martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. I can't answer this definitively, but it's interesting to read this section of "The Hill Bow Makers" on Frank Napier. It implies that Napier was responsible for the innovation of slab cutting, but this was quickly seen to be a bad idea. My own sense of French makers is that it wasn't always quarter cut, often slightly off the quarter.
  2. It's close enough but I'm lucky to be offered great Tubbs bows by all sorts of people, and I would rather buy something for more money that I can examine at my leisure and play for a good while. The bow itself looks 100% genuine and quite a nice sharp example. It's a pity it doesn't have its original pearl eyes, and who knows about the weight and the strength of the stick. My main reservation is that this is on The Saleroom, you have linked to it here, every Tom Dick and Harry in the world will be thinking they can snatch up a Tubbs in a country sale, and it will sell for more than it would at a specialist London auction. We have 7 or 8 Tubbs bows at the moment and we are always turning them down - I would rather put money into something that is less well represented in our stock.
  3. Well if you think of it as a full width violin with a very short back and a very narrow waist, pigeon breast arching and very open f-holes, I think it's fair to speculate that it won't sound anything like what the classical world (or the baroque world) regards as normal ... This violin was made by someone who was entirely outside the mainstream, who hadn't done a regular VM apprenticeship, and who was not a trade maker or even a cottage industry piece worker. To me it's 100% auto-didact English or Scottish, early to mid-19th century. Only British amateur makers habitually branded below the button (maybe it was easier to acquire a brand than print up labels) - some French 19thC makers did this but the brands were commercial commodities and the violins are always professional (Chappuy, Salomon etc). The neck is a red herring - all we can say is that it appears not to have been mortised originally. Plenty of amateur woodworkers repaired failed necks with this screw under the fingerboard method, so I really wouldn't use this for dating. I would agree that the scroll is much better quality than the rest of the violin and was bought in or is a later addition. Some of the woodwork on the violin is very neat, but all the details that are specific to violin-making rather than joinery are very bad. Sorry to be rude about your violin Jandepora ...
  4. This is true of any bowmaker, but more than most with Tubbs. A good day's work to buy it you say, but it might be a couple of years' work to sell it. People who are outside the trade often imagine that buying something for half the retail price is somehow a triumph. Buying is easy, selling is hard.
  5. Maybe you should buy it from Jandepora! He would be delighted to have found someone who appreciates its true worth ...
  6. Aside from Jeffrey's very significant point about whether one would actually want any individual Tubbs, this one will probably sell for over £4k on the hammer because of the usual "country auction hubris", and with a 31.5% total premium that gets you to about £5,500. A day's work to go to the sale and back, then a bit of restoration needed assuming there are no concealed issues. So more like twice the actual cost at retail ...
  7. If you put the one on the left into a country auction with an estimate of 1-200 someone would probably buy it as a Testore!
  8. Anyway, the guy is outside 45 Wardour Street, so I doubt he's paying homage to the ghost of Tubbs.
  9. James Tubbs had his workshop at 47 Wardour Street. https://www.instantstreetview.com/@51.511549,-0.132178,283.93h,5p,1z
  10. I posted a photo on page 1of a Carlo Giuseppe Testore - this violin is not his quality of work. As Jacob pointed out, the Testores were a big clan of makers, and some of their violins are barely competent. I know a little bit about this violin (as I said, it's a small world) and I am sure it's a Testore family violin, but if it's certified as a Pietro Antonio for instance, then the retail price would be no more than £100k in top condition. Even with the best restoration in the world this one would have to be devalued by 30-40%, assuming it doesn't have a post crack, worm, internal patching or any of the other woes that beset old Italian instruments. In this case the buyer will have to work pretty hard to make a profit. In the case of Testore, a dendro would be pretty helpful in eliminating the earlier and more accomplished members of the family.
  11. I agree with all of this. One of the best sounding instruments we ever sold was a Genovese with a back post crack.
  12. When it comes to buying possible sleeping Testores for £37k at auction, it's a pretty small world ... I am quite sure that the buyer and the underbidder knew it was "correct" ie. some kind of Testore. With regard to the price attained, I don't think it would have got anything like that price if it had been in (for example) an Amati specialist sale with a realistic estimate. Who buys this sort of thing? Either a smaller dealer who doesn't need a big profit margin, or someone who has both expertise and the ability to do the restoration work but who isn't too grand ... it really isn't a proposition for a collector or a musician.
  13. Interesting - I have really only seen this on Scottish amateur work ... Agree 1800. I am no expert on anything, but I'm quite sure this violin is not "baroque" and that a girt big screw holding the neck in place doesn't make it so. In my limited experience of baroque players (I mean professionals), they are profoundly uninterested in violins made after 1750 or so, unless of course they are new
  14. Dave, would you agree that this kind of neck joint is something we see on British provincial work post 1800?
  15. The sound is likely to be execrable with such a narrow waist, and I'm not sure this is a "baroque" violin. It seems more like a rustic c1800 to me ...
  16. I agree with Dave's observation. It's very common to find violins which have great varnish or good joinery, but where the f-holes or the model are incomprehensibly bad ... many excellent woodworkers or pattern-makers produced violins which show significant skill in some areas and utter incompetence in others. F-holes are yery difficult!
  17. But you are also a dealer from what I hear? Or at least, you sell some of the things that you buy ... So even with a guarantee of authenticity, would you buy a knackered Testore family violin, committing yourself to a total expenditure of £60k, without knowing if it was going to sound any good, and knowing that if it didn't, you would probably have to sell it for around what you paid for it? This is really not my experience of professional musicians, however knowledgeable. The very fact that you use the word "bargain" implies that resale value is very much at the forefront of your mind.
  18. I don't think this is something that's going to be bought by a musician ... it takes a high degree of expertise or recklessness to buy something for nearly £50k that's estimated at £100! A collector might have the expertise to recognize and buy something like this, but collectors like pristine examples.
  19. "Caussin School" or "Caussin Shop" is exactly what came to mind. Not a bad one, but not nice enough to actually be a "Caussin".
  20. £37k plus the buyer's premium plus the online premium (total 25% plus VAT or 30%) is closer to £50k. This one has at the very least a bad case of having been stood on - the f-holes are execrable, and I can't see a really good restoration costing much less than 20k. After which it might be worth slightly more if it's not wormed or composite. Actually selling it again is a whole different ballgame, given that there's no guarantee whether it sounds. There are many violins out there with justifiable price tags, but which will never sell ...
  21. The waist is astoundingly narrow - a few mm make all the difference to the proportions. This looks very wacky to me. The screw in the neck may be a later reinforcement of a failed nail joint, or just the work of someone who doesn't know how to do a mortise. We see this persisting in Scottish amateur work well into the middle of the 19th century.
  22. One never knows the truth or not of "property of a lady" ... In this case I'm quite happy to believe it's a Testore of some kind, but as an auction offering it has a particular smell about it, and I would expect it will be worth no more than what the buyer paid for it, and that would be going downhill with the wind behind it. For some types of buyers there is a virtue in the simple fact of getting a Testore at auction for under £50k, and the actual retail value is pretty irrelevant.
  23. Antiqueing is far more popular in the US than in the UK ... The problem with polls is that people can answer and yet be wrong - this is why democracy is in chaos.