Posted by Edmund on October 07, 2003 at 01:41:11:
I've had this beautiful viola for many years in my guitar collection and have never really done any research on it before. The label inside the upper hole reads: Joseph Guarnerius fecit, Cremonae anno 1725 or 23. It has the cross with IHS below too. The written 2 is quite legible while the 5 looks somewhat elongated like a 3 almost.
I have seen a few pictures of his instruments from this era online last year. This viola has the exact same f-hole design, shading and points along with an identical label. From what I remember only a few of these are known to exist. When I first got it during the seventies I was told it was worth $5,000 in it's present shape. Unfortunately this instrument needs some major headstock and fingerboard restoration. Under a magnifying glass I can tell the edge lips have had some varnish touch up in spots. The two-piece tightly flamed maple back is quite exquisite with fine chatoyance. The overall condition is an 8 plus out of 10 in guitar terms.
I know a German maker was making accurate copies during the 30's but this instruments patina looks quite a bit older than my 1890's pearl Martin and turn of the century Washburn guitars. Did they make exact knock-off labels too? There are no other markings inside the other f-hole. Who would I visit near Ventura or LA to get a fair appraisal and estimate for restoration?
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