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Old violin Identification


Matthias Lange
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I recently bought this violin from an antique store.

Workmanship is very clean, even in the interior. Scroll is nice. Dark red brown varnish.

The table has some (well) repaired cracks. Pegholes have been bushed.

The neck is loose, the button broken. The button has been grafted, before.

The label is printed and reads:

Caussin F.H.

Luthier

Neufchateau _ Vosges

N° 617

The number 617 is handwritten.

On the inside of the back, in the lower bouts is the inscription E D 1895. Written with a pencil.

Length of the back: approximately 358mm

Lower bout width: ca. 210mm

Upper bout width: ca. 168mm

center bout width: ca 108mm

Do you have any idea, what it could be?

Many thanks,

Matthias

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Hallo Matthias,

Das weisst du bestimmt schon, aber Neufchateau ist tatsächlich eine Stadt in den Vogesen (Vosges auf Frz.). Ein Bauer Namens François Hippolyte Caussin scheint bekannt zu sein. Ob er auch kopiert wurde, weiss ich nicht.

Hier was ich ganz schnell finden konnte:

http://www.violonarchet.com/Collection/Vio....%20Caussin.htm

http://viaductviolins.fr/English/Public/Ma...or=CAUSFRAN1830

Marc

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Vielen Dank für die Links, Marc!

Maybe I'll register on that site, but they request a bit much information, without mentioning their privacy policy... :)

Do you think it could be a Francois Hippolyte Caussin violin?

iburkhard: I paid 250 Euro for it, but it took quite a bit of haggling.

Matthias

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I don't know what the fiddle is, but is there any reason not to believe the label?

Henley has an entry for this maker, Francois Hippolyte Caussin, in the French city Neufchateau, with year of death to be 1898. So the penciled in year of 1895 (for whatever purpose it's there) is not out of bounds. Henley's description of the the varnish for the fiddles of FH's "brother"* (see note below), Francois Caussin (1820-65), who was also a co-worker with FH Caussin, matches the appearance of this varnish pretty well.

If 19th Century French fiddles are supposed to be known for their cleanliness and tidiness in making, this fiddle certainly exemplifies that.

*Henley does give Francois Caussin (1820 -65) as the brother, not the father of FH Caussin (1845 -98). Can that be right with the 25 year age difference? Probably not.

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Vielen Dank für die Links, Marc!

Maybe I'll register on that site, but they request a bit much information, without mentioning their privacy policy... :)

Do you think it could be a Francois Hippolyte Caussin violin?

iburkhard: I paid 250 Euro for it, but it took quite a bit of haggling.

Matthias

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

Only 250 Euro. What a deal.

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Thank You for your replies!

skiingfiddler: From what I've read at different internet sources, Francois was the father of Francois Hyppolite and Nicolas. All of them were violin makers. Francois was known as a good copyist of italian instruments and sold most of his instruments through the Hamma shop in Stuttgart. His violins normally have fake labels.

Francois Hyppolite's work is said to be similar to Francois'.

I've found some photos of Francois Caussin's work, but still nothing of Francois Hyppolite Caussin.

I signed in on the website that marc posted the link, but it unfortunately does not work.

tomroth: Would you mind to give a little bit more information? What makes you so sure?

Matthias

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Hi, I just wanted to post a warning:

Don't try to sign in to the viaduct violins site!

I tried it yesterday and today received an email from Ebay France, that they were not able to charge my credit card....

It seems, someone tried to register an account using my email address.

Matthias

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Mattias,

Yes, I think William Henley, 1973, Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers, is wrong in calling FH Caussin the "brother" of Francois. It looks like Francois is the father of brothers FH and Nicholas.

Concerning model: When I first looked at your photos, I though that we're looking at an elegant version of a Strad --elegant because outline and f-holes are more flowing than golden period Strad, especially in the C bouts . Looking at your photos again, maybe there's more Amati in this fiddle or Amatese Stradivari than golden period Strad, which would have straighter C bouts and more hook in the upper corners.

Very speculatively, the interesting thing about that Amati influence is that Henley attributes an "Amatese style" to Nicholas Caussin. So there's some Amati style in the Caussin family.

I'd be interested to hear what others think of the model of this fiddle.

Concerning nationality: This is a nicely made fiddle, in materials, outline, f holes, construction and varnish and probably is about 100 or a few decades more years old. It's not a fiddle from some place where violin making was on the decline, meaning 19th century Italy. Varnish and elegance suggest something else besides Germany or Austria. That leaves France and Bohemia (and maybe England and the low countries, Holland, etc, about which I know nothing). I'd lean toward France.

I'd be interested to hear what others think of the possible nationality of this fiddle.

I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything, just doing some very amateurish analysis for my own benefit, talking to myself. Marc's admonition to have the fiddle evaluated by an acknowledged expert is good advice. The fiddle looks like it deserves that kind of evaluation.

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Thank You for your replies!

skiingfiddler: From what I've read at different internet sources, Francois was the father of Francois Hyppolite and Nicolas. All of them were violin makers. Francois was known as a good copyist of italian instruments and sold most of his instruments through the Hamma shop in Stuttgart. His violins normally have fake labels.

Francois Hyppolite's work is said to be similar to Francois'.

I've found some photos of Francois Caussin's work, but still nothing of Francois Hyppolite Caussin.

I signed in on the website that marc posted the link, but it unfortunately does not work.

tomroth: Would you mind to give a little bit more information? What makes you so sure?

Matthias

Well, I saw "tons" of Caussin violins at the shop of the best expert of Caussin violins in Paris (Sabatier).

The Caussin style is well depicted at the url given by Marc. (violonarchet)CAUSSIN_violon.JPG

I never saw violins made by the Caussin with maple like yours.

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I'll try to show it to an expert, when I have repaired/restored it.

Any suggestions as to who is the right person?

Matthias

I have no recommendations in Europe for repairs or evaluation for attribution. I'm sure, if you ask some professional string players in your area, some names will repeatedly be offered.

I would think the priority would be careful repairs rather than attribution. So, even if someone can't tell you what the fiddle is, maybe they are still qualified to do the repairs.

If you do find someone whom you trust with the repairs, you might ask them a series of questions, rather than the ultimate one of, "Who made this fiddle." Someone without an international reputation may balk at answering that question but be able to tell you quite a bit about the fiddle if asked lesser imposing questions. Here's the list of questions that, I believe, Jeffrey Holmes has taught us to ask ourselves in trying to identify an instrument. (Jeffrey, If I've got this wrong, maybe you can correct.) The order is important:

1. What's the age?

2. What's the model?

3. How well was the model executed? How individual is the fiddle? How much does it deviate from the model?

4. (Maybe as part of 3, above): Any striking features? Varnish quality. Quality of construction.

5. Based on above answers, what might the place of origin be, first in national terms, then more specifically in terms of region within a nation and then if possible, quite specifically, which city?

6. Based on above answers, who might have made it?

7. (This, I think, is my own addition): Finally, and only after you've formed an opinion at least down to question 5 and preferably also to question 6, what does the label say, and how genuine does the label look?

A competent repair person, who has dealt with a lot of different violins, might be able to answer questions 1 through 5 (or parts of 5) but not want to risk answering 6. That competent repair person might also have some opinions on question 7, but not want to venture an answer to 6. For example: The label is a complete fantasy. The label is genuine, but does not go with this fiddle. The label is genuine and looks like the original label for this fiddle.

In short, you might be content to take the fiddle to a good shop for good repairs and get some good information on it, rather than seek out a shop that can offer you a definitive answer to "Who made this?" How many shops in the world can answer that question definitively for a broad range of fiddles? A dozen?

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