I inherited a Ernst Heinrich Roth violin. Is it real?

July 14, 2018, 10:09 PM · A couple years ago I lost both my grandparents. I ended up buying their house and all the remaining contents (after the will was executed and everyone got their stuff). My grandfather was a great musician (Guitarist) in the league with greats such as Chet Atkins and Les Paul. He also trained under a famous violin repair master and repaired violins.

He had Alzheimer for several years before he died, so not much was known about the instruments he left behind. I was going through some of his stored stuff (there is quite a bit and I found a violin case with a violin inside. I know nothing about violins, but looking through the F hole (I think that is what it is called) I could see a piece of paper inside that has these words on it.

"Copy of Antonio Stradivarius
Made under the supervision of
Ernst Heinrich Roth."

Over in the corner of the piece of paper, at an angle to the rest of the text, is a barley legible light brown stamp with the word "GERMANY".

I can see no other labels inside the violin. I would really appreciate it if someone here could give me an idea if this is a genuine Ernst Heinrich Roth and what year it was made.

I took some pictures with my smartphone of the front and back of the violin and also of the label inside. It took two pictures to get the whole label because of the small size of the F hole. I have uploaded them to my google account so you can see them. Thank you so much for your help.


Replies (30)

Edited: July 14, 2018, 10:50 PM · Although a few E.R. Roth violins have risen in value to the low 5 figures ($) in recent years - even at auction, most (I would assume all) of those have his own signature and were made in the 1920s with a few outliers. The auction prices cover such a wide range, even in recent years, that the bidding must depend entirely on "quality" in the bidders minds.

When I last gave a thought to such things 20 years ago, the E.R. Roth handmades were approaching $10,000 retail.

Your Roth shows no evidence that it was actually made by ER's hands, so it's value might be lower. But much might depend it's playing quality.

In the 1980s I had an adult violin student who stopped at a pawn shop in Winnemucca, Nevada and bought a 1925 E.R. Roth with bow and old case for $125. He knew what he was doing; E.R. Roth's were selling for about 10x that amount at that time.

Edited: July 14, 2018, 11:05 PM · contact the Roth factory, I think those labels were used before 1925 and are worth $7000 about if real;


July 14, 2018, 11:03 PM · you'll have to do much better than that on the pictures of the instrument, label pic are fine
July 14, 2018, 11:14 PM · Thanks for the replies. So you think it might be real? The reason I question if it is a real E.R. is that the label has no serial number or date of manufacture on it. All the pictures genuine labels I can find do have those on them, but this one does not. The label looks very basic. I will submit it to Roth Violins for verification, but this cost money, and I don't want to spend money on a knock off that is worth less then it cost to get it evaluated.
July 14, 2018, 11:29 PM · it costs $100 (85EU)for Roth's expert opinion, I would say its worth trying, it looks similar enough to a Roth for me, prior to 1925 they did not have serial numbers and the companies stamp in the wood
July 14, 2018, 11:55 PM · This is a paper label, not a stamp in wood. I could not find a stamp in wood, but admittedly, it is quite difficult to see much through the F holes. I cannot find a single label that is even similar to this label. If the violin is genuine, I would guess the original label was lost at some point and this is a replacement. I say this only because have looked at countless labels online and none of them start with the header of "Copy of Antonius Stradavarius". All other labels start with "Ernst Heinrich Roth" at the top in Italics.

I was thinking I might find a local master violinist that I could take it to and let them look at it and see what they think first before paying for an evaluation. Of course if I can't find one, I will send off. I used to have a friend years ago that had a Doctorate in Violin, but he moved to Illinois to teach in a university there and I lost touch with him. Maybe I can look him up.

July 15, 2018, 12:42 AM · Take better pictures (close ups of the bouts, scroll, top, back and ribs etc.) and post a link to them at https://www.maestronet.com - plenty of experts on there will tell you if your violin is in the ballpark of being a real and/or valuable Roth... But take better pics or you will annoy them!
July 15, 2018, 1:01 AM · Dont trust the yahoos at Maestronet, send the pictures to Wilhelm Roth at the factory, you don't have to send the instrument only really good pictures, I have seen that particular label in genuine Roth's before, the consensus seemed to be they were pre 1925 before Roth started using stamp and serial number, its probably not one of the higher level Roths but a pre 1925 low end Roth would still be worth $7000
July 15, 2018, 8:32 AM · “Real Roth” and “made under the supervision of” are two different things.
Of course it’s not a “real” Roth. Either made by an apprentice or on an assembly line.
July 15, 2018, 8:32 AM · “Real Roth” and “made under the supervision of” are two different things.
Of course it’s not a “real” Roth. Either made by an apprentice or on an assembly line.
July 15, 2018, 8:35 AM · Based on previous discussions here, I tend to agree with Scott.
Edited: July 15, 2018, 8:50 AM · Rubbish, 98% of real Roth's were made in a factory under the supervision of a Roth, only the very top model was supposed to have any hands on work by the real Roth. The made under the supervision Roths are basically the same as The cheaper 1700 Strad model Roths built later. Ernst Heinrich Roth was primarily a factory owner not a maker.
July 15, 2018, 8:56 AM · https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Heinrich_Roth
July 23, 2018, 10:55 AM · Thanks for the help. sorry for the delay in responding. My computer hard drive failed. I will take better pictures and post them and see what some experts think. I am encouraged by what I am hearing here that it might actually be a genuine unit made by the Roth factory, and not some cheap knock off made to look like a Roth.

The violin is in a another town, but I should get some pictures by Friday.

July 23, 2018, 11:05 AM · Resist the temptation to try to improve the varnish with wax.
July 23, 2018, 11:39 AM · Any experiences with that, John?
July 23, 2018, 3:10 PM · Since the violin belonged to your deceased grandfather, I assume he had it for years before his illness took hold of him.
For this reason alone, I would think it's an authentic Roth, as these instruments were not faked a few decades ago. I remember in the mid 80's at the university we had a heap of genuine Roths that no one wanted to have anything to do with. I still wonder why would someone want to make a Roth copy, but don't mind me, this is coming from someone who is spoiled with good violins and bows.
Edited: July 23, 2018, 11:45 PM · Lyndon: "don't trust the yahoos at Maestronet...." hahaha
You used to be one of them.

Since when are Jacob Saunders, Martin Swan, Peter Ratcliff, "Blankface" and a few other professional dealers yahoos?

Admittedly they wouldn't know a whole lot about the particular violins built for export to the US. But "Viola d'amora" has a pretty good idea and of course Jeffrey Holmes as they are from the US.

Besides if you can send some real good photographs as per


the Maestronet "yahoos" can give you a reasonable idea what quality violin you are dealing with.

Your pictures are very low quality. But Lyndon has a point: the label says made in Germany, not in West Germany which you would expect if it was a post WW2 and therefore low quality Roth.
It certainly is not from the period after the German unification considering the case it came in and also by the looks of the violin as far as one can tell.
And it is not from the post 1925 to 1940 period as the labels from that time look very different.
The only other question is if the label is fake and pretty well everything has been faked as far as labels at some point. Yet that is not so likely as not many people know much about the pre 1925 Roths. So I actually agree with Lyndon that you should try the Roth archives, but I disagree about the "yahoos".

July 23, 2018, 9:59 PM · BTW the bow may have some value. Post some good pictures of the bow as well, including the head and the frog from different angles. Then unscrew the adjuster entirely till the frog comes off .
Take pictures of the slide as well.
Also from any stamp you see near the frog.
If the bow is very crooked when you look along the length after turning the tension on the hair down the value might not be that much.
July 23, 2018, 10:03 PM · The $7000 Lyndon is talking about is retail.
July 23, 2018, 10:22 PM · The yahoos I'm talking about is everyone else that posts on Maestronet and tries to sound like an expert, including Viola d'Amour
Edited: July 23, 2018, 10:34 PM · She doesn't have the expertise of the others but knows quite a few things.

And she is very witty!

July 23, 2018, 10:40 PM · And she's usually wrong about appraisals which is a good example of how easily one can be misled by Maestronet yahoos.
Edited: July 25, 2018, 9:46 PM · Yes I think her appraisals are usually too high.
July 24, 2018, 5:05 PM · I'd say so Nuuska When I wax wrath, things get unpleasant either for me, or for somebody else, depending on who's stronger.
August 1, 2018, 6:10 AM · Ha! I'm one of the yahoos at maestronet. I wouldn't know a Roth if it bit me. There are some smart people there though, with whom Lyndon disagreed for reasons best forgotten.
August 1, 2018, 6:39 AM · Finding 100 Roths is more feasible and perhaps profitable than finding a real Mac Coy old Italian violin... Some books would help identifying the true ones:

1 - Roths - Their Life and Work;

2 - Violin Iconography of Roths;

3 - How Many Roths?

4 - I Segreti di Roth.

August 1, 2018, 7:52 AM · :)))) LOL
August 2, 2018, 7:32 PM · 5 -The curious case of the Roth in the night.
August 3, 2018, 1:15 PM · John, I too am a certified maestronet yahoo and have been able to fit 1 or even 2 feet in mouth at times.

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