Michael Appleman

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  1. Michael Appleman

    Any good Russian Luthiers?

    I think it was Isaac Stern who said, after reciprocal concerts tours of Oistrakh in the US and himself in the USSR, "They send us their Jews from Odessa, and we send them our Jews from Odessa..."
  2. Michael Appleman

    Italian Maker -1736 violin

    Interesting violin. The assertion that it was made in Italy in 1736 sounds oddly certain and pre-emptive, but the violin does look possibly Italian to my eyes. The outline, with the gently rounded open centre bouts, the fairly well-defined edgework and the f-holes, although possibly hogged out at the bottom, with the delicate tapered wings all look more italian than anything else. The varnish is largely worn-off and over-varnished/polished, so not much to see there. Construction method is pretty hard to nail down, but I'd tend to assume built on the back from the rib mitres and the overal symmetry, but that's not necessarily un-italian, having been common in many cities outside Cremona/Mantua/Venice/Bologna. As for a specific maker/school, that's pretty hard to say, but from the f-holes, outline and what I can see of the arching, I find echos of violins I've seen from Milan and Brescia. However, that's just my opinion of a possibe origin based on these photos. If you want a clearer idea you'd best take it to an expert in person.
  3. Michael Appleman

    The Title for this item made me laugh!

    Not sure the scroll isn't later. It looks more "ordinary" and considering the Chanot type details, guitar string stop, black "binding" around the edges, I'd expect this came with a "reversed" scroll originally. Maybe just an unusually dark brown varnished Chanot model after all.
  4. Michael Appleman

    The Title for this item made me laugh!

    This is curious. They're suggesting a date of c.1774, which is several decades before Chanot took out his patents and started having his "pointless" instruments made (by luthiers like a young Vuillaume and George Chanot, no less!) I know the Tarisio folks aren't exerting too much effort to be precise in their T2 auction descriptions, but the body of this instrument does look like it could be that old. Could this be a late 18thc Mirecourt thingy that inspired François Chanot to depose his patents?
  5. Michael Appleman

    Giuseppe Rossi Viola?

    I can't seem to open and enlarge the photos, but I've seen a number of certified Giuseppe Rossi violins that looked very much to me like MNK sourced white violins or parts, finished and varnished in Italy. However, what I can see of the viola in OP link does not look at all to me like the Blot certified Rossis I've seen, but with a "schactlein" based instrument, all kinds of variations are possible. The best way to figure out if this viola can be called a Rossi is to contact Blot or Ghindin.
  6. Michael Appleman

    Any good Russian Luthiers?

    While there are legitimate discussions to be had about the subjects evoked above, in the interest of getting back to the original question I thought I'd bring up an early-mid 20thc maker, Yevgeny Vitacêk, of whom I saw several violins during the years I worked over there. Originally from Prague, I believe, and working out of Moscow, he made some very impressive violins, if the ones I saw were authentic, of course. There were some questionable "Vuillaumes" I saw there as well that I'd wager started out as Vitacëks. The name is respected among Russian players and luthiers, so I'd be very careful about buying any that come up on Ebay etc. The ones I saw were top quality Strad "copies," of a Vuillaume level of craftsmanship.
  7. Michael Appleman

    Bow leather for pinky

    I thought I'd chime in as a full-time professional player, I have leather on the handles of my two main playing bows and it's there because I like the feel of it more than as protection. For pure protection, a bow-maker once advised me to put a coat of clear nail-polish on the handle of a pristine valuable bow, and it actually made the bow more comfortable to hold.
  8. Michael Appleman

    Del Gesu Kreisler: neck length

    Roger Hargrave underlined an important point in his articles about "modernizing" baroque era violins (a term I find silly since this process started almost 200 years ago): the "modern" morticed neck attachment allows a repairer/restorer to reset a neck without taking the top off, which is impossible with a nailed or screwed on neck, not to mention a "through" neck. Necks drop and warp over time. Repairers (and most makers) started realizing the advantage of not having to tear apart instruments to reset necks, plus being able to get a precise elevation with the top installed, plus being able to get a player-pleasing slimmer neck root were all good reasons to adopt the morticed neck root. Imagining that having a piece of metal in the neck root might be a "lost secret" to Strad sound is right up there on the silliness scale with myths like the secret to the '59 Les Paul sound is in the oil and paper "bumblebee" capacitors...those great sounding Strads and Del Gesus we admire ALL have modernized necks. That over the ribs Vuillaume is a one-off rarity, considered as an artful way to save and use a neck that got cut too short.
  9. Michael Appleman

    Are violins the most faked objects ever? Seems super crooked.

    Although I wouldn't call the Cleveland a "crumby" orchestra, I would agree with you that I'd find the case you describe, a retiring professional player who never wants to see an instrument again after retirement disconcerting. In reality, though, I don't know that many cases that cut and dried. I can think of tons of retired players who still show up for chamber music reading nights, and I know of some who preferred to spend their retirement years doing something their orchestral schedules never permitted them to do, like hang-gliding, sailing, taking long motorcycle trips etc. In both cases, the retired players I know either wanted to get money out of their expensive instrument or get their inexpensive but good playing instrument into the hands of someone who would use it. Recently, though, I bought back an instrument I had sold to a good friend from the Lyon Opera. After 30 years of grueling rehearsal and performance schedules, he had developped some serious shoulder/cartilege/tendon problems, and had had to take a leave from the orchestra's viola section for health reasons. I found him a good sounding small Chappuy that helped him get playing again, and he was more or less able to get back to work and get to retirement. It was a devastating process for him, and I'm amazed at his resilience to have carried on for so long, as there were some terrible events in his private life, and playing the viola was one of his few lifelines to some form of sanity. His pension is going to be small, and he doesn't have much savings, so selling off his instruments is a bit of a necessity.
  10. Michael Appleman

    Excavated Bassbar with Stamp

    I have the impression there were a lot of these "bridge" style bassbars being fitted by French makers starting in the end of the 1800's into the beginning of the 20thc. I've seen a Mermillot thus fitted, as well as several supposed "Turin school" fiddles. what's clear is that the op Monzino and the last photo from Dave Slight have stamps from the Labert Humbert Frères company.
  11. Michael Appleman

    Berlin School

    As Martin wrote above, "Berlin School" is one of those pernicious attributions that I fear gets thrown at anything slightly better looking than a garden variety Markneukirchen trade instrument, especially by hopeful American dealers. Unlike some of the other large German-speaking cities, Berlin became a major capitol fairly recently, and doesn't really have a tradition of fine making going back to the 17th-18th centuries, like Nuremburg, Regensburg or Vienna. In the second half of the 19th century, several good makers started setting up shop, and I've seen instrumenets by Ludwig Neuner and Michael Dötsch that I feel are as well made and sound as good as some of the best Vuillaumes I've seen. That said, most of what I've seen called "Berlin school" are just Markneukirchen trade instruments possibly labeled and sold by Berlin based shops, It might be a very good playing cello, but I fear this one is of that latter category, and I'd be wary of paying any premium based on a "Berlin school" attribution.
  12. Michael Appleman

    info on violin

    Jacob's being rather dismissive, but don't be offended, gtd. The subject of silly labels in trade fiddles has been gone over many times on this forum. It's just the way they did things, then. I've seen fiddles of this type with labels ranging from Amati to Schweitzer to Gagliano to you name it. For your sanity's sake, don't waste another flashing neuron thinking about this label or why someone (the maker, the wholesaler, the importer, a crooked junk shop re-seller, or an extraterrestrial visitor having a laugh) might have stuck a Johann Leeb label in yours.
  13. Michael Appleman

    Are violins the most faked objects ever? Seems super crooked.

    What is weird about the violin business is that for maybe a couple of centuries, it was just accepted that low quality/high volume production could just have Stradivari, Stainer, Amati et al labels stuck in and it was considered normal practice. Although no one with a little knowledge about violins woulds be "taken-in" by this, to someone looking in from the outside it looks unbelievable. How could we stand for this? Add to that the next level of trickery, putting the label of a less well known but quality maker in a trade violin, thus creating the "who'd put in a Mori-Costa label?-this must be real!" syndrome. Like a lot of violin-nuts, I'm also into lots of other "vintage" interests, from cars and bikes to watches to electric guitars. Unscrupulous people do try to fake things, like make an ordinary Mustang into a Shelby, or pass off a Squire as a Fender, but these are recent industrial objects with serial numbers and searchable data-bases, clubs that share information pretty freely, and besides, once you've done all the work necessary to bring a Mustang up to Shelby "specs", you've got a pretty valuable and sought after car. I can't imagine anyone interested in old cars would look at a Ford Pinto with Shelby decals and wonder if it might be valuable? This is what makes violin fakery uniquely pernicious. The difference in value between a trade violin and a fine old violin can be humungous, but unlike car nuts, many people who even play the violin seriously haven't learned to distinguish between "Pintos" and "Mustangs." The unscrupulous sellers are counting on that.
  14. Michael Appleman

    Any thoughts on this violin? Or which makers copied Testore in the past?

    Didn't Wulme also do Testores? Caussin did, complete with scratched-on purfling, though they never quite lose their Caussin-ish traits. Never saw one with purposely distorted arching, which seems to be the case here.
  15. Michael Appleman

    Pochette and unusual bow ID

    You might try Pierre Frank in Paris. He has quite a few pochettes and if he himself can't help you, he probably knows someone who can. He doesn't have a web-page, but look up "La Petite Boutique de Violons" on FB.