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Buying and Selling an Antique Violin

Updated on November 14, 2010

Violins, a member of the string family of instruments, have been around for centuries. One of the most popular and beautiful instruments in an orchestra, the violin is the centerpiece of many concertos and symphonies. This rich history has not only bequeathed a host of beautiful compositions that can be still heard today, but also a bevy of violins of similar age. There is nothing like hearing a beautiful piece emanating from an antique violin, particularly one that is the same age as the composition.

Antique violins can range in price from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on their age, manner of construction, and the history and prestige of the antique violin maker (the luthier). Famous makers through the centuries include Amati, Stainer, Bergonzi, and the well-known Stradivari.

There are many reasons people seek to buy and sell antique violins. For musicians, many appreciate the quality of sound that can be produced from the antique violin, as many of the great masters’ secrets of stunning acoustical quality have been lost over the years. The violin also may have a history of interest to the violinist, like if it were played by a famous violinist or made by a famous maker, or has some other significance within history as a whole. Many an antique violin also exhibits craftsmanship, including engravings and carvings, not found in contemporary violins.

Some seek out a particular antique violin because they enjoy collecting them. They may not play them, but instead like to showcase them in their home or in a museum or concert hall.

Buying an Antique Violin

Perhaps you are an aspiring professional violinist, in need of the pedigree of the masters, or perhaps you are a collector, desiring the most exquisite and storied violins you can find. In either case, you may be interested in purchasing an antique violin that will fit your needs. Before taking the plunge, educate yourself on the options available, and consider what qualities of the violin are necessary to satisfy your needs. You may be interested more in the look or the age of the violin, if you’re a collector, than the sound or the pedigree, if you’re a musician. Though purchasing a violin online certainly opens the market up for you, you should try to see the violin in person before you purchase it, and even give it a test play if necessary. A violin can look beautiful, or be very old or prestigious, but sound terrible; these would only be “worth” something to a collector. Violins can sound different in different players’ hands.

In the end, what violin is good for you depends on your personal preferences and budget. Whatever your decision, make sure you have the violin appraised yourself, and obtain any supporting documentation that verifies the age, make, and value of the instrument. You may also consider purchasing insurance for your investment.

Selling an Antique Violin

If you own a violin that is very old, it could be worth something. If you desire to sell it rather than keep it or pass it down through your family, you should make sure to identify and receive its full value. If you know something about your violin’s history and quality, you can compare it online to other violins of similar background to get a ballpark value for the instrument. You may wish to have your violin appraised, either by an antiques dealer or by someone well acquainted with old violins. These individuals can be found online with a quick google search. They will evaluate the qualities of the violin, including its age, manufacturer, condition, looks, and sound, in order to identify its market value. The materials with which is made, and the construction quality (that is, how it was made, whether by hand or in a factory) of the violin, will significantly affect its value. It is then up to you to bring it to the market if you desire.

If you decide to go ahead and sell it once the value of the violin has been ascertained, it is then time to put it to the market and see what it can fetch. There are many online venues that will help you market your instrument. The key is finding a place which maximizes the contact between buyers and sellers. You need to be satisfied that you are receiving the highest price possible from the market for your violin. Similarly, if you are a buyer, you want to receive the greatest value for your dollars.

A reminder: you may not receive the full value of the violin in your pocket if you sell it. If the violin is in poor condition, you may need to invest money to bring it back to sellable condition or to maximize its value. Also, if you decide to sell it through a third party, like a store or auction, that entity may take a cut from the final sale. Keep these facts in mind when deciding whether or where to sell your antique violin.

Antique Violin Bows and Accessories

Now that you have an antique violin, you may wish to obtain accessories, like bows, that will complement your fine instrument. There are markets for these online as well, and have their own standards and specifications that you will need to familiarize yourself with. Similarly, if you own an antique violin, the accessories that come with it may be just as valuable. Be sure to get them appraised, and don’t let them go free when you sell the violin without getting adequate value for them.

To read more violin articles, click here to learn more about the purple violin or how to use a violin tuner.

An Antique Violin In Action


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    • profile image

      mike m 38 hours ago

      Any value in old Guarnerius 1735?

    • profile image

      M Rajendran 16 months ago

      mail :

      Dear sir / Madam

      I have very good and excellent imperial violin is their how to sale kindly help and guide me please

      Antinus stradiuverius violin

    • profile image

      streetj 3 years ago

      I have one here...made in 1835 came into family in 1855.a antonus strataverous think there is one more name.number 129 made in Czechoslovakia.. now here's the was originally red.the finish was bad after years of fact great great grand dad was playing in the pan handle some bar in Oklahoma when some guy burst through doors shouting Jessy James just robbed the Glendale train.what I was told anyways..originally red and in 1980 they took it to a restorer and exelent maker. He says red at that time was no good so he refinished it natural.using five or six coats with year dry time in between coats.grand mother had a fit and gave it to my dad.wanted nothing more to do with it."grand dads violin was red.I don't want that hidious thing" the restorer never would work on another persons instrument after that.I have it now. how do I get a good estimate what its worth.where would be best place to cell something like that.its a beautiful piece but not's a final note.was doing some remodelling and took it to neighbors away from dust and cold..a heater malfunction burned down house and everything I owned. I too was burned insurance.but buy taking it to stable climate at neighbors it was one of the few things that wasn't destroyed. even have old photo kept with it of great grand dad playing it..there is a small blimish in the hole on being black and white shows the blimish under magnification. you don't know its there unless you know where and what to look for.a piece broke off the s shaped holes cut in top and grandpaw took it to be fixed.the glue line shows in photo and can be seen with mirror inside..also now there is three drops of stain on tag inside.which was not removed when refinished.wish it was here would show picks.its in neighbors vault since I have nowhere safe to store it

    • profile image

      Gary Fry 4 years ago

      Would like to sell an old violin. Where and how to sell it at its right value. Thank you

      garyfrybuild@gmail. com

    • profile image

      Iris 4 years ago

      I have an antique violin with rare exquisite sound that I have had over 30 years and I play myself. Have been told it can really be worth allot.

      Has inscription on the inside as follows:

      Antonius Stradivarius Cremonesis Faciebat Anno 1712

      What could its worth be? Could it be an original?


    • profile image

      jose 4 years ago

      I have an antique stradivari violin paseed down to me from my great, great grandpa. I don't know if it is an original or replica. If your interested please call Jose @ 915-841-6105

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      nicu 4 years ago

      hello my name is nicu i am from rumania and i have a old violin (my opinion) inside is wrote JANURIUS GAGLIANUS ALUMNUS ANTONII STRADIVARII FECIT NEAPOLI 1721

      please if you can help whit evaluate this violins or if you can say me somethink about it

      sorry for my bad english

      have a nice day

      regards nicu

    • profile image

      nicu 4 years ago

      hello my name is nicu i am from rumania and i have a old violin (my opinion) inside is wrote JANURIUS GAGLIANUS ALUMNUS ANTONII STRADIVARII FECIT NEAPOLI 1721

      please if you can help whit evaluate this violins or if you can say me somethink about it

      sorry for my bad english

      have a nice day

      regards nicu

    • profile image

      robert crawford 5 years ago

      Have a baby violin, 17" long, 5" at its widest point. Presented to me by a Gregor Agranoff in Soap Lake Washington. It was told to me, I was 2 years old and this was in 1945. He wanted me to stay with him and learn violin but mom said no. Would it be something that a collector would be interested in.

    • profile image

      Roman Bernat 5 years ago

      hello!I have a violin Adolphus Monnig in 1874 in perfect condition! I sing to her a few years ago! I wonder about how it would be worth and where I could apply for an auction for it!

    • profile image

      Larry 5 years ago

      I have a 3/4 size very old violin in very good conditon, it sill plays and sound perfectly. It was made in Czechoslovakia. Lots on info stamped inside including

      "repaired in 1862 in Naples by Carlos Louigi

      e=mail me at

    • profile image

      Valeriy 5 years ago

      Hello to all. I sell my 1891 Collin Mezin Violin 4/4 w/ case. Rare and in excellent condition.

      Brand: collin mezin 4/4.

      Model: 1891 Guaneri.


      The price $800, pick up or shipping. The violin is in Russia, Moscow. As per our policy, you can try our instrument for 7 days, money back guaranteed.

      Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

    • profile image

      joe diggins 5 years ago

      I have a violin that is a Felix Mori Costa. it will need some restoration ( maybe varnish, strings, bow re-haired. ) it was played by my wifes great grandmothers grandfather and passed down now to her. we do not play any instruments and it is sitting going to waste. what would i need to do to sell it? i have some photos i can send if you are interested or know someone that is interested.

      thank you

      SSG Diggins

      US Army-Tactical Satellite Communications Instructor


    • profile image

      David Bradley 5 years ago

      Hello, I have a Jacobus Stainer violin, bow, and case for sale. Inside it says " Jacobus Stainer, In Abfam prope Oenipontum, 16" on the label. It is in good condition for a very old piece. The finish is less than perfect but it looks very good to me. Email for pictures if interested. From my research I have found that the violin could have been made in the 1600's or as late as 1900 or so. There is no one near where I live who can properly date the instrument. I can say this, the label appears to be stamped as opposed to being hand written. If someone is interested call or write. If you email I can send pictures. Thanks, David 810-964-7271

    • nbhumble profile image

      nbhumble 5 years ago from Staffs, UK

      I would highly recommend that anyone buying an antique violin online and can not get to see it before purchasing make sure that they buy from someone who offers them an unconditional full money back guarantee if it is not what you want when you get it. For example will give you 7 days to try the violin in your own home and if you are not 100% happy with it you get the full value of the violin back. Of course you will have to expect to pay for shipping both ways if you decide to return it. A violin is such a personal choice, it has to be of tonal qualities that suit your personal preferences and also that feels comfortable when you are playing it. Every antique violin is as individual as every musician. You need to be able to ensure the marriage is right before finalising the commitment.

    • profile image

      janie kilgore 5 years ago

      I have an old violin from mittenwal

      Germany...and it has other stuff in it.any one that may know anything about it please contact me at mommak525@gmail.

    • profile image

      gail yoder 5 years ago

      I have an old violin it says my first violin have you heard of it?

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      Ginger 6 years ago

      "I have an old violin that has been in the family for many generations, could any one tell me about it?

      Josef Guarnerius on the label, also has made by Rollei ce derer and a ribbon insignia with the initials R & L

    • profile image

      elvis marquez 6 years ago

      my granfather have a violin about 400 years according to the record written side of the violin inside of itself..hence im inviting anybody having interest to collect antique materials for heir own files.the price is negotiable..the name of the violin is ANDREWS AMATI FECIT CREMONA ANNO 16 MADE IN GERMANY..any party interested.. may contact me.. or e mail me at 0r col my no.+639102514015

    • profile image

      Mikee Gaela Guerrero 6 years ago

      hello im mikee from philippines i have a 1738 century joseph guarnerius violin i want to sell it for only $5000.00 if you are interested just email me at or add me up in facebook.thank you

    • violinmusic profile image

      violinmusic 6 years ago from World Wide Web

      Great article on buying and selling antique violin. I like your point on buying the antique violin that suits your needs. I myself have been lucky enough to lay hands on some antique violins, and I'm sure you have too. Some are incredibly nice :)

    • profile image

      Charles 7 years ago

      My father has an antique (over 100 yrs old) violin that is a copy of a stradivarius. It is in a hard case with several extras; bow, resin/tuner, and bridge, all original.

      Where can we get an asking price & post it for sale? Thank you.