Antique place find

Morning, everyone.

I think I may have had a piece of luck yesterday, which is unusual in an antique store. Usually there’s nothing but junk for outrageous prices. However, there’s one fairly close by where you can catch a deal from time to time. My daughter asked to be dropped off there while I continued to my physical therapy appointment- a bad knee I picked up at Fort Sill half a lifetime ago.

So, there I sat, my leg in a warming cuff thing. My phone pinged. With nothing better to do, I looked at it.

She sent me this image.

It was an obviously old violin with glimpses of very nice maple.

Expecting an outrageous price, I asked her how much. She said a hundred.

Seriously, I thought. Yeah, you can buy a very inexpensive learner’s type violin on Amazon for that kind of money, and it will work, but you get what you pay for. BTW, I’ve bought the style violin as shown on the link above, and I’ve played on them. They are great for beginners and as party fiddles. You know, you won’t cry if you drop it cause you’re dead drunk. I do recommend the Cecilio fiddles as entry violins- trust me, there are much worse violins you can buy, and the package deal is pretty cool. How can you beat a couple of bows, a case, etc., plus a functional violin for a hundred twenty-five? Even when you outgrow the fiddle, you can still use most of the stuff.

But I digress.

With some haste, I left PT and went down to the store to pick her up. The violin looked promising in the pic, but I needed to examine it. A lot of times these old ladies will have uneconomical repairs. There are reasons that the price is low. So, with some trepidation I went upstairs to look (there are three floors in the junk store. Pretty big).

The violin was an excellent quality 4/4, probably 19th century manufacture, possibly German. I don’t believe that the chinrest is original to the instrument. The tailpiece probably is, though. It was in a standard antique pressed paper case.

This is a better image.

Still not a great pic, but you get the idea. The violin was obviously in need of some TLC and minor repairs, but overall it seemed OK. The old case was actually alright, but someone had wrapped the deteriorated leather handle with electric tape- for some reason, this seems to be a thing around here. I’ve seen the tape fix about a dozen times.

As usual, the bow was junk. Twisted beyond salvage. Also, the sound post was all screwy and canted, and the bridge had obviously not been fitted properly. The violin was filthy. There was a small crack by the right F-notch, and a loose spot where the previous chinrest had been installed. Typical.

This is standard stuff. At one point this was a very nice instrument. It fell onto hard times post WW2, as evidenced by the steel strings. However, it seemed a good candidate for repair. I decided to buy it.

Well, after a bit of haggling, I got the price down to $94.50. This was a pretty good deal for what could potentially be a very pretty and good sounding violin. Maybe. It’s always a risk with an instrument that you can’t play immediately- how does it sound? The proof really is in the pudding. A good example would be the old violin I saved this past spring- I had no idea what it would do until the restoration process was complete, but old Twist sings well.

It’s the same story here, but the price point was such that I was willing to take a risk. As I was in town anyway, I just dropped it off at my instructor’s place for a cleaning and the minor repairs. For a short while, the violin is his problem. Worst case scenario I’m out a hundred bucks. But I don’t think so. I believe it will clean up and play nicely.

Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “Antique place find

    • You just have to keep your eyes open and know when to walk away if you must. I’ll probably do a write-up like the “Twist” series with this old girl, even though it shouldn’t be as involved as the last one. It’s still unknown how it plays, and there’s the rub. They can be as pretty as a button, but if the wood’s dead, it’s a wall hanger. So, we shall see. However, the quality is there, with hints of potential. This violin was carefully built a long time ago using excellent material.


  1. You call it Thrift Shop. In Australia it is more appropriately known as the Opportunity Shop. I have several articles of furniture in my home that came from the Op Shop and are now the most commented pieces in the house (and one that I saved from a dump on the side of the road). It says something about the quality of old time craftsmen and the care they took to make a product that could be passed down to others.


    • Opportunity Shop. Nice term, actually. Yeah, my instructor finally had the chance to look over the old violin. He agreed it was a nice piece that needed very little to be put back into service, and I had done well. Yes, in regard to old craftmanship. That stuff is usually better built. Getting a comparable quality violin today would cost quite a lot, and I don’t understand people’s obsession with new. Why not restore and reuse something old but perfectly good (or better) than new? This is the fascination for me. BTW, he says it probably dates from the second half of the 19th century, which is in-line with my thoughts.


  2. Pingback: Rose, Restored. | The Interstellar Valley

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