martin swan

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  1. martin swan

    can one ask about possible value of violin?

    i'm sorry but this is a very out of date list of some random auction prices with no supporting information about condition or authenticity, and therefore of no use whatsoever ...
  2. martin swan

    A. Vigneron Bow

    I don’t think you can ask much for a significantly restored Vigneron stick. If it had a current certificate then maybe £3-4k. I agree wholeheartedly with Blank Face that a hearsay attribution is worthless when it comes to selling. Without one I’d say it’s a very hard sell. The head doesn’t really make me think of JA Vigneron - and isn’t the brand the wrong way up? Maybe it’s the light but the chamfers look rather backwards facing and the transition into the chamfers quite clumsy. I would have thought it was all German ...
  3. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    A lot of buyers at auction have a limited concern for tone - or at least, not being able to try the instrument themselves, they must rely on a general wisdom (often completely erroneous) about the tonal quality of that maker's output. There are exceptions, people who try out the instruments, but unless you're a dealer and spreading your risk, even the best try-out an auction house can offer you isn't really enough to go on for a serious musician. Personally I've never succeeded in selling anything of quality to a professional musician without at least a couple of weeks' trial period, auditioning in different acoustics, different professional contexts etc. Sometimes it's a much more drawn-out process than that. The items one finds at auction can be divided (broadly speaking) into two categories - private family consignments, which are often great players, and dealer rejects (unwanted trade-ins particularly), which uniformly sound terrible. I'm sure there are subtleties but these are the broad lines. And yet they all sell ...
  4. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    I don't think anyone would deny that small violas are plentiful and relatively unpopular, and as a result they fetch much lower prices than violas over 16". However, there are people, leading professionals as well as amateurs, who prefer them for a number of different reasons - comfort, affordability, and even (God forbid) sound. My own feeling is that the pricing of violas under 16" is a bit illogical, but that's how it is - this state of affairs is very nice for those who want one. It's the same for someone who wants a very big violin - you can get a near-mint Vuillaume for about £50k! I just push back against what I regard as a logical fallacy - that because most people don't have a use for them, no-one has a use for them.
  5. martin swan

    Alleged Klotz cello question

    You rate him higher than his brothers Supposed, Purportedly and Probably ... ?
  6. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    That all seems very reasonable, a far cry from "Professional violists wouldn't touch a 15" instrument with serious intent"
  7. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    Yes, and I contradicted it. You seem to believe that professional players shouldn't use small violas, but the fact remains that some do. It's also my experience as a dealer that professionals are every bit as susceptible to a pretty face (or label) as amateurs, perhaps more so, since they must pander to the snobbery of their work colleagues as well as their own ...
  8. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    I got to see this violin briefly today - a really beautiful example. Crazy cheap ...
  9. martin swan

    Tarisio November 2018 New York

    In fact there are some who will. There are couple of terrific small Storionis in serious professional hands - I think Roman Spitzer uses one, I know another in the Oslo Phil. And many other instruments by less prestigious makers appear at all levels including respected professionals ... Maybe they don't go down so well in the US, after all everything has to be big there doesn't it. My own take on the matter is that smaller violas of course have a different sonority, but this can be great for soloists.
  10. martin swan


    Yes I agree - in fact Tubbs bows made for Hill are in a completely different category, pre-dating the formation of the Hill workshop. We always sell them as Tubbs rather than Hill.
  11. martin swan


    Slightly struggling to see why the bow would be Retford - I can't see two dots on the face, only pins, or am I missing them? The frog would appear to have been made by Barnes (no.5). In a way it's not important as the identity of the actual maker of the stick doesn't make a difference to the sale price, it's just one of those nerdy things that people like to know.
  12. martin swan

    Is this a kindergeige or a violon d'enfant?

    Sorry to be so slow in responding. Very few such small violins were made in France, even less so in Mirecourt where the current smallest size is 1/8. But from time to time one does see one, the result of a specific order. Each time one encounters a miniature, the contours are unfamiliar and deformed, and it's always hard to have any certainty about the maker, particularly when these master luthiers never made such violins themselves but rather assigned them to apprentices. The first appears rather French to me, but am I simply biased towards it because it's the better made of the two? The head is characteristic of French work of the first quarter of the 19thC. As for the second I'm leaning towards German although there are also some French traits. Has any expert seen these in the flesh ... been able to appreciate the quality of the varnish, or catch its smell by warming it up? That often allows one to verify a feeling ... Anyway, congratulations on your unusual collection!
  13. martin swan

    Any tips on seeing if a label is fake...

    Though sometimes that brand says “Postiglione”
  14. martin swan

    The future has arrived!

    Much of the future can be quickly consigned to the past ....
  15. martin swan

    Cello ID

    I don’t think this is true - the unmodernised necks we know are no shorter. Roger Hargrave argues very persuasively that neck grafts came about as restorers realised the superiority of mortised rather than nailed top blocks. So cello necks have been replaced just as much - the graft line tends to be less obvious because of the offset pegbox cheeks.