1901 George Gemünder American Violin

Value (2012) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I was on a road trip with my parents in Montana. Went on a fishing trip. Stopped at a garage sale and it was there. Picked it up for a dollar.

APPRAISER:
And what did you think the violin was?

GUEST:
We didn't look at it that close until I got home. Didn't really look inside until last week, when we got tickets for the Roadshow. Started looking a little bit and thought, "This might be something."

APPRAISER:
And what attracted you about it?

GUEST:
My grandfather played and my daughter plays also.

APPRAISER:
Really? Now, do you think your daughter is going to play this violin?

GUEST:
Depends on what it's worth.

APPRAISER:
(laughing) We've got quite a bit of wear in the varnish, as you probably notice, and that's part of what we call the patina. And the nice thing about this violin is that all of the surface is original-- there's never been any retouching or overcoating to the varnished surface-- so all of the wear that you see is natural, and it was probably played quite a bit. That's what we like about the old violins, is just the gradations in color. This is an American violin made in the shop of George Gemünder in New York, who worked with his son, George Jr. And George Gemünder is generally acknowledged to be perhaps the finest American maker of the 19th and 20th centuries.

GUEST:
Nice.

APPRAISER:
His violins are extremely popular today with collectors and musicians, and for very good reason: the work on these violins is exquisite. Because George Gemünder Sr. died in 1899 and this violin is dated 1901, it's possible that it was a collaboration between father and son. But nevertheless, one from his son would share all of the attributes of a violin that was made by his father. Here, we can see his hand-written label inside the f-hole. He used a very simple, hand-written label, unlike his father, who used a very fancy printed label. And "New York, 1901." The varnish on this violin is a very beautiful oil varnish. It's this old-style varnish, which takes a long time to dry, but is a beautiful, thick, pasty varnish, which adds a lot of beauty to the wood. The wood that they used was American wood. This was probably from the Northeast. The woodworking and carving on the violin is exquisite, and it's in great shape. And you don't have any idea of the value of it?

GUEST:
I don't.

APPRAISER:
Well, the auction value of a Gemünder and Son violin of this level is between $10,000 and $15,000 at auction.

GUEST:
Nice. Good buy for a dollar.

APPRAISER:
So you did well. Has your daughter tried to play it at all?

GUEST:
No, she hasn't.

APPRAISER:
Are you going to let her play it now?

GUEST:
I doubt it.

APPRAISER:
(laughing)

GUEST:
Put it back away.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
New York Violin Consulting, Inc.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2012)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Violin
Material
Wood

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