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What is "JB Colin School"?


martin swan

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?JB Colin on Ebay

I've noticed Skinners referring in recent auctions to the "JB Colin School" - I don't wish to make a dig at Mr. Hound in particular since we read his purple prose with amusement and I imagine he simply got this information from Skinners, but this is an appelation which just doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny, and which reveals the worst kind of auction house sloppiness.

JB Colin was a trade name of Laberte Humbert, invented specifically to cash in on the success of Collin-Mezin. The violins were of poor quality made in large numbers, hardly grounds for imagining a "school". This is all in the public domain, and anyone can find this information online in a Laberte-Humbert catalogue.

It therefore follows that a "JB Colin School" violin can only be a midrange Laberte workshop violin or similar without a label, and which is hard to sell without some fabricated pazazz to help it on its way.

Next we will be reading about "Barnabetti School" or "School of Buthod".

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I'm not talking about this specific listing (though the bit about Mr Colin's workshop and his dutiful assistants is a delightful piece of fantasy) ...

I just find it bizarre that there's so much excellent research and documentation on Mirecourt violins (mainly on Roland Terrier's site), and yet even major auction houses choose to ignore it.

Anyone who's thinking of buying a Mirecourt violin should check this link : Mirecourt Trade Names

This is really the same issue as that raised by Jeffrey in relation to the Baron Von Der Leyen - in a situation where facts are readily available we should not accept embellishment.

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M. Terrier's documentation is fascinating, isn´t it? The trading of brand name and the large factorys and workshops shown on the photographs around 1900 are really impressive. Not only auction houses seem to ignore the documentation. Many dealers seem not to be on todays level. My wife bought her first "real" violin with a serious expertise as a master violin "a fine work from the hand of the master Fournier". A typical pretty Laberte factory fiddle. Ok, some years ago, but I think that would certainly still possible. Let´s wait for the first "school of J. Haide" fiddles.

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Having grown up in England, I have been familiar with J. B. Colin violins for as long as I can remember. My father left, amongst other things, a cupboard with 30 “good violins, worth fitting up, but can‘t be bothered” (he was more interested making his new ones). Two of these were “J. B. Colin”, dated 1897 und 1901 respectively. I find Martins assessment “of poor quality made in large numbers” slightly unkind, since I consider them to be nicely made and quite attractive student instruments.

Strangely, in 3 decades of working in (German speaking) continental Europe, I have never encountered a single “Colin” and, when I brought the two from my father across, was confronted with questions like “Whos’s that?” and “Why does Colin only have one L?” This left me wondering if they weren’t made by Maison Labert specifically for the English market, or even for a particular English wholesaler. If so, I would be grateful if one of the American colleagues could tell me if they were imported to America in large numbers, or only to England.

Should they have been specifically for the English market, one will have to understand, if the American trade doesn’t realise that it was only a trade mark, rather than a person, although even English auction houses (Sotheby) write “Jean-Baptiste Colin, fl. Mirecourt late 19th. & early 20th. Century“.

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OK it's a bit unkind, but price-wise they weren't anywhere near top of the range for Laberte-Humbert, in spite of Jesse's claim to the contrary. I would agree completely that they were nicely made and quite attractive student instruments, but that puts them alongside many hundreds of thousands of equivalent violins that are not deemed worthy of having a school named after them .....!

Here's the relevant catalogue page : JB Colin, Laberte-Humbert 1905

Price-wise they were very comparable with the Vuillaume or Lupot models, and you could get them with spirit or oil varnish - obviously with Laberte and JTL you had to spend exponentially more to get small improvements in quality, but both workshops produced really beautiful work, for which of course one paid a lot more.

I don't think any of these violins were made "to a label" - rather the opposite, the violins were made and then varnished and labelled according to quality of work and wood, and according to what was running low on the shelves.

The JB Colin was very popular in the English-speaking world precisely because people confused it with Collin-Mezin. That's why the name was invented, and even though the Laberte catalogue spells out the fact that there's no connection, this is disingenuous in the extreme!

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OK it's a bit unkind, but price-wise they weren't anywhere near top of the range for Laberte-Humbert, in spite of Jesse's claim to the contrary. I would agree completely that they were nicely made and quite attractive student instruments, but that puts them alongside many hundreds of thousands of equivalent violins that are not deemed worthy of having a school named after them .....!

Perhaps what's meant is "JB Colin School [Quality]"? :D

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Seems very unfair - if you'd been enrolled at Saunders Academy you'd have been expelled for claiming it was ..... happened to me!

bean is right of course - Jesse's violin could easily have a Bertholini or a Couturieux or H Denis label. I'm just not sure what's wrong with "Laberte Workshop" as a description.

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I’ve enrolled in the Saunders Academy Correspondence Course. But my German is terrible, and I keep asking about Scottish violins. At least I can spell bratwürst, and Schönbach. laugh.gif

At the J-B Colin School we spoke Franglais. Did you know “super cool” is the same in both French and English? rolleyes.gif

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for all the hounding weve given pahdah, i must say i see improvement in that he is revealing the source of the colin school attribution, i think if you can quote the source of an attribution that is definetly better than "self appraising" or giving the impression that thats what you are doing. if it takes the heat off pahdah and puts it on the auction houses thats fine by me. i think it helps to have a certain transperency in ebay appraisals, its confusing enough to know what to believe on ebay.

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Absolutely - the majority of violins branded Juste Derazey are routine Mirecourt instruments like this one which owe nothing to the personal style of Honore Derazey or Juste Derazey (not that he made many violins). The Derazey name (Honore and Juste) was bought by Paul Mangenot in the late 1890s and by Laberte in the 1920s/30s.

I think to call a violin "Derazey School" it would have to bear some relation to Honore Derazey's very excellent violins - can't see any of that here, just a decent Mirecourt trade violin.

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I would still be interested to hear from one of the american colleagues on this board if "J. B. Colin" is common in the US.

It's not super common, but you do see that name in a variety of French trade fiddles circa 1900. There is enough variety among them that I suspect a wholesaler was slapping the label in as they deemed fit.

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It's not super common, but you do see that name in a variety of French trade fiddles circa 1900. There is enough variety among them that I suspect a wholesaler was slapping the label in as they deemed fit.

Thank-you very much Jerry. Curious that they are non-existant in Germany/Austria isn`t it? I wonder why.

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  • 4 years later...

The J B Colin violins are around in the U.S., not marked as made in France, so they could have been imported in used condition from England, France, or elsewhere. This post was informative for me, thanks all for the insights.

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