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Help with Identifying Old Violin


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#1 Mark Crabtree

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 02:23 AM

I've got a very modest collection of old fiddles and know what most are, but I've got two that I really don't know what to think of. On this one in particular I just don't even know where to start. I think I'll just post the photo link now and not bias you with my thoughts or comments (yet).

Old Fiddle

The violin does have numerous condition issues. This is just curiosity on my part, and a desire to learn.

Any ideas? Questions?

#2 luthier

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:35 PM

Hello Mark,

Sure is quiet out there. I'll wager some comments to get this back
to the top of the list.



 A picture from the side showing the arching would help, and
scroll from front and side, and may as well put in a picture of the
back. It doesn't look like a production violin, based on the
fluting of the lower wings. It could be around 100-120 years old.
Does it have a neck block? How about corner blocks?



It does look like something worth restoring, depending on your
interpretation of a "good" violin. Are the cracks in the top open?
If repaired, are there cleats inside? Sometimes the quality
of repairs is an indication of how much the owner valued
the instrument.



I know this doesn't help with the identification, but more pics
would certainly help.
David Slocum

#3 Omobono

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:48 PM

Better try to say something here too,
so as not to discourage our poster:



To me the f-hole doesn't appear quite consistent with the overall model.

Seem to be placed a tiny bit lower than usual or shorter than normal and quite splayed?
(or is the fingerboard a little shorter perhaps which gives that impression?)
The model looks to me to have an Amati flavor
while the f-holes are more extravagant (touch of Grancino?)

Some sign of cracks on the table but hard to assess.
Just a few thoughts.

Omobono: 12th Century citizen of Cremona
and patron saint of its craftsmen.

#4 Mark Crabtree

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 11:14 PM

Thanks for the input.

Here's a larger version of the same photo for more detail. Omobono, you are welcome to redo the f hole shot from this.

I will try to get a side view tonight, but it will be fairly late before I can do it. I've purposely avoided the scroll shot and back for now. The neck was replaced and scroll grafted at some point. The scroll has been refinished, and I'm just not sure it goes with the rest. This work was probably done in 1921 by Wyman Moore in Boston since he's penciled some info on the top. Some later work also, but no repairs that are noticeably ancient.

The violin is blocked and lined.

To me, the work looks quickly done without a lot of effort put into refinement, but does not look amateurish to my eye. I have no idea whether it is handmade by someone who just knocked them out quickly, or just something more like production work.

The varnish on the top seems original, though it was covered with a lot of later varnish (more than a french polish). I've gotten most of the excess off, but there is still some there-especially along the sides of the fingerboard. The sides may have original varnish. I mentioned the scroll looks refinished, and the back may be also. It certainly has been messed with more than the top.

#5 Ron1

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 12:09 AM

quote:

Originally posted by: Omobono

Seem to be placed a tiny bit lower than usual or shorter than normal and quite splayed?


I agree- the f's are quite low, and the left one is much lower than the right.

#6 Omobono

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 01:33 AM

quote:


Originally posted by: Mark Crabtree
Omobono, you are welcome to redo the f hole shot from this.

To me, the work looks quickly done without a lot of effort put into refinement.


I accept your invitation (see above)
I quite like the f-hole
and it doesn't look hastily done to me.

Omobono: 12th Century citizen of Cremona
and patron saint of its craftsmen.

#7 Mark Crabtree

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 02:17 AM

quote:


Originally posted by: Omobono
I accept your invitation (see above)

I quite like the f-hole

and it doesn't look hastily done to me.


I'm glad to hear you say that. I was taking a better look at the f's and about to take back my "not amateurish" comment. Look at the difference in the spacing of the nicks on the left and right f.

More pictures.
Side, Back, Larger size of back.

As you can see, the back wood is spalted (is that the right term). The seam on the front is off center, perhaps because of the piece being used for the treble side-very wide at the flanks, and still includes a bit of a knot (or something-lower treble bout).

The arching seems higher to me than it looks in the photos, not extreme, but not flat. Maybe it is just the fairly steep rise that gives it that impression. You can tell a bit what I mean on the front view.

So, how to get any idea what it is? I've read the identification threads. I realize that doesn't turn me into an expert, but I really don't have much of a clue on this one. Perhaps Amati is the right model (with a bit of Strad thrown in), but I don't have much of a guess about anything else.

#8 Allan Speers

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 03:49 AM

Mark,



I'm absolutely the last guy here to make any guesses, (see recent
threads!) so I won't.



However, I find it rather unusual that the maker used Maple for the
back that has a little spalt, or fungal lines. It's also
rather plain Maple from a grain standpoint.  That by no means
indicates a cheap violin, as I have read of a few fine makers who
used rather plain wood,  but that spalting may be a clue to
something.

#9 Omobono

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 05:52 AM

Anyone else think we might be looking at a composite fiddle here?
The back does not seem to match the model I was expecting
after seeing the top. The C-bouts suddenly look squarer and shallower
and more even than the asymetric top outline.



Omobono: 12th Century citizen of Cremona
and patron saint of its craftsmen.

#10 Magnus Nedregard

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:54 AM

Yes, definitely the top is not by the same maker as the back, the latter being the original. The quality of workmanship is inferior to the back and so is the purfling and varnish material.

The back has some qualities, the top is just plain bad to me

#11 Mark Crabtree

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 12:06 PM

quote:


Originally posted by: magnus nedregard
Yes, definitely the top is not by the same maker as the back, the latter being the original. The quality of workmanship is inferior to the back and so is the purfling and varnish material.

The back has some qualities, the top is just plain bad to me [/IMG]


Looking at the photos, it is easy to see what you are saying, none of that was clear to me in person (though I did have a good idea that some of the parts weren't original to the instrument). I think I was just ignoring the back because it has been messed with so much. There may be some original varnish under there some place, but I wouldn't be giving much weight to the varnish on the back. The purfling is similar material top and back, but I see now that the "white" does look narrower. It's funny that some miters look very similar top and back. Every corner is different on the back, but the best one is significantly better than any other on the fiddle [img]i/expressions/face-icon-small-confused.gif

The C's do clearly seem different, and the back does follow the ribs better.

Oh well, I kind of like that top.

Here's the scroll. I apparently forgot to tame down the colors on this one (it was very late last night), so these are the exaggerated colors as they come from the camera. I believe that the scroll and back are refinished, and I don't know that they were meant to be on the same instrument.

#12 Magnus Nedregard

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 01:02 PM

I think probably the varnish on the back is mostly original, (although it might be covered with something on top). The scroll is rather nice, and goes with the back. The violin (except the top) reminds me a little of some lesser Neapolitan instruments I've seen.

#13 MStearns

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 11:04 AM

The scroll is absolutely fantastic.
Bump. ( I would love to see some closure to this thread)

#14 Mark Crabtree

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 12:22 PM

quote:


Originally posted by: MStearns
The scroll is absolutely fantastic.

Bump. ( I would love to see some closure to this thread)


And of course I would also. Maybe this violin is just too eccentric or has been messed with too much. I usually have a pretty good feel at least for whether a violin is good quality (as opposed to a production model) but this one leaves me scratching my head.

The spalted back wood for one thing. Also the feeling that at least some of the work was done by someone with a very good idea of what they were doing, but without an effort at refinement (which probably does not contradict production work). The violin seems to me to have some character to it, but I know full (fool) well that this character often just comes from the ravages of time and use.

The top still seems interesting to me, but the wood choice is certainly funky, the f holes are "interesting", the purfling work is rough but not crude. The varnish on the top looks much better in person and has a nice texture/surface to it.

Thanks to everyone for their input. I'll be looking forward to what else comes up-good, bad, or ugly. Hey, I don't normally name my fiddles, but that might be a good one this guy.

#15 lama pemasang Gyaltsen TAR

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 05:58 AM

If I were to see that picture off the top on ebay I would assume
the top looked revarnished, or a really poor job of artificially
wearing the varnish, when youre buying on ebay look for old worn,
naturally not artificially worn, varnish. This violin doesn't
interest me but it could be a good leaning project, let use know
what you decide to do with it, sincerely Lyndon

#16 C.B.Fiddler

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:35 AM

Interesting how the top has the wider grain toward the treble side and the upper corners seem infinitly more angular than the same on the back.
If nothing else, I didn't cut the button off...




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