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bontemp

Rhode Island's James Carpenter Violins

23 posts in this topic

We recently purchased Violin #64, 1911, made by American James Carpenter. Found another of his violins owned by a gentleman in New York, #80, 1916. Are there other violins out there by Carpenter? Do you have pics? Any appraisals on them?

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No one is going to give you an estimated value here... not publically at least.

http://www.stringworks.com/cgi-bin/discuss...&post=42514

A quote from the thread: "The violin appraised for $4,700 today ..." Their comments about origin seem wrong (dates don't make sense, but maybe I missed something).

Yours is an earlier violin, and in better condition. Something doesn't seem quite right when comparing the ffs... :)

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The photos are heavily distorted which tends to make the lines very difficult to read.

Try shooting in portrait mode.

Just sayin.

Cheers.

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Are there other violins out there by Carpenter?

Years ago I had two Carpenter violins. I think they did not look as nicely made as the one in your pictures.

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The ff forms look different from the other forum images claiming to be Carpenter. The back grain is slanted in the same way though... corner treatment seems different? Maybe a tweaked import?

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The ff forms look different from the other forum images claiming to be Carpenter. The back grain is slanted in the same way though... corner treatment seems different? Maybe a tweaked import?

Thanks for the reply and I will take better photos when the instrument is returned from the luthier. I know that it is an authentic Carpenter violin as we know the family for whom Mr. Carpenter made it in 1911, the Mertings, then of Peace Dale, RI. It has been in their family since 1911; the senior Merting took lessons from Carpenter then it passed to his daughter from whom we accquired it after she played it these many years. Sorry for the "appraisal" question, naive request - we like the violin a lot.

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We recently purchased Violin #64, 1911, made by American James Carpenter. Found another of his violins owned by a gentleman in New York, #80, 1916. Are there other violins out there by Carpenter? Do you have pics? Any appraisals on them?

I have a record of one being sold on eBay in June of 2008 for $635. It was dated 1916, by James Carpenter, Peacedale, RI.

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I have a record of one being sold on eBay in June of 2008 for $635. It was dated 1916, by James Carpenter, Peacedale, RI.

Thanks, that's the one above in this string that references a "$4700 appraisal" - I have corresponded with that owner. He questions the validity of that appraisal but loves the violin. I'm anxious to get mine back so I can post better photos for comment - it never occurred to me that even in 1911 a maker could import a cheap unit then, as also mentioned in this string, "tweak it ---" and put his name on it - hope that is not the case

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I hope that you have his original work as well, but it was and is common practice for people to clean up and re/finish foreign work. It has been mentioned in other threads that relabling instruments with obscure makers is a sly thing for people to do. I wouldn't worry about it; just talk with your luthier when you get it back, and ask about the quality of the work.

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Hello,

I am the owner of the "other" James Carpenter fiddle. I bought it from Pahdah_Hound on ebay for ~$630.

I had two separate appraisals done on the fiddle, one by Mary Foss of Ossining NY, and the other by Kolstein and Sons on Long Island. Both agreed it was indeed a violin from the early 1900's made by a single maker and not a reproduction or mass produced relabeled fiddle. neither one had any reason to doubt it was in fact made by James Carpenter in the year it was dated. Mary Foss appraised it $4700 and Kolsteins was more modest at $3700.

I didn't so much doubt the appraisal as I did the idea that people will pay that type of money for it. I wrote:

"i still play the violin and i love it, it appraised for a good amount but an appraisal isn't worth the paper it's printed on if no one will buy it for that."

it looks much better now, i put some very nice fittings, new bridge, gave it a french polish, and it plays fantastic. I've all but abandoned the violin and play almost exclusively the celtic fiddle now and I wouldn't sell this fiddle.

i can respect everyone's opinion here, but i'll trust the word of two violin makers who actually played, physically inspected the fiddle and gave me their unbiased opinion.

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I've all but abandoned the violin and play almost exclusively the celtic fiddle now

Sweet! There's a little of that going around FWIU. :)

Wondering why you got the fiddle French polished?

ALB

PS--ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!!

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Sweet! There's a little of that going around FWIU. :)

Wondering why you got the fiddle French polished?

ALB

PS--ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!!

yeah i shouldn't have, it needed a little TLC but the french polish did affect the tone. not so much so that others notice, but i do notice.

as for the OP the only thing i can find on james carpenter violins are what you've been posting on the net and the write up i found on the internet. Mary Foss did find him in one of her violin maker books, though I can't remember exactly what it said, it was a very small blurb. sorry no more information for you.

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The violin depicted above isn't your violin, correct? So you're saying that the violin in the link/thread is the one that is yours, appraised as authentic.

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The violin depicted above isn't your violin, correct? So you're saying that the violin in the link/thread is the one that is yours, appraised as authentic.

my fiddle is in the corresponding link you posted from stringworks and it appraised as a violin made by a single american maker in the early 1900's and it wasn't a mass produced european import. neither one would say it was an authentic "james carpenter" violin because he's pretty obscure and they aren't very familiar with his work although both had heard of him and Mary did find him in one of her books. but they had no reason to believe it wasn't and said if it isn't it was still made by a sinlge maker in America about 100 years ago. Given that information i can't imagine why the label would be faked, i can see if it were a german import which i figured it was when i purchased it but it wasn't...

they said it was a great fiddle and a good deal and gave me a "price appraisal" but like i said that means next to nothing to me since i'm not selling it and i doubt i could find a buyer who would pay that for it anyway.

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There is an interesting piece of forensic evidence here. I believe it points to long usage as one of the main ingredients of a very good instrument (tonally).

The link to another forum has the owner saying it can really sing. I have come across a few well used violins in the past that have been indifferent other than that they had big sonorous sounds.

The violin does not show that the maker was anything but an ordinary workman without any particular understanding or skills. But at least one of them sounded good. I don't know about this example.

I think most of all the existing evidence points toward a lot of usage to help the sound. Maybe that is too simplistic for some. I hear back from people that some of my instruments sound very good, although they are ones I have not seen for a LONG time. When new, they may have been the better of two or three that I had. I was never in love with any of them.

If my comment starts another thread, maybe I would like that. Have any of you stumbled across any of your violins that have been used a lot over 10 or more years? What have you found as to tone?

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when buying a used violin i tend to look for the one that was played a ton, even multiple repairs is a plus for me because someone loved it and cared enough about it to repair it. people don't do that for a fiddle that sounds like garbage.

an old fiddle that sat around unplayed for 100 years probably did so for a reason. my fiddle isn't the prettiest fiddle around, but $3700 is hardly an outlandish price, it's not like it appraised for 20K or something. and it certainly played much better than anything new at that price point.

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people don't do that for a fiddle that sounds like garbage.

I understand this POV, but have you ever been to a repair class? :)

John, what evidence is there that the violin was played a lot?

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when buying a used violin i tend to look for the one that was played a ton

Agreed.

even multiple repairs is a plus for me

Well, that can also be the hallmark of a lemon.

someone loved it and cared enough about it to repair it. people don't do that for a fiddle that sounds like garbage.

Either that or the fiddle was a money pit for them and might end up being the same for you.

ALB

PS--You a fan of this guy?

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The ff forms look different from the other forum images claiming to be Carpenter. The back grain is slanted in the same way though... corner treatment seems different? Maybe a tweaked import?

Here are some improved photos taken after cosmetic work by the luthier - if it's a tweaked import it was done almost a hundred years ago as it remained in one family

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My grandpa James Adam Carpenter was a single violin maker, non- reproduction. I have 3 of his violins. Can anyone tell me more about him or his violins?

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I have a James carpenter Violin No 22 1894, Been in one family until I got it in 1985.  I live in Charleston SC, been here twenty years.   I got the violin in Virginia.

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Hello Mark Carpenter - the James Carpenter violin maker that I am familiar with was born in 1843 - would he be your great-great grandfather? Where did he ply his trade? Thanks for your comments.

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