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My Interesting Old Violin


doctahg
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I've been wanting to post photos of this violin for a long time now, but did not have a decent camera. After taking the attached photographs, I have a new respect for violin photographers. It is hard to get a decent shot!

Any information you care to offer about this violin will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Mary

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Some thoughts that could be very wrong:

Age: 150 years, maybe a bit older but not much.

Model: Stradivari with a touch of Amati, especially in the f-holes.

Nationality: German or Austrian, based on varnish, that looks pretty good.

Do you like all those tuners? A tailpiece with built-in tuners or having just one tuner for the E string might give you a freer sound.

It looks like a good quality violin.

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I've been wanting to post photos of this violin for a long time now, but did not have a decent camera. After taking the attached photographs, I have a new respect for violin photographers. It is hard to get a decent shot!

Any information you care to offer about this violin will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Mary

post-24649-1241210693_thumb.jpg

post-24649-1241210721_thumb.jpg

post-24649-1241210738_thumb.jpg

++++++++++++++++++

Impossible, Impossible, Impossible (shockingly beautiful)

The top grains are so straight, so densed, so uniform. Better than a Stradivarious.

(but I don't remember seeing a Strad., except my fake Strad. I'd better be quiet

I noticed that the purfling is quite closed to the edge, could be a Bohemian, of Stainer inspired,

faciebat 1850 + or - 40 years. repaired by a good American luthier (be aware that my info is not always original. or leliable )

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I am reading all your replies with great interest. Thank you for taking the time to view this. I don't know much about the violin. I acquired it from a seller in Germany. When Ken McKay repaired it, he thought it was perhaps mid-nineteenth-century, but Ken does not claim expertise as a violin historian. I asked Ken to repair the violin, not "restore" it, so it still has a lot of old rosin, etc. build-up as the photos show.

Dean, I am not a very good player, but this violin does indeed sound old, sweet, and lovely. And skiingfiddler, in answer to your question about the fine tuners: When I got this violin, I used to play informally with a small group of people and the leader/instructor wanted everyone to have 4 fine tuners so she could go around and help us all get in tune quickly. After reading your post, I removed them. You are right; the sound is better. Plus, they were ugly!

Mary

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Ok, when I read skiiingfiddler's reply, I thought "If those are Amati "f"s, how are Stainer's different?" Then Jacob says they are Stainer "f"s. Can anyone expand on those two interpretations?

Thanks.

and Mary, I agree, taking photos that show what you're really seeing when you look at a violin is tough.

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Can anyone expand on those two interpretations?

Amati f-holes have a better sense of style. It's hard to explain but the curvy sections at the top and bottom is more abrupt in the Stainer style. In an Amati everything is blended together more gracefully. I think these f-holes (on the violin pictured above) are in the Stainer style.

These are stainer f-holes by the man himself. http://www.usd.edu/smm/Violins/Before1800/Stainerviolin.html

These are characteristic "amati" f-holes, by Nicolo Amati. http://www.usd.edu/smm/Violins/AmatiNicolo...matiViolin.html

They look a lot alike but the differences are there as well. Also, Amati is a less clear cut design than a Stainer since there were many makers in the family and their style evolved with time but I think it is the N. Amati f-holes that people think of as 'The Amati' f-hole. Personally I prefer the A&H Amati f's.

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Amati f-holes have a better sense of style. It's hard to explain but the curvy sections at the top and bottom is more abrupt in the Stainer style. In an Amati everything is blended together more gracefully. I think these f-holes (on the violin pictured above) are in the Stainer style.

Thank you; the information and photos were informative. I agree that the f-holes on my violin closely resemble the Stainer style.

Mary

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To add to the discussion, here's a good image of the Brookings Amati f-holes:

Brookings Amati f-holes

First of all, I would defer to any of the other posters in analyzing Mary's instrument. My experience is limited.

My own thinking on the f-holes goes like this:

When it comes to sorting out f-holes, I tend to have the following 3 mental templates: Stradivari, del Gesu, Other. Mary's instrument's f-holes fall in the "Other" category. "Others" tend to distinguish themselves with more swoop at the top and bottom than either Strad or del Gesu, and the eye holes, top and bottom, tend to be larger than Strad or del Gesu.

In teasing out Stainer from Amati f-holes within the category of "Other," I think of Stainer f-holes as fairly narrow ones, with pronounced nicks, and Amati f-holes as somewhat more open with less pronounced nicks. Mary's fiddle's fs struck me as more open than I've seen on Stainer photos, and the nicks are barely visible. So I went with Amati.

But if you feel that Mary's fiddle in outline and arching is more Stainer than Amati/Stradivari, then it makes sense to assume that the maker was aiming at Stainer f holes, too.

Some second thoughts after posting the above: This thread has sent me back to looking at the Stainers pictured in the catalog of the Stainer exhibition in Vienna, 2003, and I'll admit that the Stainers pictured there have, by and large, rather open f holes, more open than those on the Brookings Amati. So, maybe it's time to change one of my conceptions of Stainer vs Amati f-holes.

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I don't think there is anything Stainer about either the outline or the arching - both show honest Bohemian attempts at some kind of Cremonese style.

The Bohemian makers (there were more of them, and more of a better quality, than in contemporary Germany) were much slower in abandoning the Stainer-type f-holes - but then it may be useful to look at the background of this:

The Stainer f-hole is an amalgam of an early native Tyrolean pattern infused with Nicolo Amati influences. That is why Stainer f-holes show some similarities as well as marked differences to Nicolo's f-holes. When one takes a look at the examples in Wm. Johnston's excellent post, look first at the wings of the f-holes - the Amati f-hole wings taper towards the ends, becoming narrower, whereas the Stainer wings maintain more or less the same width. The Stainer wings are slightly longer than those of Amati, and the ends produce an angle to the horizontal which goes quite markedly beyond the typical 45 deg. lower and upper points of the wings which are characteristic of a lot of Cremonese makers. This makes the Stainer f-hole wings look more curvy and "Baroque" compared to the classical neatness of Nicolo Amati (kind of like the difference between Gothic and Roman script).

I would think that the basis on which the maker of the violin which is the topic of this thread worked was a Stainer pattern, with some clear classical Italian influences added to the mix, of which there is even more evidence in the outline and arching. Stainer never fluted the lower wings of the f-holes - to attempt this requires quite a drastic departure from a Stainer-type arching not to make it look totally silly and incongruous - which this maker did fairly successfully. The ends of the wings taper slightly in width, but the are longer and curve further outwards than in the case of Nicolo Amati, producing that characteristic "sideways" termination point of Stainer f-hole wings.

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