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VSA/Goodkind

History of the Collection

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, which he helped found in 1973. 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. Around 1978 he joined with Eric Chapman, a co-founder of the VSA, to begin a business in Larchmont, New York that specialized in new hand-made instruments and that kept rare instruments on consignment.

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.

In 1972, Goodkind published Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari, 1644-1737, the definitive study of all 725 known 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.

The H. K. Goodkind Collection was amassed over the years with significant help from Goodkind’s friend and fellow collector Hyman Frankel (d. 1959). 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 worked as a fur cutter while studying violin with Ferdinand Carri and collecting books and violins. Over the course of fifty years, Frankel amassed a collection of 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. After Frankel’s passing, Goodkind oversaw the disposition of his collection.

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. He wrote articles on the history of the violin and violin construction in The Violinist and other periodicals from 1916 to 1927.

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