You can play your Strad to your heart’s content, or rent it out to violinistJoshua Bell. Just be sure not to drop it.
Of the 1,100 violins that Stradivari is believed to have made during his lifetime, only 650 are known to remain. Although there were other noted violin makers in Stradivari’s timesuch as Guarneri and Amati, whose works now fetch great sums of moneythe surviving Strads are more numerous, more famous and more expensive.
Even the most successful and celebrated luthier of all time might have been surprised to learn that his “Lady Tennant” violin was sold last year byChristie’s for more than $2.03 million, the highest amount ever paid for a musical instrument at a public auction.
In 1998, Christie’s auctioned a very similar Strad (crafted in 1698, one
In private, they may go for even more: The Stradivari Society, a private Chicago-based organization that purchases rare violins and loans them to promising young musicians, values some “golden era” (post-1700) Stradivari violins at $6 million each.
Stradivari (born 1644, died 1737) is believed by many to have built his finest instruments as an older and consequently more skilled craftsman. An early-period (pre-1700) Stradivarius, therefore, may sell for less. However, “such examples represent excellent values for musicians, as sound does not precisely follow price,” write Stradivari Society founders Robert Bein and Geoffrey Fushi in their essay, “The Masterpieces of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù: A Market Perspective.”
According to the Stradivari Society, the value of Stradivari and Guarneri violins has tripled since 1990.
“As institutions and museums hold an increasing percentage of the great violins, the competition intensifies for the remaining instruments when they do become available, and the continued increases in violin prices of the current decade dramatically reflect this fact,” say Bein and Fushi.
What gives this particular fiddle its unrivaled appeal? Some scientists have suggested that Stradivari used alpine spruce that had grown during an era of uncommonly cold weather. This may have made the wood abnormally dense and contributed to the brilliant sound quality of his instruments. Others insist that no instrument maker has ever worked harder.
Perhaps the answer lies closer to the fact that instrument connoisseurs, like stock investors, are drawn to a great story. Strads are undoubtedly beautiful in sound and design, and many have been passed down through the hands of generations of great musicians, from 18th-century master Nicolo Paganini to 20th-century virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin.
The allure of rich provenance may also explain how rock legends can turn cheaply-made guitars into million-dollar purchases. While violins still top the list of the most expensive instruments, their fretted cousins are quickly catching up, especially those attached to celebrity names.
“Musical instruments have been great investments, such that I now consider them to be far superior to
In fact, Gruhn suspects that Clapton’s “Blackie” guitarthe most expensive ever sold publicly, at $959,500 in 2004was assembled from guitar parts purchased in part from him in the 1970s for, oh, maybe a few hundred bucks. (Read Forbes FYI’s 2005 article on collecting rare guitars, “While My Guitar Gently Reaps.”)
But is this kind of growth sustainable? “Only if one does [one's] due diligence,” cautions Christie’s Keane. He cites six fine-instrument value determinants:
1. Attribution (who made it)
4. Provenance (who played it)
5. Freshness to the market. An instrument brought out of 200 years in hiding incites “an air of discovery,” Keane says.
6. Fashion. For example, “classical guitars are hot right now.”
Once you’ve done your homework and put in your winning bid, don’t closet your new acquisition or display it on the mantle under your Picasso. Like wine or art, fine instruments need to be stored in a carefully monitored, semi-humid climate to maintain their worth.
As for the most expensive instrument ever sold”The Lady Tennant”it could fetch up to $3 million today in prime condition, Keane estimates.
Not a bad return for an old piece of wood.
The White Brothers, Ira Johnson and Asa Warren, are described* as "the first Boston master makers of violins". Both Whites are reported to have been fine woodworkers who taught themselves the craft of violin making by studying instruments from the European masters. Asa and Ira J. were in business together as music dealers, publishers and instrument makers under the name I. J. & A. W. White from 1849 to 1852 at 52 Court Street, and as White Brothers from 1853 until 1863 at 86 Tremont Street. After 1863, Ira went out on his own relocating just north of the city first in Malden, Massachusetts and then later in Melrose.
Asa Warren White was born in Barre, Massachusetts in 1826. He worked in his young days for Henry Prentiss [dealer and publisher], with a violin maker named Giradol, a quick workman, who worked on all forms of stringed instruments. In 1849 Ira J. and A. W. White formed a partnership and worked together repairing and making different instruments. Asa Warren made his instruments after the Stradiuarius and Guarnerius models. After Ira J. withdrew from the firm Asa W. White was in business alone; he turned out several hundred violins "and about ten 'Cellos, several violas, three viol da gambas, and two viol d'Amors. A. W. White received a gold medal from the Massachusetts Mechanics' Fair." His shop in Boston was a training school for some of the later violin makers. He died in 1893. Ira Johnson White died in December of 1895 at the age of 82.
We have two White Brothers violins, the Allegro and the Premier.
Link to our web page: http://goldenmusic.co/products/4673
Francois Breton was a violin maker who did most of his work between 1778-1830 in Mirecourt, France. He was the personal luthier to the Duchesse d’Angouleme. He was a very prolific make and was imitated by many others. His style was quite refined, generally a little over-sized, with flat arch and clear yellow varnish. Thousands of factory made instruments were produced in his style after his death. Breton also made good cellos and bows. He would often put a brand on the back button and occasionally inscribe on the pegbox “F. Breton.” His printed label would read F Breton, Musicarius, Mitecurti, anno 1805, F Breton brevete Luthier de S.A.R., Mme, la Duchesse d’Angouleme. Breton died in 1830. Link to web page: Breton
Here's a link to the sound bite: Breton Sound
This is the Ernest Mumby Violin. He was born in 1888. He worked in Tottenham, North London, United Kingdom. He was a pupil of Whitmarsh. His work is considered Classic English Violin making and displays good workmanship and good materials. Golden Music's Mumby violin has a beuatiful mellow, expressive and warm tone. Mumby died in London in 1929. Here is a link to our web page for this violin: Mumby