Violins For Sale
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
On trial, £1,600
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
£1,700 (Standard Violin)
This 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
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
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
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
£2,700 (Artist Violin)
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
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
This is a very nice early JTL (Jérome Thibouville-Lamy) violin from around 1890 – it’s has a Straidvarius 1721 label and a JTL brand visible through the treble f-hole. It’s a well-made instrument, very light in the hand, and the spruce used for the table is unusually good. More details
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
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
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
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
This is a super French violin by Paul J-B Chipot, one of a number of fine makers who escaped the Mirecourt workshops and set up on their own. Chipot was well regarded in his own day, and his instruments have stood the test of time. The work on this violin is superb, un-naturally crisp and flawless, with great wood and a rich orange-red oil varnish. The condition is excellent, with no cracks or damages and very little wear to the varnish. The violin has never been opened, and the gold-capped pegs are original. More details
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
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 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
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
This is a very nicely made and fine-sounding “anonymous” violin. It doesn’t fit exactly into any school of making, but it seems most likely to be a handmade instrument from north of the Alps. More details
This is a fine English violin from the turn of the century – although it’s not up to the standard of an Edward Withers, it shows many similar points of style, and was probably made in the Withers shop. The wood is of excellent quality and the work is very precise. The condition is unusually good – there are no cracks or repairs of any kind. There’s a bit of erosion to the outer edge of the right f-hole, but this is a very minor quibble. More details
This 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
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
This is a remarkable violin by Bulgarian maker Franz Hristodorov (1910-1988), branded on the inner back, the bassbar, and the table. 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! The condition is excellent – apart from a repaired wing crack there are no issues. The action has been raised by means of a neat fillet between the neck and the fingerboard. More details
Jozsef 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
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
This 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
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
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
This is a fine and interesting violin made by EA Homolka while he was working for 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”. It’s extraordinary that Homolka was free to introduce so much innovation in a violin bearing a Strnad label – Strnad himself died in 1823, so perhaps by 1820 Homolka had free rein in the workshop.
The violin bears its original label, and comes with a certificate from Jan B Spidlen, the leading authority on the Prague makers. More details
Available soon, £17,500
This is a particularly good violin by François Gaviniès, one of the leading figures of the Vieux Paris School. It bears his original brand below the button, with the characteristic backwards N – the f-holes are also very typical, with upper and lower tongues curling round ornately. The condition is generally very good for the age of the instrument – there’s some half-edging, a table soundpost patch, one minor rib crack, a little insert to the lower right f-hole, and two or three further minor repaired cracks in the table. The varnish is original and very well preserved.
By now everyone must be thoroughly bored with my anti-Italian spiel, but it’s perhaps worth pointing out that it’s still possible to buy a superb and historic 18th century violin with a great sound for a sensible amount of money … as long as it’s not Italian! This particular instrument has a beautiful tone, rich and soft but with lots of volume and excellent carrying power. It’s a serious violin worth of a professional player – very well rounded, free of wolf notes or unpleasant artifacts, clean and clear in high positions, with just the right mix of response and resistance. Highly recommended!
Available soon, £25,000
Certificate, Dmitry Gindin, London
Although Szepessy spent most of his working life in London, his violin-making remained entirely in the Hungarian tradition. Szepessy apprenticed with Samuel Nemessanyi and Thomas Zach – in this particular violin you could say that the sublime workmanship derives from Nemessanyi, the spectacular varnish from Zach. Szepessy made great violins, but this one is a gem – in near perfect condition, it’s a Strad model made with the finest wood, numbered 123. There’s a repaired wing crack to the bass f-hole, otherwise no cracks or repairs, and the varnish is generally in an excellent state of preservation. More details
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, the bassbar 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 refined soprano voice, exuding charm and self-confidence. It has a strong, clear and warm tone throughout the range, with a wide range of colours and great expressive potential. More details
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Certificate J&A Beare London
The makers of the early Dutch school produced some phenomenal violins whose sound quality has stood the test of time better than many of the Amati instruments they were copying. This particular violin is without doubt one of the best sounding instruments I’ve ever played, as well as being one of the oldest …
The condition is generally very good for a 350-year old much loved violin – there’s a small patch on the upper right edge of the table, a button graft & patch in the upper back, there are a couple of almost invisible crack repairs to the table (with an internal patch), and there are 3 small cracks in the lower back caused by an overtight chinrest. More details
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”. More details
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Certificate Florian Leonhard, London
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