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Marsha Folks

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  1. The words of this song came to my mind and I felt they were appropriate: "Before your last setting sun And everything your heart has longed for has yet to be won... There's always tomorrow though people come and go But if you've brought some love to their lives Then you've got something to show." Al gave freely of himself to all who came. To me, that's love in its purest form. My friend, Al, I hope you're somehow able to feel the love all of your friends down here have for you, too. Marsha Folks
  2. : They are aware of this site. They told me that people were posting on this site when I came in to see Al about my violin and learned about the horrifying news. It would be nice to print these out. I think I'll do that since I am no stranger to the shop. Thanks for the good idea. I'm glad someone else had the idea of printing these out. Al Stancel had a password on his computer at Casa Del Sol Violins and neither his son, nor his wife are able to access the email that has been or is being sent to Casa Del Sol. Please remember that if you sent your condolences via electronic email. Marsha Folks - Center, North Dakota
  3. Yesterday, December 2, there was a Memorial Service for our friend, Al Stancel. My friend in Indiana attended the service and he wrote the following to me. I want to share it with all of you. Marsha Folks - Center, North Dakota ------------------------------------------------------ The service yesterday almost filled a very large church. It was a very nice tribute to Al. Lisa Scott played four pieces on one of the last violins that Al made in 1991. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Air, Irish Air and Amazing Grace were the selections. She was accompanied on cello by Perry Scott. Many of Al's life long friends were called up to talk about their experiences. It was an hour of uplifting and inspiring talks and music. He will be missed. Fred
  4. : : I want to share with all readers on this forum the : : news I received this morning. AL STANCEL, of Casa : : del Sol Violins, died on Monday, Nov. 29, 1999. : That's dreadful news! And so sudden. Had he been ill? Can you tell us more? : I feel miserable. I will share with the readers of this forum that may not have known Al personally. Many may not know that Al had lost his legs years ago (I never felt it was any of my business to inquire as to how that happened). During September and October, Al had been ill with some sort of intestinal troubles and had been hospitalized briefly. Being the trooper that he was, he never complained about his pain to me, but he did share with me that he had trouble with his protheses because he had lost so much weight and they were painful for him to use them for walking. Al did his work at his shop in a chair with wheels, which he would roll over to the phone whenever anyone called. He was my friend, and I am so saddened by his death. I had been worried about him because of his "silence", but I had no idea that whatever it was that put him in the hospital in October was so serious. I'd like to share with all readers that the last time Al and I spoke on the phone, he had just gotten in a Carcassi violin for restoration work and was tickled to pieces to have that fiddle to work on! Al was a joy and the most positive, honest luthier I've ever known. Marsha Folks - Center, North Dakota
  5. I want to share with all readers on this forum the news I received this morning. AL STANCEL, of Casa del Sol Violins, died on Monday, Nov. 29, 1999. I was saddened to learn of his death, as he was my friend and I know that he was always so open and helpful to anyone who asked him questions. Al had a big heart and his honesty and integrity was never in doubt to anyone that dealt with him. We've lost a wonderful luthier and he will be greatly missed. Marsha Folks - Center, North Dakota
  6. : Marsha Folks, quote: "as I've had my good fortune come true with a $200 purchase." : : You aquired a valuable violin for $200.00, your friends son sold a valuable violin for $1000.00. My Reply: Well, I don't see the connection at all, since the young man approached me to sell the violin that he had bought at a YARD SALE. Big difference. This violin is already out in the open market for any buyer when it hits the yard sale. As I said, I bought the violin SIGHT-UNSEEN, taking the risk of losing $200 in the transaction if the violin turned out to be a real dog. I've already put around $500 into the violin having a bunch of stuff done to it prior to my taking it in for a POSSIBLE identification. Would anyone else care to weigh in on this type of dilemma? Marsha Folks : Are you going to split the proceeds of your sale with the person who sold you the violin for $200.00. It seems that would be the fair thing to do according to the implied philosophy of your posting. : I mean, what if his mom is old and has parkinson's desease or MS, doesn't he deserve part of your ill gotten profit. His was innocent ignorance just like like your freinds son. Isn't it?
  7. : : O.K. I respect the lady's intentions. Marsha Folkes is herself obviously well enough acqauinted with fine instruments and the trade in instruments. I want to add a comment about people who own valuable instruments: The vast majority of those people do not let the "public at large" know they have them. We all know we live nowadays a crime-ridden society and who would want to let a kid in need of a drug-fix know where to make a quick buck by breaking into a particular house? The friends whom I know personally who have very good instruments don't even have their addresses listed in the phone directory, nor can you get their addresses from directory assistance...a very easy way for a robber to locate the home where a good instrument is. Most of my friends do not brag about their good instruments. Why publicize the fact that they own a very expensive violin and open themselves up to a possible theft? It is pure foolishness to do so. I have been to a home in the USA where the owner has a private collection of over 50 rare violins and many violin bows. He is a multi-millionaire many times over and he invited my now-deceased husband and I to come and play his collection. I was surprised to find his house to be a very modest home in a very modest neighborhood. However, behind the facade of the modest home, he had had an entire recital hall built into the rear of his home. For his violin collection, he had a temperature and humidity controlled vault built into that modest house that has a door on it like those you see in banks. It was a dream-come-true for me to be able to handle and exam two rare Strads, a Guarneri del Jesu, an Amati, and the list goes on and on. He owns originals of some of the finest Italian violins you could name. I've never seen behind glass in a museum such a fine collection of violins, much less been able to handle them and examine them up-close. I felt like Charles Beare must feel! :-) And, as Al Stancel knows, I no longer own any old Italian violins myself. Quite frankly, I don't miss the worry that I had for years over keeping the violins that I owned safe from theft or disaster. Old Italian violins are treasures and are an awesome responsibility to posterity for the owner to preserve them. It's a headache. Even though I miss playing a wonderful violin with the marvelous sound of the old Masters, I'm happy to no longer have the headache of the worrisome task of protecting them. Marsha Folks
  8. : : My thoughts exactly, I definetly get the impression from the description of events that the son sold the the violins to the first offer. Or that he left one for repair and it dissapeared. : : : steve g. : Steve, : You said more than I was prepared to, but, I'm glad someone else found the whole scenario a little hard to swallow. : By the way, always look forward to your contributions and worth checking out. Keep up the good work! : omobono. I hope that both of you will read the very long thread I just posted regarding a ton of information on the missing violins. You will see that my friend's son did not 'sell the violins' to the first dealer who came along. He asked for references as to whom to take the violins for APPRAISALS - not to sell them to the first person who offered a few bucks. The long thread I just posted is in response to "HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE". Marsha Folks
  9. : : O.K. I respect the lady's intentions. Marsha Folkes :is herself obviously well enough acqauinted with fine :instruments and the trade in instruments. : It's distressing to her, perhaps, to think what has :happened to her friend's heirlooms, but without :wanting to cause offense let's look at the story :again. : 1) Firstly, the elderly lady was obviously a :professional player or amateur collector of some :means, who's instruments were known and known to be of :value - she possessed at least two outstanding violins :(we do not know what the others were). : So how come the lady's own son (or someone else in :the family) has no idea of the value of such items? :Strange! I'm back in North Dakota at my own computer and have done much "leg-work" regarding this whole situation. Here are some answers to your questions. First, it is not at all "strange" that my friend's only son did not know about the value of her Bergonzi violin. She had had the violin since she was a young lady (lemme see....she's 92 now...quite possibly she owned it since she was 30....her son is in his 60's... her father (a dentist) bought her the violin while she was single. My friend's son and wife had no idea that she had 12 violins. When they were cleaning out her house in order to sell it, they kept finding violins under the beds, in closets, behind curtains, etc. My friend lived in rural Washington, in a small town of 900 people, so we are not talking about a woman who had many people (if anyone) who would have the same knowledge of the value of her violin as she had. I've known my friend for 25 years. I never knew she had anything other than her Bergonzi. She used to bring it to my deceased husband to adjust the soundpost. That is how he and I knew of its existence. (FYI: Stephen Folks was a concert violinist and he conducted the symphony at the university where he taught. My friend knew he owned a Strad and my assumption is that she felt safe in letting him handle her Bergonzi). Going one step further....if I were to cack tonight, even though my fiance and my entire family knows that I have played violin for 40+ years and have 18 of them laying all over the house, none of them would have the slightest idea of their worth. They would be in the same boat as my friend's husband, having to ask people who played as to where to take the violins to have them sorted out for value and appraised to sell them. My friend called members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra to inquire as to whom he should take the violins to be APPRAISED (not sold) so that he could sell them. It truly is a case of an unknowledgeable person taking his mother's instruments to people who were referred to him. Had I still lived in Idaho and known of my friend's mental demise due to Alzheimer's disease, I would have recommended that he send the violins to Al Stancel or to Don Robertson, as these are the only 2 people that I know of from personal experience who would have been honest about the value of all 12 violins. Another note that is of some relevance: I used to travel on the East coast, and I would take my Gagliano with me. Not knowing which dealers were truly honest and which ones were apt to take advantage of the ignorant, I would put on a pair of jeans and cowboy boots, put my Gagliano into a ratty old case and go to individuals with "big names and big reputations" to show them the violin. I let my Texas accent roll and would ask them to look at my "fiddle". I gave them no other information and would just wait to see their reactions. It was interesting that I only found *2* honest dealers who told me it was a genuine Gagliano. A couple of dealers told me they did not know what it was. But the majority of dealers, either through ignorance or dishonesty, told me the violin was a copy. I will not divulge the names on this public board, but will be happy to discuss with anyone I know the names of the "big boys" who told me the violin was just a copy or a fake. You'd be shocked to know who some of the "big boys" were who did that. They both lived in or near New York City. : 2) I checked the "price history" data on Maestronet. :The two "auctions" the lady refers to are only 'retail :estimates' for the said makers with proper :certification in prime condition as of Jan 1st 1998. : (There are surely no auctions conducted on New Year's :Day!) : No Carlo Bergonzi is listed as being sold at auction :after 1995. : There was a JB Villaume (certified by Skinner) sold :for $56,000 in November 1997 but nothing said about an :original or grafted neck. You are correct about the Maestronet price list. When I wrote the original posting, it was in the wee hours of the morning and I was in Idaho at a borrowed computer. I did not have access to my own computer where I had bookmarked a Carlo Bergonzi with an ungrafted neck that had been sold. I had run across that violin in my wanderings on the web and it had struck a note, as I knew my friend had an original Bergonzi with an ungrafted neck. However, that was a few months back and I had no idea of my friend's having been put in a nursing home and her Bergonzi having been taken in for an appraisal and subsequently sold. : 3) How many violins are we actually talking about? : Originally there were twelve violins; one seems to :have been sold to a dealer in Seattle for $1,000, :correct? The rest (11?) to another dealer as 'student :violins'(including therfore either the Vuillaume or :Bergonzi or both!) for an unknown sum. How come the 96 :year-old lady still has 2 more violins, Strad and :Amati copies? In answer to this question, my friend's son told me that when they put her into the nursing home, the doctor who is her primary care-giver told the son that he should take those things which were apt to jog her memories and help her retain the faculties which she still has. Her son found the 2 violins that he took to the nursing home laying out in the open in her home. He therefore assumed that these were the instruments that she played and put them in the nursing home with her. He later found out from a neighbor who lived across the street from his mother, that each time my 92-year old friend would leave her town, even for an afternoon, she would take *1* violin across the street and leave it with the neighbor who was at home to watch. She did this for decades. The neighbor was not a musician, but she was obviously someone whom my friend had known all through childhood and trusted. (Note: my friend was born and lived in the same house for 90 years in that her town of 900 people. She is the only survivor of 4 children and the only one who played the violin of her siblings). : 4) When did the son discover he had the so-called :certificates - Do they not ocassionally give a :estimate value for insurance purposes? According to my friend's daugter-in-law, they had to clean out 100+ years of accumulation from the house in order to sell it. They took family heirlooms and kept them. But all other furniture and knick-knacks they sold. Because of the volume of accumulation, they took all file cabinets with any paperwork in it and put them into their home to go through later to look for stocks, bonds, wills, etc. This is how they discovered the certifications on the two missing violins. There is a 3rd violin which they have never found, although they have the original certification on it. I've never heard of the maker, but I'm not great on the thousands of instrument makers. I'll look up that name in my Henley as soon as I have time. As for insurance purposes, you may be interested to know that when my husband acquired his Strad, we went to Lloyd's of London to ask for insurance on it. Lloyd's of London responded with an insurance premium of 10% of the Strad's value per year. I inquired if when we had paid 100% of the Strad's value over 10 years if the premiums would then cease. They said "no". If we wanted to insure it, we would have to continue to pay 10% of the Strad's value per year in order to keep it covered. Anyone reading this can do the math....why pay in excess of $35,000 a year for insurance for the violin until we had paid the total price of buying another Strad? We were not rich....we both taught school. My deceased husband's family was wealthy, but it was enough that they had bought him the Strad. It was our responsibility to protect it. We opted to save our money and keep the Strad under lock and key and use it for my husband's solo performances. Since Stephen Folks' untimely death in 1997, the Strad has been sold via private treaty to the only man who Stephen had ever let play it. He had wanted to buy it for a couple of decades. It is now in Germany. : 5) If the son, now suddenly alerted to his gross :error of judgement by his mother's friend, is so :concerned, he is in the best position to track down :the instruments - he knows exactly where and when he :disposed of them. But he also probably knows he has :little hope of achieving anything since it was he :himself who thoughtlessly sold the valuable :instruments cheaply - he may have been misled but they :were not stolen! I must take exception to your comment that my friend's son made a "gross error of judgement". Here is the crux of the matter. My friend's son was not so "thoughtless" as to have unwittingly disposed of her violins without trying to establish their value. He called members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, as he (as so many other lay people) did not know where to turn for appraisals of the 12 violins. He took the violins to one dealer in Spokane that he knew of, and then to the 2 other dealers who were recommended to him by members of the Seattle Symphony. He took the 12 violins in for 'APPRAISALS'...not to sell them to the dealers!!! The dealer in Seattle who saw the Bergonzi in the group of lesser violins singled it out of the group, told the son that it was badly in need of $500 of repair, but that he would give him $1,000 for it. That was $700 more than the first dealer had appraised the Bergonzi (the first dealer was also unscrupulous, as anyone reading this thread would know without a doubt that the violin was worth at least $1,000. We lay-people might make a mistake as to its origin if as most of us have never had access to the genuine article, but we would certainly have acknowledged that the violin was a "decent" instrument in totally playable condition!) All 12 of the violins were in playing condition with no obvious repairs needed to them. They were examined by the family for cracks, etc. All were strung up and in relative good tune when the family discovered them under the beds and closets. : I do understand how such a thing could happen, and it :seems unfair if some middle-man has swindled the :family involved, but it seems like a case of "crying :over spilt milk!" I'm going to get out my soap-box on this issue. We have an aging population in this country that is in need of their hard-earned assets and dollars to pay for the high cost of health-care. As we all know, medical advances have elongated the years that our seniors can live. The particular disease that my friend has, Alzheimer's, can rob an otherwise perfectly healthy person of their faculties. But they can still live for years. It is fortunate that all of this happened in the state of Washington. I have found out that Washington takes a very dim view of this type of unethical, if not devious, type of "robbing" a person who is mentally incapacitated. It is my understanding that the son has a very good case of proving legally proving fraud in order to gain possession of his Alzheimer's mother's asset (namely, the Bergonzi). I have no other connection to this matter, other than to give advise and lead the search for the Bergonzi, as I have more knowledge of where to look for it and to whom to turn for more leads. Hence my posting to Al Stancel. Had I been in North Dakota at my own computer, I would have written the original posting differently and not made a public appeal to Al. However, at the time, it was important to reach Al by any method available to me. (Someday I'll invest in a laptop computer that I can take with me....but I hate computers and am loathe to spend any money on them...I'd rather buy another violin. :-) The son of the woman with Alheimer's has contacted the appropriate authorities as to this case and he is taking all necessary steps for the recovery and return of the Bergonzi, as well as one other violin which was either stolen outright or "switched" by one of the appraising dealers. : Gosh! I wish someone would offer me a genuine :Bergonzi or Vuillaume for a thousand bucks too! (I :wonder how scrupulous I would be?) I think that if you had my circumstance, you might find the altruism in yourself to do the right thing. I have a 41-year-old brother who is terminally ill with Huntington's Chorea. He has been in a nursing home for over 8 years. His mind has deteriorated in the past 3 months that he no longer recognizes his mother nor his own children. Let's suppose that my brother had a valuable violin that my mother nor his children knew the value of. Could you, in all good conscience, rob those children of their rightful inheritance? Is it not enough that they are losing their father at such a tender age? But that is a moral dilemma for each of us to address at some point in our lives. It is totally off-topic. Here's a post-script that should keep everyone interested and going: Last year, a young man 3,000 miles away bought a violin at a yard sale and intending to learn to play. His interest waned and he wanted to sell it. Someone on Ebay told him I often bought low-priced instruments. (I am always on the lookout for good instruments that I can buy, put a minimal investment into, and then sell for what I have into it to young students to have a decent-sounding instrument to play rather than the factory junk that seems to be everywhere). This young man sent me an email telling me he wanted to sell the violin. Without access to a camera, we talked on the phone and I asked what type of repairs the violin was in need of. After determining that the violin probably only needed a bridge, soundpost, and set of strings, I sent him the $200 he was asking for it. The violin arrived...I opened the cardboard box and nearly fainted on the spot. Without even taking it out of the case, I recognized a very old Italian violin!!! The old Italian violin was hand-carried by myself to New Mexico (when I went to visit my terminally ill brother) where it is undergoing examination for a possible identification as to its origin and maker. I never believe the labels. However, 3 luthiers to whom I took the violin have all wondered aloud if the violin was a genuine such-and-such. I'm 99.999999% sure that it's not a genuine such-and-such....but I'm equally 99.99999% certain that it IS an old Italian. I have a totally clear conscience in this matter, as I bought the violin sight-unseen. I figured I wouldn't get burned over a $200 violin. Well, I know that I'll never win the Powerball Lottery, as I've had my good fortune come true with a $200 purchase. Have a great day and thanks for playing the role of the devil's advocate. I hope I've answered all of the questions clearly to the questions you posed. Marsha Folks
  10. My local luthier suggested that I buy a set of Zyex strings from him. I did....I hate them with a passion! I've yet to find a violin that they sound any good on. Save your money...what a waste : I have never tried the light tension, but have tried the medium tension. Initially, the strings seem alright, but after maybe playing for 1 week or so, the strings seem not to vibrate anymore, making me change back to Dominant. And the E!!!! Very shrill and kills your ear.
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