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Identify that violin

Instruments: Where did that violin really come from and how old is it?

From Hal Walker
Posted November 29, 2007 at 04:25 PM

I'm trying to determine the origin and year of a German violin. The type written label under the E string reads "Germany." It has a single line rectangular border around it. I believe sometime after 1900 the laws changed and required labels to read Made in Germany. There is another label, hand printed in pencil, under the G string that reads "Glass-Starner" or something close to it. Any ideas about the violin's age and origin?

From Tom Holzman
Posted on November 29, 2007 at 04:35 PM
The "Starner" might be "Stainer" who was an early luthier around Stradavarius's time (Bach had a Stainer). However, the addition of
"Glass-" before "Starner" suggests that it might be a Stainer (or Starner) copy by someone named Glass. I would google the names and see what you get. You could also take it to your local luthier.
From Sue Bechler
Posted on November 29, 2007 at 05:34 PM
The handwritten label could also be someone who did repairs or adjustments on it at some point. I'd say your best bet is the opinion of a luthier who handles a lot of oldish instruments. Probably the best you can expect is a confirmation of German/not German and an approximate age. Sue
From Tom Holzman
Posted on November 29, 2007 at 07:14 PM
Sue's point is well-taken. The other thing to remember is that even if you can figure out what the various labels mean, maker labels are notoriously unreliable and are about the last thing an experienced luthier will look at in trying to determine the provenance of a violin.
From Bob Annis
Posted on November 29, 2007 at 07:51 PM
Sometime after the turn of the century legislation was passed to compel inclusion of information on country of origin; I forget the date, but it was around WWI if memory serves. That might offer clues to origin and approximate date.
From Hal Walker
Posted on November 30, 2007 at 04:49 AM
The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 required that items imported to the U.S. be marked with their country of origin. In 1914 the act was revised to require the words "Made in" to also be used. Finally, in 1921 the act was revised yet again to require that all country names occurred in English. Thus an object labeled simply "Bavaria" of "Nippon" would likely (but not absolutely) be from some time between 1891 and 1914. "Made in Italia" might be before 1921.

This my clarify the label tha reads "Germany."