labeled Amati, despite its flattish arching characteristic of a much later-style instrument. The practice is still common today. Andreas Eastman, for example, is a line of instruments produced by Eastman Strings.

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The label says made in China, nothing is hidden, but the name Andreas conjures up visions of Andreas Amati or Andreas Guarneri crafting fine instruments one at a time in long-ago Cremona, while the old English name Eastman meaning man from the east, appropriately hardly evokes images of modern-day China. Many trade instruments bore the label of the master maker in charge of the shop. Ernst Heinrich Roth is a famous example. Born in , the original Ernst Heinrich made many fine-quality instruments himself, which are in great demand today, but he did not spend his career working alone, making one at a time.

He started his own business in , overseeing production in his workshop. The business passed to succeeding generations, who, like the old Italians, used the same name as the old master. But without knowing the history of the Roth shop, the lay-person might not know whether he or she has a valuable original or a serviceable student instrument. While the stakes are not nearly so high as in the case of the Rocca, the price difference is considerable.

After paying a fee, Pfretzschner was allowed into the guild to handle sales. Exactly how the information is worded can help determine the approximate date of export. The McKinley Tariff Act of required all products imported to the United States be marked with their country of origin. So, if there is no such mark, the instrument is pre, or not made for the US market.

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Remember, the vast majority were. The act was amended further in to state that the place of origin must be in English. Post-World War II labels carry further clues. A few words of Latin and Italian are useful, as well. Guarnerius and Stradivarius are the the Latinized forms of Guarneri and Stradivari.

An Insider’s Guide to Violin Labels

Giuseppe is the Italian form of Josepf. You can also learn who is related to whom by knowing that filius means son of, nepos means descendant of, alumnus means student of, and frater or Fr. Markneukirchen and Mirecourt were the largest centers of production in Germany and France, respectively.

Cremona Cremonae, Cremonensis is the Italian city where Amati, Stradivari, and other great classical makers worked.


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Beare London , W. A quirky clue, but if you look at the bridge the small pale piece of wood holding the strings up , it may have a name stamped on it. This might provide a clue.

First violins imitated human voices: study

In the end, nothing is a substitute for an expert being able to inspect the instrument to tell you who made the violin. We at Amati provide a free online service where people can send in photographs, and valuation days around the UK and the rest of the world, where our specialist can, in person, examine your instrument.


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If you are thinking of selling, or just curious about the origins of your violin, viola, cello or bow, come along to an Amati Valuation Day. The most efficient way of finding out what your instrument is worth is to send us a few photographs through the Amati online valuation service. We should get your valuation to you within three weeks.

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Our website uses cookies, as almost all websites do, to help provide you with the best possible browsing experience. Who Made My Violin? How can I tell who made my violin? Come to a Valuation Day If you are thinking of selling, or just curious about the origins of your violin, viola, cello or bow, come along to an Amati Valuation Day. Is my label fake?

Probably, but don't despair. You can learn something about your violin from a fake label.