A.W. Kaufmann Violin - Closing The Loop

Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:39 PM · (Edit: correction of last name: Kaufmann with two n’s not one)

Hi Everyone,

I started a thread in November on an A.W. Kaufmann (1904) violin I was considering buying (http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=801) and also posted some pictures (https://www.flickr.com/gp/9623061@N06/Z05q3M). I wanted to close-out the discussion, thank those who participated (@duane @lyndon) and leave the result out there for others to discover in the future.

The luthier A.W. Kaufmann worked in San Jose, CA in the early 1900's (1900-1921). There is some debate about whether he was a talented amateur (as indicated in the Wemberg book) or whether he was a professional who worked on a limited set of instruments. In fact, it looks like only 1-2 of Kaufman's instruments have ever been sold at auction, according to a web search. A more well-known American luthier, Alfred Lanini, bought Kaufman's San Jose workshop (591 E. St. James Street) in 1914.

In the Bay Area, Rolland Feller (in SF) has seen 2-3 of Kaufmann's violins come through his shop. The Ifshin Violin team has seen a handful of these instruments as well. Most people note the unusual script on the violin label, which has a color(!) picture of the luthier (I think) and reads:

"Made from the body of a daughter of the forest and given a voice by the hands of a son of the mother whose praises I shall ever sing."

Others who are familiar with Kaufmann note the red-hued finish of his violins, which in person I find to be really beautiful.

So, to close my story, I bought the violin. :-) I (and my fellow testers) really enjoy the warm overall sound and the lower registers are uniquely warm. The violin projects extremely well and its clear tone was notable to me among the 25+ violins I have auditioned recently. The violin I bought is in great shape - I ended up buying it at $9K (Ifshin appraises it at $9.5K), which was the range I wanted and I guess that sets the market price given the fact that there are no other buyers or sellers of whom I am aware.

Now, I'm off to audition bows. The whole setup sounds great with a Nurnberger bow I'm kicking around as well as a Cuniot-Hury bow.

So, that's a long-winded way to close out my earlier thread. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps someone who runs across a Kaufmann violin in the future and wants to know a bit more.

Happy New Year, all.


Replies (8)

Edited: December 30, 2017, 5:53 PM · "Made from the body of a daughter of the forest and given a voice by the hands of a son of the mother whose praises I shall ever sing."

Oh my!

Edited: December 30, 2017, 6:50 PM · That's because if it said; factory Markneukirchen violin regraduated in USA it would be hard to justify the $9,000.
December 30, 2017, 7:36 PM · David, why don't you come up with clever nonsense like that for your labels? I mean, a name and date have been done to death!
December 30, 2017, 7:53 PM · http://darntonviolins.com/personal-billboard-some-labels-are-better-than/
Edited: December 30, 2017, 8:40 PM · @michael - thank you for sharing that picture. Where did you get it?

It’s really cool to be able to look more closely at the label. The top is a photograph that has three additional photos in it - one of them is his mother, I assume? Maybe one of them is his mentor? The photo is signed in two places and once in red, which is... different.

And then of course the pensive pose is interesting too. All fun to see. Thanks!

And it turns out most of us, including me, apparently are spelling his last name incorrectly (correct is two n’s, not one)


December 31, 2017, 7:03 AM · Violins are individuals. The maker has little to do with it's quality of sound. One of the best violin I ever owned was unlabeled, but old, and beautiful. It cost me $25.
Edited: December 31, 2017, 7:44 AM · The label is from a violin we sold in our shop. I think we have had four of them over the last ten years. They always sound exceptionally good, and so my partners, who are from the San Francisco area and have seen a lot of them, keep their eyes open and pick them up when they're available.

I'm under the impression that there are quite a few of them, and they are well made; I don't think he was not a professional maker.

December 31, 2017, 3:22 PM · Thanks Michael - will need to visit your store one of these days when I’m in Chicago!

Regarding an individual violin’s sound not having to do with the maker... I think the reason why makers are important is not for the one-off sound of one violin but instead for relative consistency across a line of instruments. That way, a player can expect at least a baseline of consistency with a maker and then choose an instrument within that maker’s creations that meets his/her playing needs.


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