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Violin bow information sought


Mikiemax
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Hello all,

I'm new here so forgive me for diving straight in with a question. It was, as is often, the case my motivation for signing up here, as it appears that there are many very knowledgeable members here and I was hoping for some assistance.

I have an old violin bow, which requires a bit of repair, and restoration. It was my grandfathers. I'm wondering if anyone could help me regarding the make of it or perhaps the potential value of it so I can decide if I should have it professionally repaired and rehaired.

The thing is until yesterday, it appeared beyond repair, as the wood near the frog had cracked, and the frog wouldn't budge. Having checked briefly with a local luthier, who was restoring the violin for me, it seemed there was no hope for it. However, he really only gave it a bare glance and test as his focus was very much on the violin at that stage, which I had just brought to him for his appraisal.

So having nothing to lose, I decided to take the brute force approach at home,and I managed, with two vice-grips to get the screw to turn, and although the crack remains, I'm very confident it can be fixed now, and in fact the frog functions as it should and because the crack occurs after the edge of the frog it doesn't affect it's funtionality at all, except that I'd obviously like to get it properly repaired now before I damage it more.

The thing is, the violin is repaired now and is according to the Luthier I employed, of exceptional quality - He joked that it was too good for me (he was right, I'm only a beginner at the violin) and he mentioned he was a bit jealous giving it back to me - but my mother (who gave me the violin and bow recently) had always been told the bow was worth far more than the violin, although the violin is as I've said of a high quality, and I must say he did an excellent job restoring it.

So what I'm wondering (sorry for the whole back story, but I'm hoping it will save the obvious back and forth questions) has anyone heard of a violin bow engraved/stamped with the name "E. TODT" and also with the faintly visible word "BRAMBACH"

Thanks.

Edited by Mikiemax
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If I have understood your description correctly, the bow was rusted together and you have probably ruined it now

Thanks for the reply, while I understand your concern, I'm fairly confident that it's in no worse shape than it had been in.

You're right in that it was slightly rusted and that caused the screw to stop turning (at least by hand) but with the use of a firm grip I was able to free it, as the rust wasn't actually that bad, and the threads actually remained intact.

The threads are perfect still on the bolt and the nut, which was the first thing I checked, as it will screw back and forth smoothly through the entire of the length of the screw now, so I guess I was lucky it hadn't fused too much. It is the cracked piece that I'm more concerned about fixing.

I'll post some photos of the crack tomorrow as well, in case anyone has some advice in relation to it. Thanks.

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Pictures would help. Frequent condition I see is the screw and eyelet "frozen" together due to a combination of the screw rusting and eyelet oxidation. Hopefully the button did not get chewed up with the vise grip jaws. The button could be reproduced if necessary. The edges of the cheval probably need to be repaired. I think I have a hard time calling a time of death for any bow (patient).

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Thanks, OK I'm going to try and post some pictures I just took now. Hopefully this will work.

(TRIED TO POST SOME IMAGES, BUT I CANT DO IT, AND IT SEEMS I CAN'T LINK TO FLICKR - I'LL RETRY TOMORROW AND EDIT THIS POST ONCE I FIGURE OUT HOW - ITS 1.30am HERE NOW AND I'VE WORK IN TO MORNING)

Ok it didn't work, but the links are there so maybe ye'll be able to see those.

The first one shows the name above the frog, (which I understand isn't all that clear) and I think some of the BRAMBACH is feintly visible above and to the right of the name, (at least it is on the high resolution photo I took - these are resized for the forum.

Clearly the bow is in bad shape, and is covered in thick black old Rosin I believe, the violin was caked in that stuff too, the Luthier said it had never been cleaned since it was made and was played everyday up until 1974 when my grandfather died. Thankfully he got it off the violin, though I'm sure it was a very tedious and tough job.

The cracked piece of the wood is between the frog and the piece that is turned by hand (the button referred to perhaps) and I think the crack is visible in photo 4. Clearly its cracked through on both sides and is actually loose though it is only a very thin piece and doesn't prevent the frog working. i.e. it's so thin that the frog is still held firm when the screw is tightened, and there is actually no pressure on the cracked piece from the frog itself.

I'm thinking it may be repairable in the right hands with a bit of glue and maybe something like a little half inch light metal or plastic cylinder for the screw to sit in. Is that possible and more importantly is it worth the effort?

All I could find out on the Web is that the word Brambach is an area in Saxony, and that there may have been a Todt family of Luthiers there at the turn of the century, but whether this is related to them or not I can't possibly tell and beyond that info, I've failed to find anything else on the Web.

Hope that helps a little, I can probably post the full resolution pictures on Flickr if they'll help.

Thanks for the advice so far.

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Hi Mike, I've come across bows with a Todt brand, can't remember if they were E Todt or not, but many of the bow-making families were extensive, and had different initials for different family members - Hoyer, Penzel, Prager, Paulus spring to mind.

The quality and the value of the bow - who can say? A good silver-mounted example of an early 20th century German bow by a rather obscure maker might be worth £1500 at retail, under £500 at auction. But I'm afraid your bow is pretty goosed by the sound of it. You're quite incorrect to think that the wood behind the frog is unimportant. This part takes quite a bit of pressure from the adjuster, and it needs to be very strong. Cracks in this area will inevitably get bigger as you tighten the bow (you will see this with a magnifying glass if not with the naked eye) - the spring in the bow is effectively pulling the adjuster towards the tip (or vice versa) in an attempt to recover its curve, and there's quite a lot of longditudinal tension. Such cracks are almost always caused by incautious attempts to free adjusters that have seized. I notice in your first post you had one of these cracks, now you have two (QED).

They are repairable, but if you have a nickel-mounted midrange German bow it won't be worth the cost. With two cracks the repair will be very slow, probably you'd have to replace at least one of the facets behind the frog and bush the centre.

On good old silver-mounted bows you often see a little added cylinder of silver just before the adjuster - this is a visible but effective repair, if you don't mind the extra length and if the balance point can take the extra weight towards the heel.

If the bow really wasn't valuable, I would recommend an easy bodge, but I couldn't suggest that openly on Maestronet, and certainly you'd have to be sure the bow wasn't of value. But it would be better than junking a nice if non-valuable bow because of the prohibitive repair cost.

Martin Swan Violins

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Hi Mike, I've come across bows with a Todt brand, can't remember if they were E Todt or not, but many of the bow-making families were extensive, and had different initials for different family members - Hoyer, Penzel, Prager, Paulus spring to mind.

The quality and the value of the bow - who can say? A good silver-mounted example of an early 20th century German bow by a rather obscure maker might be worth £1500 at retail, under £500 at auction. But I'm afraid your bow is pretty goosed by the sound of it. You're quite incorrect to think that the wood behind the frog is unimportant. This part takes quite a bit of pressure from the adjuster, and it needs to be very strong. Cracks in this area will inevitably get bigger as you tighten the bow (you will see this with a magnifying glass if not with the naked eye) - the spring in the bow is effectively pulling the adjuster towards the tip (or vice versa) in an attempt to recover its curve, and there's quite a lot of longditudinal tension. Such cracks are almost always caused by incautious attempts to free adjusters that have seized. I notice in your first post you had one of these cracks, now you have two (QED).

They are repairable, but if you have a nickel-mounted midrange German bow it won't be worth the cost. With two cracks the repair will be very slow, probably you'd have to replace at least one of the facets behind the frog and bush the centre.

On good old silver-mounted bows you often see a little added cylinder of silver just before the adjuster - this is a visible but effective repair, if you don't mind the extra length and if the balance point can take the extra weight towards the heel.

If the bow really wasn't valuable, I would recommend an easy bodge, but I couldn't suggest that openly on Maestronet, and certainly you'd have to be sure the bow wasn't of value. But it would be better than junking a nice if non-valuable bow because of the prohibitive repair cost.

Martin Swan Violins

Thanks Martin, I agree with you completely, in relation to junking it. To be honest I'm more interested in having it rehaired and having whatever repair is most effective to enable me use it to play, I'm not really concerned with selling it, I was just hoping for a bit of information about the maker more out of personal interest.

The winding doesn't look silver, but its hard to tell there's so much old dirt on it, and its a bit different than most of the others I've seen online in that the metal windings aren't tight together, but seem to be spaced evenly and wound around a thin piece of other material, leather or something like that perhaps, I'm sure you'd have a better idea than I would.

Once I figure out how to post some photos, I hope it'll be a bit clearer.

I accept what you say about the wood behind the frog, I hadn't meant to suggest that I thought it was of no importance, I can understand that every piece of the bow has an important function and bears some force, particularly behind the frog, where the button(is that what it's called?) must exert the entire tension of the hairs on the wood there, but what i meant it that the crack hasn't affected the funtionality of the frog or the button/screw which is where the problem with the bow initally appeared to be.

Well I hope when I post the pictures you will see what I mean by 'the crack' which is still the same as it had been before I forced the screw, i.e. a loose piece of wood, with both sides cracked clean through from the button to the frog.

If I had to describe it, it would be the piece of wood directly behind the groove the frog sits into, and back as far as the button, perhaps 1/2 - 2/3's the width of the groove.

I think what you suggest about a little cylinder sounds like a good idea.

Thanks again.

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Just re-read you post there and noticed its and adjustor, not a button. rolleyes.gif

Anyway in all likelihood it's like you say goosed, and if it is, well it is and was for long before I was born.

But if it can be repaired that'd be great - I could play my grandfather's violin, with my grandfather's bow and that would be nice, it'd be the first time that happened in over thirty-five years.

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The bow would land in my rubbish bin. If you ever have to separate a rusted on frog again, you should try with a rust solvent like WD40 or similar and not brute force. If you don’t have any WD40 you can also stand it in a glass of coco-cola for 10-15 minutes, which should also do the trick, although it would probably dissolve any mother of pearl bits.

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The bow would land in my rubbish bin. If you ever have to separate a rusted on frog again, you should try with a rust solvent like WD40 or similar and not brute force. If you don't have any WD40 you can also stand it in a glass of coco-cola for 10-15 minutes, which should also do the trick, although it would probably dissolve any mother of pearl bits.

OK thanks for the advice Jacob.

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  • 1 year later...

Further to this post, I have eventually got around to having the Bow repaired. Thankfully I found a reputable bow-maker who was able to effect a wonderful repair job.

 

I am yet to try out the bow - but the he told me that all-in-all it is a decent bow and was worth repairing.

 

I am told that the Bow is quite unique - in that it is Brass mounted - I will post some photos here when I get the chance for completion sake.

 

Has anyone any experience with Brass mounted/fitted bows? Or any comments re same.

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Brass is frequently used under nickle plating. Possibly the plating has just worn off.

 

Hi Vathek, thanks for the reply. I am fairly certain that it hadn't been plated simply because if it had there would likely be some evidence of such somewhere, and considering the man who repaired it carried out intricate work particularly on the frog and metal fittings I'm sure he would have spotted such and mentioned it as a possibility. 

 

However, what you say is interesting and I certainly wasn't aware that Nickel plating of Brass was usual, one further possibility is that it simply was intended to be plated - but never was. Indeed the Luthier, with whom the bow maker works, mentioned it as a possibility, they had discussed, that the bow which appears to be German was constructed during WWII when Nickel and Silver were scare and that is why Brass was used, although he also admitted that Brass should also have been scarce given that ammo shells were made from Brass.

 

We thought that maybe the bow was made just after the War when there was likely a surplus of Brass available from disused shells or recycling of spent shells.

 

 

Does anyone here belong to Worthpoint?  One of the google hits on E Todt is a bow that sounds similar to this one that sold on eBay a couple of years ago.  

 

That's a good find and I'm surprised I never came across it, I have carried out many searches online - but somehow missed that one.

 

I wonder if the reference is to a Violin or a Bow - the reference is a little unclear - although the actual words used are identical to those I found on my bow.

 

In relation to E. Todt generally - the only other likely reference I could find was of a Ernst Ed Todt - which I found on the Brompton's Website - there is a record of a 1938 Violin sold in Jul 2006 for circa £1000.

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The one I was looking at is definitely a bow:  

 

http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-todt-brambach-violin-bow-285474604

 

 

 

DON`T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SET OF DRUMS AND A GUITAR, SO I`M THE LAST PERSON YOU WANT TO TRY & TELL YOU ABOUT THIS OLD BOW !

I`M ASSUMING IT`S FOR A VIOLIN, IT MEASURES APPROX. 29" IN LENGTH, HAS NO STRINGS, AND HAS THE NAME "E.TODT - BRAMBACH" AT ONE END.
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