Robert Glier Violin and H.R. Pfretzschner Bow, ca. 1880

Value (2008) | $7,000 Retail

I think in about 1977, a friend of mine and I went to New York City to visit her aunt and uncle. When we were visiting, I played the piano for everybody, and the next day they said, "We have this violin that's been in our family forever and you look like you really care about music. There's no one here to take care of it; we think you'd take care of it, so we want you to have it."

So they just gave you this violin after you played for them?

That's right.

Now, did these two bows come with it?

Yes. I don't know anything about the bows. I have found the maker on the Internet. I know there's a label inside. I know that the maker was making violins at the right time, which would have been after the Civil War, because there's a date on the label. That's about all I know. I know it's made out of maple.

Well, you're right, the back of the violin is maple. The label inside is absolutely accurate. It says "Robert Glier, Cincinnati, 1880." He was a maker who trained in Markneukirchen, Germany. Markneukirchen is one of the big centers of violin making in the world. It was up until the time of World War II. He came to the United States sometime before 1880. He was born in 1857. And he settled in Cincinnati and opened up a shop there. He used an extra piece of thicknessing along here in the peg box. He had obviously done a lot of repairs and knew that the peg box cracked a lot.

Okay. I was wondering why that was there, because I've never seen that on another violin.

Right. I think that this was an example of American ingenuity, improving a traditional instrument by putting extra wood in. Now, the bows I find to be really interesting, especially this first bow. Were you told anything about it at all?

Uh, no, absolutely nothing at all. I did bring it into a shop once and I got offered $2,000. And just because it came out of him so fast, you know, "I'll give you $2,000 for that," I figured, well, I better not.

Most bows have a brand right in this area. And this particular bow has no markings that identify the maker. But the button, which is what tightens the hair, is very distinctive and it's absolutely typical of the maker, H.R. Pfretzschner. H.R. Pfretzschner studied in France. He was one of Germany's great makers. He was given the title of musical instrument maker to the King of Saxony, in fact, he was so good. And I can easily identify this as being his work, and it's in beautiful, beautiful condition. The other interesting thing is this bow maker was from Markneukirchen, Germany, the same city that this violin maker was from. So my hunch is that they had some sort of a collegial relationship.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

The second bow really doesn't have any value and I would not recommend that you even spend money fixing it up. So, the violin, being a good, solid American violin, is probably worth, in the retail market, $3,000 as is. And after you do all of the repairs-- strings and clean it up, do some varnish work on it-- it would probably be worth $4,000.


The bow, however, alone, would be worth $4,000.

Oh, wow, okay.

Appraisal Details

Givens Violins
Minneapolis, MN
Appraised value (2008)
$7,000 Retail
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 2008)
19th Century
Bow, Violin

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