This is a lovely violin from the late 19th century bearing an authentic Silvestre label, but most likely a bought-in Mirecourt instrument. It has a terrific sound, and it would be ideal for a talented young player.

This violin is something of an enigma – it bears some traits of HC Silvestre, in particular the purfling and the edgework, but lacks many others. Like so many French makers of the period, Silvestre offered a cheaper line of instruments that he thicknessed, finished and varnished, but which were bought in the white from Mirecourt. And this seems to be what we have here – a sort of “half-Silvestre” with an authentic label, but lacking a serial number.

It’s a very attractive violin, and the sound is at least as good as some Silvestres we have had.

The condition is generally good – the original varnish is very well preserved and all edges and corners are crisp . There is one neatly repaired crack above the treble f-hole and a wing crack to the same f-hole, also a 5cm saddle crack to the left of the tailpiece. All are properly repaired and there are no other issues.

We may be slightly uncertain about exactly who made what on this violin, but there’s no uncertainty about its tonal quality. It’s a very well balanced instrument with a clear and slightly sugary voice. Smooth and easy to play, the response is excellent and the whole register resonates in a uniform way.

Its overall character is bright and zingy, but there’s a satisfyingly woody core, and the G string is full and rounded. No weak points in the register, no nasties, no wolfs, just a genuinely expressive and sophisticated sounding violin in a very affordable package.

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