Q: We own an old violin with this label inside: “Heinrich Th. Heberlein Jr., Markneukirchen 1898, Imitation: Joseph Guarnerius.” The back and sides are beautiful tiger maple and the instrument is in fine condition. The violin belonged to a woman who was once a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Can you tell us something about the violin’s history and value?

A: Heinrich Thomas Heberlein Jr. (1843-1910) ran a violin-making workshop in Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany—an area known since the 1600s for producing high-quality musical instruments. Heberlein styled many of his instruments after those of earlier makers. Yours is a copy of a violin by Joseph Guarnerius (1698-1744), a respected Italian violin maker also known as Giuseppe Guarneri. Women first joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1942, so the woman who played your violin used it in 1942 or later. Heberlein violins are well-respected instruments, but an expert musician would have to play yours to help determine its value. We have seen Heberlein violins sell for hundreds of dollars into the low thousands.

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