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reepicheep

Ebay Squier

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Ron Midget of Easthampton Violin Company is quite knowledgeable of makers of this locale and era. You can find him at www.easthamptonviolin.com. I've dealt with him on several occasions and he's pleasant to deal with and a straight shooter.

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Woodland, I wonder if that shop would be interested in the fact that Northampton maker J. Bohnak was mentioned recently on "another violin board"--to the effect that he left parts of violins behind on his death, which are now being assembled into finished violins.

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Bean, Can you explain how you know the label is a photocopy?

The number 106 is about right for the year 1887. During this period he was making 20-30 violins a year and 192 appears in 1890.

In these early years he experimented a lot with varnish and didn't appear to have got it quite right on this one but the good news is that no-one has messed with it.

I'm a little surprised by the scroll which is obviously German design but the rest of the instrument looks fine. He was always copying other makers and so it's quite possible be copied this scroll. Two other bidders obiously feel it is authentic to go so high with 5 days still to go.

I have never seen a label of this date so I can't comment on the design. (The later ones have a different design).

Glenn

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I have spoken to people who know this violin. Ron Midgett has seen it and might wish to comment. In my opinion, it is different enough from any Squier I have seen to be careful.

Jesse

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quote:


Originally posted by:
GlennYorkPA

Bean, Can you explain how you know the label is a photocopy?

I was being a little over-definite for the sake of humor , but it really doesn't look good to me. In an original label, I'd expect to see a noticable difference between the ink laid down by the press and the ink laid down by the pen. Ink for pens at that time, apart from craft-made inks, were more like dyes. Unlike printer's ink, ink for pens didn't have a lot of carbon in because it tends to annoy by precipitating out --something that's not a problem for printers since their ink is in paste form. So pen laydown would generally be more pale to begin with, and change color due to atmospherics and light over the course of 100+ years.

The design of the label is good for the 1880s, though the acanthus leaves seem anachronistic since they're a Romance motive that went out of style when the Gothic Revival started ca. 1850.

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I don't know the maker, but the model is good, I like the scroll (apart from the decoration), the wood is quite good, pointing out perhaps - together with the pegbox decoration - that this was a special comission.

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Jerome Bonaparte Squier is often called the American Stradivari and the 1903 Strad copy I have by him indicates that title is well deserved. The detail is amazingly realistic.

The decoration on the scroll of this offering is typical Saxon and yet the care taken over the decoration seems better than usually seen on those cheap fiddle, as does the skill with which the volute is cut.

The deterioration of the varnish on the scroll even matches that of the back and belly.

For me, this is completely the work of J.B. Squier but Jesse says that experts who have seen it are cautious. One is always at a disadvantage relying on photos but I am curious to know if the scroll is the reason for caution.

I didn't think that Squier was sufficiently known or appreciated to merit faking but perhaps the interest in classic American makers really is increasing.

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I do not know this violin myself. I have had several JB Squier violins. I asked a friend who has consigned to me several very good American violins, including Squier, White, Bryant, etc. He is expert in Boston and Massachusetts violins He said he has seen this violin, and it has been shopped throughout Massachusetts. He was surprised to see it had made it to PA. He wrote to the seller and asked him if he knew that it was not a Squier and informed that he had been offered the violin several times over the past 15 years. The response he received was obscene.

Here are some photos of the Squier I recently sold.

JBSquier.jpg

complete set attached.

This does not look like any Squier I have seen. As far as I know Squier never made a scroll like this and the violin looks German to me. The market is not sufficiently versed in these makers to be an accurate indication of authenticity. I have seen several and owned several and I am not sufficiently expert to make a firm opinion. Of course, if it were available for inspection, the North American maple would be identifiable. I do not think this is a Squier nor is it a copy. It just has a Squier label.

All of that said, it looks like a nice violin!

Jesse

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Until it was mentioned above that this violin has been kicking around the market for the last 15 years or so, I did not connect it with an old eBay scan I saved (unfortunately now on my crash-prone c.1997 machine's hard drive). I'm pretty sure this is the same scroll carving and chippy red varnish we're looking at now. At that time the market apparently did not think it was important Boston work. If I recall, it sold on eBay for some hundreds of dollars. Glenn is right; that's a Saxon style scroll carving. It could mean Squier experimented with different styles in the 1880s, of course. I don't know how one could really tell--if Jesse has owned and examined several, he might be as good an expert as you could find.

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Glenn, apropos your question to me about why I judge that label to be a xerox, take a look at the label in the pix that Jesse provides. Note the obvious difference in color of the ink laid down by the pen as compared to the ink laid by the press (and that's with ca. 20 years less exposure to the elements). Note, too, the debossing and squeezout at the edges of the type that's characteristic of letterpress work. The offset-litho press was invented in the late 1800s, but letterpress was the standard in job shops well into the 1930s at least. The label in the suspect fiddle would have been made from an engraved plate, but the basic printing process was still pressure, not offset transfer, so we should see that reflected in the laydown if it were a real label.

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Bean, I can't honestly say I can detect the squeezing effect of printing pressure in Jesse's label but I do see what you mean about the difference in intensity between the printing ink and the pen ink.

Now I have looked again at my label, there is noticeable fading of the date and instrument number.

Also, the printed text on my label seems a little crisper than the ebay one and has a bit of a shine on it unlike the doubtful one where the black seems very matt.

Thanks for the education in printing technology (Jesse is also an expert when it comes to printing!).

All in all, the evidence seems to be mounting against this instrument (thanks to the MN super sleuths).

As Jesse said, the clincher would be to establish if the wood is American or European maple but one would need to handle the violin for that.

Glenn

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Wow, thanks for all the vaulable info everybody, and Jesse for sharing the photo and his knowledge with us, again! Actually I had my doubts just from the seller alone. I've been buying off of Ebay for a few years and I've never known that seller to have anything too special; if this is not the real thing it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Sounds like this case is Sol-Ved Mes Amis!

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The varnish looks somewhat like what I've seen in his son's (Victor Carroll Squier) work...but beyond that, this doesn't look like the work of any member of the Squier family that I've seen. I doubt if it is the genuine article, but idiosyncrasies of the label aren't what indicates this to me.

Actually, Jesse, your Squier isn't what I'd consider a typical example, at least in terms of the varnish. It's usually a much darker reddish color, and slightly more opaque.

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I didn't want to 'go there' with the varnish on Jesse's violin but I am still curious about the label on the treble side.

Makers never put the label on that side because of interference with the sound post.

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If I remember Glenn, the maker's label was on the bass side and the repair label was on the treble side. The violin was sold in Nov. 2004 if I recall correctly and was purchased from Skinner in their October sale of that year. There was some question regarding the varnish, but it is a very late violin for JB Squier and there was also some discussion as to whether it was finished by his son or others in the shop. It may have been revarnished although one expert who saw it said that it was clearly the work of an old man and could have been finished after his death.

Jesse

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Jesse, it's coming back to me now and I recall the discussion about the varnish.

My view, then, as now, is that it has been revarnished but that doesn't detract from the fine quality of the craftmanship.

I think you are correct in that the label seen through the treble f is a repair label.

A couple of years back I asked around to see if anyone is keeping an inventory of known Squiers and tracking them. I never got a straight answer but I feel that for a maker of this importance, there should be a central database.

It would save a future Doring or Goodkind a lot of work

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I haven't seen this violin in person, but I don't see any problem with it being real from the photos. As a rule, I don't buy from ebay, but I'd be happy to take a look at it if someone wants to acquire it and bring it over.

The pins are just right for a Squier of this period and the wierdly shaped corners are good too. I just completed a rather exhaustive study of Squiers' work (as well as other Boston school makers) in preparation for the Library of Congress event.

Christopher Reuning

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for chiming in. It is always very appreciated to have the opinion of a real expert.

Did Squier ever decorate his scrolls like the one on eBay? I know some American makers did, like Jansen Miller and others whose names aren't with me right now. Is it a Squier neck and scroll, or from another violin perhaps?

The pins are just like the ones on the Squiers I have had, half covered by the purfling.

Thanks, Chris.

Jesse

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Hi Jesse,

I have not seen scroll decorations before on a Squier. I have seen many different models, however...Squier was a self taught maker who did a lot of experimenting. The pins, in addition to being bisected by the purfling, are large and are seemingly ebony. All is quite speculative, however, because those are bad photos. I don't buy on ebay as a rule for that reason and the general lack of ethics amongst the sellers. (present company excluded!) However, if one makes a study of the sellers and is willing to put up with that sort of risk, I think it may be a good buy. Anyone who can make a profit off ebay deserves every bit of it.

Apart-l.,

As far as Seraphin wings, I am not sure what you mean by "rounded". Seraphin wings are quite tapered in the Venetian tradition, but are straight across the ends like most classic makers.

Chris

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