1740 Antonio Pandolfi violin, Venice

May 11, 2015 at 11:50 PM · I have recently purchased a 1740 Antonio Pandolfi and would like to have more information on the maker and the value of the instrument. I included the most pictures I could and would really appreciate any kind of info. The seller also added that the instrument was either bolognese or venetian.

The back and ribs are made from Italian Poplar.

I believe it is also important to see that beside the label, there is the signture syaying that the violin was restored in 1947.

http://i.imgur.com/wh8VDeL.png (front)

http://i.imgur.com/Ygg12pr.png (back)

http://i.imgur.com/avHDTi2.png (side)

http://i.imgur.com/flbehU8.png (scroll)

http://i.imgur.com/nZWLtjH.png (label)

Thanks in advance!!!

Replies (40)

May 12, 2015 at 02:16 AM · Consider reposting this on maestronet.com.

Although some of the violin makers and dealers who frequent there sometimes post here, you might get access to more experts in antique instruments over there.

May 12, 2015 at 02:22 AM · An interesting violin with slab-cut back and perhaps the ribs. The state of varnish is a bit disappointing - that, plus the overall condition (any cracks on the back?) can reduce the market price of the violin.

Do you like the sound? If yes, than who cares.

If bought as an investment... you need an expert appraisal. Congratulations!

May 12, 2015 at 04:23 AM · Looks like another fake off ebay, but I'm not absolutely certain, but I don't see any neck scroll graft, and the varnish looks recently done to look "old"

May 12, 2015 at 05:46 AM · That end button is a potentially costly repair waiting to happen.

May 12, 2015 at 02:23 PM · Could this be it? http://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-Antique-Vintage-Italian-Violin-lab-Antonius-Pandolfi-1740-NO-RESERVE-/121643024697?

May 12, 2015 at 02:30 PM · The very one, that ebay seller, violiniada, is a notorious conman, absolutely no chance your violin is genuine coming from him, Your violin might be just barely worth $1500 if it sounded great and didn't have that nasty crack in the heel of the neck, Oh, and the bridge looks low, another costly repair needed.

May 12, 2015 at 02:37 PM · Man, I'm in the wrong business. Is it really that easy?

May 12, 2015 at 02:56 PM · For the future benefit of the OP and any lurkers, some things to know about buying violins:

1. Labels mean nothing.

2. Seriously, labels mean nothing.

3. It doesn't matter what the seller or the label says the violin is, if you can't find a respected expert to certify it as such, it is not that thing.

4. Even respected experts can disagree, in which case the bigger and/or more recent name wins. I myself am in the middle of taking a bath on a violin that I had every reason to believe was in fact what I thought I was paying for. Somebody (hopefully soon) is going to get a heck of a deal on a professional quality violin, courtesy of my naivete.

5. Labels mean NOTHING.

May 12, 2015 at 03:10 PM · Sorry, labels only mean nothing if they're fake, in the less common instance where they are real and belong to the violin, they not only add a lot to the value, the add a lot to the sale-ability of the violin. And even a fake label can sometimes tell you something about where a violin was made and when.

As a person who browses ebay frequently, not because its a good place to buy, but because once in a while, if you really know what you are doing, you MIGHT pick up some bargains. The thing I'm often looking for is a violin with a genuine label that's going for the price of a violin with a fake label, as most people intelligently assume that almost everything on ebay is fake, its not true, only 99.9% of everything on ebay is fake!!

May 12, 2015 at 03:14 PM · Labels mean nothing until and unless authenticated by a respected expert, in which case you are correct, they add to the value.

However, from the point of view of the layperson looking to buy a violin, the label means nothing. It is the absolute last thing to consider until and unless it has been authenticated. I am guessing that the notorious ebay seller linked above is counting on people assuming otherwise.

Editing to add that the main thing adding to the sale-ability of an old violin is a certificate from one of the big names. Without that certificate, the label (as stated above) means nothing, except perhaps to the unwary. This may or may not matter depending on the price point and putative maker of the violin in question. If the violin is an old German violin from an obscure maker and the price being asked is in the low to mid four digits, I suppose the label probably does help, and it certainly doesn't matter.

May 12, 2015 at 03:19 PM · A famous example of misleading labels is Casals's cello which he acquired early in his career and played throughout his very long life. He thought it was a Bergonzi (well, that's what the label said, didn't it?) and so did everyone else. It wasn't until after Casals died that a thorough investigation established that it is in fact a Goffriller - very probably ;)

For more information about the intriguing story of the Casals cello see,

http://online.wsj.com/articles/pablo-casalss-cello-gets-a-new-life-1415115960

and this video of the magnificent instrument being played after its refurbishment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTso0wYH4f4

To my mind, the only way to be absolutely certain about the provenance of a violin is to commission one from a luthier and watch him making it through its various stages.

Or make one yourself.

May 12, 2015 at 03:21 PM · It would have been nice if my mislabeled violin had in fact turned out to be a Gofriller. Alas....

And no, I did not buy it on the basis of the label; I bought it on the basis of a certificate from someone who was a respected expert. Just not quite expert enough, evidently.

May 12, 2015 at 03:29 PM · I'm splitting (bow) hairs here Trevor, to slightly disagree with you.

A living modern maker who has made an instrument recently (in the last few years) will have given it signed paperwork to back up the label and also photos. Any problem and he/she will issue new valid paperwork and confirm.

Of course seeing it made plus all those things is great too, but you don't have to commision it and stand over the maker. Or am I being naive?

The problems are with long dead makers who may not have left proof, and also crooks who tamper with labels and other things to pass instruments off as valuable.

May 12, 2015 at 03:39 PM · Peter, a little bit of dramatic exaggeration on my part!

May 12, 2015 at 05:58 PM · Mary Ellen, can you seek remedy? Is there no such thing as malpractice in the certification of antique violins?

May 12, 2015 at 06:33 PM · Even the experts can make mistakes. I had the opportunity to buy a Vincenzo Panormo violin quite a while back. I was informed by a friend of mine who was a dealer that Vincenzo Panormos made in Paris were exceedingly rare. The violin then went to Moennig who said it was a George Panormo. My dealer friend said that if I wanted to be really sure, the firm which knows the most about English violins is the Beare shop in England. Photos were sent and he said without a doubt it was a Thomas Kennedy. Thus the price dropped from 60k to 30k to 12k.

May 12, 2015 at 06:35 PM · No remedy, just a painful lesson learned to the tune of about $12K. Others have learned harder lessons. Unfortunately the person who sold me the violin has since passed away. I am not going to sink so low as to go after his widow for something that I should triple-checked instead of merely double-checking, not that I would have a legal leg to stand on anyway.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

Editing after reading Bruce's post. It was sold to me as an Odoardi, and certified as such by someone I would rather not name considering subsequent events, but who did have expertise in the field. I do not believe he was trying to cheat me; I believe he made an honest mistake.

Two other experts since have said that it is not an Odoardi and not even Italian. It now has a Reuning certificate as an 18th century Scottish violin in the style of Matthew Hardie. At least it's still old.

Last I heard, it was out on approval (it's in Indiana). Anyone who wants to know more is free to message me. At this point, I am hoping only to cut my losses.

May 12, 2015 at 07:38 PM · Actually the "dealer" was a recognized expert in Italian violins who was the author of a reference book.

I am hoping to sell the violin at a fair price to a conservatory level student or young professional. The Reuning certificate will go with the violin. It is not being sold to another dealer or an auction house, so I think the odds of it "resurfacing" at a later date are rather low. This is a violin to be played, not to be part of a portfolio.

May 12, 2015 at 07:45 PM · "A living modern maker who has made an instrument recently (in the last few years) will have given it signed paperwork to back up the label and also photos. "

Peter, I don't even bother with that anymore, since most kinds of photos and paperwork have become so easy to copy or fake.

Instead, I ask people to keep records of their bank transactions, which are verifiable through the bank, and would be much harder to fake.

When it comes to contemporary makers:

If you can show a money trail from your bank account to that of the maker, furnished by the bank, I think that would be pretty hard to beat. But even that may not completely cut it, since not all "violin makers" actually make their own violins.

If anyone has better ideas, I'm all ears!

May 12, 2015 at 08:17 PM · Well, yes, Joe.

I know of someone who owns a Strad and has had it for many years. (In the UK). But no one will apparently give it a certificate, even though everyone knows it's a Strad.

Reason: the dealers are waiting for it to become available on the market, when they can get it for a song, and then certify and resell it at a great profit.

This is what I have been told. It could well be true, as the source(s) are professional players.

May 12, 2015 at 08:23 PM · The circumstances under which my violin was identified as not being an Odoardi were convincing to me, as it involved experts with no financial stake, and two separate experts unknown to each other who said exactly the same thing about the violin. But you can think what you like.

May 12, 2015 at 08:35 PM · Mary Ellen, I wasn't suggesting you seek remedy from the seller, but rather from the expert who you hired to perform a service that ended up being done poorly. Sort of like when real estate attorneys miss something in a title examination and it turns out your house is sitting within the boundaries of a state park. But, you do not want to litigate, and that is your prerogative. At the $12,000 level I cannot blame you. Put another zero or two behind that, though, and the game changes, hypothetically, perhaps.

David, what you say sounds depressing. Maybe for each violin you could make a video in which you give the viewer a detailed tour of the instrument, showing them special markings in the wood, unique aspects of its construction, etc. Videos are harder to fake than photos, and your voice and moving picture would be there as well. Your buyers would probably really treasure those too. I know I would. A bit like the mint and the Secret Service trying to stay ahead of counterfeiters.

On the other hand, maybe there is a silver lining for the consumer. If indeed it becomes so easy to fake a violin's provenance and impossible to prove that a violin is really what one thinks one is buying, then maybe we resort to a world in which violins are valued ... gasp ... by how they sound.

May 12, 2015 at 09:16 PM · @Joe: Why do you take such an interest in my violin? The drop in value through a change of identification, while significant in my world, is really quite unimpressive in the world of fine violins. This is very, very far from the case of a violin that may or may not be a Strad. I overpaid, but not at any level that would make someone wealthy or even be worth a conscious lie.

I have stated that the violin now has a certificate as an 18th century Scottish violin from Chris Reuning, who was one of the two experts who on separate occasions not known to each other said exactly the same thing about my violin. Are you intending to allege dishonesty on the part of Mr. Reuning? That is a very serious accusation, possibly libelous. I will not be party to such an allegation.

Neither of the aforementioned experts was consulted or involved in any way when I purchased the violin eight or nine years ago. The person who was is no longer living. I believe he was an honest man who got something wrong. But what does it matter if I am wrong about that and he was in fact knowingly intending to deceive? Done is done.

If there is any point to be taken from my story, it is that even the experts can make mistakes and even the professionals can be fooled. How much more, then, must a buyer beware when buying from a nameless faceless entity on ebay?

And now I would like to drop completely the subject of my violin.

May 12, 2015 at 09:42 PM · Someone mentionned a low bridge: could anyone go a bit more in depth with what it implies. Also, would it b possible for anyone give a hypothesis of the origins and the age of the instrument as well as its value?

May 12, 2015 at 10:12 PM · If the height and/or curvature of the bridge is incorrect, the violin will be difficult to play and will not sound its best. Having a bridge replaced is not a big deal but it will cost you some money--it's been awhile since I've had that done but I'm guessing about $200 from a qualified luthier.

As for identifying/appraising the violin, that is impossible to do without seeing it. You can email pictures to an expert for a preliminary assessment but nobody is going to sign his/her name to a piece of paper without seeing the violin. I would suggest that before even sending pictures to anyone, you take the violin to a local shop and ask their advice. If the violin is obviously fake, they will tell you so and you can save your time and money by not pursuing it any further. They can also give you an opinion on whether the violin is worth what it would cost to fix up. That endpin tilt is potentially serious.

May 12, 2015 at 10:41 PM · "@Joe: Why do you take such an interest in my violin?"

Mary Ellen, people on violinist.com tend to take an interest in violins. :-)

May 12, 2015 at 10:41 PM · You know that's not what I meant. He was badgering me.

May 12, 2015 at 10:47 PM · Honestly, I didn't know that.

May 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM · Everyone has their own threshold. The third post topped mine, especially since it came after my attempt to send a clear signal that I was done.

May 12, 2015 at 11:07 PM · At this time and age, I often wonder why there is not a single database of high quality photos of violins with verified and confirmed identity, combined with "face recognition software" or similar one used for fingerprint match?

There are quite a few "markers" such as f-holes, pegbox and scroll, dimensions, which could be used to find a match.

It should not be such a great challenge to replace visual (and very much subjective) inspection by a dealer with a sophisticated and unbiased software.

Yes, I know that exact and great copies would return false positive, but this would certainly eliminate many, many errors and shady dealings.

my 2 cents (Canadian)

May 12, 2015 at 11:11 PM · Do something like what Bussotti did in The Red Violin: put a few drops of your own blood into the varnish. It's pretty hard to fake your DNA.

May 12, 2015 at 11:11 PM ·

May 12, 2015 at 11:32 PM · Kevin, does it need to be blood, or would a hair follicle or two do? Not that I'm a sissy, just asking for no particular reason. ;-)

May 12, 2015 at 11:44 PM · Does it seem like it is an 18th century violin?

May 12, 2015 at 11:57 PM · No.

May 13, 2015 at 12:20 AM · Alexandre, I am sorry that you have evidently been taken by a conman. An authenticated 18th century violin is not going to be sold on ebay, especially with no reserve.

The only way I can envision some sort of miracle acquisition on ebay would be from a seller with an attic violin being sold as such, but that was really an undiscovered gem. It's a one in a million chance but it can happen. Just a few years ago someone found a $32K Pedrazzini violin in a dumpster near my city.

To clarify, that discovery did not motivate me to start dumpster diving.

May 13, 2015 at 02:08 AM · Mr. Burgess, according to the movie, blood mixes well with varnish. :)

May 13, 2015 at 02:17 AM · It is kind of funny you mention that movie because my grandfather's cousin produced it :)

May 13, 2015 at 03:05 AM · Joe, I mean John, haven't you already been banned from this website under your real name for nonsense like this??

May 13, 2015 at 03:37 AM · The term "low bridge" can mean just about anything and really does nothing to indicate if something is wrong with a violin.

Basically, the bridge height is set to achieve a certain clearance between the fingerboard at its end and the G and E strings. The bridge is then notched to have all 4 strings touch the radius of a circle that is typically 42mm.

If a violin with high table arches has the bridge setup as above, the bridge will appear lower than a bridge setup on a violin with a relatively flat table.

A really odd-looking bridge height on a bridge setup for typical string clearances and bridge arch might be an indication of something odd elsewhere on the violin, like a badly set neck or sunken table arches.

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