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Corner shape


Don Noon
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What evidence do you see of the corners being rounded with a knife, Jim?

Evidence ??? ... is this an obscure attempt at a sandpaper joke, David ? Reminds me of that old Pinocchio joke:

One day Pinocchio came to Gepetto with a problem.

"Every time I have sex with my girlfriend, she gets splinters. What can I do about this?"

"Have you tried sandpaper?" Pinocchio hadn’t, so he went to try it.

"Pinnochio," said Gepetto a few weeks later. "How did the problem work out with your ..."

"Girlfriend?" said Pinnochio. "Who needs a girlfriend when you have sandpaper?"

***************************

Seriously though, sure looks like telltale knife [or scraper] markings leading into

The Harrison corner [i agree not necessarily the corner itself though].

If you have evidence for use of dogfish or sandpaper, I'm willing to listen.

The rounding of The Harrison's edgework [near the corner] more closely mirrors that of the 1721 Lady Blunt

than the more bevelish Messiah shown below:

post-6775-1243561588_thumb.jpg

Would you say The Lady Blunt corner's edge is rounded deliberately by Stradivari, or by normal wear ?

Jim

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All four Harrison Back corners are rounded, yet only one has varnish worn off

What makes you say that, because they look shiney in this picture? You do realize that this violin has been polished at some point?

Wear is less obvious on the Harrison than the other (golden period) violins discussed here due to the lighter varnish color on the Harrison.

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Evidence ??? ... is this an obscure attempt at a sandpaper joke, David ? Reminds me of that old Pinocchio joke:

One day Pinocchio came to Gepetto with a problem.

"Every time I have sex with my girlfriend, she gets splinters. What can I do about this?"

"Have you tried sandpaper?" Pinocchio hadn’t, so he went to try it.

"Pinnochio," said Gepetto a few weeks later. "How did the problem work out with your ..."

"Girlfriend?" said Pinnochio. "Who needs a girlfriend when you have sandpaper?"

***************************

Seriously though, sure looks like telltale knife [or scraper] markings leading into

The Harrison corner [i agree not necessarily the corner itself though].

If you have evidence for use of dogfish or sandpaper, I'm willing to listen.

The rounding of The Harrison's edgework [near the corner] more closely mirrors that of the 1721 Lady Blunt

than the more bevelish Messiah shown below:

post-6775-1243561588_thumb.jpg

Would you say The Lady Blunt corner's edge is rounded deliberately by Stradivari, or by normal wear ?

Jim

The Lady Blunt does look deliberately rounded. In fact the Messiah looks vaguely er... French. Oh dear...

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William,

Stradivari's rounding of The Harrison corners provides a very subtle curvature

as illustrated below:

post-6775-1243607150_thumb.jpg

While Stradivari also rounded corners of The Lady Blunt and The Messiah,

the squareness or lack of corner curvature is quite evident in appearance:

post-6775-1243607184_thumb.jpg

Jim

Bear in mind that the Harrison is 300 years old. The bottom corners will wear faster than the top corners because they stick out more. The top left corner looks almost dead straight.

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Personal taste... I do not like the look of the squared-off, Messiah look. Seems I remember something about "that's the way they all looked when they were new, then the corners got rounded off with wear." I looked through the "Iconography of Stradivarius" looking for another square corner. Don't seem to find any. To me, I would imagine the maple back would often retain the original corner shape, so I mostly looked at those. To my eye, everything EXCEPT for the Messiah seems to show a consistent shape of rounded outer edges... hard to believe they all wore the same.

So is everybody today just copying the anomaly of the Messiah? If so, STOP THAT!! :)

What's the rush? Make them square today, in 300 years they will look appropriately worn and rounded. . Or are you worried they are going to put it in a museum all new and unplayed like they did the Messiah?

I suppose in another 600 years the Strads will be worn to the ribs and that will be the fashion, so no self respecting violinmaker will make one with more than 1/64" overhang. LOL.

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Stradivari's rounding of The Harrison corners provides a very subtle curvature

as illustrated below:

Jim, we're trying hard to be all subtle and everything.

Somebody give me a hammer! :)

What you seem to be pointing out is wear.

In other words, it's wear. B)

Put another way, it's wear. :)

Not that the ends were necessarily ever "straight-edge" flat, and the Messiah isn't either, if I remember correctly. If you think you see colored varnish where the wear is, realize that some funny things can happen with color photos, and that some poor retouching may also have been done.

If people like the worn look, that's fine, but If you want to imitate the shape of a worn corner on new looking instrument, I think that looks a little lame.

Go a few hundred more years though, and that's all people will have available to look at, and everyone will think it's normal and acceptable. :)

And continuing on Poetinwood's theme, people will know with certainty that the Messiah isn't a Strad, because the Messiah has an edge overhang, and Strads don't.

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Go a few hundred more years though, and that's all people will have available to look at, and everyone will think it's normal and acceptable. :)
This is an interesting point. In the future when the majority of the Cremonese instruments are deteriorated or diminished outright, it may well be the accurate copies being made today that will be used as a reference as to how the old violins really looked. Debates will follow regarding these instruments and varnish as well; especially the varnish I think, because most noteworthy makers today tend not to discuss their varnish to any detail. Some things are timeless!
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I think I've got this worked out at last.

The "Messiah" is a French fake.

Which means that there is one other real Strad around (or was, when the "Messiah" was faked) with crisp corners. The guy who faked the Messiah chose this one uncharacteristic (and now sadly lost) Strad on which to base his fake.

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David,

Amen....thank you for this post. Strad's instruments were sharp to begin with, then they wore. It is pretty simple. The Messiah has perhaps the least wear; this makes it special and exceptional. The trajectory away from a pristine new instrument is gradual and I am sure that if we had a full catalog of all the Strads still in existence we would see the full range of natural wear, from the first little chips of edge varnish as seen on the Messiah to the most hard luck edges and non-existant overhangs. What is a more interesting thing for me is that Strad was not monolithic in his treatment of corner shapes and edgework, and like so many aspects of his workmanship and violin making concepts, they evolved and fluctuated over his long working life. The Messiah is a bit of a bugaboo because I think it represents one corner shape that he made during his life, and too often people take this as the non plus utras of corner shapes, either that or they are freaked out by it just because it is not worn. I think the bigger issues that violates even knowledgeable people's corner sensibilities is not that the messiah's corners are square with a cleanly articulated chamfer, but that they are slightly more squat than other corner concepts Strad employed at other points in his career. At any rate, we should be glad we have the Messiah as testament to what one Strad looked like as it came off the bench of the master.

Jim, we're trying hard to be all subtle and everything.

Somebody give me a hammer! :)

What you seem to be pointing out is wear.

In other words, it's wear. B)

Put another way, it's wear. :)

Not that the ends were necessarily ever "straight-edge" flat, and the Messiah isn't either, if I remember correctly. If you think you see colored varnish where the wear is, realize that some funny things can happen with color photos, and that some poor retouching may also have been done.

If people like the worn look, that's fine, but If you want to imitate the shape of a worn corner on new looking instrument, I think that looks a little lame.

Go a few hundred more years though, and that's all people will have available to look at, and everyone will think it's normal and acceptable. :)

And continuing on Poetinwood's theme, people will know with certainty that the Messiah isn't a Strad, because the Messiah has an edge overhang, and Strads don't.

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William,

Stradivari's rounding of The Harrison corners provides a very subtle curvature

as illustrated below:

post-6775-1243607150_thumb.jpg

While Stradivari also rounded corners of The Lady Blunt and The Messiah,

the squareness or lack of corner curvature is quite evident in appearance:

post-6775-1243607184_thumb.jpg

Jim

Yes, today the Harrison and the Lady Blunt have rounded corners and the Messiah doesn't. What do the Harrison and Lady Blunt have in common with each other? They've been played which leads to wear, which is exactly what is seen on their corners.

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Other than varnish, normal wear on the 8-corners [4 table, 4 back] would be a matter of compressing

wood fibers.

Once corner fibers have been fully compressed, rounding stops [there's a limit to amount of fiber compression].

Given right-handed players will contact some of the 8-corners much more than others,

we may expect significantly more roundover on some of the corners. Post #29 shows all 8-corners of The Harrison.

How does one discern The Harrison's corner roundover due to [a] normal wear from tool roundover

by maker [blade, file, sandpaper] ??? Can someone please point out which of the 8-corners rules out the possibility of tool roundover by maker ?

Edumecate me, please. :)

Jim

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Edumecate me, please. :)

Jim

Ok. How about this. Wear is wear! Wood (and varnish) gets rubbed away when it handled and slid in and out of it's case. There may be a little compression going on but most of the rounding is from wear. The wood is gone. Once it is gone more gets rubbed away. It's simple.

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Once corner fibers have been fully compressed, rounding stops [there's a limit to amount of fiber compression].

Not compression, it's wear smash.gifwear smash.gifwear smash.gifwear smash.gif

I can watch it progress on my own cellos on the lower corners of the back, when someone plays a lot wearing jeans. It often has a blue tinge from the dye. Wear occurs on bow sticks too where they are gripped.

Ah, Johnston beat me to it. I think someone already mentioned the corner template in the Strad Museum.

Edit:

Yes, Torbjörn Zethelius in post 9.

Goll dang it Murphy, you're driving me batty(er). :):)

One way we have a pretty good idea what corners looked like originally, is because the varnish wears before the wood does. When we see a corner with most of its varnish, the wood is going to be pretty close to the way Strad made it. There are still a number of these instruments around, and there were more in the early days of photography. There's also a strong theme which goes through Stradivari's work. He might have followed this theme throughout the instrument, and then changed it all around for the corners. Or maybe not.

When I look at tires on cars, almost none of them have full tread depth. I wonder if they were made that way?

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Other than varnish, normal wear on the 8-corners [4 table, 4 back] would be a matter of compressing

wood fibers.

Once corner fibers have been fully compressed, rounding stops [there's a limit to amount of fiber compression].

Given right-handed players will contact some of the 8-corners much more than others,

we may expect significantly more roundover on some of the corners. Post #29 shows all 8-corners of The Harrison.

How does one discern The Harrison's corner roundover due to [a] normal wear from tool roundover

by maker [blade, file, sandpaper] ??? Can someone please point out which of the 8-corners rules out the possibility of tool roundover by maker ?

Edumecate me, please. :)

Jim

It's a musical instrument not an ornament. If an instrument is actively being used it can be in and out of a case hundreds of times in a year plus many hours a day of handling and abuse. Allot of backs on old instruments look like they've been repeatedly dragged across the surface of a stone table or something. Multiply that by 300 years and it's surprising that there's still something left nevermind a bit of wear. The best idea you can get is look at the corner that has the least amount of wear which will usually be on the back.

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Not compression, it's wear smash.gifwear smash.gifwear smash.gifwear smash.gif

When a contemporary maker antiques corners [rounding] via blade, file, sandpaper, etc., is that wear also,

or is he/she being clever and/or perhaps artsy like an Old Master ???

Regardless, those rounded Harrison corners look really nice ... as do many modern violins antiqued similarly. :)

Jim

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Take a look at Darnton's post, number 7. It explains how taste can follow the aging of valuable objects. You can go along with this, or take some kind of stand in the direction of the purity of something which reached its zenith in the 18th century.

I won't argue that the violin can't be improved. But I'll argue that improvement won't necessarily be found in the direction of degradation associated with wear and aging.

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