1924 Martin Nebel & Brother Violin
Appraised Value: $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:57)
APPRAISER: I understand you grew up playing the violin.
GUEST: Yes, I did.
APPRAISER: And that you acquired this instrument when?
GUEST: In 1984.
APPRAISER: Was this your first full-size violin?
GUEST: Actually, it was my second one. I traded in my first one when I was a little girl. My mom actually bought this one for me with my violin teacher in Venice, Florida, at a music store. I know it's from the 1920s.
GUEST: And I've tried looking up the name on the Internet. I've tried looking at books. I just haven't been able to find any information on this violin.
APPRAISER: You must have been a pretty serious player.
GUEST: In my younger days, yes. It's been sitting around in a closet for the past few years.
APPRAISER: Do you have any idea what your mother paid for it?
GUEST: Maybe about $500.
APPRAISER: Well, it's a lovely instrument. The label is absolutely a perfect, beautiful label, and it says, "M. Nebel & Bro., fecit New York, 1924," and then in little tiny writing, it says, "Sept. 15," and then there's a family crest in there, so, it's about as complete a label as we ever can find in this business.
APPRAISER: M. Nebel was Martin Nebel. He was from a violin-making family in Mittenwald, Germany. His older brother Johannes was also a maker. He trained at the most important violin-making school in the world. It still is. It's in Mittenwald. He graduated in 1910. He was 16 years old at the time when he graduated from it. So he must have been a very talented maker from the word go. He then went on to train in the big centers of Europe-- Vienna and Stuttgart-- and he followed his brother to the United States in the 1920s. He set up in New York City. New York City was one of the great centers for violinists. He then moved to Philadelphia. This instrument was made in New York, as the label says. Now the books say he didn't come to the United States till 1927, but this violin is a clear indication that the book was wrong because the violin and the label absolutely belong together. On the left-hand lower corner of the label, it says, "F.N.” handwritten in ink, and that means "forma nova." He was creating his new form. It was his time to express himself as a young maker and in a new country where there was lots of opportunity and lots of privilege. He picked some of the finest wood possible. You can see on the back that the wood is absolutely gorgeous. The back of the violin is made out of maple, and the belly, as the tradition, is spruce. The ribs, the neck and the scrolled pegbox, are also maple that matches the back. And it's wood that's indigenous American wood, and his carving is of the highest quality. The thing that I think is really important about this instrument is that it represents the transfer of a tradition from Europe to America. The finest, finest training coming to America to serve the young orchestras of the United States and the players. And yet, he did things that were kind of unusual. The purfling is what surrounds the instrument. And you can see it comes into these corners and swoops right out. Well, there's no traditional maker that would really do this. It's a very American thing to do. This instrument has had some repairs, and I understand that your teacher did those repairs for you, but they're not done in a particularly beautiful fashion. But I'm sure they've held all these years.
APPRAISER: I understand that you acquired the bow separately.
GUEST: Yes, I got the bow a few years after I got the violin. My mom bought it for me
GUEST: And on the bow, she paid-- I think it was about $200, $250.
APPRAISER: And that... It's not worth much more than that right now. Well, this instrument, as is, in a retail market today, would probably be worth $6,000.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh!
APPRAISER: And if those repairs hadn't been made, it would probably be more like $7,000 or $7,500.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness.
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