: S. Hersh
: : Violas are a bit of a problem--they track violin prices pretty closely, except that about the most you can easily spend on a viola is somewhere around $50,000. I get a lot of calls for "a $100,000, 16+", old Italian viola" and that object doesn't exist in any quantity in proportion to the demand. The guys you'd expect to have made such a thing--between say 1760 and 1850 or so were making a lot of under 16" instruments--even 15-1/4"--which really don't meet modern needs. Then there's a huge price jump to fabulously expensive ancient Cremonese or Brescian instruments. As you might expect, when a functional instrument of the right size, of any great age, at a reasonable price, comes up I could just about sell it on the phone in 5 minutes.
: : I think, however, that there are a lot of great recent and new violas. Many players are forced to look at these, and find that they do the job just fine.
Thanks for the information. Actually, what you've described is what has already happened. The violin is mid-19th century English just under the low price range you've mentioned, and the viola is 16 1/4" and contemporary American, a miraculous bargain by comparison. It's coveted by a number of others. Both were bought as player's instruments. The daughter is at this point a double major but seems more invested in viola culture.