1808 Johann Gottlob Heberlein Violin, Neukirchen, Germany
Appraised Value: $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:25)
GUEST: Well, it belonged to my mother. It was bought by my grandfather for my mother. She was in a quartet for a radio station during her teenage years. That's pretty much all I know about it.
APPRAISER: And did you get to hear her play her violin at all?
GUEST: No, I never did.
APPRAISER: I understand that your mother was from Boone, Iowa.
GUEST: That's correct.
APPRAISER: And there was some documentation that you brought in that shows that this violin was bought from Carl Fischer in New York City.
APPRAISER: Did she go to New York City to buy this violin, do you know?
GUEST: I believe the violin was purchased by my grandfather for her.
APPRAISER: Especially in the Midwest, we see so many instruments that were purchased through the catalog companies, such as Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Wards. What you've brought me today is a violin that was purchased from Carl Fischer in New York City in 1937. This other documentation shows the correspondence regarding the purchase, that it was purchased on installments. So it must not have been an easy purchase, because it was paid for over time.
APPRAISER: I think this is particularly humorous, this mention of the 46 cents that was still owed. And then the slightly indignant letter from your grandfather saying that he had paid for this and would take care of it in due order. There's a label that's inside this violin that says Johann Gottlob Heberlein, Neukirchen, 1808.
APPRAISER: Johann Gottlob Heberlein was a very important maker from the city of Neukirchen, Germany. Neukirchen has gone on to be one of the most important violin-making cities in the world. It eventually was named Markneukirchen. And many people who own violins know the city of Markneukirchen. He was very highly regarded in his time, and this violin was made during his very best period. It's from 1808. There's a purity about it that you just don't find very easily. The things that I like about it are that the scroll is original. Everything is original, including the neck. Most instruments from this period have a neck that's grafted. This particular instrument has the original neck that's been raised to create the modern neck angle. You almost never, ever see this from this time.
APPRAISER: The violin is made out of totally traditional woods. The back is a one-piece maple back, as well as the ribs, the neck and the scroll. The belly is made out of spruce. And these are the types of woods that violins were made out of for the last 400 years.
GUEST: Oh, wow.
APPRAISER: The case, I believe, is the original case that it would have been sold in by Carl Fischer. It's very typical of the period of the 1930s. The bow, you can see, has been attacked by bow bugs. They like the protein in the hair, and they like nice, quiet places. So that's why you see all the strands of hair coming down.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: The bow has only one brand on it, which says Germany. It's a nice bow, but it's not particularly valuable. The label is absolutely right. The instrument is important. You've got all this beautiful documentation. In the retail market, a violin with this kind of purity would sell for $5,000.
GUEST: Wow. Nice. Pretty exciting.
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