If you don’t know whether your violin is made by Stradivarius, it probably isn’t. Most Strads have provenance and are photographed, known and played by the best. However, instruments made by Antonius Stradivarius are still being discovered. Anyone who says there aren’t any Stradivarius left to be discovered is just plain wrong; it just doesn’t happen often. If right, a Strad can be worth anything between $1m – $10m, quite a chunk of money.
Instruments with fake labels and bogus attributions far outnumber the genuine article. The mere fact of having an instrument with the Stradivarius label inside does not give you the winning lottery ticket. In the mid to late 19th century and beyond, instruments were produced by German and French factories, a fake label inserted (often Stradivarius, Amati, Stainer or Guarneri) and sold through music retailers.
These violins were purchased, thinking they were genuinely Stradivarius and sadly disappointed when this was not the case. This led to the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 – forcing makers to put the place of origin on their labels.
If your violin says Antonius Stradivarius fecit Anno 1723 made in Germany, look no further. These are almost certainly instruments made post 1890. If they don’t have the place of origin I am afraid you are still most likely to have an instrument made in Germany pre-1890, but it might be worth doing a bit more checking.
Send photographs to a specialist, bring it to your local violin shop, and be reminded, most violins with a strad label are copies.
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