1877 Charles Francis Albert Violin

Value (2014) | $5,000 Retail

I'm thrilled you brought me this violin. It is from my favorite American violin maker, Charles Albert. They call him C.F. Albert-- Charles Francis Albert-- and he was born in Freiburg, Germany, in the 1840s... 1842, actually. Immigrated to New York in 1865 and then settled in Philadelphia a couple of years later. He was certainly the foremost American violin maker of his time.


And this one's typical of his work using American wood. Do you have any idea who this lady is?

I really don't know.

Neither do I. I've never seen this particular lady before. It could be a relative. It could be a famous actress. We don't really know but it's very nicely done. He made this violin in 1877 for the Paris exposition in 1878. And here is the medal from that exposition. And here, in fact, is Albert's name on the medal. It's incredible that it's remained with the violin all this time. I've never actually seen an exposition medal remaining with a violin for over a hundred years. I imagine it remained with the violin because it's part of your family all this time.

That's right.

Can you tell me about the history?

Sure. Well, we always knew the violin was special because of the carved head and because the medal was in the box with it. The violin got passed on to my grandmother by this lady. This was my mother's aunt, Laura. Her father made the violin. And this is her sister, Amy, and her brother is Charles Albert, son of the maker of the violin that you have there.

This was made in the French style. And I imagine he did it in this style because he was going to be in front of French judges. And this is the type of style used in the second half of the 19th century by French makers. And here, he's trying to reproduce the 16th-century Brescian Italian style by doing these purfled arabesques on the back. American violins don't bring a lot of money yet, but I think this violin, if you were to see it for sale in a shop, would bring somewhere in the $3,000 range, perhaps $3,500.

Wow, that's great.

Appraisal Details

Vintage Instruments, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA
Update (2014)
$5,000 Retail
Update (2013)
$4,500 Retail
Appraised value (1999)
$3,000 Retail$3,500 Retail
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 1999)

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