National Public Radio ran a great story on January 2 about a recent study on the conventional wisdom regarding old and historical violins. The results were fascinating. Old violins are treasured as great art of historical value, as they should, but otherwise they are just that: historical artifacts. Their value derives from their historical importance and rarity, not because the sound that can be produced when using them is unmatched in quality by newer instruments. Some sound great, many don't and all are different. The same goes for new violins, too.
Remember, Stradivari's violins were new once, too.
You can listen to it here.
I compiled a selection of books that are available on Amazon.com that are terrific, reasonably priced resources for anyone wishing to know more about violins. They represent both the latest and seminal works on violin making. There are also many large format volumes that include full size photographs and drawings that are available elsewhere. Two sources for these books are Amati Books and Howard Core.