Hello to all curious and possibly helpful violin experts out there. I have an interesting story and hope you will forgive the ignorance from which I tell it; I am not a violinist.
My son is 7 and has been taking Suzuki lessons for 3 years now. He is just about to move up to a hafl size violin. Last year, when it was time to buy his new violin, he was fortunate to be allowed to play a workshop violin and its tone was simply stunning, though we still had to purchase the factory violin because of price considerations.
NOW THE REALLY INTERESTING PART:
My mother was recently helping her very elderly friends move out of their house. The family is quite wealthy and has been giving things away as they clear out their stuff. Knowing that my son would soon have to move up to another violin size, when my mother spied an old case lying in a corner, she asked if she could look inside. The woman, who is 87, told her she was welcometo have a look, but that there might not be anything inside. The woman said that the case had been in her home since she was a little girl, and that her father's friend, who had been a concert violinist in an orchestra had left the violin there (we are talking some 70-80 years ago). The man to whom the violin originally belonged is long dead and the woman cannot remember his name or where he played.
Anyway, inside the case were two bows, one with the horse hair badly frayed and split, the other in tact but well worn from play. The leather on the stick above the frog has finger marks in it where the leather was worn down to the stick from wear. The mother of pearl has come out of the frog. The other bow still has its silk binding in tact on the stick, and the mother of pearl is still inlaid in the frog. Both sticks have real ivory tips.
The violing looks to be workshop made. It does not have a bright shiny finish, but rather, a darker more suted finish. Also, I would say that the colour tends toward the oak-brown rather than the red-honey of factory made violins. The pegs are ebony. There is a crack in the body (yes, it breaks my heart, but I am hopeful that it can be repaired). Inside is a label that reads:
Antonius Stradavarius Cremona Facibat Anno 1721.
I realise that these labels appear frequently in violins that are not authentic, and I expect that this is the case here.
My question to you all is whether a violin that has lain dormant for so long is worth repairing. Some absolute fool glued the bridge on at one point, which may be the reason it was abandoned. However, because the glue is old, I think a good workshop could clean it off. Also, the soundpost has fallen loose, but I am hopeful that the instrument can have its body opened up and be repaired.
One of my son's factory made violins eventually developed a crack in its body, because of temperature problems we think, but we had it repaired and the crack was not visble and its tone was as lovely as always.
If you had such a violin fall into your hands, what would you expect to hear from a shop about its possible value, and what would you expect to pay for repairs (cleaning, soundpost, setting the bridge and restringing).
The workshop violin we were looking at last spring was a 1/4 size and the asking price was $2000.00 I am, therefore, figuring that if I can repair this full size violin for anything less than that, that it would be a good deal. Am I wrong?
Is there any value to these "knock off" strads?
No matter what the answer, I have not lost anything. Mostly, I hope to gain a reasonable instrument that my son can play and enjoy.
I appreciate any advice.