Antique violins are examples of the classical stringed instrument which are over 100 years in age.
Brief history and description
The violin is the smallest yet best-known string instrument and is considered by some to be the world's most popular instrument as well.
It is believed that violin-making in Europe could date back to as early as the 9th century, while violin-making in America can be traced back to the early 1800s. The origins of the violin are disputable as some believe the instrument originated in Italy during the early 1500s; however, others believe that the violin could date back to the Byzantine Empire.
One of the most well-known and earliest builders of the violin was Andrea Amati (1596 - 1684) who was also known for establishing the Cremona School of Violin Making. Amati was the grandson of a successful violin maker, and some of his many pupils include Antonio Stradivari, Bartolomeo Guarneri, Carlo Bergonzi as well as his grandson Nicolo.
Guide for collectors
It is said that the value of an antique violin increases by approximately 5% annually, thus are considered an excellent investment for instrument collectors.
Authentic antique violins usually carry a label printed in another language, specifically Latin or Italian, and are typically hand-made by their builders.
Authentic antique violins are rarely sold on online sites and can usually be purchased at auction sales. (Christie's in New York/London as well as Sotheby's in London have made history for selling antique violins at record-high prices).
Violins built by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, Vuillaume, Amati, Bergonzi, Gasparo da Salò and Strainer are considered the most rare and valuable for collectors.
Violins that were built in the Cremona, Italy region are also considered the most valuable due to the fact that some of the world's best violin makers were based there.
Antonio Stradivari (1644 - 1737) is the best known violin maker in history and he began building violins during the 1660s. Even fake or replica Stradivari violins are still considered valuable amongst antique violin collectors.
Restoration of an antique violin is recommended only if there is noticeable damage, especially if you're hoping to play the instrument and/or resell it in the future.
The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers (www.afvbm.org) has information regarding antique violins as well as Cremona Inc. (www.cremonainc.com), the European Association of Violin Makers (www.ael-violins.com) and the Violin Society of America (www.vsa.to)
Notable auction sales
Sotheby's in London sold a 1721 "Lady Blunt" Stradivarius violin at a world-record price of £9,808,000 in June of 2011 as well as a 1741 "Ex-Vieuxtemps" violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu for $3.9 million dollars USD in February of 2008.
Christie's by Antonio Stradivari which was built sometime between 1645 and 1715 for $3,544,000.00 USD in May of 2006, the 1729 "Solomon Ex-Lambert" violin by Antonio Stradivari for $2,728,000.00 USD in April of 2007, the 1699 "Lady Tennant" Antonio Stradivari violin for $2,032,000.00 USD in April of 2005, and the 1700 "Taft" violin by Antonio Stradivari for $1,326,000.00 USD in the early 1990s.
Christie's in London sold the 1720 "The Red Mendelssohn" violin by Antonio Stradivari for $1,686,700.00 USD in 1990 and also sold the 1727 "Kreutzer Strad" violin made by Antonio Stradivari for $1,580,000.00 USD in 1998.