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Everything posted by DR. S

  1. Thank you everyone for your input.
  2. I'm holding my tongue here. I have made no assertions, only passed on information. I have done nothing but admit ignorance, except, to encourage possible rethinking, simply pointed out that an acknowledged expert who had it in their possession for 3 weeks had a completely different opinion, this is not MY opinion. My only opinion is how good an instrument it is, because that is all I am qualified to judge. If he is wrong, he is wrong. We'll find out soon enough.
  3. I am always puzzled why someone would make such a marvelous instrument and try to pass it off as something else.
  4. There was no bad news to give. It was sent without any specific expectations.
  5. Believer? What does belief have to do about this? I am here soliciting opinion, all of which I am taking seriously. I am also putting out other opinions that I have received from other reputable sources. I am trying to deal in facts, and where that is not attainable, then the best founded theory. Not my violin and not my money. I appreciate the comments and find the information valuable. But I am not some hick that has "grandpa's Strad' out of the attic (I've seen a bunch of those and had to break the news to the poor souls). I am a conservatory trained instrumentalist and have played on a lot of fine instruments. This instrument, may well turn out just to be a very good playing, valueless instrument - I have a viola like that. But the initial expert report definitely dictated further investigation. This is one of those instruments that when you play it, people ask what it is, and when someone plays it, they do not want to give it back. It has that nuance that you hear about with the finest instruments and the power to fill a hall and soar over and orchestra. I've been playing it for over a year, as I said, and finding out it is not of great value is perfect for me, I'll be able to buy it, I really do not want to give it up. But the owner is a friend and if it is of great value, I am not going to try to hide it.
  6. So the 'major' makers used hardwood (maple) for the linings? I will see what I can find out.
  7. Sorry, typo on my part. Yes, I know the difference between 18th century and 1800s. Just like I know the 21st century did not actually start until the year 2001 (not 2000). But let's not let this thread digress please.
  8. There are a lot of grafts and repairs, it is possible the scroll is not original, but on the other hand the scroll has several repairs to it - peg hole grafts etc, so it does look like an attempt was made to preserve it. It has had the neck graft. I do not have a good eye for scrolls, but I know that to the trained eye it tells a lot about the instrument. I am puzzled by the pretty strong opinion of Mirecort mid-18th century, which I am sure is well founded due to the 'ayes', compared to the 17th century Italian by the appraiser who had it in hand for 3 weeks.
  9. I have no skin in this game, just looking for opinions. Though it would be cool to find out it is old Italian, I knew going in it was unlikely. However, I have to also respect the opinion of the appraiser who had it in his hands for 3 weeks. But I understand your points too. Dendro? Some kind of wood analysis?
  10. One of the things I have noticed is the very unusual and distinctive cut of the upper part of the f-hole. The inner edge is rounded and parallels the outer edge rather than having a blocked shape. I have been looking at many photos and have yet to come across anything like it. I am hoping someone out there might recognize this style of cut. Not seeing it on Mirecourt instruments - yet anyway.
  11. Delabo, I'm sure there are photos of the inside, but I do not have them, but can get them. I believe when my friend got it the top was already off. He repaired it and put it back together, he does very nice work. The appraiser who looked at it (will remain unnamed because they did not charge us due to the inability to identify a maker or value), but it was someone you would be familiar with, had it for 3 weeks and was very impressed with the instrument. Obviously they looked it over very thoroughly. What he did say about it was that he was quite sure it was 17th century Italian and very possibly, Cremona School.
  12. Didn't sound like crap when I first got it and assumed it was a German copy. For me that would be good news, because it means there is a possibility I could actually afford to buy it.
  13. This is pretty much what we came up with too, except no way to get the middle two numbers for the date. From construction and other factors the appraiser was very certain the date was 16?9. Comparing to the Nicola Amati labels I have been able to find (every one was different by the way). I found no labels where his name was spelled Amatii, but always Amatus, however, other Amati's used Amatii in the latinized form. It is my understanding that Nicolo Amati violins are exceedingly rare, so, while I am keeping my mind open, I realize the odds are against it. But looking at the condition of the instrument, it has obviously been in the possesion of people who did not understand what they had. I must say though that this instrument considerably better and more sonorous than any Amati that I have played, which if it is an Amati, points to Nicolo or Hieronyous II, his son. The appraisers advice was to actually take it to Cremona for appraisal.
  14. As you can see it has had a rough life, but it still shines when played.
  15. let me state that no matter what it turns out to be, it is a world class playing instrument. Could be used by a major soloist - that good. But curiosity has the best of us. Here is are a few more photos. To be honest, from the few Nicolo Amati instrument photos I have seen, it does not look like the same maker to me, but then I have very few data points. We do believe the age is mid to late 1600s, definitely italian, very possibly Cremona - so says the appraiser we had look at it.
  16. Been playing this instrument on loan for over a year. It has been looked at by one reputable luthier, but inconclusive (he did not have this good a view of the label though). The instrument is definitely very old, has not always been cared for very well, but is still of the highest quality in sound and playing qualities (directly comparable to some known high quality examples of the Cremona school around 1700). I have more picture, but want to start the focus on just the label first. A makers label (real or faked) and a repair label. I have an opinion, but want to hear what you think.
  17. It is a strange market. Yes the value has to do with more who made it, when, and where, than how good it is - directly. But indirectly, that value is at least historically based on how good, in general are the instruments that were made by that maker, then how good were the makers in the general time and vicinity that the specific instrument was made. The instrument I have on loan to me now, while we have not yet determined the maker, we know it is Italian and from the late 17th century, and that is high probability from Cremona. That in itself makes the instrument quite valuable, but does not guarantee that it is a great instrument (which luckily for me, it is). I have played several golden age Cremonese instruments that were awful, but still valued in the 6 figures. However, until you have actually spent some time with one of these instruments (a good example I mean), it is difficult to understand just how magnificent they are. I have played many great modern instruments, but not one of them can compare to the best Old Italians that I have played. Maybe perhaps in sound qualities, there may be some moderns that can match closely, but in feel and playability there is no match. There was a pretty well circulated study done years ago, where some fine players were asked to play a large number of very fine instruments, both old greats and some of the best moderns. The Author wrote the article to conclude that there really was no big difference. This was based on perceived sound qualities by judges and the players, but ignored the players' preferences and thought on playability. Some of the participants came out later to state that the old Italians were the ones they preferred to play, and while they were not told what instruments they were given, they could easily tell the difference by playing them. Perhaps in 200-300 years these moderns will be every bit as good as the old Italians are now. Who knows. However, all that being said, there are some really nice moderns being made for relatively reasonable prices, and yuo can also find some older instruments, without a pedigree, that are also very good and if you are patient and persistent you can find something to suit you for a reasonable price. But still, I dread the day I have to give the old Italian back, I will not find it's equal again - that I can afford, but it does, once it is has been looked at and appraised by the right people, need to be put in the hands of a master.
  18. Perhaps I can shed some more light on this one. Good older instruments are almost always easier to play. Now perhaps for an aggressive, inexperienced and lesser skilled player there may be some issues in that it may be easier to overplay one of these instruments, but other than that, really everything comes easier. Now there are a few exceptions, for instance, the Guarneri del Gesu Cannon is notoriously difficult to play. I have read accounts of great violinists having fits for the first couple of days with that instrument, but ultimately, once they figured it out, they all agree it is the most powerful, sonorous instrument in existence. Perhaps not so good for chamber music but great in front of an orchestra with a concerto, or a solo recital in a large hall. I know a player who has a Strad that he said took him a while to learn to play - but I am currently using an old Italian (Cremona @1688-1698, maker yet undetermined) that instantly made me better, its magical.
  19. The instrument was found on the Tarisio auction site. As it was in need of considerable restorative work, they apparently did not recognize what they had. I don't know what the cost was.
  20. Indeed I am lucky in being able to have this instrument in my possession for my personal use for a time. Cursed in that it will be taken away at some point. I must admit that my mind has been turned in the debate of old Italian versus modern. It really just is not fair. Soundwise perhaps there is a debate but feel and nuance, it's apples and oranges. Perhaps it's just 320 years of aging?
  21. This forum is basically hung up on strings, perfect or tempered tuning, and bow grip, but I guess that is pretty much the world of violin playing. ;-) I ran across HKV in another forum, probably violinist.com, but not sure.
  22. While some of these factors do come in to play in many cases and I have said similar things in the past, it does not apply to this violin, because when I first played it I had no idea whatsoever what it was, and when I did see the label - it had no meaning - not at all uncommon to see a label like that in a German reproduction. All I knew was that it was a spectacular violin. The best violin I have ever played - and I spent some significant time playing it - was a Bergonzi owned by the man who made my violin. It was frequently borrowed by a concert violinist who used it in preference to a wonderful golden age Strad on loan to him (that he was contractually required to use for specific events in conjunction with his employment). The Bergonizi is without doubt better, than mine probably most anything else you can come up with, but this instrument is close and just keeps getting better. Just tonight I was practicing a passage and the violin was just ringing and ringing, it was surreal. And I keep discovering new capabilities, new nuances, and subtitles that I have never experienced before. The sound of my modern instrument is still pleasing to me, but the playing characteristics are clunky in comparison and it is far mor limited in many ways. For example, i can play the Old Italian up the G string all the way up to the end of the fingerboard and it sounds fantastic, Mine breaks down halfway up. And harmonics are 10 times easier on the Old Italian. People can definitely tell the difference between my instrument and this one, this is one of those rare instruments that turns peoples heads when you start playing it.
  23. Jay - I do indeed still have his bow and it is my primary viola bow, so there is no way I would part with it. While the workmanship is a bit rough, showing his age, the result is still a marvelous playing/sounding bow. I have tried out some very expensive, old, master maker French and English bows, but have not found anything better. He made it to my specifications and with those specifications I had pretty much nailed what I needed for my instrument. Benji, all I know is that I have been told by at least two bow makers who have seen my bow that they were familiar which his book and that it was must read for any serious bowmaker - of course this was 40 years ago, so it may have fallen out of favor by now. Brad - not surprised, just like my viola - among the best I have ever come across but not worth much more than I paid many years ago. I tried for years to find a 'professional grade' viola, but came to realized that the instrument I had, which I knew was good, was among the top tier of playing violas in existence. And this is not just my opinion. Valuation is a very complex subject having more to do with the makers reputation of the general quality of his instruments and little to do with the quality of that specific instrument.
  24. I currently have in my possession a violin found by a friend who is an amateur luthier and instrument restorer. It was in terrible shape when he got it (exactly where he found it I do not know at this time) and he restored it beautifully. When I played on it I knew it was something very special. Had that feel and nuance of a very old Italian (I've played a few), and an amazing rich colorful sound with tremendous capabilities of nuance - and so easy to play. As I have played on it, it has blossomed. The label is half missing but it says Cremona, (as so many fakes and replicas do, but does have a Paris repair label dated 1843). We sent it to a major house on the East Coast (US) and they sent it back saying basically that it is Old Italian, probably IS from Cremona, exhibits exquisite workmanship and design, but had no tell-tale features to give away the maker. They could not put a price on it because depending on who the maker is and if we will ever be able to ascertain that with any certainy, it's value could be anywhere between $50K to $6M. I have accepted the fact that I'll never be able to own it, but am enjoying the hell out of being able to play it for as long as I can. It was just played by the possessor of a Strad in the local Symphony and it compared very favorably both in sound and feel/playability. In fact when he started to play on it the entire room went hush and a crowd gathered around. Of course now, my personal instrument, which I loved, feels like a truck.