Q: We have an old violin that my husband’s father played. It has a label inside that says “Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Brescia, 16(60).” The first two numbers are printed but the last two look like they were added in pencil. How old is the violin and where was it made?
A: Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580-c.1630) made several different kinds of stringed instruments and was one of the most important makers in Brescia, Italy. His instruments are known for the quality of the woods, unusually large sound holes and mellow tone. Some have a crest, medallion, scene,or other decorations on the back. His later instruments are considered his best. They usually have a double row of purfling, a decorative inlay, around the edge. Maggini made at least 60 violins. An original violin made by Giovanni Paolo Maggini could sell for several hundred thousand dollars, but reproductions have been made and sell for low prices.