‘No way fit to express an opinion’: From the archive: February 1933


Author and luthier Robert Alton rails against ‘The Amateur Violin Expert’ – even reserving a few harsh words for the professional expert as well

There are many folk who are both willing and ready to give an opinion on any and every violin which may be submitted to them for their judgment. This class of expert may fairly and without prejudice be classed under the term ‘amateur expert’.

Let it be clearly understood from the beginning that the knowledge of fine violins is not to be gained from books, or even from photographs. There is but one way to become possessed of the required knowledge. That way is the continued handling of all sorts and conditions of instruments. This is the study of a lifetime, and this with every facility which may be expected from the dealer who has violins continually passing through his hands. The amateur who occasionally handles a fine instrument, along with a number of violins which the expert (real) would demonstrate as rubbish, is in no way fitted to express an opinion upon a violin of average merit, either one way or the other…

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