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This violin was carved with a pocket knife and chisel by George Thomas (G.T.) Shrader from Arkansas sycamore and maple. The back and ribs are made of sycamore and the neck from maple. Around the edge of the instrument is an inlaid purfling of ebony and maple. Shrader left the violin unpolished and without varnish to show the natural wood. The inside of the violin is signed in crayon "Hand Made by G. T. Shrader, Little Rock, Ark. 1919." A paper label inside the violin reads "This Violin Made By Hand G. T. Shrader. Little Rock ARK. In The Year 1919. Complimentary to the State of Arkansas."

Biographical/Historical Note

G. T. Shrader was born in McMinnville, Tennessee, on February 16, 1873, to George and Emma Rodgers Shrader. The family moved to Bryant, Arkansas, when Shrader was a young boy. He married Ona Estelle Kitchen on July 22, 1896. Prior to becoming a fulltime violin maker, Shrader worked as a railroad conductor for Rock Island Railroad and as a sales clerk in the 1910s. In 1914, Shrader stated, "I had never seen a violin constructed when I first decided to try and make one, but I knew I could do it." Although he did not play violins or had never seen one made, Shrader decided to start making violins out of native Arkansas woods using a pocket knife and chisel. He sent two violins to the Arkansas exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and received a Silver Medal at the Expo. Shrader continued to make violins for many years in Little Rock and Texas. G. T. Shrader passed away on August 27, 1939, in Houston, Texas.

Physical Description

1 violin: 23.75" L x 8.5" W x 3" D


Musical instruments


George Thomas Shrader

Geographical Area

Little Rock, Pulaski County (Ark.)




ASA three-dimensional object collection, 71.322

Resource Type

Physical Object


ASA three-dimensional object collection


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Arkansas wood violin, ASA three-dimensional object collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History


I am amazed that someone would decide to start making prize winning violins without ever seeing one made or playing one. I think it is interesting that Shrader used local wood to make the violins. - Julienne Crawford


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Arkansas wood violin