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Pinpricks and Dimples revisited


Torbjörn Zethelius
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Original blog post: Pinpricks and Dimples

I am still not convinced that Stradivari started his archings from the outside. Quite the contrary. Let's examine the details.

First, let's look at the violin belly. The 'conclusive proof' mentioned above by actonern (here) is flawed because not "most of his instruments left the shop in this state"; this is a rare example. The fact that the marks weren't removed indicates that something other than graduation was going on. If done properly, there wouldn't be any marks remaining or they'd be very scant. Looking closely, it actually seems that some of the cleats were also indented as Mr./Mrs. Somebody was happily chopping away, but that must surely be accidental. :)

We turn our attention to the cello pics. I insert photos of the actual graduation punch (catalog nr 665) below. To understand how the tools were used, we need to examine them closely. We can see that the anvil doesn't fit the dents on the cello. Another indication is that the inside dimensions are too small for a cello (about 57x374 mm*). Stradivari had another graduating tool for cellos which was hand held; (cat nr 664). It is illustrated in Sacconi's book on page 79. It's made of forged iron. It measures* 115 mm at the widest end, 254 mm deep. Neither of these tools correspond to the dents in the cello.

Ok, so what do the actual punch marks look like, according to me? I'm glad that you asked. :)

For those lucky enough to have the latest Strad poster, the march 2010 issue, the very well preserved Stainer viola has many pin pricks on the belly. Yes, that is on the outside folks. They are very small, barely noticeable, as should be expected. Although they are scattered all over, notice in particular there's a row of tiny pin pricks stretching across the upper treble bout. The upper and lower bouts are typical places to find these marks. Holler when you see them. :) Generally speaking it's a bad idea to spot these pin marks in photos, but if the instrument is in a very good condition as here, I think it's alright.

Torbjörn

* My measurements.

post-24030-1267178264.jpgpost-24030-1267178305.jpg

Notice how the punch was adapted especially for making the pin pricks on the outside of the arch. Michael's drawing shows the opposite approach.

I'm refering at first pic you posted, I note a small clear island near the bottom left corner. I guess if this could be a chip off of glue or varnish if there was.

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A very late and silly question, but what would be the utility of a carving cradle if the arching was to be done from inside first (that is If I understand, leaving the outside of the plate in the form of a triangle)?

Not at all a silly question. It is an interesting thing that should be examined closer. The shape of the "bowl" is broadly and deeply scooped, as if it was made to accommodate different kinds of archings. Not only the Cremonese kinds. So I think it was for general repairs.

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A very late and silly question, but what would be the utility of a carving cradle if the arching was to be done from inside first (that is If I understand, leaving the outside of the plate in the form of a triangle)?

You call it a "carving cradle", but I wonder what Antonio called it?

Perhaps he called it a 'Purfling Cradle'??? :huh:

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Indeed it could have been used mostly for lighter tasks like purfling (I think it was discussed some time ago about the fact that Stradivarius and others were doing the purfling and edge works once the plate were glued on the garland but I don't remember if a definitive conclusion was reached), or bass bar fitting, or as suggested for repairs. I guess if someone has seen this device near enough to see the details I believe it must be possible to see some marks (or no marks at all) that would tell us how heavily it was used, or which tools were used.

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Indeed it could have been used mostly for lighter tasks like purfling (I think it was discussed some time ago about the fact that Stradivarius and others were doing the purfling and edge works once the plate were glued on the garland but I don't remember if a definitive conclusion was reached), or bass bar fitting, or as suggested for repairs. I guess if someone has seen this device near enough to see the details I believe it must be possible to see some marks (or no marks at all) that would tell us how heavily it was used, or which tools were used.

purfling at least on the back would have to be done after it was attached to the ribs because it cuts through the pin.

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