My grandfather brought a violin back from England when he came home from the Army Air Force at the end of World War 2. Nobody knows exactly where he found it or why he picked it up. He never played the violin.

I started taking violin lessons when I was in kindergarten or maybe 1st grade. Grampa's violin came to live at our house and my dad started taking lessons with us, and he played it. By the time I got big enough to play a full size violin, I'd long given up lessons, but every once in a while got it out of the box, just to try it out. It's been in storeage ever since.

A few weeks ago, when my parents were visiting, they brought it with them, along with my dad's old guitar (which he'd bought himself as a reward for having graduated law school -- more or less). The guitar was for Silas to play. The violin was for me.

When my parents first brought it into the house, they took it to be refurbished. At the time, the fellow who did the work told them that it was a very nice instrument. We could see from the lable inside that it was of French origin, late 1800s.

We took it down to the music shop for new strings, to get the bow re-haired, and for an assessment of what might be needed after its long stay in the basement. It was still in pretty good shape. They replaced the end button and the sound post, and re-laquored the edges where it was worn. It came back from the shop with at note:

Congratulations!
This is a Francois Barzoni by Bear & Sons, 1891, made in France.
Get some insurance!
It's very valuable.
Call me if you want to sell!

Of course, I don't want to sell. I want to play it. But it begged the question, What is the value I should be insuring? We looked it up. Similar violins in good shape sell at auction houses for between $1,500 and $8,500.

Violin in new case

I haven't bought any insurance. But I did figure it was worth getting a pretty good new case for it. The old one was a little ragged, and the clips holding in the bow had gone, so they were constantly falling down against the violin when the cover closed.

I also ordered up a few beginner level violin books. Meanwhile, I've been taking it out and tuning it up nearly every day and playing it a little. Some of what I'd learned as a child came back. But I've forgotten a lot, too. And I cannot claim that the sound I'm able to coax out of it is all that pure yet. It's surely as if it was being played by a 2nd grader all over again. I'm also pretty sure it's not the instrument's fault.

The books and the new case arrived earlier this week, and it felt a little like Christmas came early this year. Maybe next year, I can find a teacher and resume lessons.