Maggini violins

Edited: October 15, 2018, 4:35 PM · I have this old violin, 1880s German (though one luthier said Czech, but I take what he said with a grain of salt because he tended to evade my questions and just try to sell me things...)

It is 14.25in long, fully carved, the scroll leans back quite a ways and is long compared to my other violin. It is extremely heavy (my friend's professional violin felt like a toy, and my 15" viola is significantly lighter as well), has a very thick neck and ribs, and has rather long F-holes. The varnish is a gorgeous dark burgundy with dark red on the back, and has a two piece back with flamed maple on the back and sides. It has single-purfling. I had to order custom viola pegs because violin pegs would not fit in the peg box.

I was made aware of a maker called Maggini (spelling?), and my violin fit several of the descriptions that this person explained to me (and showed my via photos, though his both had double purfling, a triple scroll). One of his had the flamed maple that mine had, and his other had birdseye maple (gorgeous!)

What I'm wondering is this: is there a chance that I have a Maggini model violin, and if anyone knows what one from the 1880s might be worth? I had asked my luthier after we got the violin restored (it's an heirloom) and he said Strad copy, but the shape isn't quite right for a Strad. There is no sticker or writing in the instrument.

Looking forward to your comments!

Replies (24)

October 15, 2018, 4:54 PM · You might want to take photos and post it over on in the Pegbox section. Read their helpful post at the top of that section on photos that are helpful, but that might a better way to get an attribution. In any case, you might want to add photos here... That said, it could be true that the violin is both German and Czech, because many violins like what you describe were made in German-speaking regions of what is now the Czech Republic, a region known as Vogtland. Made in a cottage industry setting and marketed by the dozen (known as Dutzendarbeit) to wholesalers, there were all sorts of grades of them, from the very crude to the pretty nice. Sometimes they have "Stainer" or "Amati" or even "Strad" stamped near the button, and there were Maggini models. Often the models had only vague associations with what they were supposed to copy, and some had no relation at all.

The good ones have nice wood and sometimes are really fine players, but they are not worth much money. If you have one that plays beautifully and sounds great, you could potentially get close to $1K for it, because fiddlers don't care about attribution but love old fiddles like this. I have played some spectacular ones. A garden variety version in solid playable shape might be worth $500.

October 15, 2018, 5:00 PM · Hmm, there is nothing stamped on it anywhere, but it is extremely dark and warm sounding (it loves dark strings like Warchal Brilliant Vintages and Ambers) and has a very clear tone. It responds very well, depending on the string that's on it. Currently I've got Evah Golds on it with an Amber Forte E, and the gold G is slightly sluggish in response and fuzzy sounding. Perhaps too dark. I sometimes say I'm a bit spoiled by it because any other instrument I've tried has been incredibly bright and harsh under my ears.

How would I post photos? I'd love to show you all what it looks like, because I do think it's quite unique.

Edited: October 15, 2018, 6:02 PM · I had a copy of a Maggini by J.B. Vuillaume for about a year. Lovely and powerful instrument! It also was slightly larger than 14”, had double purfling, and a extra twirl on the scroll (which is a Maggini signature).

There’s no way of knowing the value of your instrument without seeing it. I would show it to a good violin maker who has a trained eye. There are some people who are noted ‘appraisers’ who have never made, played, or restored an instrument. This Antique Roadshow on PBS has a few such people - they won’t be able to give you as informed an opinion.

Edited: October 15, 2018, 7:05 PM · Only some of these are stamped--I just mentioned it because it's something that you see sometimes. I don't think we can post photos here, but you can on maestronet (the standard there is if you have made 10 posts you can post photos, but some people seem to be able to do it right away). I hope you do it, because I love looking at people's violins...

Yeah, if it were the Vuillaume version, it would be worth more money!

Edited: October 15, 2018, 7:10 PM · its unlikely you have a Maggini model if it doesn't have double purfling, the 3 turn scroll was a feature of some "copies" not the originals. The long back brings up the possibility it might be French.
October 15, 2018, 7:12 PM · Nothing you said augers _against_ it being a Magginni copy - the length is plausible (they get even longer), and single purfling doesn't rule it out. The tone sounds spot on. Generally Magginni copies seem to have a very distinctive style of f-holes, slanting outwards, kinda like this randomly-chosen google image
October 15, 2018, 9:22 PM · So Maggini copies have a certain kind of tone?? Would that be Mark/Schoenbach production violin kind of tone or a special subset of such??
October 15, 2018, 9:47 PM ·

Here is my post with photos! It needs to be approved by a moderator (which I'm sure it will be!) so please check back tomorrow and see if it comes up!

For the record, I've named it Gustav, and though I might have small hands and have trouble in higher positions, I wouldn't give him up for the world :)

Edited: October 15, 2018, 10:32 PM · Lyndon, my instrument has a warmth to it that I've never experienced before in my life. I've tried many instruments at NYSSMA conferences (a local conference paired with a competition/music festival for students in the Western New York region and the whole state. Teachers and music vendors such as Armstrong, Loree, Buffet, Bach, etc. come from all over the state) and none of the others compares to the sound mine makes. Every one of the others sounded harsh and bright under my ears. I'd even prefer this one over a $10K Italian violin. I'm not sure if I just got extremely lucky and have an instrument that is well seasoned despite hanging on a wall for 20+ years and then sitting in a shopping bag in a room with no heat/AC (thanks, mom and dad...) for over ten years until I begged them to get it restored, or if this instrument is actually worth tons of money. It's priceless to me because of the sentimental value, but it could be worth $500 or $5000, we don't know.
October 15, 2018, 11:17 PM · Try some Passione Solos on it!!!!
October 15, 2018, 11:22 PM · Julie, I'm trying the new Warchal Timbres on it at the moment. Just put them on tonight! I had EP Golds on it, and I was okay with the A and D, nice and warm, but G was super fuzzy and E whistled like a train.

My favorite string set up so far has been Warchal Brilliant Vintage G and D, Russian A and Amber E.

How do the Passiones compare to the Warchals?

October 15, 2018, 11:26 PM · most Maggini copies sound distinctly mediocre so you have done well!!
October 15, 2018, 11:39 PM · I play on a Maggini copy that is amazing (Suck it Lyndon :p ). Never tried Warchals. The Passione Solos bring out the lower strings and I get a really rich tone and lots of color. It carries well too. I tried Evahs, and they were entirely too resonant- I could still hear an open G two measures later. I use a Goldbrokat E, as the upper strings are a bit thinner sounding. The regular Passiones are good for orchestral playing because they blend well, but for projection, the solos are amazing. I've never had any response issues with either the regular or solos. I also have the bridge farther back, virtually on top of the sound post.
October 15, 2018, 11:55 PM · Julie do you have trouble comprehending the meaning of MOST Maggini copies????
Edited: October 16, 2018, 2:37 AM · Kristen - brace yourself for a blast of cold reality from maestronet! They get rather a lot of posts asking for identification of anonymous (or pseudonymous) violins and of course practically all turn out to be of humble orgin and worth rather little in the grand scheme of violins.
October 16, 2018, 5:40 AM · Steve,that's okay, if I have a gorgeous looking and sounding $200 violin, I'll take it! It means way more to me than just the monetary value, but it's always fun to know what it's worth.:)

Everyone, let me know if you all can access the post; I'm not sure when it will be approved by maestronet!

October 16, 2018, 7:17 AM · My post on The Pegbox is live! Let me know what you all think! :)
October 16, 2018, 9:10 AM · Kristen, I think you are the only person I have seen calling the Pirazzi "Warm". So you did about the Warchal Brilliant.
If in your violin Evah Pirazzi is warm, Obligatos must sound like Vin Diesel with hangover in a Slo-Mo movie...
October 16, 2018, 12:10 PM · Carlos, Evah greens sound terrible on my already warm violin because they're so bright, but the Golds were more Obligato-like. My violin loved my Obligatos.

There's a difference between the Brilliants and the Brilliant Vintages. The vintage set is meant to be warm. Warchal shows a diagram on their website, and String Review had similar information. I used the vintage G and D and they were incredibly warm, but not so warm that they were fuzzy like the EP Gold (gold) G. Maybe the silver G would have been better, but it was a free trial for the EPs so I took what I could get.

October 16, 2018, 1:25 PM ·

Here is the link, I don't know if that other one works, but this goes directly to the post.

November 4, 2018, 6:26 AM · Kristen,as long as you like the violin,it doesnt matter if it is only
'worth' 5 dollars,the tone cant be bought,and think of how many folks have enjoyed the violin before you.
November 4, 2018, 7:10 AM · Kristen, I know beans about violin makers but a bit about European geography, having lived in Germany for decades. Someone on Maestronet suggested your heirloom might be a Vogtland. That's right at the German-Czech border ... and that border has shifted multiple times. So, if it is a Vogtland, the town it was built in could have been in either country at the time.

Most important is that you love the sound you're getting from it and cherish its story.

November 4, 2018, 10:02 AM · Kristen, you mention the instrument being really heavy -- I'm guessing that means really thick plates. I wonder if what you describe as "warm" is just an absence of the upper partials in the tone, and a dampening of the sound rather than an open ring.

That might be a lucky case of what other people would probably see as a deficiency, aligning with your personal preference.

The huge peg holes are probably part of a mistake, and not deliberate. You could have them re-bushed to a proper diameter, but that's another repair that exceeds the worth of the violin.

November 6, 2018, 8:46 AM · Malcolm and Holly,I really do love it. It's my baby and I wouldn't give it up for the world, especially because my grandpa loved it and would be so proud of me. :)

Lydia, you could be right. The holes don't look as though they compromise the strength of the peg box (and there were no repairs needed up there, even after 20+ years of wall-hanging and 10-15 years in a plastic bag in my dad's extra office/storage room which is not kept at a decent temperature). I probably won't bush them unless something ends up happening or if I have an abundance of extra cash lying around (wishful thinking...)

As for the tone, you might be right that the high overtones are lacking, but with the right strings [aka my beloved Warchal Brilliant Vintage/Russian/Amber set ;)] the instrument rings out beautifully. Other strings I've tried do seem to be fuzzy or dampened. I heard it with the Evah Golds and the Timbres on the G string, but D, A, and E usually seem to be nice and clear. :)

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