martin swan

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  1. martin swan

    Preferred string action/height

    Some shops have the invidious habit of suggesting work that isn’t necessary.
  2. martin swan

    Colin-Mezin post 1910 worth while?

    Suggests that perhaps Ch. JB wasn’t a violinist...!
  3. martin swan

    Colin-Mezin post 1910 worth while?

    I have to admit that I saw one “le Victorieux” that played very well. When a customer told me they had one and that they wished to upgrade I had already cracked open the champagne. Much to my chagrin it was a very good violin. but 9 out of 10 are hellish ... The instruments from the 1880s and 1890s are a totally different kettle of fish, and time and time again they work extremely well. For me they tend to outplay their immediate rivals such as Gand & Bernardel or Silvestre & Maucotel.
  4. martin swan

    Colin-Mezin post 1910 worth while?

    Worldwide or just France ... and in what price range? In other words, can you narrow it down a bit!
  5. martin swan

    Colin-Mezin post 1910 worth while?

    Yes, the “Le Victorieux Grand Soliste” is an offense to humanity ...
  6. martin swan

    Violin With Purfling Inlaid on Top of Edge?

    I think this approach to purfling originated in Saxony - I had a “Guetter” from around 1830 which had this style of edge/purfling. it then cropped up on Caussin school instruments before being readopted by the MK trade and then again by one Mirecourt shop around 1910.
  7. martin swan

    Colin-Mezin post 1910 worth while?

    If you consult luthiers-mirecourt you can get precise information about the expansion of the CM brand and the number of employees in each year. When it comes to the tone of a violin, the number of people involved in the making seems to me to be a matter of sublime unimportance. However, commercialisation is always a bad thing, and post 1900 I would say CM lost the plot - cheaper materials, quicker varnish, and some fundamental loss of connection with the musical objective. Not all pre-1900 instruments are good, but by 1910 or so the majority are bad!
  8. martin swan

    why does workmanship matter?

    Haha I know you're a big DG fan, but I'm just talking about instruments which are consistently very good in terms of both craft and tone. The small handful of elite soloists are of course looking for that extra something, and for them maybe the odds stack up more in favour of DG, but when it comes to violins which exhibit superb precise workmanship and also sound consistently very good, Strad and Lupot are the names which come to mind. DG's workmanship is often shoddy or hurried where it doesn't matter - but that's a great example to hold up in relation to the OP's question.
  9. martin swan

    Appraisal Help

    This is just unbearably tantalizing - it must be one hell of a violin. Property of a French banker, and a Jew, no less ...!
  10. martin swan

    why does workmanship matter?

    I think it’s worth distinguishing between the kind of workmanship that contributes to great sound and the kind of workmanship which doesn’t! Sound is down to model, arching, choice of materials and thicknessing - there are of course other factors but they aren’t difficult to get right. precision of edgework, scroll carving, purfling, neatness of f-holes - these are aesthetic considerations. There are many many examples of superb sounding instruments which wouldn’t win a wooden spoon at a vm competition, and even more examples of beautifully made violins which sound like nails on a blackboard. Amongst historical makers, the only ones I can think of who score consistently highly on both counts are Stradivari and Lupot. It seems to be unusually rare to find a maker with consummate tool skills and a complete understanding of the musical requirements ...
  11. martin swan

    Neck Angle, String Nut, Bridge Cumulative Effect?

    Can I ask why you are embarking on an expensive restoration of a violin that seems to have little going for it?
  12. martin swan

    Is there arising a crisis in the antique violins market ?

    Auction prices really do not reflect the retail market, particularly at the top end. I don't know where you have been but I see no let-up in the demand for Italian instruments, ancient or modern, however terrible they might sound. On the other hand, I do feel there has been a bit of a drop in quality, and I would say there are too many auctions to go round. Perhaps the auction houses are having to promise unrealistic estimates in order to secure the consignment.
  13. martin swan

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    I think what this debate lacks is hands-on experience of the sound and playability of instruments from the entire range of violin-making. I don’t believe there ia such a thing as Italian sound, and of course there are bad Strads and bad del Gesus. We don’t name them out of respect for their owners. There is absolutely no question in my mind that a very good (and I mean VERY good) modern violin will offer a player as much potential as a great Strad, but like Don I believe that 300 years of ageing will sometimes make an already great instrument even better. The financial issues are a different discussion entirely ...
  14. martin swan

    Stradivari's secret was a concept?

    Because a great sounding Strad and a poor sounding Strad from the same period and in comparable condition have the same monetary value ... Simples!
  15. martin swan

    Beautiful mystery violin

    I agree - it seems a relatively basic Saxon fiddle to me, built on the back, hence the wonky rib joints. Hard to say from the photos but the purfling looks a bit different front and back - sometimes very crooked rib joints are the result of someone trying to make an extraneous front fit an existing back and ribs. Judging from the initial photos the violin came from a dealer or an auction house - what did they say about it when you bought it?