Wonderful violin by Luthier William Fendt.

May 7, 2007 at 08:24 PM · One of my adult voice students brought a wonderful English violin with her today, which absolutely knocked my socks off. It's not for sale, but I'd like to know if anyone knows something about the luthier. I can find nothing online.

The maker is William Fendt. Dated 185X (no last number added) This was her fathers' violin since he was young, so little chance of it being a fake.The violin is exceptionally light, and somehow felt "right" in my hands, even before I played it. The tone is incredibly full and rich, with average volume but wonderful "internal reverb." Oh, how I want that violin. It just devours anything I've played, anywhere, and all we had to string it up were some nos Wondertone reds that were in the case.

-And a cheap, swivel-foor bridge.

-And the soundpost was directly under the bridge foot.

-And it STILL sounded amazing. (you just can't keep a good man down)

I can't wait to try it with pure gut strings.

So odd that I can't find any info on the maker, he had to be a master.

Always nice to experience something like this, but now I almost can't stand to go back to my little fiddle collection. My student doesn't even play violin, but she wants to keep it as an heirloom. I'm trying to convince her that this isn't fair to the poor violin, but resistance is high.

Tonal Gods, why hast thou punished me so? ! ! !

Replies (21)

May 8, 2007 at 03:06 AM · Hi Allen. Henley devotes a paragraph praising this maker. He's also mentioned in Jalovec's 2 volume encyclopedia of violin makers, and H R Haweis includes him in the dictionary of makers appended to his book "Old Violins".

No one has a lot to say about the man, but it seems safe to say that his violins speak for themselves. FWIW, there's no specific mention of a sale in the latest red book, though there's a couple of sales of Fendt family instruments (and a longish list of specific Fendts).

This could be good news. No major track record of sales translates into a less expensive purchase, perhaps, if such an eventuality is in the cards.

May 10, 2007 at 04:51 AM ·

May 12, 2007 at 01:34 AM · Hehe... I play on a Bernard Simon Fendt c1830;) My parents bought it a year or two ago. Are they related in any way? It's not a powerful sounding violin, but a sweet-sounding one. It sounds very elegant and I'm very happy with it. Currently have a set of Evahs with Oliv E on them. Cya:D

May 12, 2007 at 01:48 AM · B.S. Fendt was the father. He is the one with the very serious reputation, having worked side by side with Thomas Dodd & John Betts. Many of B.S 's instruments were sold with Dodd's or Betts's names on the label.

Sadly, the son died at age 19.

March 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Hi Allan, and others,

For a couple months now I have been intrigued by this post; and although i have little hope that Allan is still here to answer, i can't help but post a response.

I myself own a violin by William Fendt (or at least the label says so). I fell in love with it much like you have with its brother, gathered all the money i had, and went to buy it the next day at an auction house in boston. That was oct 2006.

Since that, i tried to get information about him, but I have had contradictory opinions as to whether the signature is real or not. Nonetheless, everybody agrees that it looks english and that it is ancient. Although people say it might be fake, i always thought that if someone is to put a fake label, they should not choose the name of someone who is relatively unknown and died to young (my violin is dated 1850, that would be when W Fendt was 17yo)...

But now reading your description, i am struck at how similar my violin is to the violin you described: the lightness, the special feel of the wood, a dark color, a full sound; but most of all, it also had the weird swivel bridge!

Because of the date of your post, this instrument you describe can not be the one i own though.

If there is any chance that you get this message, and perhaps that you are still in contact with your student, I would really love to know a little bit more about the history of that other william fendt instrument. Obviously they both went for bridges to the same maker at the same time; when? where??? could mine be a copy of yours? How sure are you that yours is real?

Thank you very much for your response,


March 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM · Lyndon, thank you very much. I understand now the argument about fake labels of unknown makers.

Ideally, i would love to find another violin signed by W Fendt to compare it with mine. The swivel bridge in the violin Allan Speers saw is a sign that these two violins may have been in the same hands at the same time ... He also wrote that he thought the violin he saw was not a fake ... Thus that i am intrigued!

March 12, 2012 at 08:31 AM · Allan and Veronique - William Fendt was the son of Bernard Simon Fendt II. He was born in 1832 and died of consumption aged only 20. William worked as his father's assistant in London until he died.

March 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Hi,

There is a mention about Fendt and family in 'Violins and Violin Makers' by Joseph Pearce (of sheffield), Published by Longman and Co, London. It Just says all what Marc Butterlin mentioned in his post. It also added that all the Fendts have the reputation of being excellent workmen.

March 14, 2012 at 08:49 AM · Dear all,

Thank you very much for your responses. I am thinking of showing the violin to an expert in order to have an end word on this question. Given that it is (supposed to be) an english violin, do you think i should rather go to someone in England? Do you have recommandations on whom to go to? I live in Paris but I sometimes go to the UK for work.

Thank you!


March 14, 2012 at 09:23 AM · Dear Veronique

I'm very happy to give you my opinion. There aren't many instruments around labelled William Fendt as he mostly worked assisting his father, but I've come across a couple and should be able to help.

I also do some work for the British Violin Making Association and we published the book The British Violin which contains examples by the Fendt family, and if need be I could enlist the help of some of its contributors. We may be able to work with good quality photos initially and get to a preliminary opinion on that basis. Do get in touch if that's of interest (in French or English, I'm French but have been living in London for the past 11 years!).

Best wishes


March 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM · Howdy,

I just have to chime in. About 4 years ago I bought a small 15 1/2" viola labelled "Made by W. Fendt, London, 1851." Based on biographical information, it would have been made in his 19th year, before his death in 1852. The viola has had some loving repair through the years. It has a lovely sound. It is the kind of instrument that is soothing and enjoyable to play after a hard day. Nicely carved scroll, classic styling and measurements. I just think it is neat to enjoy a piece of 161 year old English violin making history and contemplate the tragic loss of a young maker who was already producing quality instruments.

June 26, 2012 at 10:35 PM · Hello

I also have a violin labeled William Fendt, Jun 1951.

Reading all the posts I wonder now if it is a fake or the real deal.

Veronique did you find out about yours?

Marc would you like to look at some photos of mine aswell?

Kind regards,


June 27, 2012 at 02:32 AM · in a book by george hart...violin makers and imitators.....william assisted his father in the making of double basses

June 27, 2012 at 09:04 AM · Well I don't have a Fendt :) but I'm suitably intrigued to want to see a picture of one - and the 'wannabes'. Can someone post and link here?

Edit - well I found one 1951 - at Skinner auctions!


it sold for $3,700 but does not say when.

Here's another by a repair man (in pieces which is useful) assuming this is authentic:


And another at Ronald Sachs violins:


Take a look at the back, its gorgeous!

Looks rather different - but perhaps the best authority?

W. Fendt must have ben prolific to make so many instruments in such a short time!

June 27, 2012 at 02:03 PM · Elise, the one you found at Skinner's is the one Veronique owns and has been writing about in this thread. She bought it from them at that sale, and it turns out to be genuine (she had it authenticated in France recently).

Kristina, I'd be more that happy to look at pictures of yours. My e-mail is marcbutterlin@btinternet.com.

June 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM · Thanks Marc - that ties the story together so nicely :D

BTW - how about the other two? The first looked very different - while the second (broken one) I have no clue but I'm sure you could tell.

June 27, 2012 at 03:07 PM · Elise, the other two are advertised by dealers, and I'm sure they've done their homework before attributing the violins to Fendt, so it's really not for me to comment. Anyway it would be very difficult to authenticate them based on these photos alone, in particular the one that's in pieces.

June 27, 2012 at 03:30 PM · OK, thanks. ee

June 29, 2012 at 01:14 PM · Hi all,

Indeed, I have taken my violin to a luthier recently to repair an old crack; having open the violin, the luthier found that the top part was signed by hand by William Fendt, and she said the signature appeared perfectly genuine to her.

I had no idea that violins could be hand-signed, and find it quite moving!


June 29, 2012 at 01:17 PM · PS. I too am intrigued at how the beautiful-back violin looks different from mine; this makes young William Fendt even more impressive to my eyes. Kristina, I would be curious to see how your own Fendt looks like!

July 12, 2012 at 09:29 AM · Hello Veronique

So cool the you top part was signed by hand!

I would be happy to share some photos with you.

I can send you an e-mail.

I still do not know for sure if it is a Fendt, I have send an e-mail to Marco today.

Kind regards

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