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Review of "Stradivari"

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Stewart Pollens' book


is now available! 

See below for ordering





Stewart Pollens was recently interviewed about violins as investments by the Financial Times

Visit "In the News" for a link to this article.





Violin Advisor was
"The Talk of the Town"

 - The New Yorker,
May 24, 2008



About Violin Advisor, LLC

In 1971 Stradivari's 1721 "Lady Blunt" violin sold at a Sotheby's auction for a then record-shattering $200,000; in 2008 it was sold through a dealer to the Nippon Music Foundation for $10M; and on June 20, 2011, it once again set an auction record for a violin when it sold for nearly $16M. In 2003 the "Carrodus" Guarneri was purchased for $4.5M, though four years later it was resold for $7M. In 2009 the "Kochanski" Guarneri violin sold for $10M, establishing a new record for that maker; however, in 2013 the "Vieuxtemps" Guarneri sold for a figure considerably in excess of $16M, setting a new record for a violin. These prices reflect an upward trend that has been unaffected by the recent "credit crunch," the 2008 stock market crash, and present economic uncertainty. As in previous economic downturns, violins have proven to be a safe haven for investors, though unlike some high-end collectibles, violins are resistant to fads and changing fashions--they have been a mainstay of Western culture for the past 500 years and will remain so.

Directed by Stewart Pollens, one of the world’s leading musical instrument conservators and violin authorities, Violin Advisor, LLC is an independent consulting firm that advises musicians, collectors, institutions, and investors on the acquisition of fine stringed instruments. We physically examine the instruments that are being offered by the principal dealers, private sellers, and major auction houses in order to assist our clients in avoiding fakes and misattributed instruments, along with those having serious or undisclosed condition problems or poor playing characteristics. In recent years, the market has been inundated with fraudulent scientific reports and counterfeit certificates. Violin Advisor, LLC evaluates all reports and documentation and may conduct its own tests to determine age and authenticity. 


We arrange direct sales between sellers and buyers, thereby eliminating traditional consignment agreements and commissions.  We also offer the following services:

  • Authentication and appraisal

  • Instrument selection for musicians, investors, collectors, and institutions

  • Condition and damage reports for appraisals and insurance claims

  • Scientific dating and material analysis

  • Technical documentation and photography for certificates and publication

  • Conservation and restoration

  • Collection management

  • Investment enhancement through public relations, publication, and loan of instruments to distinguished soloists, orchestras, and non-profit institutions such as conservatories and museums


"Violin Advisor, LLC assists in the acquisition of investment-grade violins.  Enjoy solid growth plus the privileges of arts patronage."
- Financial Times, May 20, 2008



Stewart Pollens' latest book, Stradivari , is now available!

"Stewart Pollens provides here a long-overdue and worthy updating of the Hills' seminal work of 1902."  - The Strad

"...a meticulously detailed examination of the legendary Antonio Stradivari's methods." - The New Yorker

"This book is a pleasure to read, either in whole or in part - as either a detective story of sorts (Stradivari's lost varnish formulae, for example) or as a reference work to be consulted by stringed instrument makers and restorers." - Music Media Monthly


by Stewart Pollens
Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-87304-8

Order online today from Cambridge University, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite source.

For over 200 years, Antonio Stradivari has been universally regarded as the greatest violin maker who ever lived, yet it is not widely known that he made virtually every kind of bowed- and plucked-string instrument popular in the Baroque period, including lutes, viols, mandolins, guitars, and harps. Stradivari provides a fascinating biography of this legendary maker, based on newly discovered material in church and civic archives, alongside technical descriptions and analyses of many of the maker's workshop materials preserved in the Museo Stradivariano in Cremona, particularly as they relate to extant and lost instruments, baroque stringing and instrument adjustment, and early performance practice. There are separate chapters for each type of instrument, allowing the reader to easily locate information.

• Highly illustrated, the book contains over 100 black and white photographs of Stradivari's workshop materials, and colour photographs of 16 important Stradivari instruments • Includes fascinating biographical and historical information, and a step-by-step account of how Stradivari made his violins, making it appealing to enthusiasts as well as academics • Chapters are divided by instrument types, making it easy for the reader to locate information

Read Stewart Pollens' article on the analysis of Stradivari's  violin varnish in the May 2009 issue of The Strad.  
A more detailed discussion is found in Pollens' latest book, Stradivari.

This research was conducted in cooperation with the Department of Scientific Research of the  Metropolitan Museum of Art and McCrone Associates.


Read the Violin Advisor's answer to the question posed by Slate Magazine following the pre-recorded Inauguration Day concert:  "Why Do Cellos Sound Lousy in Cold Weather?"



©Violin Advisor LLC. Stewart Pollens 2011