James Carlisle violins?

March 20, 2007 at 06:54 PM · I have read many good things about the American luthier James Reynold Carlisle, and so was looking out for one. I just snagged one on Ebay, for a price that is so "too good to be true" that it's probably too good to be true. (sigh) -Or maybe not.

I'm hoping someone here might be able to shed some light on this particular violin.

OK, first, here's the auction I won:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140098478836&ssPageName=ADME:B:SS:US:1

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Here's what I know about Carlisle:

His best violins are regarded my many as some of the finest ever made. He used almost exclusively American Spruce and Maple, which he hand-selected.

He developed a proprietaty varnish, known as the "sunshine" varnish. This often looked like a sunset, being deep red with some yellows, but the name was actually due to the fact that it took weeks to dry, in direct sunlight.

He was hired by the Rudolf Wurlitzer shop in Cincinnati, in aproximately his tenth year of making violins. Soon after, they had him stop using the sunshine varnish because it took so long. He continued to make fully bench-made violins until the end of his life, but most of his output was lesser trade fiddles, to pay the rent. (even some for Sears) He reportedly made about 500 violins total, but only 75 bench-made, top-quality violins. The best ones have his thumbprint on the label.

His top violins were mostly Strad-based, with some later ones deriving from the Guaneri model.

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OK, So here's what confuses me about the one I just bought:

The seller thinks this is one of his trade fiddles, hence the low price. However, it has a thumbprint on the label, so I am hopeful. The scroll looks exactly like other Carlisles, and it's made from American Red Maple. However, in virtually every other way it differs from the "classic" Carlisle. Mine is (according to the seller) a Stainer copy, which is quite unusual for Carlisle. Because of this, it doesn't look anything like other Carlisle's I've seen. The f-holes are rather plain and there's no "sunshine" finish.

For comparison, here's an early one w/ the sunshine finish:

http://cgi.ebay.com/4-4-Carlisle-Violin-1924_W0QQitemZ250080246611QQihZ015QQcategoryZ38108QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Different shape, different f-holes, different button shape... Additionally, the lablel is "missing" some words, though the name-font and thumbprint look exactly correct. The differences in shape I assume would be due to this being a different model, but I I can't find any reference to Carlisle making Stainer models. It's possible that he never used the sunshine finish after hiring out to Wurlitzer, even on his best violins. And, it's POSSIBLE, that he made a few based on Stainer. -But then again, this could indeed be a lesser model, with a fake label. It's pretty unlikely that someone would put a fake thumbprint and then claim it's a trade fiddle. Weird...

The seller say it has a "mellow but strong" tone. That's pretty much what I'm looking for (more Millstein, less Heifetz) though the bridge is painfully thick, so the entire set-up is probably off. I figure a thinner bridge & a soundpost adjustment & the old girl might really sing.

OK, well, sorry for the long post. Does anyone have any idea at all?

Replies (53)

March 20, 2007 at 09:39 PM · I owned two Carlisles :) I saw a third one in person. They all three looked totally different but they were in Cinci, at a reputable place (the old Bass Viol Shop). The first one was unlabled but looked exactly like these two:

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/search?q=%2Bjames+%2Breynold+%2Bcarlisle

The one in your second auction looks something like that but the pictures are dark. The varnish on the one I had looked like that though. The scroll was also like the one in your second auction.

The one that I saw but never owned had Guarneri F holes. It was my favorite, but too expensive. It had a brownish varnish that I can't remember much about.

The second one I owned was basically a Strad model but didn't look like the red ones. From what I can remember though, the varnish looked a lot like the one you bought, but the model was nothing like that. Its label was 1924, but didn't have a thumbprint, and I don't think it had a number.

I see you have a seven day trial. It was cheap enough (in violin terms) that if you like it, you got a decent deal. I would look up Cincinnati violin shops and forward them the auction and see what they say. You can't prove a negative, but they might have seen one like it before.

March 20, 2007 at 09:25 PM · For what it is worth, I have a Carlisle from 1929 number 490. The varnish is similar to yours, sort of yellow with a bit of brown. However, the f holes on mine are more nicely cut. On my label there is handwritten under the date what looks like the word December. I note on your label there is no handwritten final number for the year. I would doubt that mine has a fake label, since I bought it back in the 70's and these violins had little value then. Be aware I am not an expert by any means.

March 20, 2007 at 09:47 PM · Thanks, guys. This is exactly what I wanted to know. Jim, your report of the various models is very reassuring.

I think most likely this violin is the real deal, and that Carlisle simply stopped using that reddish varnish after hiring out to Wurlitzer. The only other likely possibility is that Wurlitzer decided they "owned" the fingerprint label, and used it afterwards on lesser instruments, but that is incredibly unlikely.

As Jim says, at the price I paid and with a return option, I really can't lose.

I will have a top luthier give this violin the full treatment, and report back afterwards.

March 20, 2007 at 09:48 PM · He's in a lot of the old violin maker directories that cover American makers. I remember one of them said the Cincinnati Orchestra had a lot of his violins in it at the time. I know a lot of his violins are still around Cinci, and if it could be identified, that would be the most likely place.

March 20, 2007 at 09:50 PM · Yes, I read an article about him that mentioned many of the Cinc orch players used his violins and raved about them, including the concertmaster.

Thanks again, Jim.

March 20, 2007 at 10:08 PM · A couple of other details, on mine it also has the thumbprint which is the same as on yours. Also, the purfling work looks very similar, sort of small and close to the edge, corners look similar also.

March 20, 2007 at 10:20 PM · The more I look at it, the more the vibe looks somehow right to me. Don't know if that means anything. Probably not :)

I noticed the pics show two different bridges and two different sets of strings. Maybe you'll get the good bridge.

March 21, 2007 at 12:34 AM · Bruce, since you have one in the same style, I'd love to know your opinion on it. (FWIW, to me it's looks like a 1678 Stainer, due to the larger upper bout)

-Same for you Jim, regarding the one you had with the thumbprint, even though it was a different model.

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BTW, Jim. Good eye! I completely missed that somehow. One pic has a different bridge, different strings, and even a different fine-tuner. That sure is odd.

March 20, 2007 at 11:09 PM · I didn't have one with a thumbprint. I don't want to have an "opinion" really, because at the time I owned them, I wasn't capable of getting the best out of them, so any conclusions are pretty meaningless.

March 20, 2007 at 11:36 PM · If you're looking for input from a Cincinnati dealer, try the Baroque Violin Shop. I've been there a few times (yes, I live in the area). The guy that owns the place owns a Stradivarius.

Dave

March 21, 2007 at 03:54 AM · The more I look, it looks like you have the real deal. The bee sting on the purfling of mine goes right to the end of the wood. The wood looks similar , although mine is a 2 piece back. My pattern is strad. I think you got a good deal. John Montgomery in NC appraised mine a few years back for $5k for insurance, I think simply because Bein and Fuschi sold one for the same price.

March 21, 2007 at 04:42 AM · Thanks, Bruce.

I'm sure at this point it's real bench-made Carlisle. Sweet.

I'm still a bit concerned about it being a Stainer model AND the seller saying it is very mellow but strong. That's exactly what real Stainers are known for. I am indeed looking for a warm, mellower instrument, but not so warm that it doesn't sound like a modern violin! Well, we shall see. From what I've read of Carlisle, his models only borrowed certain aspects (in this case, obviously, the f-holes) but he still maintained certain basic construction principles that he believed in. So I'm probably OK.

BTW- Tarisio sold a Strad model in 2004 for about $5600. I've seen a few others go for almost $7,000.

March 21, 2007 at 05:02 AM · Well, I have to admit that I paid not too much for mine, but that was in the 70's when American instruments were not very desirable. I guess I got a good deal. I lend the instrument out to deserving students.

March 21, 2007 at 09:07 AM · Allan, I can't believe you had the guts to buy that violin without playing it first! The great thing about it is, if you play it and don't like it, you know you can sell it for much more than you paid for it. Sounds like you made a smart move.

March 21, 2007 at 09:17 AM · Buy it without playing it? He has a seven day approval. And guts aren't the same thing as stupidity :)

March 21, 2007 at 10:22 AM · I didn't say it was.

You're talking to someone who bought a car on ebay last fall. Who am I to judge?

March 21, 2007 at 11:07 PM · Buying the car took guts. Driving it to Alaska took...um...luck.

March 21, 2007 at 11:28 PM · It took gas. A lot of gas.

March 22, 2007 at 12:27 AM · -So does playing violin. Well, first chair, at least.

Lots & lots of gas. (g)

March 23, 2007 at 07:03 PM · My Carlisle is No. 1003, Hamlet, Ohio, 1935. The varnish on this instrument is not like yours--more like the first example from eBay, but the purfling, corners, scroll, and f-holes all look similar.

The label is entirely hand-written, with thumb-print.

Here is some info from From "Thumbs Up To James Reynold Carlisle (1886-1962), Noted American Violin Maker," by Margaret D. Banks, Curator of Musical Instruments, Shrine to Music Museum, (now the National Music Museum), Vermillion, SD, in "The Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter," April 1995:

“Had Stradivarius put his thumb-print in the varnish on his labels, there wouldn’t be so much doubt today over genuine Strads” proclaims a caption that appears in an eight-minute silent movie from the late ‘20s, “he Violin Speaks,” that documents the craft of violin-making as practiced by James Reynold Carlisle (1886-1962), the noted American violin maker.

Thanks to just such an imprint, no such confusion exists about the authenticity of a violin built by Carlisle, in Amelia, Ohio, in 1953, at the request of his nephew, Walter Corsi of San Bernardino, California. Corsi donated the instrument to the Museum in 1992.

According to Thomas Wenberg, author of the standard reference work, “The Violin Makers of the United States” (1886), Carlisle made more than 500 violins, of which about 75 were handmade and are fine instruments. It is this latter group that bears the maker’s thumb-print. …

Archival materials relating to Carlisle’s life and work, received in recent months from Walter Corsi and his sister, Mary Corsi Kelley, Ann Arbor, Michigan, include historic photographs, templates, varnish recipes, Carlisle’s personal notebook, and a copy of the silent movie. …

Kelley notes that her uncle obtained his spruce from a location 6,000 feet up in the mountains of North Carolina, "in order to get wood with the finest grain."

Born in Ashland, Kentucky in 1886, Carlisle constructed his first violin in 1910, when he was 24. He made and repaired violins for the renowned Wurlitzer Company in Cincinnati, after moving there from West Virginia in 1918. He took advantage of this opportunity to study many fine instruments in the Rudolph Wurlitzer Collection, including the famous “Betts” violin by Stradivari and the “LeDuc” by Guarneri.

Instead of strictly copying these instruments, however, Carlisle added “a distinct individuality” to the principles of the great Italian violin makers, according to Wurlizter’s 1925 catalog. The glowing advertisement goes on to note that, “despite the comparatively short time since we started to feature Carlisle violins, the demand for these wonderful instruments has been nothing short of phenomenal. Students and professionals alike have found in Carlisle violins genuine inspiration for their work.”

Like many others, Carlisle sought to discover the recipe for Stradivari’s “secret” violin varnish. His experiments led to the creation of the “Italian Sunshine Varnish,” so-called because it required several weeks of strong sunlight to dry. Although this varnish was used for only a few years, the Wurlitzer Company favored the name and featured it in their advertising long after it ceased being used.

Leaving the Wurlitzer Company, Carlisle was associated for a while with Homer Beach at 310 E. Eighth Street in Cincinnati, then operated his own shop at Peebles Corner for about ten years, before moving his operations to a shed behind his home in Amelia, Ohio. In contrast to his output of violins, Carlisle made only five violas and one 'cello. …

At one time, nine members of the Cincinnati Symphony played Carlisle's instruments. One of these was the concert-master, Emil Hermann, who wrote a glowing endorsement of Carlisle's violins in 1930. "You may know," he noted, "that I own a very fine Strad made in 1700. My audience often thinks I am plying my Strad, when, in fact, I am playing my Carlisle. I do not think one could pay a modern violinmaker a more handsome compliment."

Six Carlisle violins were made for the automobile magnate and violin collector, Henry Ford, who is also said to have given the Amelia maker some prized old wood for use in making additional instruments. Another one of Carlisle’s violins won third place for workmanship at a 1941 New York competition sponsored by Jascha Heifetz.

According to Carlisle’s niece, Mary Kelley,

In his long career Uncle Reyn made many good fiddles and a good many, no-so-hot cheap ones. The uneven quality of his workmanship may have come about as an attempt to make ends meet. Aunt Blanche needed a new set of false teeth. Uncle Reyn put together a shipment of fiddles for Sears Roebuck, or some other buyer—no Strads, to be sure, but they paid for Aunt Blanche’s teeth. …

It seems only appropriate for the Shrine to Music Museum to give a thumbs-up to Walter Corsi and his sister, Mary Corsi Kelley, for their foresight and effort in helping to preserve the details of the life and work of a significant, early 20th-century American violin maker, who to them will always be known as “Uncle Reyn.”

March 24, 2007 at 02:51 AM · I admire what you have accomplished. I very much like the "bloom" this purchase has. Good eye.

When you play it, can you hear/tell the difference?

That's where the money is.

I've been to a few auctions. The weak crumble and

the well versed get the prize.

March 24, 2007 at 03:06 AM · Scott, thanks for your very detailed notes about Carlisle. When I purchased the one I have for a low sum of money, I was immediately struck by the nice quality of workmanship and attention to detail. That is the reason I bought it, not for the immediate tone quality. Bruce

March 24, 2007 at 04:29 AM · Yes. They're neat looking, without at least big mistakes, not like an amateur.

The 500/75 number has me wondering if it's actually low. We have 4 or 5 of the supposed 75 thumbprinted ones (?) accounted for in this thread. From what I'm reading here, it sounds like he was most likely underpaid and frantic, which is a bit depressing. He being from Appalachia, you can take some of what you've read here to mean there were lots of family demands, including extended family.

I sold my second one back to the shop I bought it from, for a profit, amazingly, a couple years after I bought it. He had a buyer already though, I think. That was 25 years ago, and I think it was about $3000, which means their prices haven't changed in 25 years.

The guy in the second auction also has a NOS Rolland Spicatto for sale. He wants $1500.

March 24, 2007 at 04:23 AM · quote "The 500/75 number has me wondering if it's actually low. We have 4 or 5 of the supposed 75 thumbprinted ones (?) accounted for in this thread. "

Well, we know for sure that the "500" number is way-low, since Scott has number 1,003.

March 24, 2007 at 04:33 AM · Haaa! You know, somebody should really research the Cinci makers from that time period. There were at least a half-dozen good ones, but there's little compiled info. The last time I was in a violin shop, there was a violin there by yet another one and it looked just great. It was priced at only $5000.

March 29, 2007 at 12:28 AM · Here is a cd by fiddler Mary LaPlant, "inspired by the feeling she gets when playing her new violin, which was made by James R. Carlisle in 1922."

http://www.musicoutfitters.com/artists/marylaplant.htm

Might be fun for those of us who play on Carlisle's.

Something I'm curious about is that nearly all the his violins that I've heard about were made in the 1920's. Mine is from 1935, the most recent I know about, but he lived until 1962. I wonder when he stopped making violins.

March 29, 2007 at 12:45 AM · Here's another tidbit about Carlisle. This was published in Violinist Magazine in November 3, 1928:

Violin Construction: The Top, BassBar, and Soundpost

By James Reynold Carlisle

REALIZING that at best we can only follow rules which are flexible in operation with regard to violin building, I will attempt to show general causes and their effect which will be of value in bass bar work.

The vibration phenomena which takes place throughout the violin body while being played is not visible and prevents us from seeing the cause, but allows us to hear the effect. This applies especially to the bass bar, which of all parts of the violin has been least understood. In order to gain any knowledge of the bar which will be of value in constructing new violins and repairing old ones, an experiment which has just been made will certainly give an idea as to the relative importance of the bar.

A new violin has been finished off, varnished and strung up in the usual manner, with the bar purposely left out. Upon trying out the tone we find that there is a distinctly muffled and muted sound, and false tones and defects of different degrees of intensity. The tone is anything but desirable.

The top is now removed, a bar carefully glued in place and the top replaced. Again the violin is tried and while we still hear the muted and muffled sound, with but one exception all defects have disappeared. This one exception is a tendency of the open A string to break down in tone under bow pressure. While this does not always show up in all violins, it is a general thing, and seems to indicate that the violin will be of first quality when finished.

After noting carefully the rectified and improved condition of the tone since adding the bar, a sound post is put in place and the violin is completed. Tbe tone is now full and resonant and of good quality. The muted effect has been eliminated, defects have disappeared and the A string no longer breaks but responds largely and quickly. Experience has shown that the spruce tops must be reduced in thickness until they respond freely to string action. This top is much too weak to support the string pressure, resulting in the numerous tonal defects mentioned above. The function of the bar then is to rectify the faulty vibrations by making the top more rigid, and to bring about a harmonious action throughout.

Without the sound post the tone is still weak, due to the fact that the top acts independently of the back and the breaking of the A string is caused by a weakness yet remaining in that section. The addition of the post then seems to be the final connection in a complete assembly and brings the tone sounding plates into unison.

As each violin maker has his own particular style in model, arch, graduation, etc., it is reasonable to say that while there is a fixed rule to follow in fitting and shaping a bar, this rule must be flexible and will vary in proportion to great difference found in violins.

A rule of primary importance is to get the bar fixed to the top in a way that will give maximum rigidity with minimum resistance. This can be accomplished by chalking in the bar to a perfect joint with every part touching perfectly. If this is done properly there will be no need to use thick glue as this would only check freedom of vibration. The shaping of the bar will influence the evenness of scale on the G side mostly, but affects the entire scale generally. The rule, therefore, is to cut the bar in such a way as to allow the bridge to sit directly on one of the nodes. The nodes of the bar are always at a point one one third of the length from either end.

Tap the point A and a clear tone will be heard; but at B it is completely dead. This will show that a bar fitted to a Strad arch would be as follows: This combination is acoustically perfect and as the years go by will improve rapidly and finally develop real Strad tone. There are so many types of arching that the following sketches may help in determining type of bar for each violin. No. 2, rounded arch. : No. 3, pointed or peaked arch. It will be noted that the law of node formation has been disregarded in the two types shown above, and generally cannot develop a tone of satisfactory proportions. Although Joseph Guarnerius very often used the No. 3 arch with wonderful results, it seems to be exceptional, and his fine tone is due to several other causes which will not be mentioned here. In fitting the bar it should not be sprung at each end, which tends to prevent an Italian sounding tone from developing.

Of equal importance is the ability of the individual maker to feel or sense correct proportions in building his violins. While we must follow out certain measurements we must also allow the inner self to dictate proportions in such a way that the finished work will be one of art rather than a mechanically measured wooden box.

A summary will show that the bar must always be in keeping with the arch of the top, the thickness considered of course on the G side. Make a perfect joint, use thin glue, clamp in with scarcely any pressure, with freedom of action always in mind. The bar thickness should be as follows: Thickness of top at bridge Thickness of bar 6/64" 3/16" 7/64" 3/16" 8/64" 3/l6"

The depth of the bar should be at most, even with the under surface of the violin edges. The post must be round, stand straight up and down and fit snugly only; and in direct line with the right foot of the bridge and 1/8" approximately back of the bridge foot. You will also notice that I regard the post, so long as it is fitted properly and made nicely, of no particular importance other than that mentioned, that is, to create a unison of the parts. Time and playing will do the rest.

Once when Rubinstein had been talking patronizingly of "Papa Haydn," as is still done by those who cannot appreciate the superiority of eternal freshness to momentary novelty, Brahms flashed back at him: "Yes, presently you will be Grandfather Rubinstein and then Great-Grandfather Rubinstein; but he will still be Papa Haydn." . . . Grandfathers Malipiero and Schoenberg please take notice.

June 23, 2007 at 05:57 AM · I have had in my possesion for several years a violin, that I actaully did not think was of much value. I am not a musician, but was a professional ballet dancer & this violin turned up years ago lost/abndoned & was never claimed by anyone (I have no idea why I've kept it around). I decided to unbury it today, look it over, & do some research on the internet in order to list it on eBay. I stumbled upon this blog, & looked at the auctions mentioned at the beginning. Before I list this, I thought of letting those of you who have posted on here know of it since you have more knowledge & can appreciate this piece better.

This violin is a 1953 James R. Carlisle violin. I found this out by looking inside through 1 of the openings & seeing a hand written label. It reads: James R. Carlisle

No. 1204

Amelia, Ohio

Mar 1953 (with an original thumbprint)

I looked at the 1 bought on eBay & the thumbprint appears to be commercially printed on the type-setted label. I am guessing that this violin since it is actually newer, & yet has a hand written label, must have been hand made by Mr. Carlisle himself.

I have uploaded several photos of the violin at:

http://www.4ole.net/violin/

Please take a look. It does not have the strings attached, but there is a little compartment in the case that has a packet with strings & also the other little wooden piece. Also, there are 2 cracks on the body of the violin that extend from 1 of the openings. These can be seen of the 5th photo.

If you know the value of this violin & would like to make me an offer or suggestion on the best way to sell it, please contact me at: adriana@4ole.net

June 23, 2007 at 09:19 AM · the more central crack occurs close to where the imprint for the right foot of the bridge is. that is, close to the position of the soundpost. this is a bad place for a crack.

i'm not too sure but i think a good carlisle fetches about 5-6000. i wouldn't consider this a good carlisle, based on appearance alone.

i'm very curious about the label. i have a 1929 carlisle (no. 227) that has a printed label that says Cincinnati with the thumbprint to the left. did he run out of printed labels in his later production? did he move later to Amelia? did he make violins in the 50s? did he make 1200+ violins?

November 4, 2007 at 03:34 PM · I am so thrilled to have found this thread on James Reynold Carlisle.

I have owned my Carlisle since 1969, when my father bought it for me from JB Miller violin shop in Lexington, Ky. JB Miller knew JR Carlisle well. We paid 500.00 for the violin, case and bow , and I must say that luck was very much with us as it is one fine violin. Compliments or offers have been made to me from every violin maker/luthier who has worked on it over the years.

It is 437 , made in 1935, with the thumbprint on the left, and a beautiful look, balance and unblemished golden brown finish. Of course I have taken great care of it.

It is a marvelous sounding instrument and I have played it for all these years, with people asking to play on it and remarking on its beauty. My violin instructor at the University of Illinois used to ask to play it at the start of each lesson, and said it reminded him of a fine modern Italian violin.

I now live in Texas, and was introduced to another Carlisle owner, a woman fairly advanced in age, who owns a violin and viola made by him . I believe she and her family knew him back in Ohio.

Mine was appraised at 15,000 many years ago and I have not had another appraisal done. I would love to own another, but fear I would be disappointed in it ,since his violin quality was so erratic. Evidently I didn't get one made when they needed denture money:) !

March 20, 2008 at 01:59 AM · I have three authentic JR Carlisle violins, I play them professionaly, and they are all very nice -sounding. None have the thumbprint; what they do have are exceptional wood choices, fine craftsmanship, beautiful varnish, and - most important to me: full, rich tone with good depth, color, and volume.

Two are Strad models with fluted f-holes, one red/brown and shaded, the other golden/brown ( with a neck-replacement. My favorite is a Stainer-esque model, with broad varnish re-touching on the table; it has a large, glowing tone which excites any pro who has ever played it. All three fiddles have one - piece backs, and similar numerical pencil-markings inside, on the top and the top block.

One I found in Ohio, one was in Chicago, and one from New York. The one from Chicago is the prettiest, and developed a slight but attractive craquel in the 1st day or so after arriving in the dry environ of LA.

March 24, 2008 at 05:07 AM · ok, I said Stainer-esque, but the arching is really not too far away from some Peter Guarneri's I have seen; not too bubble-like at all.

October 21, 2008 at 03:52 PM · I also have a Carlisle violin. My grandmother played it years ago in the ISO. She left it to me when she passed away. I have all the original documention, bill of sale including discription from Wurlizter when it was purchased. I had it appraised several years ago and have had is played as often as possible. I am looking to lend it to deserving high school or college students to play. Does anyone know how one would go about this? I live in the Indianapolis Indiana area. Thank you, Julia

January 10, 2009 at 01:38 AM ·

I am not in favor of donating or lending better quality violins. Rarely have I seen one of these that has not been abused and neglected. I have a collection of some 18 violins by Carlisle plus 2 violas and have sold that many or more over the years. A good and very interesting maker.

July 14, 2009 at 02:50 AM ·

Re: Carlisle Violins. I have # 1169. Appears to be personally signed into the wood, with thumb mark in the varnish. Dated July 1945, Cincinnati. Appears to be bench made, one piece back. Has beautiful tone quality. Anyone have ideas? Paid $5000 about 15 years ago.

July 14, 2009 at 11:51 AM ·

You can find photos of 9 Carlisle violins, and auction results for a dozen, at Tarisio.com

December 30, 2014 at 04:03 AM · A short video of James Reynold Carlisle in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bjm7qLpabA

December 31, 2014 at 05:28 AM · Yo: old post

September 16, 2016 at 05:52 PM · I was fortunate to be able to purchase a Carlisle violin from the family of the original owner a few weeks ago. I had started looking for a thumbprint Carlilse after viewing the black and white film and reading all the praises by those who had experienced them. While I was researching, I became curious to learn more about the builder and the violins he created.

I put together this list of the years and numbering on them based on what had been posted here, other violin sites, auction results, ones currently listed for sale, etc. Please keep in mind, the numbers and years are all based on what had been posted by individuals with no authentification or verification of what had been posted. If there are any that are incorrect, or other ones that can be added, please post them in this thread (preferably with pictures of the label) so I can update this list.

Year, Number

1924, 22

1924, 78

1924, 170

1926, 173

1928, 191

?, 197

?, 201

1924, 203

1924, 210

1929, 227

1927, 242

1935, 437

1930, 444

1929, 490

1933, 533

1932, 547

1935, 1003

1940, 1097

1943, 1142

1945, 1169

1946, 1177

1953, 1204

November 20, 2016 at 03:13 AM · Hi I just came across one, in my hand now. What should I do? I would like to find out more, I am a guitar player so I am like in new land. it has a tumbprint and is number 1142 from 1943 Thanks

November 20, 2016 at 02:51 PM · Congratulations on finding one and what is it that you would like to find out more about? Are you considering buying it, selling it, planning to learn how to play the violin, or something else?

November 20, 2016 at 05:20 PM · thanks, Eventually selling it, It has his signature and thumbprint, I thought about learning but, is this something you would want to learn on? I feel like it be better locked up. How does it look as far as condition?

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B5Uis2RlxS1mY2IwdGNxQmNRMjg?usp=sharing

November 20, 2016 at 05:22 PM · https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5Uis2RlxS1mOEl6TnhkUW1oUHc/view

November 20, 2016 at 05:55 PM · From what I could see in the pictures, it doesn't look there are any cracks on the front or back. Check to see if there are any separations from the sides to the top or bottom and if there are none, it may just need to have a proper set up by a good luthier to be playable. You'll need a bow, new strings and a bridge, but could have a very nice violin to learn on or sell without too much difficulty.

The violin is not the easiest instrument to learn how to play and it has no frets like the guitar so the learning curve could be a challenge. It looks like this violin was used by a beginner since the tape on the fingerboard was put there to help find the proper notes. If you decide to keep it and learn to play, find a good luthier who can give you an estimate on repairs to get it playable and then find yourself a good instructor. Hope this helps.

November 20, 2016 at 06:36 PM · How much could this be worth? Is the signature actually written or was it stamped with his thumbprint? It came with a bow and case,

November 20, 2016 at 06:51 PM · I'm selling mine through David Brewer Violins. It's on offer asking $15,000.

November 20, 2016 at 07:03 PM · Is ebay a bad option for something like this, even with a good rating? Thanks

November 21, 2016 at 12:08 AM · From what I have seen in my searches, they will sell from around $1,500-2,000 in bad/poor condition, between $3,000-8,000 for most ones in playable condition with a bow and case, and in musical retail establishments the ones in excellent collectible condition are listed for $10,000 and up. eBay could be an option, but you should also consider the Mandolin Cafe, Reverb, other music oriented websites, and check with other fine instrument dealers who might take it on consignment. They will have a larger and more targeted clientele for your violin.

You also might consider trading it for a collectible guitar which you might be more knowledgeable regarding the value.

November 21, 2016 at 01:09 AM · It came with a bow and case, how would I know if the bow is worth anything or original? thanks

November 21, 2016 at 02:26 AM · It would probably be best to start separate threads with more info about each of them and request help from any members who might be able to help.

February 4, 2017 at 10:41 PM · if you send me an email,I can send you a recent JR Carlisle label pic; #1134, dated 1935, with hand applied thumb print.

February 5, 2017 at 06:24 AM · 1934 actually, but I cannot upload the pics from my phone

February 7, 2017 at 12:29 PM · Hi Tom, I don't see a way to send you an email from the site, but if you can send one to me with the pics, I'll add it to the list.

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