Attempting to research a violin

Edited: January 3, 2018, 2:02 PM · This violin was purchased by my grandfather in the 1940s (Philadelphia, Pa). It was purchased as a used older instrument at the time and that is all the information I had on it. Shortly after he purchased it he lost interest and it sat for decades (at some point getting damaged ).
I would like to restore it, but wanted to know more about it first , if possible. Country or origin or maker or any thoughts on age?It measures about 60cm in length and I do not see any labels inside. I appreciate your time.

Replies (14)

January 3, 2018, 2:21 PM · Hmmm looks like amateur work to me. The ribs don't seem set back enough, and the f holes aren't shaped properly. Also, in one of the pictures it seems like the plates aren't even in thickness.

Still, it could sound OK if luck's on your side!

January 3, 2018, 2:31 PM · It's a German copy of a Maggini. Probably around 1900, give or take decade.
Edited: January 3, 2018, 4:08 PM · If the bridge is still around and the sound post is still inside, it might be possible to get it into playing condition at a minimum with.
1. new strings
2. new tailcord
3. E-string fine tuner
4. new tuning pegs OR replace with Knilling or Wittner gated pegs. Neither fix is trivial.
5. Probably a new chinrest that fits the new player.

If you are trying to make it look pretty, that might be a lot of cleaning up - but unnecessary to be able to play it.

While the ff-holes are sloped more than standard, I have played violins similarly made that sounded beautiful. However it is not clear to me if the "purling" is real or just inked on; I suspect the latter.

January 3, 2018, 4:05 PM · Yeah, that chinrest looks super uncomfortable.
January 3, 2018, 4:33 PM · Thank you everybody. This really helps. I will look into repairing it
January 3, 2018, 7:21 PM · Looks like it could be quite serviceable with some love.
January 3, 2018, 8:01 PM · It will need a nut too - it's missing.
Edited: January 3, 2018, 9:18 PM · I agree with Scott, trade violin from the MarkNeukirchen area.
Maggini model with the double purfling and extra turn on the scroll.

There is an open seem at the bottom and the nut is missing as was stated earlier. Two pegs missing.
Other than that it appears in reasonably good condition; no obvious cracks in the table.
These violins often were oversize with a lenght of back well over 36 cm. The larger violins are worth less money; mind you the value of this violin is mostly determined by the amount of work needed to get it in good condition to play.
Edited: January 3, 2018, 9:29 PM · Looks like a roughly 100 year old Markneukirchen/Schoenbach production violin, might be worth $500-1000tops after what looks like about a $350 set up job, if it doesn't have any cracks, if it does it may not be worth fixing.
January 4, 2018, 2:48 PM · I'm surprised that nobody noticed that the bridge had been glued to the instrument.

If the instrument has significant sentimental value it is probably worth restoring and playing, at least for the family. Sometimes restoration and love result in a decent playable instrument that might be appreciated by a student.

FWIW: I play a family instrument (late 1800's German [Mittenwald?] copy of a Strad with lots of intarsia) that I paid to have fully restored and even had a local luthier tune the plates. I put more money in it than it is worth but, it serves me well and someday I'll pass it along to a student or school including the family story as to how it came to America. I doubt that it will be another "Joe's Violin" but when my playing days are finished, it will play on.

January 4, 2018, 6:22 PM · I'm with George. Spend the money on it if you want to. It's your damned violin. Not everyone is trying to make a buck flipping garage sale fiddles.
January 4, 2018, 6:56 PM · It does have sentimental value to
us:) I will look into repair
Edited: January 5, 2018, 9:58 AM · "It does have sentimental value to
us:) I will look into repair"

It's fascinating to me as a piano technician, this issue of sentiment. I see so many piano owners who refuse to part with an instrument that needs to go to the dump, just out of sentiment. Often people will pile money (against my objections) into a piece of junk.

Just as often, people will claim their instrument is a beloved family member, yet refuse to spend a dime on an otherwise good instrument, and it will slowly degrade past the point of no return. I had one customer who purchased an old basket case that was untunable. She wanted to "leave her family an heirloom."


I said (to myself): "What did your kids do to deserve that?"

Edited: January 5, 2018, 10:12 AM · There are a lot of ca 1900 "Magginis" that just have the double purfling but not the extra turn in the scroll. And not the extra backside. Obviously in some violin making studios there was a guy who made Maggini scrolls all the time, while the other guys were doing the other parts.

You're not saying whether you play the violin yourself. There is little or no reason to think that restoring this instrument will turn it into a great sounding instrument. So I wouldn't invest too much in restoration. Give it a cosmetic upgrade and hang it on the wall.

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