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I bought this recently very cheaply ,it is badly cracked on the front but the rest is ok.The scroll is grafted and its had a new neck block fitted.

The violin is quite highly arched ,fully blocked ,lined ,no label,has long diamond shaped studs along the back centre seam (4).

I don`t think its german,what does anyone else think?

Back length=35.8 cm


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Probably is, lol!!!!

I bought it from a small auction house as possibly French.

I cant put my finger on it but theres something about the arching that looks different .

I was thinking maybe dutch ,i don`t know.

The varnish is quite nice apart from the area missing on the top of the back.This does have a pattern similar to German varnish ,by this i mean the way it comes off in chunks not gradual wear.

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Okay, now is the time to ask; What books should I start looking at in order to BEGIN to recognise the elements of style which allow you experts to understand who made the instrument, or who was copying whom. You know, a book which will compare fiddles and point out details, and their significance. Do such books exist? I am now starting to see the trees in the forest, but need help telling an oak from a maple. Am I making sense?

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I think it's important to start by being able to recognize the basic models and develop an appreciation for them, and then spread out from there. Once you're able to recognize the fundamental Cremonese models, you can start to look at other violins by classifying first what model they're derived from (a huge proportion of violins are derived from the Amati, Stradivari, and del Gesu models) and then exactly how they differ from the standards those models set. When I started being interested in violins, Robert Bein told me to study Stradivari until I knew exactly what one looked like, and then evaluate everything based on its difference from that. That's not perfect advice, I don't think, because in order to recognize something you need something else for comparison, which is why I think a slightly broader start is better.

Pay special attention to f-holes and corners, which are aspects that are usually very consistent with makers, and difficult for them to change from what they'd usually do.

From that basis, all experts do is add one maker after another to their list of ones they know, until the know them all. :-) There's no magic other way to identify violins--the reason it becomes easier after the first few is because your eye gets better at recognizing and remembering, so where ten examples might have formerly been needed to make a lasting impression, eventually one or two will suffice.

Bearing in mind that violin books aren't cheap, I think that currently the best deal in violin picture books is David Rattray's "Masterpieces of Italian Violin Making"--a really excellent cross-section of early Italian violin making.

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If it isn't somewhere in the German club I don't know where else to put it.

Michael's rules (and Jeffrey's earlier ones about narrowing down a city) are good ones. For those like me who don't hold a lot of authenticated violins in our hands over the course of a year, the problem is knowing when we're truly holding something unfamiliar. Then the *real* identification process begins. I'd put this in the realm of the familiar Germanic, based on varnish, scroll and your report on the arch. F-holes are tough for me for some reason--I have no specific comment on these.

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Yes. The off-the-hip method of identification is to identify an age, a country, and if possible a city. Once you have a city and a year, of course by that time you only have a couple of makers to choose from in most cases. I was taught that method to hone my recognition skills, but it's not really as effective (for me, at least) as knowing the maker. It can be useful if you really do know the maker, but you can't shake out the name at that instant--it's easier to come up with a list of Venetian makers in 1720 than one name out of 3000 that are tucked away in various parts of your brain.

Really if you can't make a concrete identification of the maker right off, you're just making educated guesses. The other problem with that is when you remove consideration of the total violin, you become vulnerable to fakes. You can make all the jumps the faker intended, end up where he wants you to, and meanwhile someone who really knows the maker is thinking "everything looks right, but too right, and still not quite right at all. Thumbs down."

F-holes have to be taken a piece at a time rather than as a whole: do the wings taper (Amati), stay parallel (Strad), or flare (del Gesu); do the wing points at the very top come at the top of the hole (Strad), out (del Gesu) or in (Amati). There's a whole bunch of little things to look at that way.

I just looked at the Rattray book, and it doesn't have any del Gesus!!! That's a problem, but I still recommend the book, I guess.

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Hi Mark, the `f`s on this are one of the things that threw me ,i`ve been told reliably its not French .I do come into contact with some quite good violins but whether they are authentic i just don`t know and haven`t the money to send everyone i think is ok to get appraised . As Michael says the most reliable position to be in is one where you have access to loads of good violins which you are able to handle in the flesh.Even better to be able to examine the insides when open.

I visit as many auctions as i can where you can handle these instruments and also see examples of top makers.

I`m basically still learning like you and i buy quite alot to examine as many as i can,its not easy especially with my location.

I also agree with Marsdens comment that most violin shops are just too busy to spend time with someone even if they are extremely enthusiastic.

Its a tough path but there isn`t much choice for most of us who want to know everything.

I`d also like to thank Michael ,Jeffrey and others who do find time to answer all these (sometimes dumb) questions on the pegbox and i find their information invaluable.

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The excessive swing of the f-holes, combined with the extra size are two of the more concrete things that lead me to Germany. It would be nice if you had larger photos, from exactly straight on rather than looking up, and a closeup of the front waist--from such small pix it's a problem.

I always keep Dutch in mind as a wild card because they can look like almost anything else, but in this case that doesn't fit for me.

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