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1920's Roth with no brand or serial number?


jkrichards

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Wondering if anyone here might have some comments on a 1920’s Roth with no brand or serial number. I’m looking into a sale in response to a newspaper ad (for myself, as a player), and the seller has advised that the instrument does not have the brand or serial number. He seems like a legitimate fellow – retired, no longer playing, selling off his personal collection...and I don’t think he’s trying to take anyone for a ride, so I wonder – is it possible for a genuine Roth not to have the usual brand or serial number?

Here are some photos to give you an idea.

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BTW, I’m new to this forum, so I do apologize if I’m posting this in the wrong venue since this is technically not an auction listing. From what I’ve read in the archives for this forum, I’m hoping that some of the regulars may have some wisdom to share.

Thanks

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The seller says the label reads: Ernst Henrich Roth Markneukirchen 1926 Reproduction of Antonius Stradivarius Cremona 1725.

BTW, I believe I may take a pass. It seems too risky with no serial or brand.

I suppose I'm mainly trying to get a better understanding of Roth violins - labels, serial numbers, etc.

Thanks for the info so far.

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From the official Roth history: "....the instruments of Ernst Heinrich Roth were much sought after in Germany and throughout Europe" (italics added).

Jacob, have you ever seen a Roth that was marketed in the German speaking world? I have always had impression that it was a factory that catered to the Americas.

Richard

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I think maybe you're confusing EH Roth with Scherl & Roth (different branch of the same family).

EH Roth violins are all over Germany, and there are a lot in the UK.

All the EH Roths I have bought came from German owners, except for one from Scandinavia.

I think the obsession with brands and serial numbers is misplaced in relation to 1920s Roth violins, and even the 1930s Markneukirchen instruments often don't have a brand - I'd be interested to know when the serial numbers started, but I associate it more with the pre-war tradey Roth instruments and all post-war productions.

The violin in the pictures looks nice - it could well be a 1920s Roth, but impossible to say without sharper photos.

nb. to describe EH Roth as a "factory" is to do it a dis-service. The Stradivarius 1700 instruments made post 1950 can be pretty ropey, but mostly the quality was superb, particularly tonally. Yes they're largely workshop instruments, but so are a lot of Lupots!

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From the official Roth history: "....the instruments of Ernst Heinrich Roth were much sought after in Germany and throughout Europe" (italics added).

Jacob, have you ever seen a Roth that was marketed in the German speaking world? I have always had impression that it was a factory that catered to the Americas.

Richard

I only have one customer who has a Roth violin (which he inherited). I myself have a damaged Roth Cello, somewhere in the basement, so they are not exactly plentiful, or a household name here. I haven't noticed any "marketing" unless you count advertizing in "The Strad" back in the 70's (I think).

They are very charming and friendly, should you visit them in Bubenreuth. The firm is very much smaller than it once was, as is much of Bubenreuth, as a result of the "Globalisierung".

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I have a few EH Roth labeled violins (from the 1940's-60's) in my shop on consignment at present. They belong to the family of a now-deceased violin maker/dealer. Three of the violins have EH labels, but not the typical EH Roth brand, but one does have a small brand of a spruce tree enclosed in a circle. One viola does have the classic EH Roth brand, but no original label. From what I gather not all of the Roths were branded, but I'm not certain. I'm not in the business of issuing certificates, nor do I think it's particularly worth the trouble/expense to have the Roth family authenticate them, as Roth's of that vintage aren't overly valuable or marketable. I just decided to price them based on their quality and condition.

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The one with the spruce tree brand is surely a Mittenwald violin (possibly Mittenwald Fachschule) and therefore not a Roth.

I think anything from 1950 onwards without a brand isn't a Roth - pre-1945 it's much less clear-cut.

Authenticity is worth quite a lot with EH Roths, I would be very wary of selling anything as a Roth unless I was 100% certain. Particularly in the US, where there's a veritable obsession with all the model & serial numbers.

I would say a good-sounding upper level EH Roth Guarnerius from 1960, labeled & branded with a serial number might be worth £5000, an "equivalent" German violin in identical condition with similar workmanship but no identity might be worth £2000 if you're lucky.

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I also have a 1963 EH Roth fully branded and labeled, but judging from the tone and quality it would bring no more than $3,000 max. Nice fiddle, but nothing that would warrant charging any more than that, IMHO. My other unbranded "Roths" I would accept substantially less for. Michael Darnton has commented in the past that he hasn't found the "lesser" grade of Roth's particularly marketable, nor have I. In all fairness, most of my customers are aren't chasing papers or looking for investments, they're trying to find the best sounding instrument for the price. In short, for under $5,000 they're looking to make music rather than money.

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I've had a couple of Stradivarius 1700 models (labeled and branded) which I've sold for under £1000 - they're not very good! 1720 and above generally meet a minimum standard of tone and are sometimes exceptional. Guarneri models seem much rarer, I've only had one and it was better than most early Cremonese violins I've played, God knows why I sold it ....

When it comes to EH Roth I have found buyers to be particularly concerned about brands and serial numbers, and often quite prepared to overlook great sounding instruments that didn't have the right markings.

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Thanks everyone, the comments are much appreciated. Particularly the friendliness. It's nice to see a forum like this where people are willing to share their knowledge.

BTW, is there a way to send private msgs through this forum? If so, and someone here is willing to share more information with me directly, and perhaps answer a few more questions, it might be better than posting here. I see from the archives that the topic of Roths has come up time and time again, so maybe I could spare people having to beat a dead horse on the matter.

Cheers

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Very interesting, Martin, that you indeed find the early Roths over there. I'm convinced. They turn up regularly on U.S. ebay, but over an embarassingly many years of following British ebay and German ebay, I have never seen a one. Hence, my apparently wrong assumption that they were never marketed in Europe.

I'm with Fellow on this one. The enhanced value of EH Roths vis a vis other very nice violinscoming from the same shop under different names is clear. Any one with an eye to resale would want that extra assurance. Of course, there is the rare player who just wants a good instrument. :rolleyes:

Richard

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Yes that's my observation - anyone who wants a Roth wants a brand and a serial number! Why pay a premium for something which might be a Roth if it doesn't have all the bits ....

I have had a couple of Roths with authentic labels but no brand (both from the late 30s Markneukirchen production when things were a bit "up in the air"). One of them became the subject of lengthy to-and-fro with an American buyer - it was authentic, it sounded great, the price was ridiculously low, but he wanted the brand!

Incidentally, there have been several EH Roths in recent London auctions, two of which I played and rated, but I remember at least 2 more over the same period that weren't in playable condition : EH Roth at auction

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I was told by two reputable luthiers/dealers that the brand really doesn't come into play until the post-war period. I wouldn't pass on a great-sounding authentic Roth from the '20's if it didn't have a brand... In fact I didn't, and thus currently own a '26 Strad copy 172(2?) which I'm quite pleased with. BTW neither dealer I asked about this were the place I purchased it from. :)

One strange thing about E. H. Roth fiddles, IMHO, is that the build and tonal quality seems to run the gamut from just fair to excellent. I could top $10k for a superior fiddle to mine, likewise have seen a few $6k Roths that I wouldn't row a boat with. It seems as though the better ones can be quite fine.

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