The Albert Family of Philadelphia

July 25, 2004 at 02:53 AM · Has anyone here ever heard or know anything about the Albert family of violin makers who lived/worked out of Philadelphia from around 1850-1915? I've heard they were a very renowned firm, I know the father was John Albert, and the two sons were Charles F. Albert and Eugene J. Albert. I've had 2 or 3 encounters with violins made by this family, and I currently play on one with a lable from EJ ALberts, marked "Graduated and Improved by EJ Albert, 1918". I am very curious to find out more about the history or story of this family, but can't find any information on the web or otherwise. Thanks.

John

Replies (19)

August 9, 2004 at 11:43 PM · I own an Albert violin also. 1870 - Carlo Francisco Albert (Charles F.) ?

Haven't been able to find out anything about the maker.

I played it while growing up - my father traded an antique gun for the violin!

Sorry I don't have any more info.

October 2, 2004 at 04:24 AM · I also have own a Charles F. Albert violin (from 1884), but cannot find any more info on it. It was my grandfather's, but sat up in his attic for years. After getting it back into playable condition, I had it appraised and was told it's worth about $5,000. However, I was told that his violins made I think 1880 and earlier are worth about $10,000. Hope this will help. If anyone has any additional information, please reply or email me at sngrosch@yahoo.com.

October 2, 2004 at 01:09 PM · The Albert family did indeed begin with John, who was born in Freiburg around 1815, and moved to Philadelphia around 1848. His elder son Charles Francis was born in 1842 in Freiburg, Eugene John in 1852 in Philly.

They worked together as a workshop, producing instruments of slightly varying quality between the three (John and Charles generally being the best).

The reason that the instruments from before c.1880 are worth more is that John died in 1887, and around that time Charles Francis Jr. (born 1869) started working as well. After the father's death, C.F. Sr. and E.J. split up the business, each setting up shop a few blocks away. There's also a little confusion about C.F. Sr. and Jr. -- a couple of references seem to think they were one person because neither of them lived very long (1842-1901 for C.F. Sr., 1869-1916 for his son), so together they pretty much span one lifetime. But they had slightly differing style, and C.F. Jr. ended up more as a dealer than a maker (more on that below).

From the instruments that I've seen (which admittedly are not too many), it seems at that point both shops began importing instruments to be sold more than making new instruments themselves -- thus the dropoff in quality. A violin labeled "Improved by" or "Sold by" E.J. Albert, for instance, would be one of these.

The values you gave are pretty accurate, give or take $1000 or so. The violins by John and C.F. Sr. are generally of fine quality, Eugene John slightly less so, so that's taken into account with the value.

December 4, 2004 at 09:19 PM · My thanks to Mr. Avigliano for his information on Albert violins. My parents bought me a J.Albert, Philadelphia, 1860 in 1960 when I started lessons. It's always been one of my most precious possessions, and while I don't play as much as I used to it still means a lot to me. I chose it at the time because of its dark reddish color and deep sound. I wonder if those are characteristic of Albert, or John Albert, violins in general. slovenworth@aol.com

December 4, 2004 at 09:28 PM · There's something here for you to read, too--two articles:

http://soundpostonline.com/

January 29, 2005 at 12:41 AM · Hello all, I too have a E.J. Albert Violin, it was my fathers, I am trying to find out how old it is, and wish to have it restored. But do not want to get scammed along the way, I can not find a date on the violin itself, but do have a case from M&W Company and it is dated 1902, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Dawn

February 25, 2005 at 06:21 AM · I had a 4/4 J. Albert that was given to me by my ex-brother-in-law who paid $20 for it in a junk store in Chester County PA. I played it bluegrass style for 10-12 years, had it appraised for $2100, sold it to a student for $1700 about 8 years ago. It was large pattern tiger-striped maple, even, tight-grained spruce with golden-brown varnish and a slightly smallish neck. The purfling, scroll and f-holes were exquisitely clean. It had lots of volume and a full round sound, with Dominant strings and Aubert bridge. I loved that violin but was out of work and needed the money. A friend of mine of mine who deals in vintage instruments was of the opinion that it may have been an import regraduated and finished in Philly, but the maple was more like American maple than European. I'm thinking this was a later piece by John. It bore the J.Albert stamp, no other labeling.

September 9, 2006 at 05:51 AM · I have a charles f albert violin that I'd like to know if it is real or fake.

would anyone know the visual characteristics like the coloring, and how one is labeled?

September 10, 2006 at 10:15 PM · I own 2 John Albert's and although due to tendonitis I can't play anymore, I just can't sell them. One is soooooo beautiful, a kind of mixed Guanari style. The other is nice but not as nice... it's a deep reddish color.

Fred I don't know how I'ld be able to tell a "fake" and was told there is NO market for fake American Violins. I don't know what the Charles (his son's) violin's look like as both of mine are engraved? stamps not labels. The info I received about "John" Johann? was that he immigrated to America PA circa 1850 (an x lawyer) from Germany. Mine is stamped J. Albert, Manufacturer of American Violins, Phila PA (I think) in an oval. The tail piece however on one is this all in one of some kind of "thermoplastic?" and says Pat. Nov 10 1886.

TRIVIA: The company was purchased circa 1920 by the father of Hans Nebel in NJ. It's strange how one learns something that's a fluke of coincidence.

I also have a William Lewis & Son, Chicago, IL Ano 1902, George Nicholas Einsele, Maker.

Pam

October 10, 2006 at 06:42 AM · Hello, I have a beautiful Violin in an old wooden case looks almost the shape of a coffin, has two bows,I bought at an estate sale, i think it could be one by C F Albert, how can i tell a maker can't find any names, has a green felt inside the case that looks like it is actually made with animal hair of some kind,can you help me, has a brass string gage in small boxed area dated march 03 1886 C F Albert, I am so fasinated with this beautiful pc, with it's strange case and fancy bows.

January 13, 2007 at 06:50 PM · I have a violin in a case with a brass tag inside the lid which reads E.J. Albert Philadelphia 1854. The violin is unmarked and is the Stroh type with an aluminum horn instead of a wooden sound box. I understand these were made for acoustic recording. It also has a smaller aluminum horn sticking up I assume so the player could hear better. from Phil Gansz hgansz@sbcglobal.net

January 20, 2007 at 01:44 AM · In 2003 I purchased a violin "improved by" C F Albert, dated 1891, from George Gruhn in Nashville.

It had been the property of the late John Hartford, the songwriter and fiddler. According to Gruhn, who was also the executor of the Hartford estate and a personal friend of many years' standing, Hardford had purchased the violin in the 1960s. He was an inveterate trader-up, and Gruhn felt it significant that he kept this instrument his entire life, and used it in performance. (The double case that came with it had some dried leaves that no doubt had infiltrated the case during such a performance).

It has no label other than the Albert label, has a medium brown varnish and a two-piece back of fairly tight descending curl. There are two repaired cracks, one on the back near the button, one on the treble side of the belly, and one stable crack that remains unclosed. According to my luthier, it is not necessary to effect repairs unless it shows signs of opening further. Three corners are somewhat damaged, but sealed.

It is valued at about 4K.

January 20, 2007 at 02:04 AM · I have an American violin made by Bram Stoker. The case looks like a coffin. It came with a bow that looks like a wooden stake.

The violin has the inscription, "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may produce wolf tones when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

It might really be an Albert. I don't know.

January 20, 2007 at 07:19 PM · I'd hesitate to use silver-wound strings on the Stoker.

January 21, 2007 at 08:18 PM · i also have a violin but by E.J.Albert. it also says pat.Nov.10,1886. Does anyone know anyting about this violin? I would like to know the value and where I could sell it. It appears to me to be in great shape except for the strings.

thanks any help would be greatly appreciated.

January 30, 2007 at 02:26 AM · I inherited a violin labeled E. Albert

Sole Agent for

John Albert's American

Star Violins

124 South 9 Street

Philadelphia

Just as a note of interest- Antiques Roadshow did a show in Philly and featured a segment on Philadelphia-made instruments (John Albert being one of them). I had this instrument looked at and was told that it was a very good violin. I love the sound of it- even my teacher was impressed.

February 4, 2007 at 03:17 AM · I also own an Albert violin which my parent bought for me back in the late 1940's. It has a rich brown/reddish-orange color and a deep sustaining tone. It's a great sounding violin. The back and sides are of wide flamed maple. There is a beautiful flowered pattern on the tailpiece. This violin is stamped in an oval; where the 1st line reads American Star Violin, the 2nd, Manufacturor, the 3rd, Albert,the 4th MERK (or ERK) and the last, Philadelphia.

With the information I have provided,above, I would like to know when this violin was manufactured and it's origin!

October 18, 2007 at 04:54 PM · hi Everyone, I was wondering if anyone has information on old Violin I recently aquired. Has a paper label on inside stating Chas. F. Albert Sole Importer Philadelphia PA. Also, anyone know of any restorers in the Phila area? Or if this is worth restoring? Thanks!

October 19, 2007 at 12:40 AM · Take it to Fred Oster at Vintage Instruments, and see what he has to say. He's in Philadelphia, and is very knowledgeable, and approachable as well.

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