Help ID'ing Violin Supposedly a Michael Boller


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I temporarily have a violin in my possession which I am looking at buying. As it produces an absolutely beautiful sound.

My question is is it what it claims to be? Violinist that have looked at it think early 1900's without looking at the label.

The label Says: Michael Boller, Geigemacher in Mittenwald an der Ifer 1786

Any help would be appreciated!

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Regarding Labels: (Please forgive me, Skiingfiddler, if I slightly contradict you) It is important to know that the 19th century Markneukirchen wholesalers also supplied octavo leave

I like the look of this violin - it seems to be of that era or mor like early 19th century, it's very nicely made and the neck graft is very well done. It's just a matter of price - you can find a bea

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I'm not a total plonker, always resting on a piece of foam! Just the tile's are the best contrast.

Where would I look for a number? The builder who has it in stock has penciled the price on the fingerboard, on the otherside looks a bit like pencile. And either says 55N or SSN.

Near the end pin there is also a number stamped in, either 2001 or 3001 looks like 2 and 3 stamped on top of each other.

Thanks for the help so far!

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I don't know what your violin is, but what a nice looking, old violin. I'm willing to believe it's 200 years old (+ or - a decade or two), but well cared for, judging from the lack of damage. Nice neck graft, button crowning, and peg bushings.

You may be misreading the label. "Ifer" is probably "Isar," a river near Mittenwald.

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if your paying more than 5000usd for this violin youre paying for a genuine boller and you need a proffessional appraisal, asking someone to do this from pictures is ridiculous, if you could post us a picture of the label we could at least say if it looks real or not, beyond that not much i can say

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It would be wise to heed Lyndon's warnings. An in-the-hand appraisal by someone qualified is always the best. Photos are great for ruling certain possibilities out or for allowing tentatively for some possibilities, but they are not good grounds for attributing certainty to anything.

Reading Lyndon's post made me adjust mine with an important preface, "I don't know what your violin is, but ...," which I should have had in the first place to avoid any misunderstandings.

By the way, determining that the label is genuine or a fake would tell you nothing about the instrument.

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I fully understand your warnings and will definitely not make my decision by what you say. I have made my choice by sound it produces. Just your words will help me to decide to continue my "quest" to find to learn more about the violin I will play. Builders here ask a lot of money for an appraisal wondering if it is worth it, and first step is to rule out possibilities and move on from there!

Anyway 2 photo's of the label!

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I like the look of this violin - it seems to be of that era or mor like early 19th century, it's very nicely made and the neck graft is very well done. It's just a matter of price - you can find a beautiful sounding violin for $1000 so I wouldn't spend a lot just because it sounds great. Lyndon gives good advice.

The label looks a bit colourful for late 18th century, but it's worth sending photos to Peter Horner at Bromptons in London.

Valuation form

He will give an impartial (and in my experience very accurate) appraisal, and will give you an auction room estimate (which will be about 50% of retail, maybe a bit less). This service is free of charge. If it's a Boller he will recognize it.

A lot of experts will give a verbal opinion and will only charge for documentation.

There are a lot of Boller facsimile labels around, and an unidentified Mittenwald violin circa 1820 is worth quite a bit less than a Boller. Incidentally this violin Boller for $12,500 doesn't look much like the one you've got ... but I'm really no good at identification.

Good luck!

Martin Swan Violins

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the label could be real but looks a little too good to be true, for instance the date, hand lettered is usually considerably more faded than the text, in this case its not. most likely is you have some kind of violin before 1850 but not a boller, if the price is between 2000-5000 feel free to buy it based on the tone but violins are not sold based on tone and this one is being sold based on ?fake? label

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Getting the label authenticated tells you nothing about the fiddle. A false Boller label can go into a genuine Boller violin because the violin lost its original label and somebody wanted to note that the fiddle was a Boller. A real Boller label might go into a non-Boller violin because someone had a spare Boller label to use, and thought it might be financially advantageous on that fiddle. And all the other combinations are possibilities. Unless you're collecting labels, knowing that the label is authentic or not is not useful in identifying the fiddle.

What looks like an "f" in "Ifer" is a German "s," I believe. An "f" would be crossed. The "e" is clearly an "e". "Iser" could be an alternate spelling for "Isar." I believe both refer to the same river in Bavaria.

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For the record, there are two Michael Bollers listed as makers from Mittenwald. This is the label (or, more likely, facsimile of a label) from the first Michael, who died in 1803. (My source is Lutgendorff, who has all this family of makers listed under "Poller," in case you want to research it further.)

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By the way, determining that the label is genuine or a fake would tell you nothing about the instrument.

Regarding Labels:

(Please forgive me, Skiingfiddler, if I slightly contradict you)

It is important to know that the 19th century Markneukirchen wholesalers also supplied octavo leaves of labels, that violin makers/dealers could snip out and glue into any instrument whatsoever.

The Viennese police sent a couple of impounded instruments to a recent meeting of the Austrian vm. association (which consists of ca. 20 vms, who are more or less friends with each other, having lunch together in a pub). One interesting instrument had a pretty good looking label Giovanni Maria Lauazza (sic.). After lunch we all went together to look at the new exhibition at the Kunsthistorische Museum called der Himmel hängt voller Geigen (recommended) which is largely about the developments in the Musical life of 19th century Vienna. Exhibition object Number 149 consisted of a glass case full of these facsimile (in the old sense of the word, before the fax machine was invented) labels. As if by magic, front and centre of this display was, to the amusement of everybody, the very same (or rather absolutely identical) Lauazza label.

Boller is one of the facsimile labels that occur often, seen in instruments that range from very good to absolutely awful. The spelling mistake Iser instead of Isar, the river that flows through Mittenwald towards Munich and then onwards into the Danube, is one that I have never ever seen on a genuine label. Having said that, baroque (South) German spelling is a fairly haphazard affair. Poller or Boller isnt really a spelling mistake. I have come across old 18th. Century books in archives here, with alphabetical indices which go: A, B/P, C, D, etc. and even present day Austrians have difficulty keeping Bs and Ps apart. A further point of suspicion is the first number 1 which in the 18th Century would be more likely to look like either an I or an i. The sideways 8 though, would be authentic in the 18th C.

The best way to tell these 19th. C. facsimile labels from the real thing, is to let sunlight shine through the treble F hole, and see if the letters are slightly indented into the paper (authentic) or if the ink is laying on top of the paper, called lithograph, I think, please correct me., (not authentic). Lyndons advice regarding the ink colour is also to be recommended.

Having established (presumably) that this label is one of these facsimiles, the question is no longer could this be a Boller anyway, but what could this anonymous violin be.

Should a customer come into my shop and ask advice (and, Flying Fiddler, I realise that you havnt), I would probably say that he could buy it as an anonymous early 19th C. South German violin (with a possibly slightly younger scroll) if he really liked it, and if the price was reasonable, but not as a Boller.

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Where would I look for a number? The builder who has it in stock has penciled the price on the fingerboard, on the otherside looks a bit like pencile. And either says 55N or SSN.

Near the end pin there is also a number stamped in, either 2001 or 3001 looks like 2 and 3 stamped on top of each other.

The necks “feels” and looks like Hill’s or Beare’s necks from the earlier part of the 20th century.(although the ebony crown looks a bit odd).

If it’s a Hill graft, there will be a stamped letter and number at the lower end (end grain, not face). Just about everything that went through Hills got grafted, whether it needed it or not, and not necessarily on valuable instruments.

If it has such a number, you may be able to get information as to what it was sold as.

Can you post a picture showing the endpin/ lower ribs/ ebony saddle?

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Looking back at the photo's of the label and comparing with the original. The photo's are very light, I think because of the artificial lighting.

Letters look slightly indented into the paper.

Thanks for the help so far! Have also sent it into Bromptons.

Edit: Added more photo's Can't seem to make good pictures of the end pin with stamp readable, although it isn't easy to read IRL.

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Yes, the bottom rib is classic Mittenwald, one-piece with a notch at the bottom to mark the centre point.

I'll be very interested to hear what Peter Horner says - I'm sticking my neck out and saying not Poller/Boller, but early 19th century Mittenwald. Auction value £2000 ish if the condition's good. But does it have a repaired crack on the table below the treble f-hole? Looks like a bit of varnish doctoring here ...

Martin Swan Violins

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"The spelling mistake “Iser” instead of “Isar”, the river that flows through Mittenwald towards Munich and then onwards into the Danube, is one that I have never ever seen on a genuine label."

The Lutgendorf facsimilie spells it "Iser," too. I should have caught that, having lived a block from the river in Munich one year. That means I don't even know what a genuine label should look like.

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Georg Klotz labels are spelt Iser not Isar, other Klotzs too, and I'm sure I've seen Iser on other authentic labels, maybe Joseph Rieger? I don't think German spelling was in any way standardized at this time, and I wouldn't read anything into this spelling of Isar. Jacob Saunders could surely confirm this? It's not like a fake Italian violin "fato in Cremona 1937"!

Still think it's unlikely to be a Michael Poller, but not because of the label. Could be better .... you never know ....

Martin Swan Violins

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"The spelling mistake “Iser” instead of “Isar”, the river that flows through Mittenwald towards Munich and then onwards into the Danube, is one that I have never ever seen on a genuine label."

The Lutgendorf facsimilie spells it "Iser," too. I should have caught that, having lived a block from the river in Munich one year. That means I don't even know what a genuine label should look like.

Lütgendorff is far and away my favorite violin book, for many years I read 5 pages every day with my breakfast, partly to learn German, but mostly to learn about violins. I have however, over the years discovered many mistakes (all of which are copied by Henley et al). One of these mistakes is that quite a lot of these Markneukirchen “trade” facsimiles have slipped into the Label section. The way to sort this out (if you had time) would be to go through the collection in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna and compare with Lütgendorff. Doesn’t make life easier, does it!

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Georg Klotz labels are spelt Iser not Isar, other Klotzs too, and I'm sure I've seen Iser on other authentic labels, maybe Joseph Rieger? I don't think German spelling was in any way standardized at this time, and I wouldn't read anything into this spelling of Isar. Jacob Saunders could surely confirm this? It's not like a fake Italian violin "fato in Cremona 1937"!

Still think it's unlikely to be a Michael Poller, but not because of the label. Could be better .... you never know ....

Martin Swan Violins

Dear Martin,

How interesting. Just imagine, I never noticed that! Shame on me.

I have already noted in Posting #15 that baroque German spelling is a very haphazard business, although I hadn’t ever noticed “Iser” with some of the Klotz family, thank-you very much.

To return to Flying fiddlers fiddle:

The Label is absolutely identical with one of the Markneukirchen facsimiles that I removed from a late 19th. Century Markneukirchen trade violin years ago. As you will know yourself, it gets boring explaining to parents and relatives of prospective customers that the violin has the original apocryphal label Boller, Mittenwald, probably inside from the very beginning, is however later and from the Markneukirchen area. For this reason I tend to remove such labels. This label is currently in my Stamp album and if Flying fiddler would like to provide me with his postal address, I could send it to him. He could then glue it into anything he likes. It has, like his, the hidden question mark in the top border, the modern “1” and the (perhaps not!) spelling mistake “Iser”.

Flying Fiddlers question has to be, not “could this be a Boller” but “what is this fiddle and does it all belong together”. To check if it is from Mittenwald, I would look for too deeply inlayed purfling (edges on the point of breaking off), are the middle linings let in to the corner blocks with a point (not a square mortise vis. Strad), are the joints of the ribs on the C bout edge on the corner, or in the middle, is the belly stop length a trifle short and further down the check list. I don’t think I would be bothered in the slightest if it had been grafted by Beares, Hills or Joe Blogs, since Flying Fiddler is buying a violin and not a neck graft, isn’t he?

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I don’t think I would be bothered in the slightest if it had been grafted by Beares, Hills or Joe Blogs, since Flying Fiddler is buying a violin and not a neck graft, isn’t he?

I mentioned the neck graft in relation to possible stock numbers which are present on both Hills and most Beares grafted instruments. Don’t know about Joe Blogs though.

I though it relevant which is why I mentioned it, but whether the information on those numbers is necessarily retrievable or available is a different matter.

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