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Old interesting lion head Baroque? Violin ID help


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#1 Alicia3

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 12:06 AM

I have been looking for a reasonably priced baroque instrument (or even a new one with baroque set up) just for my own use since I enjoy the sound. I took a (safe) gamble on a super poorly listed one on eBay and am now wondering what it is that I got. I honestly thought the listing might be a scam since it was a seller with 0 feedback and there were only a couple blurry pictures from far away, of only the front. All the listing said was “18th c baroque Hopf violin, ready for baroque play.” Where they got the Hopf part ,I have no idea. Anyway, I was super excited when a violin actually showed up!

I have been searching online for similar looking instruments and cannot find any. I would just like to get a rough time period, place of origin, or what it is modeled after, if anything. I will take it somewhere to be looked at as long as it is for sure not a piece of junk. It is completely unlabeled or marked. And is very uneven, there is about a 10mm difference, the base side being higher. It is visible in the pictures.

The lion head scroll is creepy and has remnants of red paint coming from it’s ears, eyes and mouth. The one red eye is slightly disturbing. It seems to have the original, or at least a really old, fingerboard but I am unsure about the neck since the peg holes do not seem to be bushed or repaired. Although it is possible that some work has been done since it seems to have been re-varnished around the pegs.

The violin has a long appearance, but I think it is just slightly narrower than average. The arching is also quite thin, the whole body is very warped but is only roughly about 1.75” or 40mm thick. The ribs measure at 30mm. The neck is pretty thick, and has a low angle but seems to be almost modern length (only slightly shorter).

Measurements:
LOB: 360mm
UB: 160mm
CB: 104mm
LB: 200mm

The construction is a little weird, and uneven. It seems like someone made it freehand. There are no corner blocks at all, just what looks like a lot of old crackled resin or maybe amber looking varnish in them. There is something that looks like lining but I think that the ribs might possibly just be carved thicker on the ends (to give it some surface area to glue?). It is hard to tell since it is very dark inside, and whoever put it together used a lot of glue. The base bar is not carved in from what I can see, and appears to be much newer than the rest of the violin as is the sound post.

There are also tons of cracks on the front, but I think they are all somewhat repaired. None are loose at least. Everything seems stable and solid. The violin overall is very light weight. I noticed even the neck is carved out when I look under the fingerboard. The perfling is nice looking, and I think well done. It also is continuous everywhere, even under the fingerboard.
The strange features are the 2 or possibly 3 small holes in the top faceplate under the fingerboard. And one under the tailpiece. The Fingerboard itself has 2 round ruts cut out of the bottom of it which used to hold dowels it seems since one is partially there still. There are also 2 weird round carved circles symmetrically on each side of the top plate on the lower bout.
The whole thing is unique, and a little odd but I love it. The sound is beautiful, and it is fun and easy to play. I love it’s character and the varnish, even though it is pretty beat up the violin really seems to glow. I think it is original varnish (except on the scroll).

Sorry for writing so much, I am just very curious about it and excited and wanted to share it with someone. I don’t know anyone in real life who shares my passion for instruments! Thanks!

Alicia

Here is the link to my whole album of pictures if anyone is interested in seeing more: additional pictures

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#2 deans

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 10:26 AM

I'd say 19th century Saxon. Many violins of this type have a "Hopf" stamp or label, but they are all early trade instruments, so a makers name doesnt mean much. You see a lot of these instruments set up as "Baroque" these days, but the instrument is pretty much set up as it was built. Still a good way to cheaply get into a "period" instrument. Looks like the varnish has issues. Cool instrument to play if you like the sound, but I dont think it has a lot of value, I'd say its worth what enjoyment you get out of it, which could be a lot.
deans

#3 Michael Richwine

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 11:27 AM

Certainly not baroque. Looks like a German (Saxon) trade fiddle ca 1880 - 1915 that has been stripped and refinished. The fingerboard used to be painted black. The "lions head" looks like it was spindle carved, and is in the pattern of thousands of similar fiddles from that time. Don't know what to say about the body, or various pins and holes. Looks like it has a "through neck" with integral block, which was a feature of some Saxon violins.
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#4 lyndon

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 11:35 AM

i basically agree with deans, but the lack of value has more to do with the ugly cracks on the top, than the instrument being deficient, per se, i would price it based on the enjoyment you get out of playing and its tone, minus the embarrassment factor of being seen with it in public, its not a 1700s baroque instrument, its an 1800s transition instrument of a type that was made from roughly 1800-1880,

in perfect condition an instrument like this might have an insurance or full retail value of up to 2000-3000usd i would guess. this type of instrument is proof positive that cheap "shoddy" construction does not always mean bad sound, just as expensive careful construction does not always mean good sound. a lot of an instruments sound has to do with the tonal qualities of the wood used, ive worked on baroque setups for several instruments like this and have never been dissapointed by the sound, at least for the price.

by the way if you want this instrument to be authentic, and ever have it repaired with the top off, trim the new bass bar back to transitional dimensions, with the lower tension of the reduced neck angle this should work fine,

nonado, from what ive been told this type of through neck instrument stopped being made around 1880, after that a cheap violin like this would have a standard modern neck, youre right the top looks revarnished or heavily mucked with but the varnish on the back looks completely original(with perhaps a new surface coat) look at the wear spots in the middle where the varnish is missing, you dont get those with a revarnish
Taylor's Fine Violins, Redlands, S. California
Specializing in the research and restoration
of baroque, transitional, and modern violins.

http://www.violinist..._johann_taylor/
(violin shop ad, with links to instruments for sale, pictures of
violins I restored, and recordings and pics of my clavichords)

#5 Michael.N.

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 12:34 PM

If the Bassbar and soundpost is new(ish) then perhaps someone has replaced or thinned the originals to get it nearer to 'Baroque'.

#6 lyndon

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:13 PM

as far as i know baroque violins arent any thinner than any other period, if anything a lot of modern violins are being made thinner than baroque, because the're copying regraduated violins, not unaltered originals,
Taylor's Fine Violins, Redlands, S. California
Specializing in the research and restoration
of baroque, transitional, and modern violins.

http://www.violinist..._johann_taylor/
(violin shop ad, with links to instruments for sale, pictures of
violins I restored, and recordings and pics of my clavichords)

#7 deans

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:27 PM

If the Bassbar and soundpost is new(ish) then perhaps someone has replaced or thinned the originals to get it nearer to 'Baroque'.


There is probably a 98% chance that this violin originally had a carved in bass bar, which probably didnt resemble any good fitted bass bar, either baroque or modern. Its possible that somebody removed this and glued in a bass bar, but I suspect though that the original 19th century Saxon "bar" is still there.
deans

#8 Michael.N.

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 01:29 PM

I was under the impression that Baroque Bassbars were thinner. . . or perhaps shorter? Soundposts thinner?

#9 lyndon

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:05 PM

michael, sorry, i mistook you, i thought you were saying the violin might be thinned when you were talking about the bassbar, we have the OPs statement that the bass bar looks newer and more modern, which isnt really good if you want baroque or transitional, but its easily fixed if you have the top off,

baroque bassbars were all over the place, both thickness and width-height wise, almost always shorter, but sometimes really short ones were thicker and heavier in the middle, usually they werent as tall, but i wouldnt say they are usually thinner, as ive seen ones just as thick or thicker than modern,

theres nothing at all defective about using a carved in bass bar, as long as its in the right position, the crudeness or polish of its carving isnt going to make much difference to the tone, and structurally a carved in bass bar has a major advantage; it will never come unglued and start buzzing
Taylor's Fine Violins, Redlands, S. California
Specializing in the research and restoration
of baroque, transitional, and modern violins.

http://www.violinist..._johann_taylor/
(violin shop ad, with links to instruments for sale, pictures of
violins I restored, and recordings and pics of my clavichords)

#10 Alicia3

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 02:42 PM

That makes sense, thanks for all the quick replies. I still enjoy it, and personally think it looks neat. And got it cheaper than I could find any brand new baroque already set up violin so I am happy with this regardless. Now I just have to figure out how to play something on it!




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