t benson

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  1. The main problems were a rather wide rib crack and a couple of top cracks, one of which split off part of lower bout. A couple of old top repairs had opened. I also re-glued the neck, still attached to the back but loose in the block, and carved a new nut. Luckily the owner saved this from someone who viewed it as a wall-hanger.
  2. ... in response to my guess about the number on the wooden endpin. I see no correspondence between that number and any measurement. However.... I took a serious look at the bridge for the first time, having only quickly checked to see if it should be usable and left it in the case. It's also very dark, like the cello interior. But I notice that under the arch is handwritten "Perkins Inst." That meant nothing to me, but asking Mr. Internet, I find that the Perkins Institute, founded 1829, was the original name of the Perkins School for the Blind, in Watertown Mass. (We're near the NH border, not all that far away). The name changed in 1955. Apparently music was a big part of the curriculum there. Quoting from Perkins' on-line history page: =================================================== Bringing music to Perkins By 1873, Perkins had established a department for special instruction in music. The music library was vast, much of it in braille music notation. The music instructors used braille long before the rest of the school adopted literary braille as a reading medium. Other schools for the blind often sent their most advanced music students to Perkins to benefit from the excellence of its instruction and the richness of its library. ...... Michael Anagnos, the second director, expanded the music program to include a small orchestra. "The ensemble playing of an orchestra affords a far better test of real achievements in music than fine singing or individual brilliant performances ..... =================================================== So perhaps this cello was part of the orchestra program at Perkins, and those large stamped numbers made it possible for blind students to identify a cello. Where else on a cello would you want to stamp such numbers? And it would explain why they weren't just painted on. Well, that sounds semi-plausible, at least, and the time frame would line up with the cello's guessed age. (Anagnos was director from 1876 to 1906). I've added pictures of the bridge to the photo page.
  3. Thank you, Jacob. After reading that thread, I realized I neglected to copy the scroll side-view photos to the page, so have put them there along with a close-up of the corner rib join.
  4. Here is another unlabeled cello trying to solve its identity crisis. My guess is Mittenwald, perhaps circa 1880s. I see no identification or evidence of a lost label, except for a number on the wooden endpin, "68303". The photos at https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-5wdfn8 show a one-piece lower rib with inset saddle, the reason for my guess. The interior of the top seems unusually dark to me, everywhere but where there was glue, so I'm curious what people think about age vs. environment for the reason. Also any guesses about the endpin #. Perhaps part of a school inventory? Thanks for any thoughts or comments. PS, LOB = 758mm Upper width 340 Lower width 435 Min C bout width 238 Rib height 24 upper, 30 lower
  5. I believe he has enjoyed having it and learning about it, but he's not actually a cello player. I've done all I'm going to do to it, having made it playable. I think he's interested in selling it, if anyone wants to add a very old and interesting cello to their collection. Contact me and I'll put you in touch with him. I think he's looking for about $1500 for it. BTW Craig, I agree with your philosophy about "well-loved" old instruments. Those are my favorites as well.
  6. Thanks Brad and Michael for the info and link. Craig, did the neck joint in yours look like the one I posted, did you notice? FWIW, dimensions of this one are pretty much identical to yours.
  7. Thanks to everyone for the ideas. Craig, yours does indeed have a lot in common with this one. I can easily believe the "this cello is known to be 100 years old" really means "GrandDad brought this over with him in 1820, so it's got to be at least that old".
  8. A joke (I think), but I did wonder if those stray plugged holes in the scroll could mean that piece of wood was reclaimed.
  9. This curious old cello came in for minor repairs and setup. The owner is trying to verify its age and origin. If the repair labels inside are to be believed, it could be from 1781 or thereabouts. Here are the photos: https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-8LLvcw I'd love to hear any opinions or observations, especially if any details of this look familiar. Some comments on the construction. There is no purfling and no corner or neck blocks. (You can see the neck joint in one of the photos, thru the endpin hole). There is no overstand, the end of the neck is level with the top. The scroll has a somewhat primitive looking "tread" pattern on the back. It also has 2 small pairs of plugged holes, whose purpose I wonder about. I'm not sure what the highly figured wood of the ribs is. The oldest label, after an unreadable name says "Keene, NH. Repaired 1881" and "known to be 100 years old" or something to that effect. Another reads "Repaired by Geo H. Hall, March 1911", with a separate one saying "This cello is known to be 130 years old. Repaired March 1911. W.W. Sturdevant." (Maybe Sturdevant was the owner, who had Hall do the repair. The Hall label is not easily visible.) Lastly, one more label reads "Repaired by Lars Henricksen, Keene NH, 1913." He's the only one I've been able to find anything about, and that was just that he was a carpenter in Keene. It's a bit small, LOB 723mm. Thanks for any thoughts.
  10. FYI, the owner had an appraiser in NYC examine detailed photos of the cello. His assessment is that it is Czech circa 1850, school of Ferdinand Homolka.
  11. Another clue, just in. The owner took some pictures of a fragment of the label under a microscope, and an antique paper expert friend of mine says: "Made from linen and cotton rags, hand laid and not using a Hollander Beater, which would deposit fibers in a uniform pattern. So I think this paper predates the paper mills, I would say it's at least from 1750 to about 1850." She also guesses it could be German, having also looked at the remaining printing. It appears "the label is hand lettered in Fraktur, which is the way of lettering German." Doesn't really contradict the guess the cello could be in the 1860's-70s range.
  12. > Eighty cleats, wow. And that was just the inlaid ones. There were easily over 100, and now more. If you enjoy looking at clues, this would have been right up your alley. There is also a hand written name on the exterior bottom, Franz Siegl 1903. And a wrap of sandpaper around the endpin plug, with printing showing it was made in Norway. Hmmm, what countries imported sandpaper from Norway in the mid 1800's? Well, I'd assume that was a later addition anyway, probably put there to throw me off the trail.
  13. First post from a long time (but intermittent) reader! I just completed some crack repairs on an old cello of mysterious origin. It has an "N Darche, 1846" label, I believe copied directly from the "Practical History of the Violin" book. It appears there had been a previous label beneath that. But there is also a mostly-illegible label on the neck block, which has been obliterated by the installation of a bolt. One small part of this is partly legible. I'm sure the odds are ten million to one, but I wondered if anyone might recognize the label from this fragment. It seems slightly more legible under UV light. I'll also include pictures of the cello itself in case you'd like to guess at its origin. I have no problem believing it is within 20-30 years of what the fake label states. It has at least 5 generations of repairs, including a neck graft, edge doublings on all bouts, a surface soundpost patch over an inlaid one, an ugly neck button repair, and many many cleats. About 80 (!) cleats from the earliest repair were inlaid, rather than on the surface. As a result, additional cracks developed at the vertical edges of these, and were subsequently repaired with surface cleats. There is a dated signature inside, which I believe is from this first repairman, not the maker. Possibly "Ignesiz Roh, 1901" in Josefov which seems to be part of Prague. I'm guessing perhaps the neck block label was the actual maker, and the back label that was replaced said it was a copy. Also guessing that this Darche label was put in by whoever ruined the neck block label, with what I think were the most recent repairs (until now). I see that I can't post pictures yet, so here is a link: https://motto.smugmug.com/Mystery-Cello/n-P6ZCCM . I appreciate any thoughts you have. Tom