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martin swan

Pencil Marks on Ribs

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I see a lot of Mirecourt violins, good bad and indifferent, with long pencil diagonals on the inner ribs. Is this a form of "carpenter's mark" ie. a way of distinguishing different bits of wood prior to bending/assembly, or does it serve some other purpose?

Also, are there other schools of making which use this technique ... in other words, might one use the presence of these marks as an aid to identification?

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I would think that if there are differing marks or number of marks then these are the reference marks used to id different parts and their location in reference to which place on the body the maker wished them to go - and also to make sure they didn't go in upside down or backwards in the flame pattern around the body, I use numbers myself.

Reese

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I use small pencil letters to identify location/orientation of where I want the ribs to go. They are small enough to be covered by the linings, so I don't have to remove them. I have one last mark near the neck block to indicate what is the top and back, so I don't get it upside down.

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I can see the need for some kind of mark to avoid getting ribs mixed up and upside down. My question really is about the nature of these marks - on many Mirecourt instruments it seems to take the form of a continuous gently sloping diagonal which travels all the way round the inner ribs (presumably one line marked on a piece of flat stock prior to bending), and I'm wondering if anyone else does/did it this way. I'm trying to decide if a violin is English or French, and this might help ....

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I can see the need for some kind of mark to avoid getting ribs mixed up and upside down. My question really is about the nature of these marks - on many Mirecourt instruments it seems to take the form of a continuous gently sloping diagonal which travels all the way round the inner ribs (presumably one line marked on a piece of flat stock prior to bending), and I'm wondering if anyone else does/did it this way. I'm trying to decide if a violin is English or French, and this might help ....

Hi Martin,

Just to add to the confusion, I've seen markings on instruments made by Italians as well. Giuseppe Fiorini and Ansaldo Poggi immediately come to mind but if I were to think about it I'm there are others. The marks they used however are different than those you describe.

Bruce

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Hi Bruce,

Interestingly the Mirecourt marking seems to be continuous ie. it might travel up towards the left of the top block from the left top corner, and then continue up to the right top corner before beginning to slope down again. It always looks very precise, as if someone took an entire length of maple suitable for all the ribs and drew a diagonal with a pencil.

On the ?Hesketh I'm looking at, the pencil line is a very similar gradient but travels downwards symmetrically from the top block in each direction ...

I would be very interested to know what the layout techniques were, it suggests that someone like Hesketh used two strips of maple to make the ribs rather than one great big strip.

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Martin, is it possible that the lines were a single line across all of the unbent ribs, marking them as a set? That's a fairly common technique in trad woodworking, and I know an X mark is used in lutherie when joining plate halves.

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My Fiorini has two crooked lines on the lower right rib. Sort of crossing each other right in the middle of the side. Perfection everywhere else! 1933. Last Fiorini made. It's a German violin too. Completely redone by Fiorini. Label and all. So why would he mark the sides if he didn't make them?

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Re edit to previous comment. I don't think it's a Fiorini either. German plus Fiorini doesn't equal Fiorini. Right?

 

Not sure what you really have, but a Fiorini made in Germany equals a Fiorini.  He worked there for a time, but did not end his career there. 

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He worked there for a time

“He worked there for a time” is a joke isn’t it? He was the leading maker and violin expert in Munich for decades having married into the Andreas Rieger firm in 1889, becoming the boss there in 1899, and making the firm the most important dealership in the South German area (one of the Hill brothers worked there for instance). He was also one of the founders of the German “Geigenbauverband” etc. etc. He left Germany (for Switzerland!) during the first word war, having become an “Enemy alien” and moved to Rome in 1923 (as a 62 year old) and back to Munich in 1928, where he died on the 24th Jan. 1934

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“He worked there for a time” is a joke isn’t it? ....and back to Munich in 1928, where he died on the 24th Jan. 1934

 

Yes, Jacob.  The statement was tongue-and-cheek.  On both threads that the new poster (garrisjohn) related his story, no one bothered to mention that a Fiorini made in Germany IS a German violin.  I found that as odd as an appraiser wanting to trade several valuable bows for a trade fiddle reworked by the maker.  ??  Something isn't right with this story.

 

Besides being one of the founders, he was the president of that organization for a time, wasn't he?  Thanks for the last bit though...  I hadn't known, or hadn't recalled, that he'd moved back to Munich in '28.

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I see a lot of Mirecourt violins, good bad and indifferent, with long pencil diagonals on the inner ribs. Is this a form of "carpenter's mark" ie. a way of distinguishing different bits of wood prior to bending/assembly, or does it serve some other purpose?

Also, are there other schools of making which use this technique ... in other words, might one use the presence of these marks as an aid to identification?

These lines don’t mean anything in particular. These marks are generally pencilled on the inside of the sounding box to indicate the direction for bending and positioning the ribs on the mold. The diagonal runs toward the top or bottom according to the direction of the flaming. Probably for beginners or apprentices.

 

www.kreitpatrick.com

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