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Who could be the maker of this old Violin?


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The school my son goes to has given this violin to him on loan.


I am curious who the maker is as I have difficulties decipher the label. I know, labels have little meaning, but it is a starting point.

It reads something like: ???LLARD on the first line where the second and third letter could be an A and T

The second line reads: di BERNARD F. I. or di BERNARDEL

Unfortunately I can't read the other italic writing as it is very faint. And I also can't see a date anywhere.


There is also a repair label: Repaired by HOWARD F. SLEATH Brisbane with a possible date of 1961. and further in written with a ballpoint pen: again 72


The violin has a neck graft and lots of peg hole bushings, so I think it was used a lot.






More to come...

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Also the belly has extensive repairs.



It has corner blocks and all the linings. The back is of one piece and the violin to me doesn't look like a mass produced instrument.



It has a nice reddish varnish - well, what's left of it, but someone added some kind of clear gloss varnish later on.

Could it be French? Any opinions are much appreciated.

Cheers, Peter

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The „Fahrkarte“ (Train ticket) as I would call it here, as the others have said already, reads Galliard eleve d’ Bernadel (sorry no French accents on my keyboard) or similar. The violin though is the normal Schönbach/Markneukirchen "Dutzendarbeit", just Guarneri model and a bit the worse for hack repairmen.

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He plays ok, maybe a bit better than ok. The school actually beliefs that this violin is made by Francois Allard circa 1789. But this just didn't add up to me. Also it looks like the neck graft is fake too - But it was broken off in the past and crudely repaired, so this may qualify as a genuine neck graft after all!

So Jacob's observation is spot on I think.

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FYI ... from Alan Coggins' excellent tome " Violin and Bow Makers of Australia"...

SLEATH, Henry Walter (1828-1918) Established a music business at 456 George St, Brisbane around 1866. Not known if he made violins, though probably did repairs and is reported to have trained his son, Alfred.

SLEATH, Howard Fortnam (1899-1984) Son and pupil of A.H. Sleath, beginning work about 1913 and made his first violin in 1917. Assisted by Alfred Hill. Made 63 violins, 5 violas, a tenor gamba and also bows. Almost all violins modelled on Guarneri del Gesu.

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Graft looks to be real. Question is, does it mean it was a conversion, or for some other reason. The fake graphs I have seen, have been

REALLY obvious fakes. Looking on the top of the cheeks on the pegbox, it seems to have a very different looking wood on either side of the

graph. jeff

Jeff, you are right. I had another look and it is after all a real neck graft. I can actually see the faint joint inside the peg box. But does someone has a clue why a violin like this has a neck graft? If Jacob is correct, this violin most likely wasn't built as a baroque violin originally.

Mysticpaw, thanks for the additional information on Howard Sleath.

Harry, the back is quarter (corner) cut and doesn't show any damage. But I don't understand what difference does it make in working out the origin or age of this violin.

Joshua, they are both modelled after Guarneri I guess, but other than that, I don't see too much of a similarity between them. Actually I like yours better.

Cheers, Peter

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But does someone has a clue why a violin like this has a neck graft?

I have grafted necks on fiddles like this before, mostly when someone had reduced the previous neck in size by an unreasonable amount. Bear in mind that the hack repairer who didn’t make a good job of it at all and did quite a lot of other work too, might have been under the misguided impression that he was working on a Galliard.

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