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Guido

Top $$$ makers of all time

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Sorry if this may sound stupid to most, but maybe I'm not alone.

I'm aware of the auction results for the most expensive Strads and GDGs and I can probably name most of the next level of sought after and expensive makers of all time, but without looking up each one I have no feel for the prices this second tier of makers commands.

So, by value/price, who are the Top 5 - 10 makers of all time (below Strad and Del Gesu) and what prices do they achieve?

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35 minutes ago, Guido said:

So, by value/price, who are the Top 5 - 10 makers of all time (below Strad and Del Gesu) and what prices do they achieve?

Well, to begin with, I consider all the makers who congregate at MN to be priceless beyond value.  :)

Not what you were looking for? :huh::lol:

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This sort of question might seem trivial, since it kind of reduces violin making to labels and brands, but I do like making lists (a sign of mental disorder?), so who does one put in the top ten most expensive violin "makers" without taking into account individual violins and their particular qualities or problems? (talking violins, not cellos, that changes everything!)

Well, you kind of have to put Carlo Bergonzi right up there with Strad and GDG.

After that coming hard on their heels in the over 1mil group I'd think would be JB Guadagnini.

Then in terms of price, maybe call them the 500k-1mil range (although the best ones are probably asking more) you've got the whole "orthodox" Cremonese school, all the Amatis, Joseph filius and Andrea Guarneri, and the Cremonese "off-shoots" the 2 Pietro Guarneris, and GB Rogeri. You'd probably have to put the best Venetians in this group so the best Montagnanas, and Gobettis, and maybe some of the best late Cremonese Michelangelo, Nicolo or Carlo II Bergonzis and Storionis.  

Ruggieris seem to come in a little less expensive than Amatis/Guarneris/Rogeris

In the 250-500k group you get the more typical Venetians, Goffrillers, Seraphin(s) etc, the Mantuans (Camilli, Balestrieri) the better Neapolitans (Alessandro, Nicolo and Gennaro Gagliano), most of the funky late Cremonese, the Milanese (though the best early Grancinos could probably break into the higher bracket) and you start to get the 19thc makers, like Rocca, the best Pressendas, Lupot, and the best Vuillaumes.

Just my trivial personal thoughts, and totally open to contestation by those who are actively buying and selling these things, instead of just borrowing, playing and studying them. 

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1 hour ago, Michael Appleman said:

This sort of question might seem trivial, since it kind of reduces violin making to labels and brands, but I do like making lists (a sign of mental disorder?), so who does one put in the top ten most expensive violin "makers" without taking into account individual violins and their particular qualities or problems? (talking violins, not cellos, that changes everything!)

Well, you kind of have to put Carlo Bergonzi right up there with Strad and GDG.

After that coming hard on their heels in the over 1mil group I'd think would be JB Guadagnini.

Then in terms of price, maybe call them the 500k-1mil range (although the best ones are probably asking more) you've got the whole "orthodox" Cremonese school, all the Amatis, Joseph filius and Andrea Guarneri, and the Cremonese "off-shoots" the 2 Pietro Guarneris, and GB Rogeri. You'd probably have to put the best Venetians in this group so the best Montagnanas, and Gobettis, and maybe some of the best late Cremonese Michelangelo, Nicolo or Carlo II Bergonzis and Storionis.  

Ruggieris seem to come in a little less expensive than Amatis/Guarneris/Rogeris

In the 250-500k group you get the more typical Venetians, Goffrillers, Seraphin(s) etc, the Mantuans (Camilli, Balestrieri) the better Neapolitans (Alessandro, Nicolo and Gennaro Gagliano), most of the funky late Cremonese, the Milanese (though the best early Grancinos could probably break into the higher bracket) and you start to get the 19thc makers, like Rocca, the best Pressendas, Lupot, and the best Vuillaumes.

Just my trivial personal thoughts, and totally open to contestation by those who are actively buying and selling these things, instead of just borrowing, playing and studying them. 

Thanks for this great answer. While 95% of the names would have crossed my mind in this context, I'm thankful for the monetary orientation, for what it's worth ^_^.

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Bit like "Top of the Pops" - but violins instead.

So thats the top end, which I guess very few here will ever attain to, so how about the bottom end ?

How do we buy a low cost violin and get the Strad - Del Gesu sound ?

Of the 9 or so I own, most sound raw , gritty, sometimes boxy and overbright , apart from a mid 20th century violin I bought just recently , which has a mellow,flute like tone, and it sounds quite nice until I compare it to  a Strad being played solo on Youtube.

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Delabo said:

How do we buy a low cost violin and get the Strad - Del Gesu sound ?

You try lower cost violins until you find one that has the tone and playability that you want. As others have pointed out, you can find violins that sound wonderful, but are lower in price because they are not as attractive as others and/or don't have a brand or maker cachet. Sell the 9 that you don't like to buy the one that you do.

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Maestro Appleman's answer is pretty much spot on.  I would however point out that fine modern instruments can produce a performance that is just as satisfying if not exactly the same as one by a $$$$$$$$ Cremonese instrument.  I have a feeling that many great soloists of our time own bench copies of their instruments. I doubt they can travel the world reliably with just one 300 year old instrument.  I imagine we have heard concerts played on the copy?

DLB

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Re Dwight's comment, there was an interview of Perlman on Youtube(?) in which he was talking about his school on Long Island and he had an instrument in his hands.  At one point he played something on it,  said it sounds pretty good and this was his summer instrument.  It, therefore, wasn't his Soil Strad.  He didn't say what maker it was but since it was his "summer" instrument, I assumed it was likely a more modern instrument that would hold up in the humidity, etc., of playing outdoors or in non-climate controlled places in the summer.  I agree that many/most concert performers have back-up instruments, maybe not contemporary bench copies, but not the big names of their primary concert instruments.

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44 minutes ago, Dwight Brown said:

... I have a feeling that many great soloists of our time own bench copies of their instruments. I doubt they can travel the world reliably with just one 300 year old instrument.  I imagine we have heard concerts played on the copy?

DLB

*gasp*

Blasphemy! No one would ever dare not be completely honest about their performance!

Would they? :ph34r:

BTW....what about Stainer?

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1 hour ago, duane88 said:

Undervalued...

I agree with this at some level. And I would love to act on that belief and own one someday.

However deep down I know when that day comes I will probably end up with a similarly priced old Italian instead.

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6 hours ago, duane88 said:

Undervalued...

I suppose there are a few historical "big" names not making the list, like Stainer. How about Da Salo, Maggini, others?

Looks like the list above would mention every maker individually above $500k and some groups with examples at the bottom end range of $250-$500 range.

With the exception of Lupot & Vuillaumes the list is also exclusively Italian.

Are the best English, Austrian and German makers way behind?

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The problem with the Brescian makers is that, aside from scarcity, their violins fall into the large pattern and the small pattern. The large pattern is too big, well over 360mm, and the small pattern is too small, under 350mm. Some of the Maggini fiddles are closer to small violas than big violins. Also consider that there are, depending on who you ask, no more than teens of Gaspar violins. Not many to establish a price history with.

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1 hour ago, Guido said:

I suppose........................the list is also exclusively Italian.

Are the best English, Austrian and German makers way behind?

Only in price.  :ph34r::lol:

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Hey everybody, let's not fall into that price vs. sound discussion! There are too many threads and posts on that in this forum already! Some of the people (or institutions) who can afford expensive violins do believe they have something in their sound, carrying power and playability that can't be found in less expensive ones, some just want to own beautiful, historical pieces of high artisanry. It's their money, and their willingness to buy them at those prices drives the market.

Stainers are rare and not that highly sought after, so their prices are hard to track, but generally seem to lag behind the second tier of Italian fiddles if not the third. Maggini and DaSalo violins are also rare in good condition, and have generally lagged far behind the second and third tier, but violas are another matter. The Maggini market is also shook up by the dendro findings that show that some of the most highly regarded examples were made long after Maggini's death, so potential buyers can be wary.

For non-Italian makers, there is a strange logic that's out of proportion with the top end of the market, and there are definitely "relative" bargains to be found. Lupots and Vuillaumes are plentiful (especially Vuillaumes) so their values are easy to track. As soon as you look at their assistants or successors, though, like Gand père and Bernardel père, the price drops precipitously, although their work is not that different from Lupot. In the case of the makers that worked for Vuillaume, it can be argued that they rarely tried to make violins to the same high standard after they left the big shop, but that means there are some happy violinists out there who've got Sylvestres, Maucotels, Barbés, etc for bargain prices.

There are rare "outliers" with high reputations like Nemessanyi and Lott, and a sought after example can get similar prices, but, it's hard to assign a steady price range since the reliable transactions are rare. I think one could say the same thing for a maker like Parker. The ex-Kreisler example is pretty amazing, but real Parkers in good condition are rare, so it's hard to base the value of his work on one fiddle.

One non-italian who regularly gets Gagliano-level prices is Contreras from Madrid. Guillamis from Barcelona are beautifully made, but don't come up to that price level, and the makers after the Contreras family in Madrid were either too quirky (Assensio) or rare (Ortega) to make a clear price range.

Our German and Austrian based friends will be better versed on this than I am, but my sense is that despite the fact that many of the best makers from there were capable of the highest standards of workmanship, there aren't many German language area violins that fetch over 100k. I've seen Hellmers, Mausiels, Widhalms, Poschs, Geissenhoffs, Stadlmanns not to mention Buchstetters, that to me are in every way as interesting and compelling as French and Italian violins up to the 250k range, and I don't think any of them would fetch over 50k on a very good day in a very fancy shop, but I'd be happy to be wrong. Which German-sphere makers could hope to break 100k besides Stainer and Nemessanyi? Schweitzer? Alban?  

It can seem like a weird and illogical market, but  it does have its own logic. If you're looking for a good sounding and playing violin for yourself, you don't necessarily have to look at any of these famous old makers. 

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Great posts Michael - I agree on all points.

We could maybe add a bit to the list of outliers (Pique, Panormo, maybe the early Dutch school) - there have been some big prices recently. And a good Mathias Albani is definitely over £100k now. Incidentally I would prefer an Albani to a Stainer any day of the week.

I have seen a Lupot this year that was a pretty staggering price (€350k).

You haven't quite stated your position, but I think you also feel it quite odd that a Vuillaume should be worth more than a Gand or even a Pique?

It would be interesting to discuss the makers who get big prices but probably shouldn't ...

 

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On 13/01/2018 at 8:14 AM, Michael Appleman said:

Just my trivial personal thoughts

Your modesty becomes you.

I could happily read a book of your thoughts.

Excellent post as always.

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Does anyone know how much Stradivarius (or any other top shelf maker) would have charged for his/her instruments, converted to today's dollars or Euros?  Were they priced comparable to today's Chinese imports or German factory instruments?   

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4 hours ago, martin swan said:

We could maybe add a bit to the list of outliers (Pique, Panormo, maybe the early Dutch school) - there have been some big prices recently. And a good Mathias Albani is definitely over £100k now. Incidentally I would prefer an Albani to a Stainer any day of the week.

I agree with you on those. I should have mentioned Panormo in there, but should we think of him as italian, French or English? ; )

I remember not too long ago Piques were barely getting 30k and I thought they were a good buy. Now they have been climbing up towards Lupot, which is logical for the good ones. The ex-Ysaye (and ex-Thibaud, can't keep a good fiddle down) Pique is a corker and I'd pounce on it if the owner weren't asking a pretty staggering price!

Alban(i)s are an interesting subject. I have a hunch that many of the lesser Goffrillers I've seen (and that are starting to get shot down these days) might actually be re-labelled Albans, and that most of the Albans I've seen were re-labelled Hellmers, J.U. Eberles and Laskes. I personally don't have a clear idea of what a real Alban is, though I'm sure there are better informed people out there who do. I'd love to learn more about these some day.

I have seen a Lupot this year that was a pretty staggering price (€350k).

You haven't quite stated your position, but I think you also feel it quite odd that a Vuillaume should be worth more than a Gand or even a Pique?

You've always been pretty clear about your feelings about Vuillaume, and I think we share the opinion that the ubiquity and easy recognition of these fiddles gives them a price "bump" a bit like Sartory bows. I think I'm less negative about their general quality than you, though, as I have seen several that I felt were very fine sounding and playing instruments, and I do feel the basic minimum quality is quite high. Is it normal or fair that they are worth 4-5 times as much as a Gand Père or a truly hand made Chanot? Of course not for the quality of the instrument, but since you can have hundreds of customers looking for a Vuillaume or a Sartory, whereas you probably have to explain who Gand was in most cases, that can fuel the big price discrepency. 

 

 

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On 13/01/2018 at 6:34 AM, Guido said:

Sorry if this may sound stupid to most, but maybe I'm not alone.

I'm aware of the auction results for the most expensive Strads and GDGs and I can probably name most of the next level of sought after and expensive makers of all time, but without looking up each one I have no feel for the prices this second tier of makers commands.

So, by value/price, who are the Top 5 - 10 makers of all time (below Strad and Del Gesu) and what prices do they achieve?

I have always wanted to ask a related question, and never dared because I fear the experts will pile in and say it is a stupid question: what drives the prices? Obviously the answer is a complex mixture of sound, workmanship, rarity, certification, fashion and celebrity violinist endorsements, be the instruments antique, modern, or brand new. However, that quick listing of factors gives very little insight to someone like myself, who will buy a handful of violins and bows in a lifetime, how the market and pricing work.

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In my view, the principal factor is degrees of separation from Stradivari and del Gesu.

In other words, did someone work with either, did they work with someone who worked with either, were they at least in the same country around the same time, did they copy authentic instruments by these makers, did they have some tools from the Stradivari workshop, did they deal in Strads, could their violins pass as Strads in a darkish room etc etc ad nauseam ....

Then there are lots of other less important factors, some of which you have listed. But name recognition plays a big part - the more examples there are, the more often an auction result appears, and every time the price creeps up a bit.

Also names with lots of syllables are popular.

 

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10 minutes ago, martin swan said:

In my view, the principal factor is degrees of separation from Stradivari and del Gesu.

In other words, did someone work with either, did they work with someone who worked with either, were they at least in the same country around the same time, did they copy authentic instruments by these makers, did they have some tools from the Stradivari workshop, did they deal in Strads, could their violins pass as Strads in a darkish room etc etc ad nauseam ....

Then there are lots of other less important factors, some of which you have listed. But name recognition plays a big part - the more examples there are, the more often an auction result appears, and every time the price creeps up a bit.

Also names with lots of syllables are popular.

 

I have, for some time, suspected that the elevated prices for Italian fiddles in general reflects a superstitious belief in contagious magic.  :)

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13 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Supply, demand, and irrational behavior of buyers and sellers.

Along with a creative mixture of most or all of the Seven Deadly Sins.  :lol:

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