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Michael Appleman

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  1. I think it was Robert Bein who said that the real value of a certificate is in the capacity of the one who wrote it and sold the instrument to stand behind it and guarantee the price of the sale, being willing to buy back the instrument if it's authenticity were questioned. Anything else is just an opinion.
  2. If I may contribute some highly anecdotal musings from a player's perspective, or at least from ONE player's perspective...and noting that in the case of long stop classical fiddles we don't know what the the length of the original necks were so we can't be sure what the overal string length was when new...longer stop (197-200mm, so a longer string length with a modern 3/5 set-up) violins I've played (Guarneri Filius, A. Gagliano, long pattern Strads, Rogerinis) tended to have a more "complex," silvery and flexible tone profile than similar violins by the same or similar makers with more "conventional" stop lengths (192-195mm). Violins with shorter stops tended to be more "focused" and give proportionally more fundamental and lower harmonics. Violins with longer f-holes (and bigger "islands") tended to sound louder under the ear (at least, possibly at distance as well) and give the player (me) more confidence. That's all highly subjective and reflect what I've experienced, so please take it with kilograms of salt!
  3. I would say the button does look French, and looks like it could come from a decent bow. As for the length of the screw, there is no "standard." Screws need to be fitted to the bow and often get replaced. What's a little weird about the screw on your "found" button is that there is almost no "landing" or "pilot" area at the end, just a filed point. That coud mean a number of things, but my initial hunch would be that the screw was replaced and the bow it was fitted to had a worn out "pilot" hole.
  4. We had one very similar way, way back. It had a signature inside which resembled the squiggle used by Collin-Mézin. It had the same head and similar quality marquetry, but no added ivory accents. Those do give it a Markneukirchen aspect, but the underlying fiddle looks like a typical "better quality" Mirecourt Duiffopruggar.
  5. I'm afraid I don't know this violin (Regis Pasquier's Del Gesu) personally, so I can't comment on whether or not it has issues. I do know of another DG that took a long time to sell through private direct sale. It didn't have any "hidden" defects like a back crack or replaced parts etc., but it did have a small problem: it didn't sound very good. After many bassbars, neck resets and much massaging, it finally found a buyer that appreciates it, but it was not easy! While I've never met Regis, I did have the pleasure of working alongside and playing with his brother, Bruno, a great violist as well as both his sons who are excellent violists as well. The Pasquier family are musical "royalty" over here, having been top chamber musicians, orchestral leaders and soloists for three generations. I am familiar with Bruno's Maggini viola which is an amazing playing instrument, capable of cutting through or even drowning out any ensemble in all registers! I can't imagine Regis would have pluncked down a small fortune 20 years ago to buy an instrument that wasn't a similar powerhouse concert instrument. They did play together for years as the "Pasquier" string trio together with Roland Pidoux, making a Del Gesu/Maggini/Strad instrument combo...
  6. I'm a bit surprised at the estimation of this violin: 4-4.5 million. Does that seem low to anyone else?
  7. Amati Mangenots can be high quality "hand-made" artist grade violins. They can also be bought-in Mirecourt violins, but this one seems a much lower "tradier" grade than what I'd expect to see, and I agree with Martin that it's a Laberte that's been dolled up with fake label and brands.
  8. Great find! So, at least we know there was a Georges Valot who was a painter in St. Leu in 1933! As far as the pictures shown above, the first violin is certified by Boyer, and I think is pretty much a reference example. The others share many features, notably the squarish, narrow Alard style head and I think should be considered quite probable, as I think the OP violin is as well. Still, an opinion from Rampal or Boyer would be a good idea.
  9. Fahrkarte = "subway ticket." The pins that I've referred to on most Frebrunets I've seen are ebony. From the little I can see on your photos, this violin doesn't have much in common with those violins regarding thos details (button, purfling channel, pins) but absent any full photos, couldn't say much else.
  10. Emile L'Humbert seems to have been an interesting if somewhat enigmatic maker. According to online sources he worked in Blanchard's shop in Lyon before setting up his own shop in Paris, and he seems to have made a small number of high quality instruments, many for other, bigger shops. Personally, I've only seen one that seems to be agreed was by him and it was a good Del Gesu model, closer to the "creative freedom" of a real late Del Gesu than the usual "normalized" French models. This violin could well be by him. The workmanship is serious, and the scroll of this fiddle seems to be inspired by the Alard Del Gesu. Who was this George Valot guy? Possibly a luthier, there were luthiers in Mirecourt named Valot through the years, even if this George doesn't show up. On the otherhand, that he's in St. Leu, a town out in the countryside around Paris in stead of in Paris, makes it possible he was an amateur, or possibly a retired luthier. Considering L'Humbert's reputation of supplying violins to the trade, it wouldn't be far-fetched that Valot got his hands on a violin in the white and varnished it. This is all conjecture, of course. If you haven't yet, do send photos to Rampal, and try to see if the inscriptions can be deciphered with uv light or some other method.
  11. I hope no one reading my initial post thinks I'm in favor of any of these invasive lead/tungsten/mercury/plutonium tricks! I personally am in favor of making replacement frogs and buttons to preserve pristine or fragile originals, and tweaking weight or balance for personal playing preferences is not a sin in my eyes if it's done in easily reversible ways that don't modify any original parts. Drilling out original wood from any part, stick, frog or button is pure vandalism in my opinion!
  12. Hello everybody. I hope you're all doing well and have been enjoying the holiday season! I haven't posted in a while, but I've been enjoying the information, humour and observations shared by all of you, and I thought I'd share a little adventure I had recently regarding an interesting bow. I picked up this very nice early german bow, maybe a CW Knopf or a Schramm (I've got to show it to an expert one of these days), several years ago, and it's an excellent bow for drawing sound, but unfortunately VERY tip heavy. It only weighs 59g total, but it's balance point is 1.5cm farther up the stick than even my most tip-heavy usual-use bows, so it feels quite cumbersome whenever playing anything with bouncing or fast bow and string changes. For playing purposes, I had a replacement frog made, but my bowmaker put back the original button, which is quite short with very thin hammered silver rings. It is very light, coming in at 3g with the screw, whereas most of my other bows have button/screw combos that weigh 5g. I played around with attaching some weight to the button, and found that adding 3g to the button brought the balance point back towards the hand 1cm, and made the bow quite comfortable and manouverable, without bringing the overall weight up too much, so I asked my bow-maker friend to make me a new, heavier button. Making a 5g button wasn't a problem, a full length silver cap would do it, but getting that extra gram without making an unnaturally long button would be tricky, so he had an original idea that he thought would do the trick. He slipped 1g of mercury between the silver cap and the ebony center. Mercury is incredibly dense, and the button did the trick for balance, and was looking good. After bringing it home, I opened the case the next day to find the new button looking strangely cloudy. As I tried to polish it, I realized it felt wet...the mercury was amalgamating with the silver and bleeding through! I washed my hands and put the button in a plastic bag right away. At this point, the button is liquifying as the mercury is alloying itself with the silver! So my friend is making me another button with a double or triple end cap, but in the mean time, my sons got me a 3d printer for xmas, and I decided to try to make a 3g plastic cap to go over the original button. Of course it looks silly, but it does the trick for balance. I can finally use this bow for all around playing, not just Adagios and Largos! Best wishes for the New Year to all of you!!
  13. Bergonzi's earliest recognized work shows a lot of Ruggieri influence, and it seems the research has shown he got his start most likeley through Vincenzo Ruggieri. This violin looks nice, but more of a southern german style than any Bergonzi I've seen in person or in photos. Bergonzi did let in his linings with points, not square, but his interior work seems to have been mostly in willow.
  14. Markneukirchen, Mittenwald, Mirecourt, Réghin...Austrian invasion, war of Spanish Succession...Cremona's still there and still making violins, (even if for a while the best it could "do" was Pietro Grulli)...I can't imagine any quantity of Chinese violins or propaganda will sink it.
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