John Furber violin made in Clerkenwell London England

April 9, 2019, 9:54 PM · Hi there, I need some advice from some experts about a violin that I am interested in purchasing. It is made by John Furber during the time when he worked in Clerkenwell London dated 1804. The violin is offered for sale in a local reputable violin shop in Toronto Canada. The condition is excellent with only minor scratches on the edges and no cracks. It is very easy and joy to play! As for the sound, it has warm and rich tone, the upper pitch is loud and a bit too brilliant. It sounds like a very good chamber music violin although it may be a good solo violin in a smaller orchestra. I can find very little about this violin maker, if someone has experience about the violin, I would like to know how much you bought it for, and your experience about its tone production. The shop is asking for US$8,500.

Tks! Yuk

Replies (17)

April 10, 2019, 12:29 AM · Other people's experience with the tone of another violin by the same maker is irrelevant to whether you should buy a violin that you like. Violins by the same maker can be very different from one another.

Now, the price is something you're probably taking a bet on and may be able to research in a venue like this. More importantly, though, if the violin is on consignment, the seller may be willing to haggle over the price.

You should find out before you buy the violin if the "a bit too brilliant" issue can be solved with a soundpost adjustment. On a violin of this price, the shop should be willing to do one with you.

April 10, 2019, 2:21 AM · It's a good name. Two of my acquaintances, one a freelance professional, the other an exceptionally good amateur, play violins by John Furber. I hope your dealer will give you a certificate of authenticity
April 23, 2019, 12:25 AM · Hi Lydia, Thank you for your advice, the John Furber has been re-tuned by the violin shop and I was called to the shop to take the violin for trial. This is an amazing violin, I am thoroughly convinced that after spending 2-3 years searching for a permanent violins, the John Furber is absolutely the best sound I could find within US$10,000. It has many characteristics that I could only find in substantially more expensive violins (over US$30K), I am actually quite surprised that the information on the web about John Furber's violin is quite limited. I have 1 more week to try the violin before making decision of purchasing or returning.

If anyone has more information about this violin maker or is playing on one of violins will be appreciated.

Steve, I can certainly see that the Furber violin can be put in use for professional career. It has tremendous colours for tone varieties, I guess this will make it a versatile violin for solo or orchestra.

Right now I am 80% buying, but the shop seems to be quite firm on the asking price. I will keep you posted.

April 23, 2019, 1:11 AM · If you can afford another £200 or so (and find a copy) the huge and wonderful book "The British Violin" published by the British Violin Making Association has a page of information on the Furber family and a beautiful photo of one of John's violins. Although the few sold at auction have gone for relatively low prices (all some years ago), I'd be tempted myself at US$8,500
Edited: April 23, 2019, 8:17 AM · According to Tarisio (https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/price-history/?Maker_ID=1346) the average auction price for a John Furber violin is $4177, Bromptons show a lower average (around $3500 - taking out the obvious anomalies priced at $95)

April 23, 2019, 12:09 PM · As always, do make sure it sounds good more than 6 inches away from your ear.

I once tried a batch of fiddles to upgrade from a 19th C Strad copy (Czech, probably), and latched onto a nice-ish Hill violin in the bracket you are looking at. Much easier to play, much nicer sound. When my teacher played it-- after sending me to the back row of the auditorium-- there was exactly no difference between that and the generic copy.

April 23, 2019, 6:59 PM · I have found that John Furber is rarely seen in auction, the date of last auction record was dated Oct 7 2008 (over 10 yrs ago!). Also it seems that John Furber never went unsold in previous auctions. I am not sure if this is because he did not make a lot of violins or people just want to hold on to his violins. I am trying to positively think about its potential in the market especially its pure, focus and rich sound, and they are way undervalued because of lack of auction sold records, and absolutely no record at all in the past 10 years.

I brought the violin to a 2,000-seat lyric theater, my buddy who seat in the middle row said it sounded very clean and lots of core. So far I can't find thing I don't like the violin.

Steve Jones, I agree US8,500 is a good deal, but I am just debating about this price compared with auction price 10 years ago. I am curious if a John Furber is on sale in the auction, how much would it be sold for.

Edited: April 24, 2019, 6:49 AM · Unfortunately the listings of previous sales on Tarisio and Bromptons web sites haven't been kept fully up to date and I wonder if they ever will be. Of course the instrument's condition (not disclosed for these historical records) has a huge influence on the price. A reputable dealer is also a knowledgeable dealer so you are unlikely to get a great bargain, but by the same token also unlikely to be sold a pup.
April 24, 2019, 11:21 AM · The Tarisio sale in NY has one.
Edited: April 24, 2019, 12:44 PM · If Tarisio's estimate of $4K-$6K for a violin which is only "attributed" to Furber is realistic, Alexander's looks like a very good buy. The labels are the same so I wonder why Tarisio aren't committing themselves? Could it be the same violin?
Edited: April 24, 2019, 5:17 PM · "Steve Jones
Edited: April 24, 2019, 12:44 PM · If Tarisio's estimate of $4K-$6K for a violin which is only "attributed" to Furber is realistic, Alexander's looks like a very good buy. The labels are the same so I wonder why Tarisio aren't committing themselves?"

Because labels are portable and should not be used as primary information in the identification of the instrument.

Edited: April 24, 2019, 8:59 PM · If the shop's name starts with letter R, think twice about the price.
April 24, 2019, 10:08 PM · I am flying to New York this weekend to look at the John Furber at Tarisio, and the violin shop allowed me to bring their John Furber to compare with the one in the auction. I think the John Furber at Tarisio looks extremely similar to the one I loaned from the shop, but I think Tarisio's John Furber is better condition. My journey for John Furber violin will begin this Saturday!

Rocky, it is not from the R shop, but equally reputable shop in Toronto.

April 25, 2019, 3:03 AM · I'll be very interested to hear what you find. Tarisio do at least concede that their violin is English, c.1800 and "good", whatever that means. This was a time when many of the instruments made by Furber and others were unlabelled and sold at dealerships such as Betts, but I can't think of a reason why a contemporary maker's good work should be given Furber's label
April 25, 2019, 7:47 AM · You've found a violin you like, it happens to be a John Furber, the idea that another attributed to John Furber will have the same qualities you like about this one is unlikely at best.
May 4, 2019, 2:00 PM · I just came back from trying the John Furber violin at New York Tarisio. That is an amazing violin with lots of core and overtones! I brought the John Furber violin I have on loan with me, and I can't tell which one is better than the other. I think the one in the current auction has a little more richness and loudness under my year, the one that I have on loan is more sweet and warmth. The one in auction also has better condition, but it is described as attributed. I asked the staff at the auction, they actually advised me that this is a better example than most John Furber violins they have seen, therefore it's attributed but being graded as Good. It is being estimated for $4,000-$6,000 only, I have a lot of thinking to do.....
May 4, 2019, 2:16 PM · like they've seen a lot of John Furber violins?? Call me a skeptic but their job is to sell violins

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