The Schuster family of violin and bow makers is vast and its history goes back deep into the 18th century. Some 30 makers of this family left their mark as excellent instrument makers and some excelled as bowmakers. By and large the name Schuster commands respect and largely has set the benchmark for what is generally referred to as "good German trade" work. Their work was on a par with the trade studios in Mittenwald and Mirecourt, France, with whom they competed in the market for high-end trade instruments aimed at beginners, advanced students and amateurs. Always a family affair, the company was taken over by Nicolaus Schuster in 1921 and he became the sole owner. It was still operating in 1951.
Through the years this firm varied their labels and also the identifiers associated with different models. In the early 20th century Schuster & Co produces a series of instruments branded in the back of the scroll. The brand varied according to the model of the instrument. This violin bears such a brand behind the scroll - Conservatory Violin (see photo). Clearly this was aimed at filling the demand for very good and very advanced student instruments specifically in anglophonic countries, mostly likely England and the USA. I have encountered several of them - even used professional musicians in orchestras - they are always well-made, correctly lined and blocked and always well-toned.
This violin is a copy of Stradivari and is largely representative of the Schuster standards: it's appealing to the eye - an attractively flamed two-piece maple back and ribs carry a good tone spruce top. The whole instrument is varnished in a light golden red varnish that compliments the materials nicely. The violin is in excellent condition. A few minor scratches are strictly superficial and add to the character of the instrument.
The tone is of good quality, as with most of the violins produced by this company - strong and clear and it speaks easily, with good penetration and carrying power.