The Auction Insider

Witherells received a challenging and exciting consignment in a violin dated 1872 that bears the label of a highly respected Italian violin maker. This is just the kind of mystery that thrills appraisers like myself. The instrument is attributed to Vincentius (Vincenzo) Postiglione, who was born in Naples, Italy, in 1831. His father, born in 1740, also worked as a violin maker but very little seems to be known about this family who worked in the fashion of more-noted greats such as Stradivari, Guarneri and Nicolas Gagliani. Vincenzo went to work at the age of 12, serving as an apprentice to a senior violin maker. In 1855, he established his own shop and built a reputation for excellence by taking extreme care with all the details of fine stringed instruments. From wood varieties to varnishes and embellishments, stringed treasures such as his came to define fine violin makers with their ancestral roots in Italy.

And, it wasn’t about the sheer physical beauty of violins, cellos, violas and basses that create such value for the old, Italian and German instruments. Each element of the aesthetics contributes something unique to the tone of the instrument. The type of wood, its thickness and curve can make the sound a violin sonorous or bright – an individual unlike any other. I haven’t heard our potential Postiglione played, but his instruments were noted for their “brilliant” sound and how the music “carried” to the audiences.

Since stringed instruments are not my expertise, we’ve sent the violin off to one of my Roadshow colleagues who is a recognized authority. To my untutored eye, we’ve been entrusted to sell a rare and valuable violin that will hopefully be played by someone who can do justice to such a fine instrument. Similar instruments by this maker have sold for as much as six-figures. However, we’ll have to wait for the opinion of our expert – and if you can shed any light on Vincenzo and his work, we’d love to hear from you.