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About Ratcliffiddles

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  • Birthday 04/22/1961

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  1. Mittenwald violin - any ideas about age

    Yes, it looks like Mittenwald work, ca1800
  2. My Linarol viola

    I have to say, I am not a bit convinced. Looks pretty recent to me.
  3. Dovetail neck attachment

    I have a pretty 1/2 size French violin from about 1800 with a dovetailed neck, although far wider and deeper than the one pictured and the dovetail is not visible unless table is removed, so again unlike this one. I would suggest that you post picture of the whole thing? which may give a better set of clues as to the provenance. The wood on the belly looks "interesting" and reminds me of the wide grained "spongy" stuff often on some late 18th and early 19h century lower grade English violins (when they don't use Alpine spruce) I am not sure why one would upgrade from a through neck to a dovetailed job.
  4. Early Polish violin?

    It doesn't look far off from some sort of Groblicz
  5. Early Polish violin?

    I have had very little luck testing genuine Groblicz instruements so far.
  6. Violin i/d - Help required

    Mittenwald mid to late 19th century
  7. Messiah wood (again....)

    Although I tend to agree with a lot that you say, for the above, I strongly believe that this is not the case. There may only have been very few, maybe 2 or 3 people/families implicated in this specialist trade, but I have not been able to fathom an alternative, credible reason why, for example, the wood used in Naples on some Gagliano instruments, the wood used in Cremona by some makers there, and the wood used by some Venetian makers (and from other locations) all patently come from one single source, and occasional exceedingly strong cross-matching tests even suggest (credibly) some same tree associations. This is despite the changing and turbulent geo-political situation in the Italian Peninsula. I'll also point out the strong relationship between the "Italian wood provenances" and wood used by Jose Contreras in Spain who repeatedly ordered wood (unfortunately, we do not know from whom) and no evidence has been found that he ever actually set foot in Italy himself. There must have been somebody in charge of the distribution of such timber. These occurrences happens too often to be coincidental. This is not to say that timber from these specific sources (wherever they may actually be) was exclusively used or reserved for musical instruments, far from it, which is why I suspect logs were selected further down river, but "they"(those elusive tonewood dealers) probably knew that the location the wood came from was "suitable" and therefore, probably tried to source it from these in preference to others, resulting in this high degree of consistency observed whilst testing the spruce from many Italian instruments of the 18th century ( and those by Jose Contreras).
  8. Very nice viola on violinist.com

    I thought it just looked like a fairly typical Bohemian/Markneukirchen instrument from the early-ish 1800? I would be nice to see close up and internally.
  9. Messiah wood (again....)

    John, The building you are talking about, only highlights a specific geographical location (not Val di Fiemme or Panaveggio) where some of the wood used in instruments in Italy at the time was felled. I would have described it as having "a ring pattern typical, or bearing similar signatures to the ones found on a many classical Italian instruments, denoting a shared location for the tree growth". There are highly significant crossmatches between wood used by Jose Contreras on just about all of his instruments, and that used on classical Italian instruments, from just about the whole length of the Peninsula, including some extremely strong one, almost certainly from the same tree (although used 25/30 years apart). There is no evidence that Contreras traveled to Italy, and evidence that he received this wood on many different occasions throughout his career, so he knew who to ask, although who this person/s is/was remains a mystery. I am now totally convinced by the existence of a very few tonewood dealers, possibly a father and son team, somehow reaching (possibly not in person, but maybe through an important violin workshop who would have acted as a re-seller) locations as far south as Naples. Curently I favour the idea that they bought logs downstream, where selection would have been made easier with the end grain is visible, then doing some processing, cutting into billets, possibly splitting into quarters, or more wedges, depending on who they were visiting next, and by then, yes, I totally agree, a distribution by other ways than water. I just cannot contemplate some guy ( as legend would have it) tapping some wood, listening to it "singing", high up in the Dolomites under the full moon, after walking several days to reach the favoured and "secret" locations, and saying "I'll have this one, please, this tree will make a wonderful violin, can you wrap it up for me?"
  10. Messiah wood (again....)

    I have no evidence that this was the case through my research, and would love to know if anybody has credible evidence that wood from the locations mentioned was used on instruments before about 1960? Italian makers certainly didn't seem to use it either in the 19th and early 20th century.
  11. Messiah wood (again....)

    Which forest is that and do you know of any evidence to back it up? ( I don't) The way wood was transported from the growing locations to the plains and the various stages of its travels is well documented, and you will find that waterways were the main routes by which timber was transported, often gathering at a purpose built dam, then tied up into zattere (hence the Fondamente delle Zattere in Venice, where many ended up to be dismantled). If you read Italian, Katia Occhi's wonderfully researched papers and books are very revealing and informative.
  12. Messiah wood (again....)

    I am really not sure that was the case.
  13. Messiah wood (again....)

    Mis-matches are very common, so clearly indicate that, as you suggest, after splitting the required wedges for 1/2 a belly, they ended up on the shelves arranged in a fairly random fashion
  14. Messiah wood (again....)

    Generally, I don't think so Ben. In the case of the Messiah wood, the fact is that the highly probable (for the reasons explained throughout the documentary) same tree relationships do not obtain the same level of crossmatching significance seen between, for example, the other batch of Strads mentioned (Alard, Titian Reifenberg, Fontaine etc....). Typically, these have t-value results of between 12 and 18 between each other, whilst the Messiah "batch" are between 7 and just over 11. You said: “In the same vein, we can be certifiably certain that the two sides of the Messiah are the most related that two pieces of wood can possibly be owing to the mirroring of the band of narrow tree rings in centre of the front, let alone the mirroring of the broadening of the grain throughout the belly”. But one of the significant points is that they are not the most related! Again, as shown in the video, the relationship between the 2 halves of the Messiah is not the most important recorded during the analysis and it seems obvious to me that the other, matching piece from the 1724 Ex-Wilhelmj is graphically (and statistically) a far better match, therefore originally situated much closer within the log. In practical terms, what this means is that the Messiah halves are not book-matched. This situation which, for many modern makers is inconceivable (only as a result of present-day tonewood processing) is extremely common in classical Italian instruments (and from some other provenances), including those of the Stradivari workshop. Sometimes these statistical results are driven and boosted by a number of key, signature years, characterized by contemporaneous rings of relatively wide or narrow amplitude compared to their neighboring rings. Essentially, this means that the differences between tree ring patterns from one batch are more pronounced than those from another batch. Why? we can only speculate here, but I suspect the Messiah batch (as we can reasonably, although not certifiably assume, that the various pieces are from the same tree, see documentary if you haven't..) is from a tree with significant growing issues, which include eccentricity/ reaction wood etc.. which, inevitably caused discrepancies throughout the tree, whereas the other tree had a much more even growth behaviour throughout the log. Interestingly, one of the pieces from one of the 1717 Stradivari instruments does show an overall and significant physical deviation of the grain at its lower end, which supports the hypothesis of reaction wood, whereby the tree-growth was striving for verticality, with all the tree-ring growth anomalies that this situation would produce. Ultimately, statistical criteria for a same tree match are guidelines and, to me, it is the context in which these potential same-tree associations find themselves in (ie the most significant results out of the entire database) which is more relevant than actual levels of t-value. Incidentally, I received a very gratifying email from one of the most eminent European dendrochronologists, wishing to use the contents of the documentary for his lectures.
  15. Bernard ..? London labelled violin

    Given that the neck is nowhere near straight, and the apparent discrepancy in workmanship between body and head, I suspect neck/head is from something else. Any evidence of that?