Violins For Sale

This is a list of all the violins currently for sale on the website, including our new handmade instruments, contemporary/ 20th century and antique violins.

A Nicolas Bertholini Violin, Laberte Workshops, Mirecourt circa 1920

£1,500

A Nicolas Bertholini Violin, Mirecourt circa 1920 Nicolas Bertholini was a trade name used by the Laberte Workshops around the turn of the century for one of their midrange models. While these violins were sold at the time as student instruments, it’s very noticeable that the Chinese workshops who are the modern day successors of Laberte and JTL seem incapable of producing anything with an equal refinement of tone. But maybe that’s just a matter of being a hundred years old! More details


A Mirecourt Violin, Rushworth & Dreaper “Apollo” c1910

£1,600

A Mirecourt Violin, Rushworth & Dreaper “Apollo” c1910 This is a good Mirecourt violin imported by Rushworth & Dreaper and sold under their “Apollo” label. Rushworth & Dreaper were a large manufacturer of musical instruments based in Liverpool – around the turn of the century they imported good French and German violins, as well as selling instruments of their own manufacture under the “Ardeton” label. More details


MSV 102 Violin, Martin Swan Violins 2014

£1,700 (Standard Violin)

Cremonese pattern violinThis is one of a number of prototypes we made from Cremonese patterns when looking for a successful model with a short back length. This particular violin is 35.2cm but with a conventional stop length, and is designed with the smaller player in mind. Like all of our MSV violins, it’s made entirely with hand tools in Reghin, Transylvania, and is finished with an Italian Balsamic varnish. More details


Ludovicus Meurot Violin, Cousenon Workshop 1931

£1,850

Ludovicus Meurot Violin, Cousenon Workshop 1931 A fine Mirecourt violin produced by Cousenon-Bernardel – see page 11 of the Cousenon catalogue. This is model no. 73, with a shaded yellow-brown oil varnish, and retaining its original gold-decorated pegs. There’s a repaired crack in the table running up 9cm from below the chinrest. No other cracks or damages, and the original varnish generally well preserved – minimal wear to the edges and corners. More details


MSV 108 Stradivarius Pattern Violin with Antique Finish, Martin Swan Violins 2014

£1,900

MSV 108 Stradivarius Pattern Violin with Antique Finish This is a good Stradivarius pattern violin made entirely with hand tools by one of our Hungarian makers in Reghin. The varnish is an “antiqued” finish which we have developed in collaboration with a specialist restorer in Budapest – we continue to refine this process and welcome any feedback. The sound is charming and refined, not the loudest violin we’ve produced but smooth and silky in character, unusually responsive, even with a light technique. More details


Czech violin by AJ Kreutzer, Brno 1927

£1,900

Violin by AJ Kreutzer, Brno 1927 This is a nice early 20th century Czech violin by and labeled AJ Kreutzer Brnensis. It’s built on a Stradivarius pattern, stylistically very close to good Markneukirchen work, very nicely finished and varnished. The condition is generally excellent – there’s some light marking to the varnish in parts of the table, but very little wear overall. It’s a splendid sounding instrument, big, muscular and zingy – there’s a strong core to the sound, and it responds well to an assertive technique. More details


James Hardie Violin, Edinburgh 1888

Recently sold

James Hardie Violin, Edinburgh 1888 James Hardie was one of the most industrious of Scottish makers, claiming to have made over 2000 violins – many of these have made their way into circulation under false labels! This violin is typical of his later production – based on a Maggini pattern, the work is rapid but accomplished, and the sound is excellent. More details


Deggerman of Oban Violin, 1890

£2,500

Deggerman of Oban Violin, 1890 ML Deggerman was a prolific maker who seems to have moved from Wishaw to Oban in the late 1880s. This violin, number 117, is the work of a skilled professional maker with his own ideas – typical of the Scottish School. It’s a large violin on a Maggini pattern – a model, so successful for tone, which persisted amongst Scottish makers well after it had fallen out of fashion elsewhere. More details


A German Violin, Saxony circa 1850

Recently sold

A Saxony Violin, circa 1850 This is a lovely mid-19th century German violin, probably from Schönbach. It’s unusually lightly built, with high lateral arching to the front and back, and the sound is excellent. It has a dramatically flamed one-piece back and a neat and pretty scroll, very cleanly carved. There are two small repaired wing cracks , otherwise the condition is excellent, with no other cracks or repairs. More details


Laberte Workshops Jacobus Stainer Violin, Mirecourt c1930

Recently sold

Laberte Workshops “Jacobus Stainer” Mirecourt c1930 This is a very nice Laberte Jacobus Stainer copy from around 1930 – typical of Laberte’s “a l’ancienne” series, this is a relatively faithful copy of an original Stainer owned by Marc Laberte. The condition is remarkable, with only some minor wear to the varnish. The sound is excellent, pure, focused and woody with great response. More details


MSV 101 Stradivarius Pattern Violin, Martin Swan Violins 2014

£2,700 (Artist Violin)

Stradivarius pattern violin with Italian oil varnish Of the last 5 violins we made, 4 have made the grade as Artist violins, and after a hundred instruments I feel we’re beginning to benefit from all the development work we’ve done in the past few years. This a Stradivarius pattern violin made entirely with hand tools by one of our Hungarian makers in Reghin, and varnished in our shop in Budapest. It has a beautiful one-piece back of narrowly flamed maple and a red/brown Italian oil varnish with some subtle antiqueing. More details


Johann Prüller Violin, Vienna 1907

£3,000

Johann Prüller Violin, Vienna 1907 This is a good violin by Viennese maker Johann Prüller, a student of Carl Zach but originally from Schönbach in Saxony. According to John Dilworth, Prüller is “noted for (his) supposed ability to make a complete violin in two days” – however, this particular violin is nicely finished, with clean edges, a neat scroll, and well cut f-holes. More details


Laberte Fournier Violin, Mirecourt 1900

£3,000

Laberte Fournier Violin, Mirecourt 1900 This is a very early Laberte violin, labeled modèle d’après Fournier no.3, 1900. This violin appears in the Laberte 1912 catalogue, page 19, at a price of Ff125. While most Laberte instruments are typically crisp and modern-looking, this violin harks back to an earlier French tradition (most notably Lupot) with its rounded edges, dark antiqued varnish and subtle flat arching. It has a very attractive slab-cut one-piece back, the f-holes are delicately fluted, and the scroll is in a different league from most Mirecourt trade efforts. More details


Laberte Montagnana, Mirecourt Violin circa 1930 (undersized)

£3,000

Laberte “Montagnana”, Mirecourt circa 1930 The Laberte Workshops made a huge range of instruments – this “Montagnana” model was the most expensive of their “A la Ville de Cremone” series, costing a whopping 680 Francs in 1931 – look here at page 9, no.678. This instrument is in near perfect condition – thick orange oil varnish and stunning wood throughout. The sound is sweet, bright and smooth with a very easy response. Please note this is what used to be described as a ladies violin, slightly under standard 4/4 measurements. More details


James Wilson Violin, Greenock 1907

£3,500

James Wilson violin featured in David Rattray's book This is a fine and collectable Scottish violin by James Wilson – it features in David Rattray’s book “Violin Making in Scotland 1750-1950″.
It has a strong Arts & Crafts feeling about it, combining the most traditional and exquisite materials with a degree of daring. The scroll and pegbox are quite extraordinary! More details


An Italian Violin circa 1930

Price £4,000

An Italian Violin circa 1930 This is an Italian violin of the Marco Tassini type – these instruments were distributed in the UK by Jim Tait, a dealer based in the Scottish Borders (initially Jedburgh then Melrose). Tait was sole agent for Dante Guastalla, and also sold Sartory and Nurnberger bows as well as Italian and Slovakian tonewood. Andreas Renisto, Luigi Salsedo and Marco Tassini were without doubt trade names invented by Tait, – he bought these violins in the white from Italy and then varnished and labeled them. More details


Violin of the Hardie School, probably Edinburgh circa 1850

£4,000

Perfect condition.
More details


A Violin by John Delany, Dublin circa 1800 (undersized)

£4,000

An Irish Violin by John Delany John Delany is one of a number of makers who worked for Perry in Dublin (and possibly James Perry in Kilkenny), but he also made and sold violins under his own brand. This is an unusually fine example, fully purfled, with long elegant corners, and with an astounding birds eye sycamore back. Otherwise the work is in every way typical – slightly small Amati model with rather high arching, quite plain wood to the ribs and the scroll, and a plain yellow varnish. More details


Caroline Campbell Violin, Springfield 2012

£4,500

Caroline Campbell Violin, Springfield 2012 Caroline Campbell is a contemporary Scottish violin maker based in the Kingdom of Fife. Over the last year I’ve happened across several of her violins, and have been struck by their beauty of tone and their unpretentious good looks. This violin, completed in December 2012, shows a marked development in quality of work, and the sound is outstanding. It’s a broadly Stradivari model instrument copied from a Nicolas Lupot 1808 – all details are very neatly executed while retaining the strong personality of the maker. More details


Andreas Renisto Violin, Fecit Italia 1929

Recently sold

Luigi Salsedo, Naples 1939This is super violin of the Luigi Salsedo type, labeled Andreas Renisto. There’s some debate about the origins of these violins but the informed consensus is that they are Italian trade instruments. The condition is excellent, though the typical soft Salsedo varnish has a good deal of wear on the back. Very fine craftsmanship and some really exceptional spruce. More details


Violin by Amédée Dieudonné, Mirecourt 1948

£4,750

Violin by Amédée Dieudonné, Mirecourt 1948 This is a beautiful Amédée Dieudonné violin in mint condition dating from 1948, numbered 409B, signed by the maker on the back plate and the inside of the table. Dieudonné ran a small and very successful workshop in Mirecourt, producing various models of violin for the French market and more notably for Rudolf Wurlitzer in the USA. There’s a great biography of Dieudonné on Roland Terrier’s site. Did I mention that the condition is outstanding? No cracks, repairs or dunts, very little wear to the edges, and the fine lustrous oil varnish almost unblemished. More details


John Marshall Violin, Aberdeen 1910

£5,000

John Marshall Violin, Aberdeen 1910 John Marshall is one of the most accomplished of Scottish makers – a great craftsman with a keen eye for good arching, and a producer of consistently excellent-sounding violins. This is a lovely example on a Stradivari model – the work is ultra-neat and seems quite inspired by the leading French makers of the time. The condition is very good – apart from a small repair to the left pegbox cheek there are no cracks or damages, and the superb original varnish is very well preserved. More details


Charles Cramond Violin, Aberdeen circa 1830

£5,500

Charles Cramond Violin, Aberdeen circa 1830 This is a fascinating violin by Charles Cramond, probably made shortly before his departure for Canada. Cramond apprenticed with Joseph Ruddiman, and the scroll is unmistakeably “Ruddiman-esque”. The whole violin is brimming with personality and very finely made. Most unusually, the entire neck is made in two pieces, and kept secure with the help of three dowels (two in the scroll and one above the heel). More details


Luigi Salsedo Violin, Italy/Scotland 1928

£5,500

Luigi Salsedo Violin, Italy/Scotland 1928 I have a special interest in Luigi Salsedo violins – although they are beautifully made and invariably sound excellent, there’s been little consensus about their origins. They were sold in the 1920s and 1930s by Jim Tait, a violin dealer and tonewood importer based in Melrose, Scotland. More details


Alois Bittner Violin, Prague 1930

£5,500

Violin by Alois Bittner, Prague 1930Alois Bittner is another superb but undervalued 20th century Czech maker – he spent most of his working life in Kladne, just outside Prague. Like Dvorak, Spidlen, Drozen and Herclik, his violins were heavily faked during his own lifetime by Markneukirchen makers, so Bittner resorted to extensive branding. This violin is branded twice on the outside and has multiple brands on the inside, but the work is patently first-class, with a superb lightly craquelled red oil varnish over a golden ground, perfect details and fine arching. More details


George Ferguson Violin, Edinburgh 1841

£6,000

George Ferguson Violin, Edinburgh 1841 George Ferguson is a relatively unknown Edinburgh maker of the Hardie School, and his violins are quite rare. This is a lovely example, slightly the worse for wear but still singing sweetly. The design is typical of the Edinburgh makers – in this instance the combination of unusually flat arching and wide-grained table wood makes for a very successful fiddle with a great sound. More details


A Fine Mittenwald Violin circa 1810

£6,000

A Fine Mittenwald Violin circa 1810 This is a particularly nice-looking Mittenwald violin from the early 19th century. The scroll is lovely, the f-holes are nicely fluted, and the wood is outstanding. I bought this violin for its sound – it has a smooth creamy tone, very even, quite bright, with a decent amount of wood. It seems to work with any kind of repertoire, but it’s particularly good for gypsy jazz. There’s a nice edge to the tone, and it’s open and dynamic. Overall the condition is excellent. More details


Johann Schult Violin, Lübeck 1939

£6,500

http://martinswanviolins.com/sales/?p=7704 This is an excellent violin by Johann Schult, one of the best early 20th century German makers – he was appointed court violin maker to the Duke of Mecklenburg in 1907. The wood is superb, the varnish is rich and lustrous, and the work is artistic and highly skilled. The sound is top class, bright, sugary and strong with great sustain. It has a clear and unique cantabile voice – an unusually smooth and responsive violin suitable for a professional player. More details


A Composite Violin, Late 18th Century

Recently sold

A Composite Violin, Late 18th Century This violin is something of an enigma. The back looks to be “vieux Paris”, but dendro analysis reveals a late 18th century front which is definitely not French, in fact the strongest correlations are with late Cremonese instruments. All elements of the violin are in themselves beautifully made, but what goes with what …? The front is made of exceptional spruce, jointed in the centre but not bookmatched. The inner work is very fine, with willow blocks and linings, showing the use of an inside mould. More details


A Mittenwald Violin, mid 18th Century

£7,500

An early Mittenwald ViolinThis is a good mid 18th century Mittenwald violin with an apocryphal Amati label. The head is not original, belonging definitively to the Vieux Paris School of the late 18th century. The violin has particularly good edgework, the corners and typically outward-sweeping c-bouts are very elegant, and the upwards flame of the back is spectacular. More details


John Marshall Violin after Alessandro Gagliano, Aberdeen 1912

£7,500

John Marshall Violin after Alessandro Gagliano, Aberdeen 1912 This particular instrument is featured in “The British Violin”, and I think it’s fair to describe it as the quintessential John Marshall violin. It’s a direct copy of an Alessandro Gagliano which Marshall is said to have restored, and it‘s a real showpiece. The wood is exceptional, the amber oil varnish is lustrous and refractive, the scroll is exquisite, and all aspects of the work are precise and well executed. It has been very well looked after throughout its life. More details


A Violin, Circle of Richard Duke London circa 1760

Recently sold

A Violin, Circle of Richard Duke London circa 1760 This is a very fine English violin after Amati, probably Richard Duke (I), unquestionably from his circle. It has a spectacular one-piece back of narrow curl, beautiful corners and edgework (rather better preserved on the back than the front) and a delightful and very feminine scroll. The back, ribs and scroll are in excellent condition – the table has several well-repaired cracks and a patch under the right foot of the bridge. Very hard to see unless you’re looking, all the more so since it appears under UV light to be under the original varnish. More details


A Fine Romanian Violin, Fr. Hristodorof, circa 1930

£9,000

A Fine Romanian Violin, Fr. Hristodorof, circa 1930 This is a remarkable violin bearing the brand “Fr. Hristodorof” on the inner back, the bassbar, and the inside of the table. Hristodorof is a Romanian/Bucharest surname, and the construction of the violin seems to confirm this identity. I mistook it at first for a Hungarian instrument, perhaps by a follower of Pilat, but the linings travel over the blocks, the arching is broad and flat, the upper bouts are widened, and the sound is just too good! More details


A Fine Hungarian Violin by Jozsef Mirth, Budapest 1933

£10,000

A Fine Hungarian Violin by Jozsef Mirth, BudapestJozsef Mirth worked for Miska Frirsz and Janos Spiegel before stepping out on his own – he was a prolific maker, but remains pretty much unknown outside Hungary. This violin is a superb example of the Budapest style that reached perfection in the work of Paulus Pilat. The varnish is gorgeous, the wood is superb, and the execution of the scroll, f-holes and edges is precise and artistic. The violin is in near-perfect condition, with no cracks or repairs, and very little wear to the varnish.

In Hungary, the violinist is God, and Hungarian makers regularly produced instruments of astonishing beauty, visually and tonally. We would perhaps be more familiar with their work if so many Hungarian violins hadn’t become “Italian” along the way! This is a perfect example, a faultlessly executed piece of work with a great tone, which would put most early 20th century French and Italian violins to shame. The sound is robust and solistic, clear as a bell, with great projection and a sweet core. At some point the English-speaking world will wake up to the quality of such instruments, but for now they represent the best value for money in the entire world of violins. More details


An Anglo-French Violin, Probably Langonet for WE Hill & Son c1890

£10,000

An Anglo-French Violin, Probably Langonet for WE Hill & Son circ This is an exceptional violin – the construction and the detail are overwhelmingly French, but the outline and the varnish point more to the Hill Workshops. The outline is a Bergonzi model, broadened and with the arching flattened out – the resulting sound is honey-smooth, very articulate, strong and projecting.

The condition is perfect, and the rich oil varnish has only minor wear (a couple of bruises on the front and a shallow scratch on the back).

This violin would give most Vuillaumes a run for their money – it’s a concert instrument, capable of a wide range of expression, smooth and encouraging, with great high frequency content throughout the register. Above all it has presence and an unusual breadth to the sound – it may have a breaking point but I haven’t been able to find it! More details


James Brown Violin, London circa 1800

£11,000

James Brown Violin, London circa 1800This is a charming English violin by James Brown – not James Brown the Godfather of Soul, but James Brown, London 1759-1834. According to John Dilworth, Brown apprenticed under Thomas Kennedy before setting up under his own name in Spitalfields. Like so many of the London makers, his output varied hugely in quality depending on who the customer was. This particular violin is beautiful, most likely a Gagliano copy, Italianate in proportions and in execution.

The violin has a Hill number (8744) on the fingerboard, and is recorded in the Hill archives as “Brown, James made 1800”. Dendrochronological analysis bears this out, showing an 18th century origin for the wood, 1768 for the treble side and 1727 for the bass. Both halves of the table show the same origin (Southern Swiss Alps) but come from different trees. More details


Alexander Smillie Violin, Glasgow 1890

£11,000

Alexander Smillie Violin, Glasgow 1890 Alex Smillie is the most esteemed maker of the Glasgow School, and his violins are highly prized for tone. His varnish is a very distinctive plain amber, the wood used for the tables is outstanding, and the arching is unusually flat. Smillie was a prolific maker, but the quality of the work is always excellent. This violin is in generally very good condition, with one neatly repaired crack to the lower right of the table and a superbly executed neck graft. The original varnish is almost unblemished, and the edges and corners are also well preserved.

Smillie has a great reputation throughout the British Isles, and in Scotland he is loved! This violin is fairly typical, producing a smooth, strong, warm and even tone which is completely musical throughout the register. When playing a Smillie it’s easy to forget how difficult it must be to produce an all-round “good violin”. Most makers fail, but Smillie makes it seem effortless – this is partly to do with the modest and restrained style of making, but mostly it’s to do with his particular genius for bringing all elements into balance. More details


A French Violin by Augustin Chappuy circa 1770

£12,000

A French Violin by Augustin Chappuy circa 1770 Augustin Chappuy was one of the principal makers of the “Vieux Paris” school – he produced a huge number of violins under his own label, and also made instruments for other makers. His brand persisted for decades after his death, and early 19th century “Chappuy” copies abound. However, this is a very typical example of his own work, certified as such by JJ Rampal. It has a characteristic well rounded and rather bulbous scroll, slightly diagonal open nicks to the f-holes, and the lamp blacking so beloved of Paris makers of this period. The condition is generally very good, though there’s a neatly repaired crack running up to the left of the tailpiece, well outside of the bassbar.

Chappuys are something of a mixed bag, but this one is excellent – it’s a manageable size, it’s very typical of the period, and it sounds great. The tone is muscular, clean and smooth, with plenty of zing in the high harmonics and a big warm response in the lower register. For an 18th century violin with a period bridge it has a surprisingly fresh and modern sound, very musical and well balanced, and powerful enough to dominate a big stage. More details


A Fine English Violin, London circa 1780

£12,500

A Fine English Violin, London circa 1780 This is a super English violin, probably made by John Betts while working in the Duke shop. It’s unusually beautiful in conception – made on an Amati pattern. It has a very fine and ornate scroll, lovely Amatise f-holes, and fluid, well-executed arching. The upper corners have that characteristic droopy Betts look about them! The violin is in good restored condition – the back seam has been realigned and the varnish retouched, the table has two well-restored cracks above and below the bass f-hole, and there’s a bit of restoration to the bottom rib.

Good 18th century English violins are still the sort of thing that a normal working musician can afford to buy, and when you look at the quality of work in a violin like this you do rather end up scratching your head. Why would someone mortgage their soul for a Gragnani or a Carcassi? The tone of this violin is first-class, strong, clean and vibrant, ideal for classical and early romantic repertoire. More details


A Good English Violin by Joseph Hill, circa 1780

£14,500

A Good English Joseph Hill violin, circa 1780
This is another great Joseph Hill from the 2nd half of the 18th century – Hill was the first member of the great Hill dynasty which dominated the English violin trade until very recently. This violin looks to be quite a late example, and could be the work of Joseph Hill II. It’s a classic Stainer model with fine wood throughout, one-piece front and back. Joseph Hill instruments enjoy a very good reputation for tone amongst professional players. This one has a very refined sound, clear but rich – everything’s where it should be, great dynamic range, all with an over-riding elegance of tone. There are 3 well-repaired cracks to the table, there’s a wing in the lower back, and the pegbox has been extensively repaired. The original varnish is very well preserved.
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Auguste Delivet Violin, Paris 1904

£15,000

Auguste Delivet, Paris 1904

From 1887 to 1892 Delivet worked for H.C. Silvestre, and his violins have a similar opulence of tone to those of his teacher. This is a lovely example (no. 79 from 1904) with a deep orange varnish and some outstanding wood.

Sound-wise this is an outrageously good violin, muscular and full but still sweet and essentially interesting – in my opinion rather better than a lot of Vuillaumes!

The condition is excellent, all corners and edges well preserved, and just a few blemishes in the varnish.
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A Violin by Augustin Chappuy for JB Salomon, Paris circa 1765

£22,500

A Violin by Augustin Chappuy for JB Salomon, Paris circa 1765
This violin bears the authentic label and brand of JB Deshayes Salomon (1713-1767) but is in fact the work of Augustin Chappuy. Chappuy produced some of his best work for Salomon’s widow after her husband’s death, which was then sold under the Salomon brand as his own work.

This is a very fine example of the “vieux Paris” school with beautiful proportions and elegant arching. It’s very lightly built but with a typically bold head. The condition is unusually good for a French instrument of the period – there’s one repaired crack to the outer edge of the table and some minor rib cracks. No other cracks or damages, and the original varnish is in excellent condition.

Again and again, 18th century French violins leave you thinking “what the hell is so special about those Italians …?” Apart from being beautifully made, this instrument has a tone which combines clarity and warmth, power and delicacy – the E string is astounding. A violin for a demanding professional which responds best to an assertive touch.
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Paul Blanchard Violin, Lyons 1887

£23,000

Paul Blanchard Violin, Lyons 1887 Paul Blanchard was one of the finest French makers of his time, and this is an excellent example of his work. Before setting up on his own, Blanchard worked for both the Silvestres and Vuillaume, and his work is in every way equal to theirs. The instruments he made pre-1900 are particularly admired, and the Guarneri model seen here is perhaps his most attractive. This violin (no. 140) is in remarkable condition – aside from the neck graft, there are no cracks or damages, and the varnish is beautifully preserved. The work is in all respects exceptional, the wood is of uncompromising quality throughout, and the varnish is soft, deep and lustrous.

I’m a big fan of the Lyons makers, and Paul Blanchard has to be at the top of the tree. As well as being a really fine example of his workmanship, this violin is also a great player with a big, robust and warm sound. It’s a powerful instrument which produces an even and rich tone at any level of bow pressure, remarkably well balanced throughout its range, with no weak points or harshness. Amongst Italian violins you’d have to look to something like an Enrico Rocca for this quality of tone – it’s a patent absurdity that the price would be nearly ten times as much for a very similar standard of tone and workmanship.

An exceptional violin, suitable for an advanced professional musician.
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A Neapolitan Violin, Ventapane School circa 1850

£25,000

Ventapane school violin This is a lovely mid-19th century Neapolitan violin of the Ventapane school, very characterful in design. Flat arching to front and back, typically short back length, lustrous oil varnish – overall this violin makes a very pleasing impression. The condition is pretty good – there’s a neatly repaired crack to the table (lower right edge), the left upper corner has been replaced, and there’s a minor flame crack in the upper right rib.

This is a very lively instrument with great response and a sugary sweet tone. It’s unusually willing, and responds well to a light touch – very easy to manipulate in higher positions, ideal for a showy player!
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Silvio Vezio Paoletti Violin, Florence circa 1930

£TBA

Silvio Vezio Paoletti Violin, Florence circa 1930 This is a fine early 20th century Italian violin by Silvio Paoletti, one of a number of good makers who trained under Valentino de Zorzi. The instrument bears multiple brands – on the button and the bottom rib externally, and on the inner back and the top block internally. It’s a very artistically made violin – the raised edgework is beautiful, the scroll and f-holes are finely cut, and the deep red varnish is rich and nicely craquelled. Overall the condition is very good – there’s a neatly repaired and barely perceptible crack below the bass f-hole, otherwise there are no issues.

There’s no question that Italian violins command a ridiculous premium compared to equivalent instruments from elsewhere in Europe – Italy is after all the home of the violin, and the myth of Stradivari will never die! I try to ignore the hype, but when I come across a beautifully made Italian instrument that also sounds great, then suddenly it seems even more “Italian”! This violin is a good example – a superb piece of craftsmanship with a pure and refined soprano voice, exuding charm and self-confidence. It has a clean, sweet and measured tone throughout the range, and would be ideal for a professional chamber musician.
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Caspar Strnad Violin, Prague 1820

£TBA

Caspar Strnad Violin, Prague 1820 This is a fine and interesting violin by Caspar Strnad, perhaps the best known maker of the Prague school. This is a very flat model with beautifully drawn-out corners – a similar example is illustrated in “Umeni Houslaru”.

Although the varnish has been largely replaced, the violin retains many of its original features, in particular the neck, bassbar and saddle. Strnad’s varnish is notoriously prone to the worst kind of craquelure, and the inner turns of the scroll reveal a familiar story. However, the replacement varnish is historic in itself and actually rather beautiful – the work has been done with care, and no details of the woodwork have been lost.

The table, ribs and back are without cracks or repairs of any kind – the neck has a historic break across the heel, but this has been repaired unobtrusively from beneath the fingerboard.

The Prague makers, in particular Strnad and his apprentices, produced consistently superb sounding instruments of great artistry, and it’s mystifying to think that their work is so poorly known by the wider violin community. This is a typical example, exquisitely made, highly original, and with a phenomenal sound. I can’t pretend to have played a vast number of violins in original set-up, but this one takes the biscuit. I suspect it would sit best in the hands of a concert soloist, and it would be a dream of an instrument for anyone involved in historically informed performance. The sound is rich and responsive throughout the register, positive yet soulful, and the volume is pretty staggering for a light instrument with gut strings. More details


Violin by Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre, Paris 1892

On Trial

Violin by Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre, Paris 1892This is a great French violin By Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre. It’s a Stradivari copy in the high Paris style, and it’s in excellent condition. Numbered 310 and branded internally on the inner back and the top block. There’s a neatly repaired crack running up from the treble f-hole, otherwise it’s very clean, with minimal wear to the original varnish

For a while now HC Silvestre has been my favourite maker – very few makers consistently achieve a first-class tone, and amongst late 19th century makers he’s in a league of his own. This particular instrument is probably the best example I have played – it simply has everything you would want from a violin, warmth, clarity, smoothness, power, great balance, beauty of tone and intense playability. A genuinely outstanding violin. More details


Pierre & Hippolyte Silvestre Violin, Lyon 1844

£50,000

Pierre & Hippolyte Silvestre Violin, Lyon 1844
The Silvestres were exceptional makers, and their success owes much to their training with Nicolas Lupot and JB Vuillaume. The two brothers worked together from 1829 until 1848, and this violin is a very fine example of their collaborative work. It’s in an exceptional state of preservation, free from repairs or damages, and with very little wear to the original varnish.

I’m a big fan of the Lyon school, and the Silvestres can do no wrong in my book! This particular instrument is of soloist quality – it has a big muscular sound, very focused but also very versatile. In the words of an old Yugoslavian folk song Srce Je Moja Violina “my heart is a violin … don’t touch it if you don’t know how to play it”.
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