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Let's try one detail at a time...

Look at the general shape of the volute. Neither is round, but each is slightly oval. In which direction do you see the oval shape "pointing" (hint; I think one points up almost up and down and the other points off at about a 45 degree angle towards the front; which one does what?).

How these details are handled by a maker or school can have as much or more difference than a varance of measurement (20 % is a lot, by the way).

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The one form Japes goes off at 45 degrees, and the one that you put up is up and down.

Anything over 5% is significant against a sample size of 30 or more. With a sample size of two, it is not so important. That is indeed where experience becomes important.

Do you mean that a "school" generally has the same angle on the volute?


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Yes, you see what I was trying to describe....

I find that makers within a specific school tend to adopt similar traits, models and characteristics.... A good example might be the tendency to mark the center of the rib and widen the f hole notches in Mittenwald. Another is the angle of the oval or size of the volute in Mantua (look at the makers from influenced by Balestrieri through Gadda). Although not a hard and fast "rule", I find that radical departures are rare.

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Look what's been going here! I guess this thread is about geographic origin afterall

Well - I must say, I am feeling a little silly and marginally embarrassed. I'll have to first admit that I've classified the fiddle as Dutch largely based on the Balfour text, completely ignorant of the fact they weren't experts. (Jeffrey - you'll find my Dutch wisdom within this booklet) I'd just assumed they were. Their description coupled with the fact that it comes from a Dutch family who believed it was Dutch had me convinced. I'll now have to revisit the others I'd classified as Dutch. The only one I can verify now was a very lovely Eugene Eberle number.

Okay - let me think now - I'm still a little groggy this morning. There was much red consumed last night.

Like many of us, if I've seen fiddles of no other origin, I've certainly seen a hell of a lot of those from the German schools. Whilst this violin may in fact not be Dutch, I still feel confident it's not German, despite the similarities. Quite frankly, it should be understood that I'd have no care if it were or indeed is. I don't even think it's a nice fiddle. When I opened the box, my first thought was - 'Great! Another piece of junk!' And I believed it was Dutch at that stage. I know these discussions can often be about 'bursting the bubbles' of wishful thinkers. Dutch is simply where I'd placed it. I'm certain that if many of you could hold this violin in your hands, you'd be in agreement with me that it doesn't feel typically German. Perhaps not at face value, but most of you will sympathise with the feelings we can have about certain fiddles. - 'Oh, how convenient Japes'. Yes, yes - I know. As I said, it was more a question of maker than origin, though I appreciate the two go hand in hand. That question has sort of become irrelevant in light of my enlightening however. Thanks Michael - you really know how to make someone feel like an idiot The same goes for you Jeffrey! Thanks fellas! I'm kidding of course. I wouldn't spend so much time here if I thought I knew it all.

Well, that settles it then. Is it too late to change the title of the thread?

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Hey Japes!

I like the title of the thread!

And just to make sure I was clear, I said that my "Dutch" experience is almost entirely with better fiddles of the school and I can’t go as far as to say it’s not Dutch based on the photos alone. Combine this with the fact that the Dutch school isn’t that well documented.

It's much easier for me to comment when I recognize a fiddle (like you’d recognize your relative or a friend) and can say "that's an X"... or when another person says "This is an X" and I can say; "It's not an X for me!" This time, I’m just saying “I don’t see it as an X, but I’m not familiar with Xs of this kind”. For me, things get fuzzy and more removed from reality when one starts using logic formulate an opinion. I’d guess one’s batting average falls a good few points.

Also, going purely on details alone has drawbacks.... and I’m speaking of us all when we’re relying on features alone. If that’s really how things were done in the violin trade, then:

When selling: Every violin with 5 ply purfling would be a Degani (‘cause after all, he used it and they’re worth more than German fiddles) and every English fiddle with locating pins would be a Panormo.... Hey, wait a minute... seems I’ve seen a few wrongly certified for just those reasons!

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If you have access to the Jalovec book on Bohemian makers, you may find some of the photographs (black and white only, unfortunately) quite interesting. Look at some of the makers who worked in the 1700's, such as J. U. Eberle, the Edlingers, etc.

I recently did a neck graft on a 1700's Bohemian cello which still had the original neck which extended into the body as a top block, with the ribs recessed into the side of the neck root, no corner blocks, and a really weird bass bar.

Regarding Bohemian makers, I find it interesting that none of the e-bay stalkers have mentioned this

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For myself, I have been busy with other activities, but appreciate your posting of the Dvorak listing. Looks like the front has been stripped.

I do not want to take this post to far from its original title, however on the same Bohemian idea, I was wondering if this was a improperly listed Jan Kulik?



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I checked the materials I have that show works by Balestrieri, and see the same type of angled oval that you identified with this work.

Therefore this must be a Balestrieri!!! Just joking!

Could not an average maker, that makes his own scrolls, have a variance in consistency broad enough to show the variance seen here?


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Japes:"The ribs are morticed into the neck and the root is actually the top block. It's my understanding this is seldom seen in violins other than those of Dutch construction."

Mr Holmes: As I mentioned, I have trouble with "seldom seen". I've seen a German/Saxon and Czech violins constructed in this manner... and without corner blocks.

My ignorance on these matters is almost absolute, but I can say that the Georg Leeb violin of 1783 (made in Pressberg) I have posted about before has no corner blocks, and the neck root was the top block and the ribs were morticed into its sides. Strobel (correct spelling?) implies that this kind of construction means it was made on the back - ie without a mould (Aussie spelling)

BTW it was played for the first time (for I have no idea how many years) last night. Very nice it sounds too - still a fair bit of fine adjustment to go on, but very rewarding to hear it.



PS - I have Jalovec's book behind me if there is a particular image of interest.

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I am aware of the inaccuracies, especially regarding dates, in the Jalovec books. That there was a major problem with the attributions I must confess I am not aware of. However, even if this were the case, at least some of the photograhps to which I referred can reasonably be expected to be of Bohemian violins, and this is all I wanted - to show that there are Bohemian violins around which have a strong resemblance to Japes' "Dutch" violin...

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I guess I assumed something like that - or a measuring mistake, or something. I've seen such crazy measurements on ebay that, quite frankly, I pretty much ignore them, especially since I've seen, in person, someone once measuring a violin body with the tape measure running OVER THE UPRIGHT BRIDGE (LOL!!!!!)

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I could not find a photograph of an instrument claimed to be by Jan Kulik which looks even remotely like that ebay listing you gave. However, I have worked on German 19th-century factory instruments which look a lot like that ebay one, with labels in them naming A & H Amati, N Amati, Stradivari, Stainer, and a few more I have mercifully forgotten about. Those f-holes especially are quite characteristic.

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Hi Marsden; you wrote:

"Could not an average maker, that makes his own scrolls, have a variance in consistency broad enough to show the variance seen here?"

Any maker can have a variance, especially if working on different "models", but I see little similarity in approach, design, or workmanship to the two scrolls shown in this thread. I pointed out one detail (the oval). Others I'd recommend to examine are the outline of the head, throat, fluting, toolmarks (method), pegbox (and how it flows to the first turn of the scroll), the last cut (at the eye), chamfer and finish.

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I think I get a better appreciation for the process with every post you make.

Clearly if none of the different items show similarities, the chance of this being the same maker are out the window.




toolmarks (method),

pegbox (and how it flows to the first turn of the scroll), the last cut (at the eye),


and finish."

I would love to hear a discussion of them all with this comparison opportunity, but the one that interestes me most is "tool marks."

If you find the time, I, and I am sure many others, would appreciate your thoughts on what you see here, and how you

see it.

Best wishes,


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Marsden; I'll try and put my observations in order (so other people can understand them!) and post something later on tonight... at least covering a few of the points. In the meantime, I'd be pleased if anyone interested took a stab at what they see. Makes for a much less one sided conversation... and helps me figure out how others see the scroll..

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I'll bite. Some impressions.

1. head

On Japes' (for want of a better label ) the head (and throat) seem too small for the rest of the scroll. Or is it the back of the sroll is too thick for the head.

2. throat

Cuyper's: I like the way the bottom of the throat is even with the last cut. And the thickness of the throat seems to be the same as the thickness of the ear.

Japes': Nothing occurs.... Has less gesture to it. Straight.

3. fluting

The scroll carving itself on the Cuypers -- the deepest part of the cut is along the inside, adjacent to the wall of next turn.

I don't know how to represent this other than: |

On Japes', the deepest part seems to be in the middle. (represented: /)

This also gives the impression of a finer carving on the Cuypers. And somehow makes the Cuyper's look more like an actual scroll of paper turning over on itself.

4. toolmarks (method)

Could be the difference in age. The Cuyper's seems almost rubbed rather than sanded.

5. pegbox (and how it flows to the first turn of the scroll)

The Cuyper's seems much more fluid to me. The scroll head seems to follow whatever momentum the curve of the peg box has established, and it feels like it is comeing up and over the peg box.

Japes' feels to me like the peg box is stockier than the scroll head.

6. the last cut (at the eye),

The Cuyper's seems to end in a point/bee-sting that is a consistent finish to the carve established by the previous two turns.

Jape's feels gouged, not carved. Thicker with a sudden, point.

7. chamfer

Cuyper's seems very deliberate. Japes' seems more rounded off rather than "chamfered at 45% to the corner."

8. finish

Complete impression: I feel like I would feel the grain on Japes. And feel oil varnish on Cuyper's.

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Hey Falstaff! Glad to see someone take a (rather good) stab at it!

OK; To keep things simple, lets call Japes head #1, and the Cuypers #2. Here is what I see. I tend to work from the outside in... and will combine a couple features that I think relate as I go.

1) The profile (outline) and throat: Profile # 1 the head of the scroll appears “tight” , slightly recoiled, toward the pegbox. Pexbox appears short and thick. “Forehead” or “comb” of the outline sits back slightly. The thickest portion of the box appears to be at the D peg. The throat is a little tight as well (looks like it was quickly accomplished), adding to the stocky appearance of the pegbox.

The head of the scroll on profile #2 tends to extend from the pegbox (more relaxed, or extended). I feel the scroll on most Cuypers appear a little “droopy”, “flat” or “squished” (I think this is caused by the way the oval of the head is formed... almost straight up and down and augmented by the flat-ish look on the back of the first turn). This is compensated for slightly by the forehead being slightly more out in front. The pegbox is slender (in comparison). The thickest point appears to be lower; approximately above the end of the e peg. The curve of the back of the box is slightly more balanced... like one might be able to take an inverse (upside down) double image and almost fit the two together. The throat is cut open and seems to add to the slender look of the pegbox.

2) The flow from pegbox to scroll, the chamfer, and the fluting: On Profile #1, the transition is similar to the outline... slightly tight. The fluting appears to begin at or below the throat (at the upper side of the pegbox) and progresses (gets deeper) until the back side of the first turn. The fluting looks “scooped”, or cut with a radius. The chamfer is slight weak, especially on the back side of the pegbox.

The transition on #2 seems to flow, for me, in a more natural manner. The fluting does not begin until above the throat (the side at the top of the pegbox is quite flat) and (more slowly) progresses until the front of the second turn of the scroll. The fluting is cut in a relatively straight manner (not as much of a radius). The chamfer is rather strong (there is a bit of wear in the volute “forehead”). This is especially noticeable when comparing the back of the pegbox.

4) Eye, tool marks and method: As mentioned above, the fluting in profile #1 appears cut on a radius, kind of like the it was gouged sideways and/or scraped with a curved scraper. The surface overall looks like it’s been smoothed, or sanded. The chamfering shows a some evidence of a file, and the end cut at the eye (which bisects the top 25% of the eye going almost forward... better seen on Japes 2nd photo), but few other tool marks are visible.

The fluting on profile #2 appears to have been cut more from the outside (the chamfer) to the center (the axis), which would help explain the flatter look. The tool marks are still visible in the turns of the scroll. The last cut, or sting, at the eye extends more toward the upper portion of the head than forward.

The finish on profile #1 looks “smoothed”, which in my opinion makes the lines less sharp or more homogenized; the finish on #2, less so... still retaining some tool marks and character.

The position of the eye is also a little different on the two profiles... but that’s my stab at verbalization of visual images for tonight... Michael, if you see things differently, or noticed something I omitted, please jump in, ok?

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I have to say that I look at scrolls much differently--I look for things which are diagnostic clues to schools, rather than differences which might be personal.

For instance, on the first scroll I see a bevel which is very sharp on the inside, but very soft and rolled over on the outside, as a continuation of the horizontal aspects of the scroll. The second scroll doesn't have this--it just has a soft, but normal, bevel.

For the eye, I see that the first eye is large and flat, with no bevel, just a weak convex rounding--the bevel blends and disappears when it reaches the eye, rather than continuing around it, as on the second example.

On the second scroll, I notice with respect to those things, the opposite. Additionally, I see that the top of the pegbox, looking at the negative space between the pegbox and the turns, is a big shapeless blob on the second head, and a more defined finish on the first. On the second, I also see, of the face of the turns, a lot of bumpiness from gouge cuts, which doesn't exist in the first.

If I didn't see anything else--the shape, the balance, etc., those things would make me thing German on the first, and "interesting" on the second.

I also see, on the first head, the concave carving on the "flat" sides of the volute-- this is particularly evident in the recent photo. That's usually a clue that you're looking at an uninformed, inartistic school of making.

That's about it.

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