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Bruce Carlson

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  1. From personal experience. An unnamed and well-known Cremonese violin maker for a period used Titebond for the back and top joints on his violins, violas and cellos. In time these joints showed signs of creep, the treble side sustaining the soundpost load would protrude above the bass side. This was usually more visible on the back joint. Because of the aliphatic resin content in Titebond it is superior to standard PVA white glue such as Elmer's Glue All or Vinavil but in long term load conditions it can still creep. You can see for yourself if you let a drop of each dry on a piece of plastic. When you peel them off the Titebond will flex some and then crack whereas the PVA 'white glue' usually does not crack and remains of a rubber-like consistency. Davide Sora is right, and it's written right on the container. Good quality hide glue is far superior for making.
  2. A small case t is what would be found on an authentic label. In addition the D appears to be a different typeface than the rest of the letters, leading me to think that it could have been a small case t modified into a small capitals D. Nonetheless numerous other things are wrong with the label. Mixing the two typeface fonts would never have been done by a printer. In addition, if I am reading correctly the date of 1699, Stradivari was already using a label with only the 1 as a printed number for the date. The 166 of his earlier label stopped in 1698. To make a 9 with the earlier label he had to scratch away the top part of the second six and add a tail to make it a nine. A good text is Antonio Stradivari His Life and Work by the brothers Hill which has been available for a long time as an inexpensive paperback by Dover Editions ISBN 0-486-20425-1 . They explain it a lot more completely than I did.
  3. The violin is 'il Cremonese' Antonio Stradivari 1715 and was purchased by the City of Cremona from the Hills in 1961. Yes, they are same grain bushings. Bruce
  4. Hans Weisshaar purchased instruments in Mittenwald and elsewhere and labeled them thus with labels he had printed. They arrived at the shop without the setup. We would do a proper setup so that the instrument was in good order and they were sold as student grade items. Pegs, plane fingerboard, upper nut, soundpost, bridge and good strings. I can only testify for what happened while I was there 1974-1977.
  5. Does the top go together well with the back? It sounds like someone may have slightly re-dimensioned a top to fit another set of ribs. Other times it is just the reconstruction of badly worn or damaged spruce edges. Is the purfling material the same front and back?
  6. What does the formaldehyde do to the protein in the hide glue you are using to hold the violin together?
  7. It appears that most of the decorated instruments starting with Andrea Amati were not carried out by the maker himself but were done by craftsmen specialized in decorations, possibly from the royal courts for which they were intended. Actual painting and gilding like we see on Andrea Amati is a specialization. I'm sure at the time, decorated instruments were prepared for special commissions and were thought to be aesthetically superior to a plain instrument. Times change and when we arrive at the time of Stradivari he was carrying out a more discreet version of decoration. On the other hand, the arabesque ribs and scroll like the Stradivari 'Hellier' were likely carried out in the workshop as designs exist in the collection of artefacts in the Museo del Violino. The dots and lozenges in between the two rows of the purfling you can also see in Stradivari's rosettes on his guitars. Most decorations ended with the conclusion of the baroque period. You will still see J.B. Vuillaume and others doing it for commissions from special personages.
  8. Is the fingerboard smooth in that area?
  9. Yes, it's a long stop but I'm going on memory as I don't have my data at home. Stradivari precedes slightly as he was making the long stop already in 1690 but you see it off and on in other makers. It certainly wasn't as standardized as it is today.
  10. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of all the frilly packaging but I think that's one of the reasons the companies do it like that. Personally I could care less about the packaging.
  11. It's one thing to question the airtight provenance of an instrument from Stradivari workshop in Cremona in 1716 to the violin display case where it is currently kept in the Ashmolean Museum. Only a handful of instruments have a flawless line of provenance from the time they left the workshop til today and even then, without photographs and totally unequivocal documentation, even they can be doubted. It's quite another to question whether or not the violin is an authentic work by Stradivari. Many details of the Cremonese working method were unknown to Vuillaume and if all you need to differentiate a Vuillaume from a Stradivari is the presence or not of a pencil point we are approaching the ludicrous.
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