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martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. After many years of (often bitter) experience, I would say that the asking price of a violin takes no account of how it sounds, but the ease of selling a violin depends entirely on the sound. So you can have two pristine Vuillaumes, both offered at the same price. One will sit on the shelf for ever, the other will sell to the first person who tries it. Same with bows - you don't devalue a Maire because it's a bit soft, but you can sell ten strong ones for the same price before the soft one will sell. What dealer is going to say "yes it's a beautiful Vuillaume but it sounds like a strangled cat so I'll give you a great price ..."?
  2. I believe it was "trumpet trees" as a whole that were put on appendix II
  3. Pretty much the same with the violins IMO - most are very poor, some bordering on unusable, but the best are wonderful.
  4. Thats just a drop of paint to make it look a bit different ... given that these people take instruments apart to brand and rebrand them, sign them, label them etc I don't think a change of tailpiece and a splodge of gold paint on the fingerboard is going to present much of a challenge.
  5. You will find the same black splodge on the upper C-bout rib. The pseudo-ebony crown and the 2 odd pins in the upper back etc. It's also a very quirky model with very narrow upper bouts - I would hope there aren't 2 in existence ... Other apparent variations are just differences in lighting.
  6. Since this last CITES Panama conference ipé is now on Appendix II, and only finished bows can leave South America unless the wood can be shown to originate from sustainably managed plantations.
  7. In addition, I don’t think you would expect to pay a lot more these days for the Maitre and Artiste grades. JTL charged more for these but I never quite understood the grading system. Definitely not sound quality, perhaps wood choice … So these might be marked up a bit but not hugely - they are still pretty tradey compared to better JTL models.
  8. I would say that in general terms the current values don’t correspond to the original catalogue values since these latter were often more to do with marketing ideas than actual quality. Good medio finos have become quite well regarded as they tend to sound decent, even if at the outset they were conceived as a cheap functioning violin for the masses. I would expect a Sarasate Eleve to sell now for about twice the price of a medio fino in equivalent condition.
  9. Agree If you can’t tell that it’s the same cello or that it has nothing to do with Galimberti then maybe it’s not quite time to give up the day job.
  10. The “cello collection in Paris” site is surely all fakes anyway. It’s not a proper website either…
  11. We should maybe point out that it’s very common for makers to be asked to certify or recertify instruments they made some time ago … This might be an explanation.
  12. To get any intelligent response we would need to see the label and the certificate in full.
  13. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread … Bass Clef’s viola looks very like the examples on Cozio. But how do we know that the Cozio examples are good reference points? This is a very rare maker and very few people would have the specialist knowledge to be sure of the attribution. However, for me Bass Clef’s viola and the one Cozio examples I looked at both shared a slightly gammy level of workmanship which I don’t associate with any commercial production. The f-holes are quite distinctive (not in a good way) and not generic or tradey. The varnish also relates well to better known makers from this region. So for me the balance of probability would speak in favour of it being authentic although I have never come across this maker …
  14. This is not a Gand, and I would be very dubious about the alleged certificate. The flame on the back looks artificial ...
  15. I think it will come, maple too. But it's a very different kind of crisis since the species is spread over so many countries which have different population levels and different degrees of concern ... with Pau-brasil there is only Brazil.
  16. I think we're at cross purposes I doubt that anyone in Brazil thinks about the two things at the same time. It's also worth bearing in mind that Pau-brasil was put on Appendix II fifteen years ago, well before Bolsonaro and his reckless relaxation of environmental laws. This tree has been the subject of major conservation effort for at least 50 years, though that doesn't seem to be widely known or acknowledged outside of Brazil.
  17. It's a nice theory and I also went through that thought process, but the actors in each scenario are very different people, and now I'm not sure it's that joined up ... It also overlooks the fact that pau-brasil is Brazil's national tree, and of huge cultural importance to a lot of Brazilians.The country is named after the tree, and there have been massive conservation efforts and replanting initiatives from within Brazil which are unrelated to bow-making. If anyone wants to get a Brazilian perspective, the open letter from FunBrazil (National Pau-Brasil Foundation) to CITES makes very interesting reading. https://www.martinswanviolins.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/English-OPEN-LETTER-TO-CITES-FROM-FUNBRASIL.pdf
  18. There are many traceability systems in use for all sorts of things. If you think about systems like Fairtrade, FSC, Organic certification, there are plenty of precedents. Even non-conflict diamonds. The most important thing though is peer pressure. Buyers should insist that modern pernambuco bows have clear provenance, makers should insist on legal wood etc etc. If we don't want to go through this whole shitstorm in 2 years' time, everyone needs to get on board.
  19. I think we're overlooking one of the truisms of capitalism. Things are expensive because people want them more // people want things more because they are more expensive.
  20. For me this is one of the transitional instruments that get classified as "Caussin Workshop" but are actually early JTL, so I'm in broad agreement with Jacob and Blank Face.
  21. I think everyone can tell the difference if they are paying the bill ...
  22. I would put it slightly differently. There is a major change in the status quo, although it's slightly hidden in the "draft decisions". This whole near-catastrophic situation was brought about by the casualness with which bowmakers treated the 2007 Appendix II listing. There is a lot of illegal or unregistered wood in circulation and Brazil wanted to put a stop to its use, quite justifiably. They agreed at the conference (and at the very last minute) to abandon their nuclear solution in favour of a constructive approach which takes into account the fact that there are large quantities of planted/managed pernambuco about to reach maturity (most of which pre-dates the initiatives undertaken by non-Brazilian bowmakers). It is now incumbent on new makers to use only legal/registered wood, and before the next CITES conference there needs to be a system in place whereby all new bows will carry marks to prove that they are made with legally obtained wood. The only way to relieve pressure on wild trees is to sign up totally to a programme of rigorous enforcement and traceability for managed supply.
  23. Funny - as a child I sat on a violin which I wasn't looking at ... Maybe my sitting on it brought it into existence. And yet every other time I've sat down I haven't succeeded in manifesting a broken violin.
  24. A friend of mine who is a very subtle character and a bon vivant is fond of saying "all you need to know about wine is that the more expensive a wine is, the better it is". The same is true of violins. The problem with the whole "many wine experts can't tell the difference ..." argument is that a select few actually can. This is akin to Michael's argument.
  25. I have nothing to say about value or attribution. I'm just looking at the violin and trying to understand what I see from a structural point of view. It's a fun puzzle. But on a general point I would say that major alterations to dimensions are a very significant issue in establishing value.
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