Collin-Mezin authentication


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Hello,

I am looking at a Collin-Mezin violin for my son. I am not sure it is authentic - it is made in 1909, or so the label says. The varnish is a very deep dark-brown, unlike the golden yellow or yellow-brown typical of Collin-Mezins. Also, the label has the father's name, not the son's, and I know the father retired in 1906 and this violin is made in 1909. The dealer says it is made by the father because it does have a label with the father's name, not the son's. After 1900, many violins were made by the son and sported a different label. There is a flowery signature done in ink, I think, on the inside of the violin on the wood above the label. There are two cracks, or checks, in the wood in the front which have been repaired. We played it at the dealer's place but he won't let us take it home on trial and he won't let us get a second opinion which is unusual, because all the other dealers I have dealt with will always give you the violin of your choosing to take home for a few days on approval. I would like to take it to try out in my son's concert hall to see how the violin projects... Asking price is very princely so I would like to authenticate this violin or at least get some advice - if anyone is familiar with these violins and can comment on the varnish or markings, I would be very appreciative.

musicmom

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Hello Musicmom, Welcome to Maestronet. I believe it is standard practice for dealers to let you take the instrument on approval for a week. I have worked in several reputable shops and that seems to be the norm. I suspect that no dealer would give you an opinion on the violin without seeing it first. If it were me I'd keep searching for another violin that I felt comfortable purchasing.

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Instruments by Charles J.B. Collinn-Mezin do frequent the market on a regular basis. I am not aware of the fact that these violins would bear any other label than that of the father up until 1953, the year when the Collin-Mezin violin workshop seazed to exist, with the exception of Le Victorieux model, some of which would have a following label: Le Victorieux' type grand Soliste par Ch J.B. Collin-Mezain, Maitre Luther, Grand Prix, Exposition Universelle, 1900, Paris.

Overall, the instruments made prior to 1900 are more valued for unknown to me reason. The least valued are the workshop instruments modeled on son's idea of creating the perfect violin and known as 'Le Victorieux' model. Such instruments started to appear after 1925 on up to the final days of this workshop. Le Victorieux are easy to spot due to a flat design of the table in-between the f-holes.

I have never seen a Collin-Mezin made in 19th century that would have a varnish other than yellow. The later violins would generally have a more interesting varnish with a touch of tasteful 'aging'; the varnish also became much harder.

All of Collin-Mezin's have a signature located inside near the soundpost area of the lower bout. Numbering was also a common practice and was usually done at the bottom of label. Many instrument exported to the U.S. would also have a dealer authentication in form of a number followed or preceded by a letter.

Overall, Collin-Mezin violin are very good instruments with a pleasant sound. Many of them are due for a bass bar replacement, a procedure that greatly improves the acoustical qualities of these instruments.

My advise to musicmom: stay away from the dealer who does not let you take the violin out of workshop for trial or second opinion. That particular dealer obviously hides something that might adversely affect the value of the instrument. If you are looking for Charles J.B. Collin-Mezin in particular, google the WWW, visit other dealers' sites, and check out the auctions such as Tarisio, Skinner's Inc., or Christies.

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It is pretty much standard practice to let instuments out on approval. The combination of a princely asking price and no ability to get a second opinion is not a great one. I agree that the the pre 1900 ones tend to be better, and often the later ones by son have a chemical ground which gives an overall darker look, a sort of green-brown. As always, don't make the mistake of assuming that all violins labeled Colin Mezin have one value, as there are many variables

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quote:


Originally posted by:
kolovrat

I am not aware of the fact that these violins would bear any other label than that of the father up until 1953


This same discussion is in process on another board... and I've already responded there, so I won't bore everyone by doing so here... but... two things:

I have seen labels reading "Ch. J. B. Collin-Mezin, fils" in some rather nice fiddles prior to 1890.

Musicmom; If you use the serch function on this site, I think you'll find numerous threads on Collin-Mezin.

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Kolovrat said above: 'I have never seen a Collin-Mezin made in 19th century that would have a varnish other than yellow'. As a player, I've seen a number of 19th Century Collin-Mezins here in UK, and they were mostly orange-brown through red-brown. My own was a fairly bright orange-yellow. All of these were genuine (most were before these instruments were worth much, so nobody faked them), there appeared to be different qualities, and while some sounded very nice, others were hard and unpleasant.

Max

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Hi,

I would bring an equal valued, good violin to that shop to play, and to compare them side by side.

Ignore what the label says. Sometime a label creates problems, and clouds its intransic merit.

Concert hall playing environment is different from that of a room in a shop or that for home use

in practice. Different needs are there?

There were so many good makers in the world, why it has to be Collin-mezin?

For example, if a fantastic maker made only three violins in his life, he would never make it in

the Hanley's record book. Just my thought.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
maxr

Kolovrat said above: 'I have never seen a Collin-Mezin made in 19th century that would have a varnish other than yellow'. As a player, I've seen a number of 19th Century Collin-Mezins here in UK, and they were mostly orange-brown through red-brown. My own was a fairly bright orange-yellow. All of these were genuine (most were before these instruments were worth much, so nobody faked them), there appeared to be different qualities, and while some sounded very nice, others were hard and unpleasant.

Max


I didn't catch that, Max. You are correct. I've seen many 19th century C-Ms on the yellow-orange or amber side of things (as mantioned by Kolovrat), but there are some that are a bit darker orange... and I recall two Guarneri models from the 1870s that are rather brown and slightly "antiqued" (shaded; I saw one of these in Peter Biddulph's shop a number of years ago; they almost looked like a Bailly type instrument) and another that is quite red-brown (similar in color and texture to a subdued Caressa & Francais or Gand & Bernardel).

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