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ID the fiddle?


Jeffrey Holmes
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OK. Omobono has gone above and beyond. My turn.

Here's a photo of the back of a violin.

Let's try this. Some of you may get this right away, but humor me. Please don't guess the maker yet...

Instead, based on the photo, how old do you think it is (give a range of say... 25 or 50 years)? What model is it (in general, it's not a copy)? What country might it be from?

The violin is not "antiqued". It does not appear on any auction or archive sites (that I know of).

If you need help on the determining the model, age or country of origin; Do a little bit of looking around at available photos of Strad, Guarneri, Amati and Stainer violins... then look at violins from a few different countries and periods. Check the wear, the apparent texture of the varnish, the appearance of the wood, etc. (on the web, in past threads, or in books).

I'm sure many here would appreciate helpful observations from those who have them to offer.

vnx.jpg

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I find it's very hard to say anything definite from pictures, but maybe it's time to learn

Age: Shows some wear in the varnish, and well rounded edges all around. At least 100 years old, probably older. Guessing 150 to 200 years old.

Model: neither del Gesu nor Amati. C bouts are not round enough, and corners are hooked. So could be either Strad or Stainer. Wish we could see arching. Rather slim appearance favors Stainer, and so does strong 3-D edging. Hard to believe that someone would make a high quality Stainer copy after 1800. So this is either a 19th century Strad copy or an older than 19th century fiddle if a Stainer copy. I'm going with Strad and one of the long Strad models to explain the slimness.

Country: Varnish doesn't look 200 year old German, too transparent. But it's a very simple varnish. Coloring kept to a minimum. Guessing Italian.

So far my guess is early 19th century Italian Strad model.

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The Outline

- The transition to the corners from the C bouts have a tighter curve (more closed) than a Del Gesu

- The C's are not as rounded and the waist not as pinched as Stainer or Amati

- Corners shorter than Amati's, lower corners longer than Del Gesu's

- Shoulders not as square as Stainer

- The arching looks fairly flat, once again excluding Stainer and, to a lesser extent, Amati

I need help analyzing the rest of the outline, but I think I have the model figured out.

Country:

The edges and, for some reason, the wood are saying something. The edges look fairly prominent and nicely sculpted, but not like the French ones we have seen. I think that a lot of German makers copied the Italian edging. I may be wrong but the wood looks like that I have seen on Italian violins. Or, maybe its the varnish; I can't say much about that. With my limited knowledge of other countries... Italian.

Age?

I see some darkening of purfling around the corners, darkening around the upper R bout, but not much else. If it wasn't antiqued, I think I am seeing some nicks and such, some between the C bouts. I definitely need help in the age and varnish areas. How can you tell how old the wood is?

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Good to see you have some responses, Jeffrey.

First glance Nicola Amati or Amatise Strad flashed through my mind

but quite wide at the c-bouts for Amati model perhaps so

then I thought maybe a little later ...... Strad model 1690 +?

Below is the Tuscan Strad beside your violins's c-bout.

The finish at the corners is more squared off on the Strad at the mitre

whereas your's is a little softer (closer to Amati?) and your bout is a touch more open.

The feature below the button appears to show some pin placements(?)

which is not particularly significant, unless someone knows a specific maker

who employs that technique?

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The Tuscan Strad's Cs look more rounded (Amatise) than Jeffrey's violin. Would that mean it is a later Strad model?

Omobono, what or where is the mitre?

Regarding varnish and age, I finally noticed the obvious varnish loss across the lower bouts. I am fairly confused by the whole concept of shading...did any of the Cremonese masters use shading on their violins?

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I don't know all the tech. jargin, but where the ribs meets at the corner? correct?

Think we are saying the same thing about C-bouts,

except I ws thinging Amati more open, Strad more closed(rounded?)

Strad changes and reverts again through the years but, yes, later than

early Amatise style - 1670 +.

I'm settling for a Strad model for the time being ........

next question is who might be inspired by that model in say........ 1850?

(Jeffrey has ruled out antiquing and copyists )

Here's a candidate who might ........ below......

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Brad

Regarding varnish and age, I finally noticed the obvious varnish loss across the lower bouts. I am fairly confused by the whole concept of shading...did any of the Cremonese masters use shading on their violins?


As I mentioned, the violin is not antiqued. The wear is natural. It is in very good condition for it's age. No tricks.

So.... May I ask that we stay away from (possibly confusing) details for the time being and determine:

1) The general model (Amatise Strad and Strad have been suggested; Look at the upper/lower bouts and Cs. Remember, it's not a "copy". Other influences influences tend to creep into making.) As Stainer is a confusing outline unless you've seen a number of them, I'll take that off the table.

2) The approx. age (Our range is a little too large at the moment... Can we narrow it down?) I've mentioned it's in rather good condition for it's age, so that should be a hint.

3) The country (Italian has been suggested. Agree?) Don't worry about the city... yet.

Trust your instincts, but if you don't have a clue, look around and compare photos of other instruments and look for similarities in shape, materialsfinish, and wear.

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Definitely a Strad model.

Not much older than 100years, if at all.

Italian. - city: Milan or Turin.

I'm doing this all backwards - I've got a few makers in mind (one more strongly than the others), so I'm telling you about the city (and age, to some extent) from that maker's history. What jogged my memory was the shape of the upper bouts, specfically the rather sharp turn before the descent into the corner.

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Brad, sometimes it helps to nail the model first, but the age and country can be "guessed" by impressions from material, wear, and design (the way the lines of the outline works together). That's why I suggested that looking at photos (books, online, past discussions on MN) might help.

Let's take Guarneri off the table. No one bought that model.

Does this help (click on attachment)? From the left to the right:

Amati, Rogeri (one off from Amati), ID fiddle, early Strad (one off from Amati), golden period Strad

The image is B/W as I think the outlines are a bit easier to see that way.

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I normally stay well away from expressing publicly in i.d threads, but I'll stand up and say what I see here.

I might by way off but I think I know what this is.

I see a violin that looks fairly old judging (mid 18th centaury) by the ware and sweat marks, it looks like there is still quite a bit of varnish considering its age so it's probably not the softest varnish out there. The feel of the outline is a nice Strad related shape with out being slavish use of the model.

The wood looks rather typical of the maker (and family) I think is responsible for this instrument, it's not the classiest wood around and this one has fairly strong wide grain lines visible.

It's hard to tell from the resolution on my tiny screen, but I think I'm also seeing certain characteristics in the way the inlay looks that support my guess.

So I might be completely wrong .....but if my hunch is right I hope I haven't given to too much away but given enough clues to get people looking.

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It's interesting how the wear patterns stand out more clearly for me in the black-and-white than in the color photo. But, although I now can see broadly different-looking finishes, I'm not certain which is the worn and which is the unworn. If the lower and upper bouts that highlights the figuring in the maple are the worn areas, then the relatively opaque along the sides of the center is the original. So now, in terms of country/city, I'm wondering who would have a denser finish like that. Am I sniffing down the wrong trail here?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Richf

It's interesting how the wear patterns stand out more clearly for me in the black-and-white than in the color photo. But, although I now can see broadly different-looking finishes, I'm not certain which is the worn and which is the unworn. If the lower and upper bouts that highlights the figuring in the maple are the worn areas, then the relatively opaque along the sides of the center is the original. So now, in terms of country/city, I'm wondering who would have a denser finish like that. Am I sniffing down the wrong trail here?


You are not alone. I often see "more" in B/W shots than color photos... The tricky thing about wear is "contrast". For example, the Rogeri I posted shows relatively little contrast between the wear areas and the remaining varnish... even though it's an old fiddle. The contrast beween the wear area vs. varnish of the golden period Strad is quite noticable.

Nertz's "hint" about harder varnish, along with the relatively low contrast between the color of the finish and the worn areas of the lower back is important. The family responsible for this violin didn't lay the varnish on thick, and the color isn't intense.

As far as model; I'd suggest that all in all, it's Strad-ish, but if you look at the upper and lower bouts of fiddle X, and for the moment forgive the C bouts and corners, I see a maker who still has one foot (or at least a boot) in the Amati camp. Taken as a whole, the model isn't bold enough to compare to the golden period Strad.

So, we have a Strad-ish model but still with Amati influences; a model that would have begun to be employed (outside of Cremona) in the middle part of the 18th century.

We seem to be moving into the 18th century as noted above.

I think we're back in Italy

Take a look at the color photo again. I know monitor error is a factor, but do you get a sense of the underlying "hue" of the ground (under the varnish)? What color seems to be peaking out?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
skiingfiddler

The color that seems to be peaking out in the ground is yellow, but wouldn't all grounds, everybody's, tend toward yellow?


Again, this is complicated by monitor error, but yellow-ish what? (the "what" is important). It's just a hint of hue.

Choices:

Golden yellow-ish

Yellow-ish white

Yellow-ish orange

Yellow-ish blue (or green)

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Brad

OK, with your choices, I think I see some green? Second choice would be white.


As I mentioned... color hue can be complicated by the monitor, color blindness, accuracy of the original photo and many other factors.

Green is what I was looking for.

While this maker/family's work can be IDed in B & W, I usually seem to see a slight greenish hue when I see one of these fiddles (to greater or lesser degrees). Later on, it seems that some of the members of this school could get quite carried away with it...

Brad; Interestingly enough, I notice that I usually need to add a little white to my touchup varnish to get a match when working on one of these critters... so white is there, but more as component in the varnish than the ground, I think.

OK, with that over, any impressions lead you to a city?

I'll post the top and ff holes later today, but don't wait to respond.

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