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I have a recently acquired violin which I'm trying to learn about. The bridge is off, & has written in pencil underneath: "WEB 15/10/78" Is it common practice to sign/date like this when repairs or set-up is done? The bridge has printed on one side "MIRE?? IA" in an oval, & on the other side ID?FER?ERDA. Should these tell me anything? Thanks for any help. Ron

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Should these [markings on the bridge] tell me anything?

Bridges get replaced every so often and frequently carry the name of the firm that manufactured the bridge blank and/or the shop or repair person who finished and fitted the bridge. I suppose there could be some minor value in knowing the latter. If the shop is run by an incompetent it might warn you away or at least lead you to take it to a better place to check the setup, while if the shop is respected it could give you more confidence in the quality of care the instrument has received.

To answer the question I think you're really asking, though: in general I wouldn't expect the bridge markings to tell me anything reliable about the maker of an instrument, especially an old one. Since bridges are expected to be replaced, a maker who wants to leave long-lasting identifying information on an instrument will do something with the body of the instrument, usually a paper label inside. But as you will see if you read the posts here at all regularly, there are probably more fake labels inside instruments than real ones, so you shouldn't rely on a label either.

- Mike Stein

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The oval thing is probably the brand stamp of the Aubert Bridge company. You can probably find some bridge pix online to confirm this. The other side is likely the stamp of the shop that cut the bridge. Then on the underside, the individual in the shop who cut the bridge put his initials, and the date the bridge was cut. That's not an uncommon thing to do. That won't tell you who made the violin, though.

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Thanks, guys. I guess I'm grasping at straws here, but thought I may find be able to learn something about where the instrument has been. The bridge does seem to be quite old to me- it's very dark in color. I assume the "78" refers to 1878. Is there an inspection tool other than light & mirror (like my doctor uses)? Ron

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