History on stradiuarius violins dating in the 1800s

I know a lot about them and most other musical instruments in general, but when it comes to any specific instrument, I can't tell you much about it with any authority.

Since I often get questions about the authenticity and value of violins and similar instruments, I thought it would be useful to put together the standard resources I usually recommend.

On a good oil varnish the finish may wear down, but you will rarely see it actually chip.

Another problem you see on lesser violins and other instruments is "alligatoring." This happens when a lacquer or spirit varnish sits on top of a shellac or other subfinish.

Some of these were actually reasonably well made and are worth keeping, while many others are inevitably second-rate or worse.

The result is that the varnish will flake or chip off in spots.Fine old violins use an oil-based varnish that technically never really dries.In modern and cheaper finishes may be sprayed on and use a more volatile lacquer or spirit varnish whose aromatic chemical evaporate quickly, leaving a hard surface.While geared towards the violin family, much of this advice can be applied to other instruments as well.As a matter of legal and ethical policy, I do not appraise musical instruments.

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