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Violins

While experts debate the origin of the violin, it was most likely derived from an Arabic instrument called the rabab which dates to the 9th century A.D. This instrument was made from a gourd with a long neck. It had two silk strings which were attached to an endpin and strung to pegs that were used to tune the strings in fifths. The rabab was held in a person's lap and played with a bow. After the Crusades, similar instruments appeared in Europe, including the rebec in Spain and the vielle in France.

The violin as we know it originated in Italy in the 1500s. Andrea Amati of Cremona is the first known documented violin maker. The oldest-surviving violin, dating to 1560, is one of Amati's instruments. Antonio Stradivari, the most famous violin maker in history, was an apprentice of Amati's son, Nicolo. Stradivari made more than 1,000 instruments during the later 1600s and 1700s, most of which were considered the highest-quality instruments made. Today, Stradivarius violins are the most valuable – and the most counterfeited -- instruments on the market.

Other famous makers of antique violins who were contemporaries of Stradivari include Jacob Stainer, the first important violin maker outside of Italy, and Matthias Klotz, a German violin maker who studied with both Nicolo Amati and Jacob Stainer. Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, member of the violin-making Guarneri family of Venice, is considered to be second only to Stradivari in the quality of his instruments.


Quick Facts

  • Many people buy antique violins as investments. Because of this, the antique violin market is filled with forgeries. Collectors should research individual instruments before purchasing
  • The Vieuxtemps Guarnerius violin made by Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu in 1741 was sold in 2014 for a world record price of $16 million
  • The most valuable violin in the world is the Messiah Stradivarius crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1716. It has never been played, so it is in like-new condition. Its current value is $20 million

Recommended Items at Auction

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Antique violin. 2 piece back. Stradivarius label. Tiger grain. Wear to edges. Overall length:
Dec 04, 10:00 AM EST
Antique violin. 2 piece back. Stradivarius label. Tiger grain. Wear to edges. Overall length:
by Tremont Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$1251 Bid
Antique violin. One piece back. Losses to edges. Hairline crack. 23.25 overall length.
Dec 04, 10:00 AM EST
Antique violin. One piece back. Losses to edges. Hairline crack. 23.25 overall length.
by Tremont Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
LOT OF 2: JOSEF SCHACK & AFTER ANDREAS AMATI VIOLINS.
Dec 20, 9:00 AM EST
LOT OF 2: JOSEF SCHACK & AFTER ANDREAS AMATI VIOLINS.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $500- $1,500
$2501 Bid
Eugen Gärtner Stuttgart violin 4/4, Violine,
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Eugen Gärtner Stuttgart violin 4/4, Violine,
by Antikauktion Krefeld
Est: €400- €0
€4000 Bids
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Miniature Violin with case, Artist Signed
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Miniature Violin with case, Artist Signed
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $10- $200
$100 Bids
Daniel Spoerri (1930)
Dec 08, 6:30 PM CET
Daniel Spoerri (1930)
by Geneve Encheres
Est: CHF5,000- CHF8,000
CHF5,0000 Bids
Violin around 1900
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Violin around 1900
by Auktionshaus Wersching
Est: €0- €0
€800 Bids
A cased violin and bow. The violin 60 cm long.
Dec 03, 10:00 AM GMT
A cased violin and bow. The violin 60 cm long.
by Rowley Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers
Est: £20- £30
£200 Bids
Antique violin with label inside "W S Loomis 1901…
Dec 03, 1:00 PM EST
Antique violin with label inside "W S Loomis 1901…
by Blackwood March Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
A Copy of Antonius Stradivarius Violin
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
A Copy of Antonius Stradivarius Violin
by Designer Homes of Central Florida
Est: $425- $4,250
$4250 Bids
Painted Tole Model of a Violin on a Stand
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Painted Tole Model of a Violin on a Stand
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $50- $100
$200 Bids
Continental Violin and Case
Dec 11, 10:00 AM CST
Continental Violin and Case
by Leonard Auction
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
FERNANDEZ ARMAN (1928-2005) - Violon découpé.
Dec 11, 2:30 PM CET
FERNANDEZ ARMAN (1928-2005) - Violon découpé.
by Cornette de Saint-Cyr-Bruxelles
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€2,0000 Bids
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VIOLINE MIT BOGEN IN KASTEN
Dec 12, 10:00 AM CET
VIOLINE MIT BOGEN IN KASTEN
by Schuler Auktionen
Est: CHF400- CHF600
CHF4000 Bids
VIOLON D'ENFANT MEDIO FINO AVEC ÉTUI ET ARCHET En l'état L : 55 cm
Dec 11, 2:00 PM CET
VIOLON D'ENFANT MEDIO FINO AVEC ÉTUI ET ARCHET En l'état L : 55 cm
by Oise Encheres
Est: €20- €30
€150 Bids
Geige von Johanes Seitz (1899 Mittenwald - Heidelberg 1978)
Dec 08, 2:00 PM CET
Geige von Johanes Seitz (1899 Mittenwald - Heidelberg 1978)
by Dannenberg
Est: €500- €600
€5000 Bids
Geigenbogen von August Rau.
Dec 08, 2:00 PM CET
Geigenbogen von August Rau.
by Dannenberg
Est: €300- €360
€3000 Bids
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LOT: 2 VIOLINEN UND 4 BÖGEN IN KASTEN
Dec 12, 10:00 AM CET
LOT: 2 VIOLINEN UND 4 BÖGEN IN KASTEN
by Schuler Auktionen
Est: CHF400- CHF600
CHF4000 Bids
OGGETTISTICA
Dec 06, 10:00 AM CET
OGGETTISTICA
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €700- €800
€7000 Bids
CASED JAPANESE VIOLIN & GERMAN BOW
Dec 04, 10:30 AM EST
CASED JAPANESE VIOLIN & GERMAN BOW
by Butterscotch Auction Gallery LLC
Est: $100- $200
$600 Bids
JOH BAPTIST SCHWEITZER VIOLIN
Dec 18, 10:00 AM EST
JOH BAPTIST SCHWEITZER VIOLIN
by White's Auctions
Est: $50- $5,000
$500 Bids
HOPF THREE CROWN VIOLIN IN CASE.
Dec 20, 9:00 AM EST
HOPF THREE CROWN VIOLIN IN CASE.
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $500- $1,500
$2500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Violins


Tremont Auctions

Tremont Auctions

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Dannenberg

Dannenberg