Violins by Antonio Stradivari represent the gold standard of the trade. Between 1980 and 2011, average yearly auction prices for Stradivari violins have increased at an annual rate of 15.4%. This figure reflects the sale of the "Lady Blunt" for $15.8M, up from the previous year's record of $3.6M. A number of Stradivari violins are currently on the market for a more conservative $9-10M.
Nicolo Amati was the grandson of Andrea Amati, one of the very first violin makers and the founder of the Amati dynasty. Nicolo's instruments are considered the most refined and concert-worthy of the family's production, which extended over a two-hundred year period. Since 1980, prices for his instruments have increased at an average annual rate of 8.6%. Dealer prices for fine Nicolo Amati violins are around $600,000.
Giovanni Battista (abbrev. G. B. or J. B.) Guadagnini (1711-1786) was an itinerant violin maker who plied his trade in Piacenza, Milan, Cremona, Parma, and Turin, with stylistic developments marking his work in each locale. Auction prices have risen at an average annual rate of 9.5%. Dealer prices for fine examples have exceeded $1.5M.
A contemporary of Nicolo Amati and Antonio Stradivari, Francesco Ruggieri made elegant instruments that are moderately priced by comparison. At auction, his violins have increased at an average annual rate of 3.9% It is likely that Ruggieri's instruments will see a dramatic upturn in the future.
Born in 1777 in Lequio Berria, a small town in the vicinity of Alba, Giovanni Pressenda moved to Turin around 1818, where he worked for a number of French violin makers established there. He opened his own shop in that city around 1822 and continued to work there until his death in 1854. He is considered one of the finest makers of the nineteenth century. Since the early 1980s, his violins have increased at an average annual rate of 5.0%.
The younger brother of the noted maker Giuseppe Scarampella, Stefano Scarampella was born in Brescia in 1843. In his early years, he worked as a shopkeeper and carpenter. He moved to Mantua in 1886, though he was not formally registered there as a maker of violins until around 1890, the same year he was awarded a silver medal at a crafts exposition in that city. Noted for their fine tonal quality, Stefano Scarampella's violins have increased at an average annual rate of 9.3%.
Carlo Antonio Testore, the son of the violin maker Carlo Giuseppe Testore, was born in Milan in 1687 and worked there under the "Sign of the Eagle" until his death in 1765. The workmanship and appearance of his instruments are often rough, but the tonal quality is superb. The auction prices of his violins have increased at an average annual rate of 4.8%.
Antonio Gragnani (1740-1794) worked in Livorno. His instruments show the influence of Stradivari, Amati, and Gagliano, and are noted for their tonal fullness and brilliance. They are generally branded "A.G." on the button and at the end pin. At auction, they have increased at an average annual rate of 6.0%.
Due to the suspension of violin sales at Christie's and Sotheby's in New York and London, the charts below (which are primarily based on data from their auction sales) are no longer being updated. They indicate auction sales up to 2012. For more recent auction and sale prices see www.Tarisio.com.