Stradivarius 1733

July 19, 2007 at 07:17 AM · I found this auction for a Stradivarius 1733 "Copy" on eBay Philippines:

The seller clearly says that the label inside the violin doesn't say "Copy," but the photo of the label shows a second line that reads "Made in Germany" :-P

Anyway, setting aside the question of whether or not this is an authentic Strad, what do you think about the craftsmanship? Judging from the photos, what do you think is its actual provenance?

Replies (54)

July 19, 2007 at 05:56 PM · It is sure that its a copy, even ive got a stradivarius copy made in Germany. My label says " COPY OF Stradivarius " and below it was written Master Kreul . mine was made in 1942 sumthin like that.

July 19, 2007 at 07:57 PM · I think that calling it a "copy" is being a bit too kind... It's a loosely Strad-ish violin shaped object (a "model" would be a more appropriate, but probably still too kind, description).

If the label is original to the instrument, it would tend to indicate that the date of manufacture was either between the 1890s and WWII or after the Berlin Wall came down (otherwise it would read "Western Germany" or if before the 1890s, usually not marked with country of origin). I'm betting sometime in the '20s or '30s. Looks like the varnish has been messed with.

July 19, 2007 at 08:10 PM · And ugly piece of junk not worth the $1100 US being asked. The whole body is warped. The end button area looks like the tailpiece/strings/saddle may be totally misaligned. Incredibly flat. It depressed me to look at it.

July 19, 2007 at 10:49 PM · I wasn't going to look at the pictures, but when Scott said it made him depressed, I got sucked in, LOL!

Scott and Jeffrey are being much too kind. Is the "buy it now" price what the seller is willing to pay to get rid of it?

July 19, 2007 at 11:58 PM · People have described me as many things. "Too kind" is not one of them...

July 20, 2007 at 03:59 AM · I doubt that any of the above gentlemen would take that particular violin as a gift, apart from just being kind to the giver. I know I wouldn't.

July 20, 2007 at 05:13 AM · Ask me in the winter when I have to feed my wood stove.

July 20, 2007 at 06:50 AM · Jeffrey and Scott: You guys are mean, haha

I just had a friendly email conversation with the seller.

Here's what I told him, very politely:

"Just thought to let you know that this most likely isn't a genuine Strad, especially if you're to judge based on the label: aside from the fact that it's neatly printed instead of handwritten, Stradivari wouldn't have printed 'Made in Germany' -in English no less!

However, that doesn't mean that this is a 'fake' in the sense that it was meant to fool prospective buyers. It was common to make replicas of famous violins and name them in homage to the originals.

My guess is that this is a German-made 'authentic replica' of an original instrument made by Stradivari in 1733. This replica was probably made sometime in the late 1800's to early 1900's, and was likely intended for sale in the US (or some other English-speaking country).

Your price may be a bit steep, but not altogether unreasonable if the instrument plays beautifully :-)

Good luck with your auction! :-D"

And here's what the seller had to say to me:

"Where in my ad does it say it is 'genuine?' If it's a genuine Strad, do you honestly think I would let it go for a lousy $1000? I think not. The description was merely to state exactly what the label says, and not

to make ANY presumptions on its authenticity.

I appreciate your 'thoughts' regarding violins. My price is not steep to those who know the value of antique violins. I have sold two so far in the past 2 on ebay and the other on craigslist. The customers who bought the violins did not even request a discount, which tells me the price I'm asking is just right.

Thanks for the appraisal, though."

I was honestly taken aback by his edgy response. I really didn't mean to put him off or anything; if my original message sounded arrogant, it was definitely unintended.

July 20, 2007 at 06:15 AM · Here's the other violin that he sold on eBay:

Interestingly, the guy who bought it said in his feedback for the auction: "GOT THE ITEM BUT NOT SEEING IT STILL MAYBE IN JUNE WHEN I VISIT PHILIPPINES."

July 20, 2007 at 04:22 PM · Paraphrasing Stern in a famous skatch.


it's written 1737?

....Ah ok that's the price:)

July 20, 2007 at 05:23 PM · If you write to every jerk selling trash on Ebay, you'll never have time to practice. It's like arguing with a creationist: save your breath

July 20, 2007 at 06:20 PM · I completely agree with Scott.

July 20, 2007 at 06:47 PM · If you lived in some place like that it would be so easy to sell a couple scam violins on ebay for a thousand bucks and never pick coconuts again. Can't blame him.

July 21, 2007 at 04:50 AM · A very high proportion of the violins claimed to be "Italian" on Ebay are nothing of the sort.

Quite a number of sellers will describe a violin as (eg) "Italian violin labelled Bisiach" and then say something like "I am not an expert and cannot guarantee its authenticity" which I am sure would not be a defence in a court of law. Obviously the seller is hoping people will think that even if the violin is not actually a Bisiach, it is probably Italian and therefore valuable.

It is amazing how a cheap Chinese violin suddenly increases in value when someone inserts an Italian label inside it.

July 22, 2007 at 07:31 AM · the only ebayer I've liked, but just couldn't afford, was the 3/4 violin and bow used by chloe Hemslip. Decent asking price, i don't know if it sold, but it was one of the few things that looked nice enough to own. I can't get over the number of sellers who give a very credible sounding description, then add 'i'm not an expert....' and so many people buy the things!

July 23, 2007 at 02:18 AM · Hey, Jim! What's all this about picking coconuts? I'm a Filipino and I live in the Philippines too!

No offense taken, though. Haha :-P

(my thoughts, for some strange reason, are moving toward coconut bras... Hmmm...)

July 23, 2007 at 05:42 AM · Scott,

Your quip about the creationists is rather glib. This is perhaps not the place to make that comment.

July 23, 2007 at 06:07 AM · Timothy, I'm with you man!

July 23, 2007 at 07:11 AM · I personally throw my coconut bras in random tip jars when I get the chance.

July 23, 2007 at 08:58 AM · When you're wearing them??? Is this a form of feminist protest?

July 23, 2007 at 09:36 AM · Interesting that neither of the violins he is selling has a bridge, yet he says "Other than that, the violin plays beautifully and has a rich tone."

Is that with or without the bridge? hehehe. If it plays beautifully and has a rich tone WITHOUT the bridge, it could well be a genuine Stradivarius after all!

Also he uses almost exactly the same wording in both his ads.

July 23, 2007 at 11:48 AM · I wonder how tight the strings have to be in order to get clear sound off of the finger board. The idea of hurting a violin like this makes my skin crawl. Hopefully you only enjoy playing a very scratchy G, D, A, and E without using your left hand.

Did anyone notice the huge stamp printed on the case? March 4th, 1916. I think that solves the mystery for me. The condition of the case is surprisingly good for the age (if we’re assuming 1900’s). This is one of those throwaway coffin cases, but it seems to have held up really well. The cheap paper lining is usually shot.

The violin has been given a quick French/solvent polish, or maybe a quick once over with new varnish (judging by the ‘sticky’ bridge foot marks). Usually older violins have a nice amount of wear around the bridge feet, way more wear than what is present here. This was shined up by someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing.

I say... $50 beater.

July 23, 2007 at 11:58 AM · Ian,

Interesting observations! I didn't notice the date on the case before either.


No worries! Coolness :-)

July 23, 2007 at 12:35 PM · Hey! I just spotted something else!

I was looking at the pictures of the "1733" viollin trying to find the details that Ian was talking about in the preceding post when lo and behold (in the upper part of the case) THERE'S THE BRIDGE AND THE SOUNDPOST!

No wonder this instrument looks so sad. It's amazing that it's still holding up in spite of everything.

July 23, 2007 at 11:45 PM · David Burgess, I keep a spare in my pocket just for this purpose.

(See Pauline Lerner's July 4th blog.)

July 24, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Ah yes, now I understand. Would the busking Joshua Bell have been a candidate for the coconut bra, and do you think he would have been appreciative?

July 24, 2007 at 01:06 AM · "do you think he would have been appreciative? "

Josh doesn't have to settle for spares like the rest of us.

July 24, 2007 at 02:37 AM · Jim, David, and Emily:

I agree. Josh deserves nothing less than the whole coconut!

July 27, 2007 at 06:56 PM · Preston,

my point was not to start a debate on the merits of creationism. But I ask you: have you ever argued with someone who believes in it? That's my point--that you will get nowhere because logic doesn't enter into the picture. You will go in illogic cirles. And thus, breath will be wasted.


AKA "Dr. Glib"

July 27, 2007 at 07:19 PM · The more Dr. Glibs on the other side, the better creationism looks.

July 27, 2007 at 08:11 PM · Ok, I can see where this is going.

Let's just say that in my experience, sellers on Ebay most likely know they're selling junk--or they don't know and don't care and are figuring if they put something up with a ludicrously high price someone might bite. I've seen quite a few $100 violins that were being sold for $10,000. So writing them and informing them of the lousy deal probably won't work.

July 28, 2007 at 11:35 AM · I've tried emailing sellers on ebay with messages like "do you realise that (eg) Romeo Antoniazzi was already dead when he was supposed to have made the violin you are selling" or "how come the label is a photocopy of the label in the XXXX encyclopedia including the signature" and they just shrug it off. They know you can get away with just about anything on ebay.

I once emailed to the bidders for an obvious fake and was promptly reprimanded by ebay, while the faker got off scot-free (and sold his fake for a good price). One of the people I emailed thanked me for telling him, whereas one or two others seemed offended that I was apparently questioning their judgement in bidding for this work of art.

August 5, 2007 at 10:35 AM · A quick update to this little and somewhat amusing saga:

After the seller's very curt reply, I emailed him right back saying that I'm a violinist and that I have a violin of similar vintage (mine says "Copy of Nicolo Amati, Made in Germany," i.e. it's at least 60 years old) so I know what I'm talking about.

He didn't even bother to reply :-P

August 7, 2007 at 09:34 PM · "Ah yes, now I understand. Would the busking Joshua Bell have been a candidate for the coconut bra, and do you think he would have been appreciative?"

Actually it's MY coconut bra and I don't appreciate you going on about it in here!

August 7, 2007 at 09:45 PM · I had to wear something vaguely like that when I tried out for the basketball team.

August 7, 2007 at 10:59 PM · From Roelof Bijkerk;

"Actually it's MY coconut bra and I don't appreciate you going on about it in here!"


OK, but how did Emily wind up with it?

And how do you now protect yourself when playing basketball?

August 8, 2007 at 02:32 AM · "OK, but how did Emily wind up with it?

And how do you now protect yourself when playing basketball? "

I have no idea how Emily wound up with it, and why she would steal it from Mr. Bell when it was mine to begin with, and evidently Mr. Bell has my coconuts for some sort of try out although it doesn't appear to have to do with basketball, and if Mr. Bell has my coconuts why should anyone know about it except that Emily stole them and then people go on about this stuff as if there's an end to this which apparently would be forthcoming as it usually goes; so, perhaps it's all about an uprising in the pacific somewhere, and seeing that it's about coconuts it's certainly not as dangerous as 911 or tsunamis or like hurricanes so why ANYONE would know anything about it is beyond me!

By now I'm sure the CIA has something to do with it already!


August 8, 2007 at 02:33 AM · My coconuts are nobody's business, not Mr. Dole's not Mr. DelMonte's, not Mr. Freeblowers Franchise and certainly not Mr. Frito Lays.


August 8, 2007 at 02:35 AM · So fine, I'm sure I'm going to try to go on vacation and there will be this strange sign (as if any Island isn't fine) that says:

Dangerous Filipino Coconuts.....

August 8, 2007 at 04:56 AM · David Burgess, Roelof sold me mine. Actually, Roelof has won more coconut bra making contests of truly international scope, won them more consistently, and won them against a greater number of competitors than not only any living coconut bra maker, but any coconut bra maker in history! Never before has a maker established such a large body of expert consensus about the tonal, artistic and functional merit of his apparel.

August 8, 2007 at 12:53 PM · I heard Roelof is now "hors concours" in the coconut bra category and is considering competing in the grass skirts. :-)

August 8, 2007 at 05:47 PM · Evidently there is this great creature (call him of her God, Gawd, The Holy One, The Source etc, what ever), and this creature's powers are so immense that I have been used as an impliment to make coconut bras and am rumoured to be going into the gras skirt category without any knowledge of my own that this has been happening, whether I am walking around at night without any knowledge of my own doing this I have no idea. Either that, or someone named Emily has stolen my coconut bra and is making up tall tales. In either case I am sure it will be forgiven.

August 8, 2007 at 06:18 PM · Whether this is against criminal behavior (ahem..ahem... Emily ...) or whether this is to herald the powers of the great omnipotent one, or whether this is for both, neither or any other combination I do not know. I do know that, if the great one has used me as an instrument to show his greatness through means of the coconut bra that he truly is all encompassing in his grace: because, I could not say two words about the acoustic properties of a coconut bra, how to chose the right coconuts, where the coconuts with the best acoustic properties grow, or were to cut them in half let alone anything about the history of this fine product of human nature. Thus, if there is any secret to be known as to Roelof A. Bijkerk's Secrets of Coconut Bras then you will have to find these yourself and I would have to study your material myself in order to find "my own" secrets.

No I have NEVER studied coconut bra production, thus if I have been making these bras rather than having them stolen from me, I am truly an example of the great one's love. I have studied the position of little sound posts made out of twigs – and sand papered to proper length using the rough edge of dried side walk cement when it is used for a side walk – the sound post fitting inside of paper cups discarded at local coffee houses. I went to the coffee houses to study human nature, but found the paper cups and twigs more interesting. I also am skilled in the making of magical wands using sidewalk-sandpaper and twigs or small branches. In fact I have also made jewelry using paper napkins as material for weaving, but I have NO memory of ever having made coconut bras.

August 8, 2007 at 06:36 PM · OK fine, so I had a memory slip: I do remember having years ago bought one coconut, and, after leaving it sit in my kitchen for at least one month if not several, taking it outside on a wintery night and smashing it in two with a hammer. What was it I found? The insides were smoking with bacterial behavior and consequently a black cloud of dust rose out of it. I scraped out the insides and decided the remaining shell could be used as an ash tray. That shell evidently is missing from my apartment (one can only presume what happened to it...ahem.. Emily) So if THAT is what you need to know about Roelof's coconut bra production fine....Next time I will buy shredded coconut and NOT to make grass skirts with!

August 8, 2007 at 08:10 PM · Touche, Emily!

August 8, 2007 at 08:14 PM · ;)

August 9, 2007 at 08:14 AM · Heh. Randomly found this today.

August 9, 2007 at 09:29 AM · I don't see anything there for Jim. :-(

August 9, 2007 at 09:31 AM · I think Jim is the only one out there who's thought of that one.

August 9, 2007 at 05:26 PM · It all leads to the Ultimate Question, and this is no exception. "Mary Ann or Ginger?"

August 9, 2007 at 09:12 PM · Emily, you definitely need to stop snooping around!

August 10, 2007 at 03:44 AM · Jim,

Aaaack! The Ultimate Question! Can't decide!!

I guess it's all a matter of one's preference of coconuts... Maybe the Professor can shed some light on this.

August 10, 2007 at 04:27 AM · Emily, Do NOT try to sell Jim or Timothy Marianne or Ginger!

August 10, 2007 at 09:16 PM · Well Emily, I have good news.

Yesterday, while riding my bicycle, I passed a woman wearing a shirt. On one side of the front it said Sugar and on the other side (of the front) it said Spice. Unfortunately Sugar and Spice looked like they had been through the French Revolution and needed some reconstruction (happy as she was with them, and no fault of her own). If you would please donate Ginger and Marianne to her, I am sure she would appreciate it.

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