Instrument ID: labelled Romanus Rinaldi 1897, but probably fake? Help a girl out!

Edited: May 28, 2019, 5:54 PM · So, I got this violin in a bid on eBay (as it says in the post on maestronet, it was $150, and I was the winner out of 5 people).

I think it looks well-made, and I don't see any blemishes or cracks except for an interestingly colored fingerboard.

The label is Marengo Romanus Rinaldi, 1897, but it seems too good to be true, and my suspicions are confirmed with some commenters (some more blunt than others, which isn't necessarily appreciated, as I'm just a girl looking for some info...)

So, what can you guys tell me that's constructive?

In my time here, I've come to really appreciate advice from Andrew Victor, David Burgess, and even Cotton and Lyndon (as sassy as you two are, I'm not sure it's a good idea to call on you guys together... :P I jest, but do keep it civil if you would, please!) so if any of you see this, do offer your opinions, as well as anyone else who has some experience in this area!

This instrument will be the one I use in public school, so I don't have to risk damage from students or tape on my beloved heirloom violin. So, even if it's not worth $10k (which I doubt it is...) I think it should be fine for teaching. It should arrive by June 13.

Thanks, all!

Replies (44)

May 28, 2019, 5:58 PM · it looks like its worth at least a few hundred fixed up, the maestronet posters are being a bit hard on it because of the fake label.
May 28, 2019, 6:00 PM · So, you bought a fake violin.
Edited: May 28, 2019, 6:54 PM · Thanks, Lyndon, any chance you know what it needs, or where/when it could be from? I have some new pegs/tailpiece/end button for it, and it will probably need a new bridge cut. But I don't see any cracks in the photos.

Aw, Paul, it's not a fake violin, the maker or some other person who may have worked on it just wasn't honest about the label. Doesn't mean it's worthless. My heirloom isn't worth a lot and has no label, but it still sounds beautiful and means a lot to me.

Thanks for your advice :)

May 28, 2019, 7:18 PM · looks like a medium grade trade violin, that's been revarnished, may be up to 100 years old, not a new violin. the type of thing that's priced from $500-1500 depending on the tone, at this low price point violins can be priced on tone.
Edited: May 28, 2019, 7:31 PM · Original, copy or fake or not, it is a good name and can be found on Tarisio's website where you can check out the price history : .

The real Marengo Romano Rinaldi got good "marks" in Henley's "Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers" - priced in 1960 at 200BP.

Albensis, fecit Tuarini Anno 189-

It looks to me like it has a 3-piece top and a possible f-hole crack. Does it? But overall it does not look like an antique violin that has been played.
I hope it is a violin that you enjoy playing.

May 28, 2019, 7:46 PM · I didn't really mean "fake violin." I meant incorrectly or falsely labeled. Just remember -- it's YOUR violin. So if you like it, and you think it sounds good and plays well, then whether the label is falsified or not is completely immaterial ... unless/until you try to sell it.
May 28, 2019, 7:52 PM · It quite likely is an antique violin, it just doesn't look so because its revarnished.
May 28, 2019, 8:05 PM · Thank you guys, you are all much kinder than the maestronet folks. I find that they are a bit pretentious, even if they mean well.

Andrew, I haven't received the instrument yet, but I will update when I get it! Which side did you think the f hole crack is? I didn't notice any cracks, but you have a more experienced eye.

Also, any info on the fingerboard and why it might be colored as it is?

May 28, 2019, 8:09 PM · some forms of ebony alternate black with lighter grain, often more whitish.
May 28, 2019, 8:33 PM · Hello Kristen,

Sorry if I came off as harsh. I didn't say anything over on MN that I wouldn't have said to a customer who walked through the door. It happens all too often. Central Europe made lots and lots of violin.

Edited: May 28, 2019, 9:11 PM · It's alright, Duane, but there are nicer ways to say things, you know? I'm not sure which comment you were, but the first commenter's response was a little harsh. I don't know if my response was posted yet, but I sort of regret responding with a bit of sass.

Now that I know the label is false (how do you guys notice that, anyway? It looks old to me!), and that if/when I sell it, I may as well sell it to my luthier who will give me a fair price instead of trying to go through Brompton or Amati auctioneers and being turned away.

This instrument is replacing my student model Romanian instrument that I used from 6th-8th grade (so, 12-14 years old) before switching to oboe. My mother had bought it for $99 and it served me well for that season of my life, but I need something better to teach students. I'm glad I have this one, even if it's not worth thousands of dollars, since it will be satisfactory enough to put tapes on and produce the tone needed to teach young kids. I don't want to put tapes on my heirloom.

Thanks, Lyndon, I hope it's just the wood grain. I think it makes it look unique. I bought some reddish-orange pegs/Hill style tailpiece/end button that match the varnish, so I think it'll look rather sharp. :)

May 28, 2019, 9:24 PM · Kristen,

Labels are portable. One looks at the instrument, decides what it might be, and then looks at the label, if there is one. As Roger Hargrave says, all that we need are orig., undisturbed labels in order to identify instruments. Problem is, folks won't leave the labels alone or tend to place labels in instruments that don't have one.

I have a nice violin that has the same label in it. It was shown to a well known "expert" who, when asked if it was a Marengo Rinaldi, replied, "Well, I can't say that it isn't a Marengo Rinaldi"!

Edited: May 28, 2019, 9:37 PM · The patina and dirt on the neck is consistent with a 100 yr old violin, or at least 50 yr old. Usually you don't see that faked well on newer violins.

Also the dirty dark colour of the inside back to the side of the label is consistent with a 100 yr old violin, and doesn't look faked.

May 28, 2019, 11:29 PM · I can't see the features well enough to tell, but just on probablity, it is probably a Markneukirchen/Schoenbach production violin, of the type that may well have had a Strad label at birth.
May 28, 2019, 11:43 PM · oh man these maestronet posters surely don't hold back. i posted there today asking what they think about this german trade violin i'm interested in and i only got an answer but no explanation. btw how do i start my own thread here.
Edited: May 29, 2019, 12:03 AM · Go to the Discussion home page, at the very bottom; "Start a Discussion"
Edited: May 29, 2019, 12:08 AM · thank you lyndon, i found it and try making a thread but i got a sorry error stating "We're sorry, but you may submit just one new thread every 24 hours. If you'd like to change a thread, please use the "[EDIT]" link instead of the back button to access the editing form. Thank you!"

except i haven't made any thread yet

p.s i have found your comments on other threads very useful and entertaining.

Edited: June 5, 2019, 11:10 PM · Kristen , if you go to a reputable violin shop and bring an older instrument, you will notice that they will spend some time looking at the violin from all angles but look at the label last , sometimes not at all. Labels aren't always meaningless but frequently are - as in your case, particularly in the instruments offered on e-bay.
The folks at Maestronet may come across as harsh , some more than others, but several of them are reputable dealers and restorers and some are world class experts. Those that deal with higher end instruments tend to be more dismissive of the lower quality student workshop instruments particularly if they have condition problems like the violin you are purchasing. The person posting under the alias "Blankface"is a knowledgeable dealer/restorer , somewhere in Germany probably, and what he says is usually correct. From what I can see it does indeed look like the violin was stripped as well as revarnished, and the angle of the neck is quite high. A violin like this would not be presented for sale in his shop or similar shops even if it would sound good, but it doesn't mean it is worthless. It just means the value now is entirely dependent on how it sounds and plays. If the varnish job was badly done it may sound bad and the violin would be worthless. If it sounds decent and is playable: enjoy.
Edited: May 29, 2019, 2:53 AM · The MN regulars have worked out a polished "good cop, bad cop" routine, although sometimes the good cops go on coffee break. Being on the receiving end of their "blunt instrument" advice can't be a pleasant experience but you'll learn a lot from it. And of course experts aren't always right. I've heard conflicting views on three of my violins from experts who seemed to think themselves omniscient.
Edited: May 29, 2019, 3:03 AM · kai, the violin you posted on maestronet, is a cheap Czech?? violin not worth more than $600, and if it sounds poorly maybe less, I'd shop around some more and don't trust ebay sellers!!
May 29, 2019, 7:23 AM · Thanks all! I was planning on bringing it to my luthier when it arrives (it can't come soon enough, I hate waiting for mail!!) and he is usually pretty good. He has made a couple mistakes in the past, like when he said my R. Weichold bow was made in Dresden in the 1940s (Dresden was bombed, and Weichold was already dead!), but he's honest and I trust him.

You all say it needs work; I know it needs new pegs, which I already have, new strings, and a new bridge. What else does it need? I looked as close as I could without having it in my hands and it seemed okay. Also, does the high neck angle cause issues? What exactly does that mean?

May 29, 2019, 7:26 AM · Oh, and Andrew, I think I see where you noticed a possible F hole crack on the left side, bottom of the F hole. It looks to me like varnish, but Lyndon, can you possibly verify from a photo?
May 29, 2019, 8:36 AM · hi laydon no my post is this one

sorry for hijacking ur thread kristen but for odd reason i'm not allowed to make my own

May 29, 2019, 8:52 AM · It's okay Kai! I think you have to wait 24 hours after making your account. Welcome to if you've just joined! :)
May 29, 2019, 9:00 AM · kai, that's the post I was referring to, the Milano violin
May 29, 2019, 9:27 AM · the seller said its a german, are milano known for cezch made?
Edited: May 29, 2019, 9:35 AM · the two towns were right on the border, Markneukirchen on the German side, Schoenbach on the Czech side. generally the Czech were often the cheaper grade, it a cheap violin.
May 29, 2019, 11:05 AM · I don't think the maestronet team was so hard on you folks. Both complainers here were given accurate appraisals of their instruments by experts for free. You need to put this in context--you seem to underestimate the vast knowledge and expertise of people who have spent their lives at the violin trade. You think--oh, here is an Italian violin under $1K on eBay--what a DEAL!! And then you're upset when you find out that your instrument is a cheap mass-produced fiddle that was deliberately mislabeled. But if you spent more than a few hours looking at fiddles (and Kristen, you had spent a few hours reading posts at MN, so you really should have been alerted to the likelihood that an eBay purchase is risky), you would know that labels are usually bogus and in any case not a deciding factor in determining what a violin is. When you spend your whole life studying something and someone who has just casually dipped their toe in and been fooled--and is annoyed when their ignorance is exposed, but they have taken an end-run around your profession... I mean, I can understand when some of the experts get exasperated.

If anyone sat down with the careful explanations that an expert prepared (again, for free) on MN to help anyone identify one of these mass-produced Vogtland fiddles, you would have been easily able to identify the two violins in this thread--at least you shouldn't have been surprised that your violins weren't Italian. To spare the experts yet another curmudgeonly comment, I have taken to coming on these threads to apply the "list" that was made for the group, saying that I'm not an expert, but...

Though it ought to be obvious, I will also point out that being respectful and humble when dealing with expertise never hurts. I have received extremely valuable advice over on MN, and ended up with my lifetime violin (at 1/3 its appraised value) guided by one of those MN experts.

May 29, 2019, 11:24 AM · You're rather wrong about Maestronet, in both threads most of the comments were from rank amateurs, who's opinion is not worth anything, the real experts, people like Jacob Saunders and Peter Ratcliff didn't comment, blank face may have said something, he's knowledgeable, most of the guys on maestronet know very little about appraising violins, but have no problem putting in their opinion. And to the uninitiated, you might think you're getting an informed opinion when you're not.
Edited: May 29, 2019, 11:54 AM · thanks lyndon for your prompt reply, i have located 2 violin shop that i wasnt aware of before and they have some old german violin in their inventory that im planning on trying out.

and yes paul i dont think they were too harsh, but some of their simple reply of dont buy it doesnt really tell me much.

im fully aware that you folks are sharing the knowledge you guys have accumulated through out the years and im eternally grateful for it. that is why i rather ask you lovely folks on your thought on the violin before committing. i too want to make a smart purchase hence why my skepticism when sometimes the value based on what search could seen a bit too good to be true.

as of now my search continues, so far i only been to 1 shop and one of their violin made in new jersey has impressed me. i will try out 2 more stores before finalizing my thought.

update, i called one of my local shop, their german collection starts at 5k usd. yikes haha

May 29, 2019, 1:22 PM · kai lu,

Where are you located (roughly) and what is your price range, and what are you looking for in an instrument?

Are you aware that many shops will let you rent and apply credits for the rent towards the purchase of a nicer instrument?

For the $1000-range there are many workshop violins, both young and old, from all different parts of the world, that may suit your needs. Alternatively, just get a Jay Haide 101 and call it a day.

Edited: May 29, 2019, 2:44 PM · Lyndon, I would qualify as a rank amateur I suppose (as far as appraising violins is concerned, though apparently I'm better than some folks...), but even I could tell those were Vogtland mass-produced violins, using Saunders' helpful list. You really don't have to be much of an expert to do that. If you buy violins on eBay without expert advice and are "uninitiated," you are crazy, IMO. Sure, MOST of the comments were from people like me, but at least three dealers I know commented (including Saunders, who--let's face it--if we were getting it wrong, he would jump down our collective throats in a jiffy. The fact that he didn't correct the opinions tells you what you need to know). I know you struggled with the MN crowd, but if you can apply a little critical reading skill and do your homework (which virtually none of the people posting these fiddles do)--and you read the site for an hour you can figure out who knows stuff--you can construct an informed opinion. For free.

I understand that people want a whole explanation of all the information contained in their violin, but the fact is that with these dutzendarbeit violins, there isn't much to say, and it has been said there a thousand times, so sometimes...OK, they're a little abrupt. But I don't think that collectively they get it wrong that often.

Kai, $5K strikes me as expensive for a nicely setup c.1900 German violin, but would be a steal for an authentic Kloz, so it definitely depends on which German violin they're talking about. I will say that I went the route of learning about violins in order to get an instrument that satisfied me for much less than in was worth, though I certainly got some weird stuff on the way. Still, the violins I purchased, added to the price of my eventual treasure, still came in below wholesale cost for my good violin. And a couple of those violins I picked up along the way are decent fiddles in their own right... but I was willing to study and learn, and people want to treasure-hunt without doing that and...well, that doesn't work out so well on eBay.

May 29, 2019, 2:56 PM · To Kristen, I am certainly not an expert, so please take what I'm going to say with a large grain of salt. Judging by the photos, I do not think this is an old instrument. I hope I'm wrong, but to my eye it appears to be a new instrument that is perhaps antiqued to some extent. As Philip KT said on MN, if it turns out to be a nice fiddle that plays well and sounds good, you've done OK.
May 29, 2019, 3:06 PM · no, you're not an expert. The varnish is new, yes, the instrument is old.
May 29, 2019, 5:01 PM · hi paul, yes i understand, as with everything in life, prepare to do the research if you want to get what you want. that shop is one of the high top shop where my friend got his custom for 4-5k so i'm not too surprised with the price tag they offer.

i'm planning on visiting couple other violinshops here in nyc, at this point i frankly don't care if its old or has a bit of history to it. one of the nicest one i played so far was made by a luthier from new jersey.

May 29, 2019, 5:22 PM · The question is whether they used a good grade of varnish like, say, Minwax Helmsman.
May 30, 2019, 8:55 AM · At that price range, there are only two things one should be concerned with:

1. Does it sound "good", and
2. Is it easy to tune.

You will not know either until it arrives, which is why bidding on ebay violins is a gamble.

These things almost always need work on the pegs, bridge and sound post, and a new set of strings. So expect to drop a couple of hundred $$US just to get it into playable condition.

So now you are in for $300 to $400, and still don't know anything about tone and playability. That's around what you would pay for a decent student violin at a reputable shop or an online store, and in both cases you can play the violin before purchase.

You might be pleasantly surprised and find the violin is good to play right out of the mail box, or maybe with just a new set of strings. If that is the case, you got a good deal.

May 30, 2019, 11:15 AM · Carmen, you're right. However, I already have a good set of pegs and a new tailpiece that I had previously, so that's all set. Based on what I see, it might just need a new bridge, and soundpost adjustment, which my luthier does for me inexpensively; he and I have a really good relationship. As for strings, I'll probably get some Tonicas to start, if the strings on it now are no good. We shall see when it comes. :)

To anyone who can answer:

How can I tell if a varnish job is good or bad? Obviously if it's super thick, there's an issue. But, to me, the instrument looks really nice in terms of color and the evenness of the color, and the front doesn't look super shiny.

May 30, 2019, 12:08 PM · Kristen,

Pegs are not necessarily transferable between instruments. Proper pegs must be cut to fit every time.

Be very careful about the way the neck and fingerboard angle. It may not seem like much, but that kind of stuff can really effect the way the fingers hit the strings and be very expensive to fix. Not trying to be discouraging, but I think once you start talking about fingerboard and strings that's when injuries may become relevant.

That being said, for $150 on eBay you have quite a lot of protection against outright garbage. If it costs $500 to fix up and sounds ok, that's just fine.

May 30, 2019, 1:55 PM · These pegs haven't been cut, they're brand new, thankfully. I had ordered them awhile ago in case I was able to get an instrument, so that's all set.

I'm really hoping it needs minimal work. I tried the eBay route because I can't afford the price point you'd find in a nice instrument from a shop. My career is just starting out, so I'm your typical grad student working three jobs just to pay bills (including maintenance and reed supplies for my oboe and English horn, which are my primaries and what I'm doing my grad degree in). $150 was all I could spare, and there's no way I'd get a decent instrument for that at a shop.

In any case, this particular instrument is replacing the Anton Breton AB-10 violin I used in high school. It's alright for a rental at best, but I'd never recommend a student buy one. This one will be my backup/school instrument if I land a strings job this fall.

Edited: May 31, 2019, 3:30 PM · Paul Deck
May 29, 2019, 5:22 PM ยท "The question is whether they used a good grade of varnish like, say, Minwax Helmsman."

Paul, unfortunately there are people who wouldn't realize you're just joking. Know of polyurethane / furniture varnish having been put on fiddles. It completely destroys the sound.

June 1, 2019, 11:13 AM · I wouldn't have known that was a joke, I'm glad you said something, Hendrik! I don't know anything about the different varnishes.
June 16, 2019, 12:01 AM · Kristen, over at the other place a little reading will take you a long way, including but not limited to instrument identification, varnish in all its glory, and many of the intricacies an difficulties of restoration and repair. I realize it is much easier to ask questions and hope someone will tell you everything you need to know, than it is to work for the information. However, as a grad student you should know the value of your own research and you will gain more respect in your life if you take a bit of time to educate yourself. I hope you are not offended, you seem to have taken offence rather easily over at Maestronet, although reading through that thread, everything you need to know is there, but you seemed not to notice once your feelins were hurt, and asking it all again here is not going to change anything. You say you have a good and trusted luthier. Take the instrument to her or him and let them give you their honest opinion regarding condition and what needs to be done.
Edited: June 16, 2019, 2:37 AM · The fiddle under discussion is obviously a cheap Dutzenarbeit ca 1900 instrument. Some of those can sound reasonable, and would be good for Kirsten's purpose (use in the classroom).

The main concern is not the label; labels don't mean anything. Nobody is selling a genuine 100 + years old Italian violin for under 20.000 dollars. Stupid sellers do not exist. Some fake sellers add an extra 1000 dollars for the Italian label they put in their German fiddle (so the price winds up being 1500 or so for an instrument they picked up for max 50 dollars); some just use the Italian label to sell the instrument quicker, because there are always novices who think it's their lucky day.

We're not even mentioning the revarnish; the main concern is the neck and the fingerboard. I'm guessing the fingerboard is painted, and if the neck is the wrong angle you're going to have a very hard time playing this instrument for any amt of time.

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