An "attic Strad" could become a fine bargain for the right musician when it goes on sale at the St. Jude Thrift Shop, 800 Glenview Ave., Wauwatosa. The vintage violin will be available at the shop’s grand opening of its spring collection from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 22.
The instrument, whose exact origins and age are not known, will have an asking price of $200. It needs new strings, and the hair on the bow should be replaced, according to a violinist who inspected it recently. It also needs a new case.
"This is still a bargain," said Patti Stotmeister, a Milwaukee musician. "Good violins are expensive." She estimated that strings and bow hair would be about $125. Carrying cases begin at less than $50. If it needs no other major repairs, it would be significantly cheaper than the quality instruments that sell for around $1,000.
The term "attic Strad," is the name for old violins that have been hidden away in an attic or closet for many years. This particular instrument is the donation of Sister Angelyn Dries, a member of the Order of St. Francis. The words, “In the manner of Stradivarius,” are imprinted inside the body of the violin.
Dries said that her aunt, Esther Dries Opgenorth, was the violin’s original owner. Born in 1902, she probably received the violin in her teens when it was new. She played the instrument and eventually gave it to her niece sometime in the 1970s.
Dries employed a master violin maker, Alexander Salaba, to repair its strings and bow at that time. She played it for a short time and then left it stored in Milwaukee for several years while studying in California. Now, she said, it is time to pass it on.
“We really appreciate this unusual and valuable donation,” said Roberta Dollhopf, thrift shop manager, “and we hope to find a good home for it.”
The thrift shop’s grand opening will continue on Saturday, March 25, and Monday, March 27. It will feature a wide selection of stylish, affordable clothing for spring and summer. The shop carries clothing and shoes for men, women and children as well as housewares, jewelry, books and toys. The store is open to the public.
The St. Jude Thrift Shop is a mission of the Women of St. Jude that provides caring service to the community as well as contributing support to the parish.