So you’re at Grandpa’s house helping him clean out his attic. While cleaning, you stumble across a dusty trunk and inside you find some old books, a quilt, and a violin. At first, it doesn’t look like much, the bridge is missing and who knows the last time the strings were changes. But wait! Something catches your eye inside the f-hole. You take a closer look and see, “Antonius Stradivarius, Cremonenfis, Faciebat Anno 17XX” along with a symbol of an A and an S enclosed in a circle. That name, “Stradivarius,” isn’t that the one you hear on the news or read about online when a violin is worth millions of dollars. Your heart starts beating faster and you immediately begin planning out how many yachts that you will be buying….STOP! Take a breath and read on.
Yes, it is true that a genuine Stradivarius violin, or Strad, can be worth millions of dollars, but that is only if it’s genuine. The reality is that there are only about 500 genuine Strads in existence today (depending on who you ask) and they are all pretty much accounted for. There are millions copies out there and some date back to the time when Antonio Stradivari was alive. So how do you know if what you have found is the real deal?
The best thing for you to do in this situation is to take it to a reputable violin maker/dealer for an appraisal. Most places will do this for free. It’s important to go in with realistic expectations. There were thousands and thousands of Strad copies manufactured during the late 19th century and on into the mid 20th century which means that you have a 99.997% chance that your “Strad” is a copy.
Strad copies from this time are not worthless though. Monetarily speaking, if there aren’t any major repairs needed, most are worth $100-$300 (or more if they were well taken care of). If there are repairs needed, however, the cost to repair the violin could easily override the potential value. Whether or not you repaired the violin would be up to you. If money isn’t important to you, why not use this serendipitous find as your chance to start learning how to play the violin? Or, it could be a gift for another friend or relative wanting to play. Besides, there is always the sentimental value that is attached with heirlooms and that is priceless.