How To Identify A Stradivarius Violin

Violins with paper labels stating Stradivarius circa 1700
abound by the millions. That’s right – millions.

Most of us know that there are reproductions produced
by companies like Sears and Roebuck during the
early 20th century. These weren’t actually copies meant
to deceive, however. They were done out of respect and
admiration for the master and weren’t intended to pass as
the real thing. At anywhere from $2 to $7 they were
fairly expensive-approximately the same cost as a fancy
bed lounge (fainting couch) but more than an autoharp
or zither (that’s another story).

Antonio Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy in 1644.
He was a student craftsman of the violinmaker Nicoli Amati.
(His family had a very good reputation. Labels from any
of them are almost as desirable, although they copy them
as well.) His began to experiment with wood, varnish,
and construction design. His results were outstanding.

Stradvari made probably just a little over a thousand
instruments with about 450 surviving violins. Almost
all of these are documented and in the hands of experts,
museums, and high-end collectors. The chances at finding
an unrecorded one are almost nil (…that means zero).

The Stradivarius models from 1900 were good, playable
instruments, the kind you buy for your aspiring grade
school musician. They have no antique or historic value
and will not bring much more than $100 (a lot less than
the original cost adjusted for inflation).

So when looking for a valuable violin at an auction, flea
market, or garage sale, you’re best off finding one without
a label – at least a label that says Stradivarius!

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