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Violin by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Birmingham, England, 1953

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NMM 10455.  Violin by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Birmingham, England, 1953 Front view Bass side of violin Back of violin

NMM 10455. Violin by Kurt Lothar Meisel (1929-2011), Birmingham, England, 1953. Serial no. 16. Built while the maker worked in Sidney Cecil Evans' violin shop (1950-1953). Lothar Meisel brought this violin, the last instrument he made in Europe, to the United States, where it later became the first instrument sold from the new family business, established in Owatonna, Minnesota, in 1957. Originally bought by a high school student, this violin was later reacquired by the Meisels from a family in Iowa. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Meisel, Columbia, South Carolina, 2003.

Kurt Lothar Meisel

Lothar Meisel examines one of the Meisel Family violins during a visit to the NMM in 2003.

Lothar Meisel

Technical Information


  • Written in black ink on paper label, the lettering in German Gothic style: Lothar Meisel / violin maker / from Klingenthal Vogtl. / Birmingham 1953 No. 16.
  • Branded on inside of back in front of top and bottom blocks: K. L. MEISEL
  • Branded on bridge, toward tailpiece: K.L. MEISEL

Top:  two-piece, quarter-cut spruce: medium grain.

Back:  two-piece, quarter-cut maple: medium curl ascending slightly from center joint.

Ribs:: quarter-cut maple: medium curl; rib corners slightly rounded.

Head and Neck: maple: broad curl; inside of pegbox stained black.

Arching: full.

Edging: full, rounded edges.

Purfling: maple and black-stained maple; wide center strip.

Varnish:  light brown; prominent craquelure.

Fingerboard: ebony; later.

Nut: ebony; later.

Tailpiece: ebony; later.

Tailgut: black plastic.

Pegs: rosewood with bone, ivory or white plastic pins; undercut heads; later.

Saddle: varnished ebony; later.

Endpin: brown-stained boxwood with bone, ivory, or white plastic pin; turned groove around edge.

F-holes: long; steeply pointed wings; lower wing channeled.

Linings: basswood.

Corner, top, and bottom blocks: basswood.



Pegbox and Scroll

Front view of pegbox Bass side view of pegbox Back view of pegbox


Back length:  356 mm
  Upper bout width:  179 mm
  Center bout width:  116 mm
  Lower bout width:  209 mm
Upper rib height: 29-30 mm
Center rib height: 29-30 mm
Lower rib height: 30 mm
Total violin length: 593 mm
  Stop length:  195 mm
  Vibrating string length:  328 mm
Neck length (bottom of nut to ribs): 133 mm


Lit.:  Laurence Anderson, "From the Maker's Bench: The Quality of Wood," String Notes: Journal of the Minnesota String Teachers Asssociation 7, No. 2 (Winter 2004/2005), pp. 12, 27.

K. Lothar Meisel with Betty Vos, The Meisel Family Violin Makers:  Klingenthal, Vogtland, Saxony (Ely, Minnesota: Singing River Publications, Inc., 2007), pp. 240-242.

The NMM preserves violins from each of eight generations of the Meisel family.

Go to Checklist of Bowed Stringed Instruments Made by Members of the Meisel Familiy

Go to the NAMM Oral History Interview Project to see a short video interview with Kurt Lothar Meisel (June 28, 2006)

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