I am often asked this question about my father's work, and because of certain circumstances surrounding this issue have felt compelled to make a statement here on the web.
Before becoming a soldier in WWII Tony had made a few amateur violins. After his injury he spent almost three years at veteran's hospital on Staten Island. There he encountered a woman working as a volunteer, who was a noted violinist in the NYC area, who also happens to know the renowned Simone Sacconi. Subsequently, she spoke to him about a boy at the hospital she had met who wanted very much to learn violin making. Sacconi decided to visit my father, and upon inspecting one of his amateur instruments, saw potential, and took my father on as a student. (I could talk about Sacconi for an hour. He was not only an elegant renaissance man but a possible saint. If you have only read about him you do not understand how he approached his art, he was the greatest maker of the Twentieth Century.) They set-up a work bench in the basement of the hospital, and Sacconi started visiting my father once or twice a week. Times my father would have surgery and could not work, he would bring some treasure out of the Wurlitzer vault, get on the subway, take a long lunch, and discuss the subtitle nuances of some master maker’s violin. This was certainly a different world than we live in now. Although Sacconi asked to join him at Wurlitzer, Tony decided life in a wheelchair in NYC would be too hard, and returned to the relative obscurity of Buffalo. Growing up, it was normal for our family to drive to New York once or twice a year, to let Sacconi examine my father’s latest work. They would talk on the phone once a month. My dad considered him a father figure, I think more than his natural one.
Back to the point, if one starts to compile a list of violin-makers who would call themselves students, disciples, or greatly influenced by Sacconi, I would include people who would be happy to be on that list those such William Carboni, Louis Condax, Mario D’Alessandro, Dario D’Attili, Mario Frosali, Erwin Hertel, Vahahn Nigoghossian, Frank Passa, Haim Rapoport, George Schlieps, Hans Weisshaar, Thomas Bertucca, and I am sure I forgotten a few. I have seen examples of most of these violin-makers over the course of my life. As an appraiser, objectively and removing nepotism from the equation, I feel the instruments produced by Tony compare quite favorably to them both in workmanship & acoustics. Thus the value of his violins should properly be judged in terms of the benchmarks associated with this circle of makers.
Before my dad passed away he was very excited one of his early violins was to be sold at a Skinner auction in 1994. It sold for $460.00(Red Book) and he was crushed. Tony went to the grave with this, not knowing what had happened. Years later I met someone who said, “hey I bought one of your father’s violins.” It turned out to be the one from the auction. If you go back to the Skinner Catalog it gave the violin a one or two line description not saying anything about condition. The violin had been “sat on.”