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Violin Society of America/H.K. Goodkind

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Herbert K. Goodkind15 linear feet

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PROCESSED BY: Linda Richer, December 1995

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Herbert K. Goodkind was born in New York City on April 30, 1905 to Walter and Annie Visanska Goodkind. Musicians in the family included his mother, who was a pianist, and his uncle, Dan Visanska, who played the violin professionally in several orchestras in Europe. Herbert Goodkind grew up in Yonkers, and lived briefly in Florida, South Carolina, and the Bronx before settling in Larchmont, New York in 1933. He attended the Cornell University School of Hotel Management for three years and then spent his career in the real estate business in New York City. During the 1930s and 1940s he sold commercial real estate in Manhattan for Helmsley Spear. He also was an active real estate agent in Larchmont where he maintained a successful business in management, appraisal, and consulting until the 1960s. Goodkind married Mabel Goldhammer (d. 1956) and had two sons, Thomas (b. 1933) and John (b. 1935). He married Virginia Jackson Haggett (b. 1925) in 1957 and had a daughter, Rachel (b. 1958) and a son, Daniel (b. 1961). Rachel continued her father's interest in the history of the violin and managed his estate after his death in 1982 following a one-month illness.

Goodkind's passionate interest in violin history and construction led him to become a dealer and appraiser of violins, an avid collector and dealer in books and other material on the subject, a publisher of his own book on Stradivari, and an early leader in the Violin Society of America. Initially taught by his uncle, Dan Visanska, Goodkind began playing the violin at age 10 and later, as an accomplished violinist, played in numerous chamber music groups. He played many other instruments as well and earned money during his college years by playing the saxophone. Goodkind began collecting materials about the violin in his early years and continued throughout his life.

Goodkind collected, identified, and appraised rare violins. His careful tracking of specific violins prompted him to collect auction catalogs, especially in the last twenty years of his life. In about 1978 he and his close friend Eric Chapman began a business in Larchmont, New York that specialized in new hand-made instruments and that kept rare instruments on consignment. He met Eric Chapman through the Violin Society of America, which was founded in 1973 by a group which included Chapman and Goodkind.

As an independent dealer in books on all subjects, Goodkind was a longtime subscriber to AB Bookman. He specialized in rare books and collected music scores as well. In 1958 he sold 36,000 volumes to the University of Texas at Austin (Goodkind-Bookman Collection), and in 1969 he sold 5,000 books and scores to Hofstra University in Long Island.

The impetus for the Goodkind Collection at Oberlin College came in 1959 upon the death of his New York City friend and fellow collector, Hyman Frankel. His twenty-five year friendship with Frankel centered on their mutual enthusiasm for the violin and collecting. Over the years they exchanged and purchased items from one another. During his fatal illness, Frankel asked Goodkind to care for his collection after his death. Frankel's collection included about 1,000 books and pamphlets with dates of 1659 to 1959, about 1,500 scores, prints and engravings, and violins and bows. Frankel's collection constitutes a large portion of the Goodkind Collection.

In 1972, Goodkind published Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari, 1644-1737, the definitive study of all known (725) Stradivari instruments and their provenance with photographs, illustrations and related articles. Because no publisher wished to take the risk of publishing such an ambitious work, Goodkind himself contracted typesetters (Stinehour Press, Lunenburg, Vermont), printers (Meriden Gravure, Meriden, Connecticut), and binders (Horowitz & Co., Clifton, New York) to publish the book on his own. In 1971 Goodkind commissioned Larchmont, New York artist Alton Tobey (b. 1914) to create a painting of Antonio Stradivari at work, which was featured in the book. In an earlier publishing effort in 1960, Goodkind published a 45-year cumulative index of The Musical Quarterly. This experience in self-publishing gave him the needed experience to complete the Stradivari work of 1972.

Sources Consulted

Goodkind, Herbert K. "20th-century Tarisio: A Rare Violin Book Collector." The Violin Maker's Journal 5 (February-March 1962): 31-32; 5 (April-May 1962): 5-7.

Goodkind, Rachel. Letter of 15 November 1995.

"Goodkind Compiles Definitive Listing of Strads." The Daily Times (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), 11 October 1972.

"Goodkind Adds Another Career to His Life." The Daily Times (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), 29 January 1978.

"Herbert K. Goodkind, Expert on Violins" (obituary). Gannett Westchester Newspapers, 28 July 1982.

Medoff, Eve. "Alton Tobey: The Artist as Researcher." American Artist (May 1976): 52-56, 83-86.

"Reception to Celebrate Violin-book Collection." Oberlin College Observer, February 1987, 1.


The H.K. Goodkind Collection, jointly purchased in 1986 by The Violin Society of America and Oberlin College, includes over 1,200 book, score and periodical titles, more than 550 auction catalogs, miscellaneous research files, a clippings file, photographs, and two paintings.

This collection was amassed over the years with significant help from Hyman Frankel (d. 1959), an amateur musician and an informed book and violin collector in New York City. His valuable collection of materials contained over 1,000 books including many rare titles on the violin from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century; over 1,500 scores for solo violin, violin chamber music, violin methods and treatises; prints and engravings; and violins and bows. Frankel asked Goodkind to handle the disposition of the collection in about 1959.

Hyman Frankel escaped from Russia in the early 1900s, emigrated to Boston at the age of fifteen, and moved to New York City shortly thereafter. He studied violin with Ferdinand Carri. His vocation as fur cutter allowed him to assemble his collection over a period of fifty years. He acquired his collection through catalogs, pawn shops, book stores, and fiddle shops. Many of the rare eighteenth-century materials in the Goodkind Collection were originally part of Frankel's collection.

The book and periodical portion of Goodkind's collection is the most significant, both in size and content. Each title is individually cataloged and the collection is brought together with a local subject heading "VSA—H.K. Goodkind Collection." The collection focuses on the history of the violin, violin construction, the rare violin market through the years, early violin makers and violinists, and early violin treatises. Rare eighteenth-century treatises on violin playing and stringed instrument acoustics include authors such as Francesco Geminiani, Carlo Tessarini, Peter Prelleur, Johan Adam Hiller, Leopold Mozart, and Carlo Taglini. More than fifty books on the early nineteenth-century violin virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini, including works published during his lifetime, were collected primarily by Frankel, who was an avid admirer of Paganini. The collection is rich in materials on violin construction and acoustics, with extensive coverage of the bow, varnish, woods, gums and resins, adhesives, and painting techniques. Because the book collection covers these topics with materials from about 1667 to the mid-1980s, it is one of the most significant collections of its kind. The Oberlin College Library is continuing the tradition by collecting newly-published materials on the violin and violin construction.

In addition to the individually cataloged book and serial titles, the Goodkind Collection includes other historical materials and media, divided into the following series: Series I. Catalog collection; Series II. Collected research materials, subseries A-B as follows: A. Herbert K. Goodkind papers; B. Edward Abell papers; Series III. Vertical file; Series IV. Non-textual records, subseries A-C as follows: A. Photographs; B. Reproductions of paintings; C. Paintings.

The Catalog collection (Series I) provides the researcher with a wealth of information about violin sales, pricing, and ownership. Hyman Frankel regularly collected catalogs and provided the foundation for the catalog collection. When Goodkind received the collection in 1959, he actively worked to update this part of the collection. Goodkind carefully followed the rare violin market by collecting catalogs from auction houses, stringed instrument makers, and musical instrument dealers. In collecting the 566 catalogs from 104 companies (1838-1991), he emphasized catalogs from auctions of musical instruments. Goodkind served the researcher well by often noting the selling price of the instrument in the margins of the auction catalog. The auction houses most heavily represented are Bongartz, Christie's, Phillips, Puttick & Simpson, and Sotheby's.

Stringed instrument makers such as Fraser, Gemunder, Muller & Kaplan, Roth, Virzi, and Weisshaar are also represented with price lists and descriptive, historical, or biographical pamphlets. Finally, he collected many musical instrument dealer catalogs, especially those dealing with rare instruments, such as Bein & Fushi, Inc., Ditson, Doring, Fischer, Friedrich, Lewis, Lyon & Healy, Rushworth & Dreaper, Scherl & Roth, and Wurlitzer. A twenty-page inventory of the catalog collection is available as a separate list.

Goodkind's deep interest in photographs of rare violins led him to keep a meticulous notebook that indexed photographs of violins discovered in his readings, the catalogs, and other brochures. Although never published, the index (Violin Iconography) is useful to anyone needing photographs of specific violins. The holograph is individually cataloged in the H.K. Goodkind Collection (ML140.G66 1900z) and often refers to photographs appearing in the Catalog collection.

Over the years, Goodkind collected several sets of research materials to supplement his collection. H.K. Goodkind's own papers (Series II, Subseries A) are a small part of the collection and cover a relatively short time period in his life (1960-1982). Miscellaneous correspondence concerning the collection, along with some research notes, provide only sketchy information about the collection and do not form a complete set of his papers or correspondence.

Edward W. Abell (1864-1957), an early twentieth-century expert and connoisseur of violin history and violin making, was similar to Goodkind in his interests and approaches to his avocation. Abell's papers (Series IV, Subseries B) document his research and writings on the history of the violin and violin construction in The Violinist and other periodicals from 1916 to 1927. His long and involved letters to the editor of The Violinist, Ada Taylor, often responded to articles and queries sent to the magazine and usually concerned the identification of specific violins or information about specific violin makers, especially Italian makers and violins. Abell's career and avocations parallel Goodkind's interests and are an interesting addition to the collection as a whole.

Goodkind's Vertical File (Series III) includes photocopies of articles from periodicals and newspapers (1808-1986) on the subject of violin construction and history. Goodkind carefully collected newspaper clippings and single periodical issues that included articles of interest. Usually these were articles from non-music journals, generalist periodicals, or other non-music specialized journals which musicians would normally not be able to retrieve through a normal literature search in the field of music. All articles and clippings have been photocopied and placed into a subject-organized vertical file. The file includes 168 articles from 83 periodical titles and 107 newspaper articles from 32 newspaper titles. The file is especially strong in articles on violin builders and violin construction.

The non-textual visual materials in the collection shows Goodkind's interest in iconography (Series IV). Two nineteenth-century photo albums include early photographs of Franz Liszt, historical figures, and royalty. Loose photographs of several violin makers are included along with miscellaneous photographs of violins that were enclosed in correspondence to Goodkind. A large black and white photo of Fritz Kreisler and Walter Damrosch playing four-hand piano at the Ruppert Club in the 1930s is included. Also a part of the collection are two paintings, one of H.K. Goodkind (1980) by Ted Koepper, and the other of Antonio Stradivari at work, painted by Alton Tobey and commissioned by Goodkind in 1971.


Series I. Catalog Collection, 1838-1991 (13 l.f.)

Consists of auction catalogs, musical instrument maker catalogs and brochures, and musical instrument dealer catalogs. The collection of 566 catalogs representing 104 companies is inventoried in a separately produced unpublished 20 page document that accompanies the catalog collection. The catalogs are shelved alphabetically by company name.

Series II. Collected Research Materials

Consists of materials collected by Goodkind to support his research, collecting, and writing.

Subseries A. Herbert K. Goodkind Papers, 1895-1954 (.2 l.f.)

Consists primarily of correspondence to Goodkind with some copies of letters sent. Some correspondence of Goodkind's estate in 1984 along with miscellaneous correspondence other than Goodkind's also exists. Miscellaneous research notes and drafts of his article about Hyman Frankel ("20th-century Tarisio" published in 1962 in The Violin Maker's Journal) complete the subseries.

Subseries B. Edward W. Abell Papers, 1909-1928 (.4 l.f.)

Consists of one box of correspondence and research files. Correspondence between Ada E. Taylor and Abell (1916-1927) is followed by folders of general correspondence (1909-1928). The best biographical material on Abell is found in his draft of a letter to Taylor (never sent) of February 21, 1920. His research files are organized by article along with correspondence to and from editors about that specific article. Correspondence with Ada Taylor, editor of The Violinist, is found in these research files as well as in the separate Taylor/Abell correspondence folders. Ephemera folders contain ads for The Violinist, a membership certificate for the Philadelphia Forum, and publications from John A. Gould & Son in Boston. The final folder contains biographical information on Abell.

Series III. Vertical File, 1808-1986 (.9 l.f.)

Consists of individual periodical and newspaper articles on the subject of violin construction, violin history, and violinists or violin makers. The vertical file includes 168 articles from 83 periodical titles and 107 newspaper articles from 32 newspaper titles. Articles are filed by subject.

Series IV. Miscellaneous visual materials (.5 l.f.)

Consists of a variety of materials in various media collected by Goodkind because of his interest in iconography.

Subseries A. Photographs

Consists of two nineteenth-century photo albums: 1) with 60 photographs of Franz Liszt; 2) with 30 photos of historical figures and royalty. Also included are two postcards with Liszt photos; 8 loose plates with portrait photography of late nineteenth-century musical figures (Hector Berlioz, Hans Richter, Arthur Nikisch, Anton Seidl, Theodore Thomas, Arturo Toscanini); photographs of violin makers Fred Haenel and Arthur Bultitude; a photo of Charles E. Farley Model 1900 violin; and miscellaneous photographs (c. 65) of violins enclosed in correspondence to Goodkind. An unidentified series of about 40 black and white photographs of rare instruments is included as well as one large black and white photo of Fritz Kreisler and Walter Damrosch.

Subseries B. Reproductions of paintings

Two reproductions (12.516") of the 1971 Tobey painting of Antonio Stradivari at work.

Subseries C. Paintings

1980 painting (3648") of H.K. Goodkind by Ted Koepper and the 1971 painting (4047") of Antonio Stradivari at work by Alton S. Tobey and commissioned by Goodkind.


The H.K. Goodkind Collection was jointly purchased by the Violin Society of America and the Oberlin College Library in 1986 after Goodkind's death in 1982. A large portion of this collection came to H.K. Goodkind in 1959 from the estate of Hyman Frankel (d. 1959). The Collection was transferred to the Oberlin College Library by H.K. Goodkind's daughter, Rachel Goodkind, in 1986. At that time the name of the collection officially became the VSA—H.K. Goodkind Collection.


Series I.  Catalog Collection (1838-1991)
		Boxes 1-34  Catalogs in alphabetical order by name of company.
			    Inventory for catalog collection available upon request. 
		Series II.  Collected Research Materials
		    Subseries A. Herbert K. Goodkind Papers (1895-1984)
		Box 35  Correspondence (2f)
			Frankel article (1962) with correspondence
			Correspondence —- Goodkind estate
			Miscellaneous correspondence other than Goodkind
			Collected research materials 
			Collected biographical information on Goodkind
		    Subseries B.  Edward W. Abell Papers (1909-1928)
		Box 36  Abell-Taylor / Taylor-Abell correspondence 1916-1927 (4f)
			General correspondence 1909-1928 (4f)
			Writings and research notes 1915-1925 (13f)
			Ephemera (2f)
			Collected biographical information on Abell
		Series III.  Vertical File (1808-1986)
		    Articles and clippings (1808-1988) filed by subject.
		Box 37  Acoustics / Physics / Chemistry (3f)  1840-1966, 1967-1979, 1980-1988
			Construction / Lutherie (including adhesives, bow, gums and resins, 
			    painting techniques, strings, varnish, woods, and lutherie 	
			    instruction and schools)  (3f)  1808-1920, 1921-1939, 1940-1985 
		Box 38  Maintenance and Repair  1957-1966
			Restoration / Restorers  1936-1978 
			Violin Makers (5f)  A-H, I-S, Stradivari, T-Z, Collective Biography
			Bow Makers  A-Z
			Other Instrument Makers  A-Z
		Box 39  Violin Dealers A-Z
			Collections of Musical Instruments  1968-1974
			Exhibitions of Musical Instruments  1877-1984
			Rare Instrument Auctions and Auction Houses  1970-1982
			Rare Instrument Prices and Pricing  1894-1982
			Specific Rare Violins  1881-1982
			Violinists and Composers  (5f)  A-C, D-P, Paganini, P-Z, Collective 
		Box 40  Violin Instruction and Study  1931-1979
			Violin Music — Analysis and Appreciation  1965-1971
			Competitions  1965
			Violin Fiction, Poetry, and Tales  1840-1981
			Violin and Music History  1874-1941
			Violin Memorabilia, Collectibles, and Inventions  1943-1969
			Miscellaneous  1904-1982
		Series IV.  Miscellaneous visual materials
		    Subseries A.  Photographs
		Box 41  Photos of Liszt housed in original album
			Photos of historical figures and royalty in original album
			Other photographs housed in one binder.
		    Subseries B.  Reproductions of paintings
		Box 41 (cont.)
			Consists of two reproductions of the Tobey painting.
			Box of b&w reproductions of paintings of literary characters
		    Subseries C.  Paintings
			Tobey painting displayed in Conservatory Library Seminar Room.
			Goodkind's portrait housed in Special Collections.
Last updated:
August 25, 2012