Moravian Historical Society
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John Antes (1740-1811) was born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. In 1745, Antes entered the Moravian Boys Boarding School, where he received music education and was admitted into the Single Brethren’s choir of Bethlehem in 1760 where he trained as a cabinet maker, with an interest in musical instruments.
As an instrument maker he is recognized as making the oldest surviving violin in America. Made in 1759, when Antes was 19 years old, this is one of seven known stringed instruments made by Antes, of which only a viola, violin, and cello exist today. In another first, Antes is believed to be the first American to produce chamber music. The Antes violin is one of the most significant items in our collection of more than 20,000 objects.