Stainer Violin

Description (Brief)
This violin was made by Jacob Stainer in Absam (Innsbruck), Austria in 1645-1655. The earliest known reference to this instrument is made in a letter of 20 September 1882, by Thomas Bushrod
Washington, the great, great, great-nephew of President George Washington. He eventually auctioned it for $335 in 1891 claiming that the violin was once the property of the First President. The instrument then became the property of the Sutro family, of Baltimore, Maryland. Otto Sutro, a German immigrant, was a general agent for the piano manufacturers Steinway & Sons and William Knabe & Co. He was the father of the duo-pianists, the Sutro Sisters, and as patron of the Arts he operated the Wednesday Club for the cultivation and enjoyment of music. From this family’s heirs, the violin came to the Smithsonian in 1971.
The instrument was restored to baroque proportions in the Museum’s Conservation Laboratories in 1974 for use in baroque performance at the Smithsonian. During that restoration, the existing 19th-century pegbox and scroll was replaced with an original that had been taken from another violin by Jacob Stainer. This violin has a reproduction Stainer label and is made of a two-piece table of spruce with even fine grain broadening toward the flanks, one-piece back of slab-cut maple with irregular, mild horizontal figure, ribs of similar maple cut on the slab-45o, modern maple baroque neck with original pegbox and scroll of maple with even medium figure, and a yellow-brown varnish.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Stainer, Jacob
Physical Description
spruce (table material)
maple (back material)
overall: 23 1/4 in x 8 in x 3 7/8 in; 59.055 cm x 20.32 cm x 9.8425 cm
Place Made
Österreich: Tirol, Absam
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Related Publication
Handel, George Frideric. Seven Concerti Grossi, Op. 3
Additional Media

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