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luthierwannabe

Label I.D.

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i would wait to here from peter ratcliff before deciding the label must be fake, obviously from the fading ink, this is a very old label, not a recent forgery IMO, jalovec doesnt show or mention hand written labels for either leon bernadel, though

i dont see how you can 100%positively rule out the label being genuine even if it is unlikely, without seeing the violin

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The Leon Bernardel name was acquired by Cousenon who used it for a variety of violins of different qualities - the widely accepted belief is that Leon Bernardel didn't actually make any of these violins, and certainly the dozen or so I've handled have all been regular Mirecourt violins, generally of the ornate long-cornered "Parisian" type.

The various labels (all printed, either regular sans-serif or more commonly ornate copperplate) can be seen on page 14 of this Cousenon catalogue : Cousenon 1934

This may or may not be a "Leon Bernardel" violin but the label isn't a Bernardel label - perhaps if you posted photos of the violin we could be more precise.

The Bernardel family was one of the great Mirecourt dynasties, incorporating Gand & Bernardel, court appointed luthiers, and the Chanot family - the idea that any of them would use a tatty handwritten label like this doesn't hold water. So I would rule it out completely, though of course I'm not commenting on the violin! There's always the possibility that a genuine (!) Leon Bernardel lost its label and that an owner decided to put something like this in the violin to identify it for future owners.

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you all very much for you replies and in sights. It is very much appreciated.

I do not know anything about this violin other than it was bought by the owners father in 1928 from a friend.

I did not think that it was an expensive or rare instrument. It holds great sentimental value for the owner. I was more intrigued by the label.

I have attached a few more pics for your consideration.

Thanks again....Tony

post-28965-0-68512600-1334540370_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-57241800-1334540388_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-09001500-1334540421_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-04883200-1334540441_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-67949700-1334540465_thumb.jpg

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I'm only aware of one Leon Bernardel, father Ernest Auguste, son Rene. But I'd be happy to be corrected.

Here's the Bernardel family tree that I refer to : Bernardel Genaealogy

This seems to conflict with Lyndon's information.

However, that's not relevant to the fact that the label isn't any kind of Bernardel label.

Does the violin have tacks on the inner back seam? Also, can you post a photo of the heel of the neck from the side, and of the pegbox cheeks from above - are they blackened?

It looks 90% Mirecourt so far ...

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I only know what I read in Henley, but there was a son, Leon (Jr) who was born in 1882. There were "Rene Bernardels" but that was a trade name.

I'd be suspicious of the label, aside from what has already been mentioned, because there is not an "accent aigu" over the E in Leon. The French are usually very particular about that. And most likely the Paris would be preceded with an "a" with an "accent grave."

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I'm only aware of one Leon Bernardel, father Ernest Auguste, son Rene. But I'd be happy to be corrected.

Here's the Bernardel family tree that I refer to : Bernardel Genaealogy

This seems to conflict with Lyndon's information.

However, that's not relevant to the fact that the label isn't any kind of Bernardel label.

Does the violin have tacks on the inner back seam? Also, can you post a photo of the heel of the neck from the side, and of the pegbox cheeks from above - are they blackened?

It looks 90% Mirecourt so far ...

Hi Martin,

Are tacks and cleats the same thing? If so there are 6 tacks on the back inside seam. They look original and are about 1/4" square. The peg box and cheeks are not blackened.

Thanks...Tony

post-28965-0-91116100-1334593939_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-72875100-1334593953_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-10311300-1334593969_thumb.jpg

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I agree with Martin, it looks like a common or garden French trade fiddle to me. Many of these were made with pressed, rather than carved plates. The tell-tale give-away here, being that the top and bottom blocks practicaly don’t even touch the plates. The inside work (blocks and linings) are (often but not always) something looking like willow.

I’ve not heard of „tacks“ before either. That`s the nice thing about Maestronet, isn’t it. Where else can you learn Scottish for free?

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Would there be any evidence to suggest that this may be a repair label? The label is kind of vague, but interesting to see in that fiddle...

Highly inprobable due to the missing accents, (see post#9) the writer of the label seems not to have been familiar with the french language.

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Leon Bernardel may have had a son but I would trust Roland Terrier's research over Henley any day of the week ....

This violin is a nice but basic Mirecourt instrument, and not any kind of Bernardel, certainly not one of the "fait sous la direction de ..." or Monopole violins allegedly signed by LB (but not really) and sold by Cousenon. All of these have flat scroll eyes and heavily scooped heels.

Found some very good stuff on Viaduct Violins site about Leon Bernardel, also some photos of one of his own violins (pre-dating his workshop production) - it is strikingly similar to a couple of Gand & Bernardels I've seen at auction, and which he probably made. Very beautiful work but pretty rubbish sound ....!

The Viaduct Violins archive is a great source of information on Mirecourt makers, both violins and bows.

Viaduct Violins/Bernardel

Also found a violin on Vivace Violins which is a typical Cousenon trade violin - they describe it as "By Leon Bernardel Paris 1934" and also as "a workshop piece", which seems a bit disingenuous ...

Jacob, I take your point about the pressed tables, but I also think a lot of Mirecourt violins were carved without plateaus, or with a bit less than one might hope for.

Willow or poplar (a bit greenish) is very common, but also in the better French violins. I've seen quite a few beech top blocks, total buggers to unglue, not sure why!

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obviously from the fading ink, this is a very old label, not a recent forgery IMO

If anybody wishes to borrow my bottle of weak brown ink, let me know. smile.gif

The label in question was done with a fountain pen, or a ball-end nib. The handwriting is correct for the fountain/ball-end era.

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Terrier's chart only shows one son: Rene; interestingly born the same year as the supposed Leon II, 1882. Unless there were twins, there may be no Leon II; if so, someone ought to start working to straighten out history, because to this day violins are being sold as Leon Bernardel II's that may be Rene's. Here's a nice example:

http://www.givensviolins.com/shop/instrument/profile.html?itemid=V1847

Maybe Rene continued to use his father's labels all his life and that confused the issue. Another nice violin mystery.

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Henley has a particular blind spot about the Mirecourt use of trade names - for instance he's quite sure that Geronimo Barnabetti existed, and there are several other examples!

In my opinion "Leon Bernardel Jr" is a piece of misinformation which explains the poor quality of work of many violins bearing the Leon Bernardel name - people seem unwilling to accept that a fine luthier should turn irrevocably into a cunning businessman!

I bet the Givens Violins instrument has a regular Leon Bernardel Cousenon era label - Givens have looked at Henley and decided to sell it as a "Jr" since it so obviously isn't good enough to be by the "father".

This all ties in very neatly with the thread about the Baron Von Del Leyen. People are very keen to have extraneous reasons for buying a particular instrument - Mirecourt businesses got wise to this very quickly and bought up names which would give their instruments a lustre they would otherwise lack. Bernardel, Derazey, Didier Nicolas, Francois Breton and a hundred others were recycled to add a bit of cachet.

It seems that punters prefer the myth to the reality, in spite of the huge amount of widely available research, so there's something of a temptation for a dealer to sell the myth ....

Plus ca change!

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If anybody wishes to borrow my bottle of weak brown ink, let me know. smile.gif

The label in question was done with a fountain pen, or a ball-end nib. The handwriting is correct for the fountain/ball-end era.

Hi Addie,

Are you an expert on pens and penmanship? You seem very confident that the label was done with a fountain pen, or a ball-end nib. Were fountain pens around before 1928? If not, that may mean that the label was added after it was bought by my clients father.

Thanks....Tony

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Hi Addie,

Are you an expert on pens and penmanship? You seem very confident that the label was done with a fountain pen, or a ball-end nib. Were fountain pens around before 1928? If not, that may mean that the label was added after it was bought by my clients father.

Thanks....Tony

Steel nib (dip) pens have been in use for around 200 years, and fountain pens have been in use since the 1880s - actually earlier. I agree that the writing looks like it was done with a ball nib, whether it be a dip pen or a fountain pen. The writing and ink look very much like what I see on American documents from around 1900 - 1930. The handwriting looks a lot like my mothers, and she learned to write in the Souteastern US in the 1920s. Doesn't look French at all, based on what little experience I have with French writing of the period.

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Many of these were made with pressed, rather than carved plates. The tell-tale give-away here, being that the top and bottom blocks practicaly don’t even touch the plates. The inside work (blocks and linings) are (often but not always) something looking like willow.

Hi Jacob,

I took these pics through the end pin hole. Sorry about the quality, its the best I could do with my small camera.

Would you say that the top end block is shy of the top and bottom plates? I assume this would indicate that it is a low end factory violin.

Thanks...Tony

post-28965-0-76092400-1334715364_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-33585900-1334715389_thumb.jpg

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Hi Jacob,

I took these pics through the end pin hole. Sorry about the quality, its the best I could do with my small camera.

Would you say that the top end block is shy of the top and bottom plates? I assume this would indicate that it is a low end factory violin.

Thanks...Tony

post-28965-0-76092400-1334715364_thumb.jpgpost-28965-0-33585900-1334715389_thumb.jpg

Dear Tony,

Yes, the blocks are slightly shy of the plates, but not nearly as much as I meant. You’re fiddle still looks like a “Kraut und Ruben” French trade fiddle to me, although the French stuff isn’t my main area of interest (in case you hadn’t noticed!). The acid test of pressed plates comes, when you have to regraduate one and find yourself having to go in the opposite direction with you’re plane. Another thing is that they are often rather thin along the centre join (under 3mm) and thick in the flanks (well over 3mm), incase you are able to measure.

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Steel nib (dip) pens have been in use for around 200 years, and fountain pens have been in use since the 1880s - actually earlier. I agree that the writing looks like it was done with a ball nib, whether it be a dip pen or a fountain pen. The writing and ink look very much like what I see on American documents from around 1900 - 1930. The handwriting looks a lot like my mothers, and she learned to write in the Souteastern US in the 1920s. Doesn't look French at all, based on what little experience I have with French writing of the period.

Thanks Nonado,

Its nice to know that fountain pens and round nibs were around well before 1928. I m dating myself now, but when I was a kid at school in England we had to use ink pens with steel nibs. Hated them, was glad when the Biro came in. From what I remember with the plain steel nib it gave a very thin stroke in one direction, almost like writing with a chisel point. The writing on the label seems to be pretty constant on all directions. I guess that there is no way of knowing if the label was installed when the violin was made or when it arrived on our shores. From yours and previous posts it appears to have been written with a north american hand. Strange label to say the least....Tony

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