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One or two piece top on this one


Marijan Radaljac
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Wolfjk, I examened those bare wood sections but I could not confirm that it is a seam. Grain lines are so evenly spaced that I doubt that it is a joint. But again I can certanly be wrong. That scraped area you mentioned is qite off the center so the better candidate in my eyes was the line I marked on the last shot. It is full size, cropped image with some added contrast. Take a look under the full resolution.

post-24003-1276770771_thumb.jpg

Hi,

I did not say the joint was on the scraped are, I said above it. If you look about 1/2 inch above the scraped area, there looks to be a centre joint there. A good joint! :)

Some of Stradiviri's violins have unmatched jointed fronts.

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Hi Robertdo,

It is not really true that they can tell when the tree was cut but they can make a hypothesis as to how large the original trunk might have been. To give you an example I can make a violin top with wood cut from a large spruce log. If I make the violin from the part nearest the center of the tree the wood will naturally be dated older than if I used the wood from the outside of the tree near the bark which would be assigned a younger date. Both tops however are from the same tree that was cut at the same time. In the first case the ring spacing would usually be wider than second where the wood was taken from the outer part of the tree.

The more mature a spruce tree becomes the narrower the ring spacing is due to geometric constraints. Every new ring the tree produces is growing on a larger circumference than the previous year so the natural tendency is for the rings to become gradually smaller as you move from the pith at the center towards the bark at the outer circumference. This is usually the case but the natural trend can be variable due to growing conditions (available sunlight, location within the forest, terrain, mountain slope orientation, soil nutrients, rainfall, heat and cold etc.).

Bruce

You're right and in the initial post that I edited I was making a series of hypothesis (like one end of the lower bout of the violin was exactly the middle of the tree and the other end the outside limit, etc...). But from what I read on the web the dendronologists (not sure this word exists in english...) can estimate the date of cutting because they have a large series of standards from spruce with a known falling date and with which they can compare at the microscopic level. I saw that they were able to estimate quite precisely the age of some famous violins.

dendronochronology

In any case the age of the wood is not always related to the age of the violin of course. For example the second violin I am making will be finished in 2010 but I was told by the person who sold me the wood that it had been cut in 1975 when I was wearing "des culottes courtes)... :)

I don't know how big the spruce trunk are usually when the trees are cut to make violin but for example, if we assume that the top of this violin is a 1 piece (the growth rings increasing gradually from one side to the other) then if the lower bout is about 20cm large, lets add 5 cm lots during the cutting and triming to get flush ends, then the trunk was at least 50cm diameter. Is that a usual size?

Many interesting question for someone like me who is not at all used to work with wood, but who is used to ask himself lots of questions, many of which remain without answers!

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50 cm would be a very small spruce... 50 inches is not at all uncommon, and they get MUCH larger.

(edit) ...depending on what breed of spruce, obviously...I was thinking Engelmann and Sitka...perhaps the European spruces are smaller, but still, 50cm is quite small.

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

When things are difficult to decide (one piece or two) then just don't decide it. Let it be unknown, we do not have

to know everything. Leave something for imagination.

One of my violin is like that it is a two pieces top. The truth is revealed only after a very careful examination.

Either way is fine with me. If it is a three pieces or four, then I may start to worry.

Again it may fool me for a long time. :)

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You're right and in the initial post that I edited I was making a series of hypothesis (like one end of the lower bout of the violin was exactly the middle of the tree and the other end the outside limit, etc...). But from what I read on the web the dendronologists (not sure this word exists in english...) can estimate the date of cutting because they have a large series of standards from spruce with a known falling date and with which they can compare at the microscopic level. I saw that they were able to estimate quite precisely the age of some famous violins.

dendronochronology

In any case the age of the wood is not always related to the age of the violin of course. For example the second violin I am making will be finished in 2010 but I was told by the person who sold me the wood that it had been cut in 1975 when I was wearing "des culottes courtes)... :)

I don't know how big the spruce trunk are usually when the trees are cut to make violin but for example, if we assume that the top of this violin is a 1 piece (the growth rings increasing gradually from one side to the other) then if the lower bout is about 20cm large, lets add 5 cm lots during the cutting and triming to get flush ends, then the trunk was at least 50cm diameter. Is that a usual size?

Many interesting question for someone like me who is not at all used to work with wood, but who is used to ask himself lots of questions, many of which remain without answers!

Hi Robertdo,

Unfortunately the only thing that dendrochronology can tell us for sure is:

1.) In what period of time (oldest observable ring to youngest observable ring) the wood being examined was growing

2.) It cannot tell you who made the instrument although certain hypotheses can be made concerning the use of wood from the same tree as in the case of some instruments from Stradivari.

3.) It can confirm or deny the possibility (or impossibility) of a maker to have used a certain piece of wood in the construction of an instrument. (for example, if the dating of the wood demonstrates that the tree was still growing in the forest after the makers death it would therefore have been impossible for him to have used it to make an instrument)

4.) Newer techniques are being refined where it may be possible to say where the tree grew and consequently in which forest it was harvested.

Bruce

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Hi Robertdo,

Unfortunately the only thing that dendrochronology can tell us for sure is:

1.) In what period of time (oldest observable ring to youngest observable ring) the wood being examined was growing

2.) It cannot tell you who made the instrument although certain hypotheses can be made concerning the use of wood from the same tree as in the case of some instruments from Stradivari.

3.) It can confirm or deny the possibility (or impossibility) of a maker to have used a certain piece of wood in the construction of an instrument. (for example, if the dating of the wood demonstrates that the tree was still growing in the forest after the makers death it would therefore have been impossible for him to have used it to make an instrument)

4.) Newer techniques are being refined where it may be possible to say where the tree grew and consequently in which forest it was harvested.

Bruce

Yup', that pretty much sums it up.

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Hi Marijan,

What your friend is being told by the institute is impossible. Under magnification with a microscope you can positively tell which way the grain is oriented and it is necessary to know this in order to date it. Rings are always listed from oldest to youngest in the master chronologies and also for the samples that you are measuring so that they can be compared. If you can't tell which way the rings are oriented you can't date the spruce. There can be only one correct date; it can't be either this or that.

It would be interesting to see the dendrochronological report.

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

The only year related number I have seen on that paper is 1805, but I didn`t bother with reading the whole bunch of the papers he had with him. I was under the impression that the second number was some speculation on his owne or the unofficialle one by the institute that made the test.

I guess that one of the sides, let say bass one, examined allone, would give a different result. But I can not debate what diferece would make the two pice top in dating, I have no knowladge about dendrohronology. He seems to be convinced that two piece top would give a chance to his theory.

But as I sad, formaly in the paper, it was tested as one piece.

I too expresed my dissbelive about institute, not being able to determine is it one piece or two but the owner was stucked with his wersion of the storry. "If there is a center seem and if you calculate the spacings, and number, the date is a diferent one. ..."Thay could not tell for shure....".

Maybe the wish to belive in his version is making him unable to except some facts. Maybe not. I`ll ask him to scan the papers. If I got those I`ll post it.

Wolfjk, as I sad it rely look like that, but I can not tell for shure. As far as I can see from the photos, there are one sideded orientation of the grain from bass to treble side and I can not confirm the seam. If there is a joint, than one side is definitly turned arround.

Yes jezzupe I get the piont and I do agree. Thanks. I wouldn`t put my self in possison to judge the autenthicy of instrument and I made that clear. Bruce could do that, and a number of people here could. That is whay I took out all speculation about the other characteristics of the instrument and ask for your opinions about the possibility of the joint, based on the photos I provided. That is all.

The only (for him) issue was that seam. It is nice to learn somethin along the way though.

Man sent me a bigger version of his x-ray photos. This what he was talking about a lot, whatever it is, but I could not see well on small photos.

Thanks to all.

post-24003-1276847929_thumb.jpgpost-24003-1276847958_thumb.jpg

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i think what peter is saying is it is matched up and dated on one side and its 1685 in the centre, much older to the one edge, extrapolating the rings for a one piece top add the counted years of the other side you get 1805 at the opposite edge, but if it is a two piece top the newest year you get is 1685, quite simple really i think you need to read the report carefully, sincerely lyndon :) :) :)

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Please excuse what may seem like an idiot's question, but I'm quite courious; are there any methods to determine the time between when the tree is cut, and when the violin is actually made?

Storage time after the tree fall down perhaps. Date in the violin :)

I`ll pretty much end up at this point.

This is what was sent to me by owner. Dendro tests where made by Institute of foreestery in Ljubljana, results where sent in Hamburg to Peter Klein (or his co worker) Misha Beuting. This paper (it`s part) is a conclusion.

Only a little odd thing thouhg is that possible copyst listed in the findings, all died before that tree fall down.

I didn`t receive the test results from Ljubljana.

post-24003-1276857057_thumb.jpgpost-24003-1276857081_thumb.jpg

Owner didn`t agree with institute foundings, becouse he think that thay didn`t put enough effort to determine is it one or two piece top, using just an narrow cross arch area to examine the rings, not checking the longitudal one. He will try to get the photos of the interior.

I talk to the guy today and he told me that this photos and results did allready travell around the world (so, some of you may seen these before). Didn7t know that. Conclusion where expected. Hand made or factory made copy from 19 th centurie.

Thanks for opinions!

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Hi all,

I have indeed measured the ring on the front of this violin. I have done this from a large series of high resolution pictures that were supplied to me. Each set of rings were measured from each consecutive overlapping picture and every single one revealed consistent sequential ring structure, and more importantly, each one was consistently maching the same references (this is important), from the beginning (outer bass edge) the the end (outer treble edge). The front is therefore a one piece front, and there is no doubt about it.

I was absolutely clear, when the measurements were completed, that the results were unequivocal. It is inconceivable that by chance, a two piece front would match a long reference chronology, if the treble side was measured the wrong way.

The owner, strongly believing his instrument to be a Francesco Stradivari from the outset, just would not accept my findings. The fact that stylistically, to my eye it looked every bit like a Mittenwald c.1840, certainly didn't convince him. I informed him of my opinion on his violins on stylistic grounds, before I attempted a dendrochronology test.

The latest ring is not 1805, by the way, and I don't know where that comes from.

Here are my latest two emails to the owner:

Dear...

Thank you for the pictures, I was able to measure several of them, and crucially, they all match the same references.

Let me make it absolutely clear:

The growth IS from left to right, and I cannot understand how anybody who says they know about wood can say different. (the "institute" which had examined the violin had said the growth was from right to left!!!!, at least that was what was reported back to me)

The date of the latest ring, which is situated at the outermost edge of the treble side has a date of 1817, and matches 200+ instruments and references in my database. Furthermore, as I said long time ago, the violin looks stylistically from Mittenwald from about 1840, and the dendro test shows exactly that the largest number of matches are with Mittenwald instruments. The climatic signal is VERY strong and this confirms that your violin is not a Francesco Stradivari, but in fact a Mittenwald instrument, which is what I said in the first place.

Regards

Peter

Dear...

I understand that you may not be "happy" with the results, but I can assure you that there are absolutely no doubts about the date. I am sorry, but in this case it is very clear. If you did not want to listen to my results, you should not have asked me, I have spent a lot of time on your pictures, I have not asked for money.

If I am not sure about a date for the wood, I will never say anything. If I declare a result, I know the scientific results are 100% reliable.

I have measured several successive portions of rings from your violin, and they ALL gave consistent and overlapping results.

If you want your violin to be a Francesco Stradivari, then nothing, not even strong scientific results will convince you that it isn't. But as I said before, I did not need a dendro test to see that it was a Mittenwald instrument, and I do have 25 years professional experience in violins.

I hope you can see that I don't feel happy that you asked me for (unpaid) help and now you reject my findings.

One day, you will know I was right.

Regards

Peter

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Storage time after the tree fall down perhaps. Date in the violin :)

I`ll pretty much end up at this point.

This is what was sent to me by owner. Dendro tests where made by Institute of foreestery in Ljubljana, results where sent in Hamburg to Peter Klein (or his co worker) Misha Beuting. This paper (it`s part) is a conclusion.

Only a little odd thing thouhg is that possible copyst listed in the findings, all died before that tree fall down.

I didn`t receive the test results from Ljubljana.

post-24003-1276857057_thumb.jpgpost-24003-1276857081_thumb.jpg

Owner didn`t agree with institute foundings, becouse he think that thay didn`t put enough effort to determine is it one or two piece top, using just an narrow cross arch area to examine the rings, not checking the longitudal one. He will try to get the photos of the interior.

I talk to the guy today and he told me that this photos and results did allready travell around the world (so, some of you may seen these before). Didn't know that. Conclusion where expected. Hand made or factory made copy from 19 th centurie.

Thanks for opinions!

Hi Marijan,

I read what Prof. Beuting has to say but he declares that it IS a one piece top and he is probably right. He has been doing this for a long time and he knows his business. When measuring the widths of the annual rings Prof. Beuting must have seen that they were all oriented in the same direction without interruption.

At this point it would be necessary to examine your friends instrument directly and not with photographs or x-rays, in your or someone else's workshop to find this mystery center joint; if it is really there. It doesn't help that your friend is trying to play dendrochronologist when it seems clear that he knows nothing about it.

Let me know how it goes.....

EDIT - I didn't see Peter Ratcliffs answer above before I wrote this but Peter is also very good at this and a violinmaker as well. I highly doubt if any errors have been made.

Bruce

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I asked the owner several times for the measurements taken by the Institute" but they never materialised. The different dates, that I get and that Micha gets is simply because the institute stopped measuring the rings just within the purfling and there are 12 more narrow rings to the very edge. Narrow, but significant if you want the correct date for the latest ring. (because that's what it's all about!)

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talk about a thankless job, peter, its kinda like trying to tell someone they didnt buy a genuine stradivari at the flea market, they just dont want to beleive you "he was trying to buy my stradivari by telling me it was fake" etc, i know personally if someone did a dendro anaysis like this on my violin i would be very gracious and thankful for their time and effort; i suggest you convince this owner to do the same marjian, sincerely lyndon :) :) :)

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If the owner really wants this violin to be a Francesco Stradivari, I could recommend some people who would find a convenient date for him.

But don't come to me, John Topham or Micha Beuting if you don't want to listen.

Lot of Mittenwald instrument, both from 18th and 19th centuries, have one piece fronts. These fronts often have over 200 years of growth ring information. This is representing climatic information over a long period of time within a certain geographical area, (most likely around Mittenwald). The majority of the wood used to make instruments in Mittenwald in the 17th and 18th centuries share similar year to year ring variations, that is why it is normally very easy to date such wood. The statistical and graphical results of a dendrochronology analysis between Mittenwald instruments are some of the best recorded.

This one is no exception.

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If the owner really wants this violin to be a Francesco Stradivari, I could recommend some people who would find a convenient date for him.

But don't come to me, John Topham or Micha Beuting if you don't want to listen.

Lot of Mittenwald instrument, both from 18th and 19th centuries, have one piece fronts. These fronts often have over 200 years of growth ring information. This is representing climatic information over a long period of time within a certain geographical area, (most likely around Mittenwald). The majority of the wood used to make instruments in Mittenwald in the 17th and 18th centuries share similar year to year ring variations, that is why it is normally very easy to date such wood. The statistical and graphical results of a dendrochronology analysis between Mittenwald instruments are some of the best recorded.

This one is no exception.

Mittenwald is the first thing that came into my mind too! :)

As Peter affirms, this type of wood is characteristic of their instruments. The wood used by the Mittenwalders, cut at high altitude in the Karwendl mountains, is characterised by its often extremely narrow annual ring patterns and one piece tops are not at all unusual.

Bruce

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Mittenwald is the first thing that came into my mind too! :)

Yes Mittenwald, it is the word from a first sentence of mine from initiall post. Unfourtunatly it probably didn`t cross my mind from the same reasons as yours :) . No expertise on my side.

And that is what I told the man when he came to me yesterday, and that is whay I didn`t want to get involved in speculations of any kind. I did examine an instrument in the manner which I`m abble to do, as an self trained maker with very limitted expirience with any kind of famous instruments .

When I faild to find a joint I offered him at least some help, with intention to ask for moore eyes regarding an existing or non existing seam here on MN. My statements about strong unlikenes that this could be Francisco Stradivari violin, looking at the workmanship, finishh varnish..., didn`t catch the ears much.

As I promised I posted photos with only one question. Can you see an indications that this is either one or two piece top. Since that was only issue, till I talked with the man today, and seen reports, I stayed away from labels, inscriptions ...

I`ve seen the owner yesterday for the first time , so a friendly convictions will not do much I belive.

Thank you very much Peter for your post. I understand how you feel about all that. I assume that you have allmost dayly expiriences with a customers like that. I woldn`t like to be in your skin I must say. I hope that this kind of thakless atitude isn`t something you see regulary.

And yes Lyndon, you are right. ..."he was trying to buy my stradivari by telling me it was fake" etc... was mentioned few times.

Sorry for taking your time guys and thank you

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