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Can anyone explain what distinguishes a Roman Teller "Master Art" violin from their 100 and 200 series? Also, the model number on my 1979 violin is "MA.Ia" -- how does that differ from a straight "Master Art"? BTW, on my label, the character after the dot is clearly an uppercase letter I, not a number 1, but I often see these referred to as "MA1a". My assumption is that the letter I represents a Roman numeral 1. My particular MA.Ia has a 1-piece back and an ebony crown on the button, but I've seen pictures of other Master Art violins with 2-piece backs and both with and without a crown. I have not seen any other Roman Teller violins in person, but from the pictures even the 100 and 200 series seem to have the same orangey-red varnish, similarly flamed maple, and similar ebony fittings with Parisian eyes. So all this leaves me confused about what makes it a "Master Art". Did they use basically the same materials, but put more handwork into it, or use longer-aged tonewoods, or wait until after completion to grade them, or is it just marketing?
I seem to be the only person posting on this board these days but what the hell, here’s my latest question, involving a 1938 Jusek Master Art Viola: It is being offered by the T2 auction. I was quite surprised to see that the expected selling price is only $400 or so, until I noticed that the top has a horrible floor to ceiling bass bar crack. Here’s my question. Those instruments are solidly made and frequently sound quite good. would it be worthwhile to buy that viola with the intent of having a new top made for it? The crack renders the top all but useless, and because it’s just a Czech factory Viola, albeit a very nice one, replacement of the top should result in better sound. In addition to carving a good top, the varnish would have to be carefully matched as well, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to match a typical factory varnish from that era, right? Or would it be better to just repair the crack as well as possible? I’m not the least bit interested in the instrument I’m not going to bid on it I’m just asking.