Almost without exception, genuine violin experts are professional traders in this field. However, the status of violin dealers has long ceased to exist as an independent profession. The descendants of former traders, partly as second generation violin makers, have mastered the craft of violin construction, so appraisers today are mainly from this profession category. It can be stated that schooling for prospective experts has not changed. Only instruments on stock in the workshop, or those accepted for maintenance are available for self-training. Another training opportunity is examining instruments offered for appraisal or sale. Frequent trips related to trading with old musical instruments may also broaden the horizon of experts. In the course of his work, he may contact musicians and collectors and examine their instruments. He may get in touch with a range of colleagues at remote locations, whose stocks will always be available for those who wish to learn. Obviously, a violin maker from a small provincial town has fewer possibilities of further training than a leading professional from a large city, who might be working in a workshop established several generations earlier. However, both of them have equal opportunities to learn and develop using professional literature.
Of course, practical experience with violins is needed for proficient skills. Naturally, the value of good literature would be foolish to doubt. The theoretical knowledge of the facts (like knowing that Francesco Pressenda was one of the most imaginative masters) will prevent us from making a bad deal or issuing a false expert opinion.
Caution suggests looking for the benevolent instructions of other - more experienced - experts. Knowledge always precedes ignorance, the same way as wisdom precedes knowledge.
Perhaps there is not one single professional violin maker, who would not have been requested to provide expert opinion or appraisal (mostly both) by customers. It is known world-wide that this scientific area does not have a single academic representative. In the case of violins, the situation is actually so bad, that without those violin makers who became more or less experts in this field as well, we would be totally lost when looking at an old instrument. However, in view of the facts described above, it can be stated that expertise may be very modest, or - in exceptional cases - at the highest possible level as well. Obviously, less can be expected from a young violin maker, than from a recognized professional who has spent all his life with making violins. A person who repairs old instruments is likely to be a more reliable expert than a colleague whose main profession is building new instruments only. A violin maker with musical abilities, good memory and an advanced sense of forms is likely to offer more useful advice than a violin maker who simply knows his job. Although all these statements are clichés, it is still necessary to remember them. Natural explanation must be found to the complaint about the reality of this often violently criticised expert situation, and a reason why it is still accepted must be found. It is well known that an incompetent expert cannot be turned into an exceptional one overnight. Ideally, a good expert will only give opinion on issues absolutely covered by his expertise. You can get help in connection with the appraisal of the value of violins, violas and cellos on Cremonae auction website.