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Vienna Violin from 1824


Danny Bradford

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I have recently acquired a violin from Nicolaus Ries made in 1824.

Pictures

I was hoping someone might have some information on this person and where I could learn more? Perhaps some idea of value of the violin? I am taking it to my local repair guy at Little Rock Bow Shop for condition so hopefully he will give me a clean bill of health.

Thanks for your time,

Danny Bradford

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Reis, Nikolaus Georg, was recorded as a journeyman in Vienna (don`t know by whom) and applied for permission to open his own shop, which was rejected 1818 due to an objection by the guild, but was granted permission upon appeal in 1819. Lived and worked at Landstraße Hauptstrasse 106 (now 3rd. district of Vienna). His succsessor was Franz Lux in 1857. I have never seen a violin by Reis, the Kunsthistorische Museum has 2 Guittars though. Yours looks sort of end of 18th C.

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Thanks for the input. I found the name connected with guitars apparently he was quite well known for the guitars he produced. Due to the difference in spelling I was not sure if it was the same person.

I have emailed the museum as well as a guitar enthusiast who knows his work on the guitar side to seek their input.

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If you don`t mind me saying so, your photos weren`t much good. I couldn`t even read the “certificate”, but if they think that Vienna is in the Federal Republik of Germany, it is the usual US bum-wipe.

The violin strikes me as being incredibly old fashioned for Vienna in 1824, and I would wonder if it isn`t just a repair label.

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My apologies on the pictures. I will get the good camera out and take another round of pictures.

There are actually 2 labels, one on either side, but the one with Nicolaus is much older looking. If both labels turn out to be repair labels then it is off to the drawing board to find the origins of the violin.

Better pictures to come!

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I am taking it to the Little Rock Bow Shop today at lunch to have it looked over and get these questions answered.

It sounds great to me but I am not the expert either. In my opinion the sound is very "pure" if that makes sense. Nice and open sound too, not muffled.

The one question that I can answer is that it has all 4 corner blocks.

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Back from the violin shop and here are our answers:

-does the fluting of the scroll go all the way into the end of the throat, or does it finish at 6 or 7 o`clock?

The fluting ends at about 7ish.

-are the middle bought linings let into the corner blocks?

the linings are not mortised into the corner blocks.

-does it have all 4 corner blocks?

Yes it has all four corners.

The violin plays great. It has a strong clear e string and the g and d strings are soft and complex. The guys at the shop were very impressed with the sound indeed.

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Oh one more comment, I asked about the potential that Nicolaus Ries could have merely repaired the violin and it was in fact older, but they said the label said "fecit 1824" which apparently means "made in". I will also say that reading the label year is ver difficult and it could say 1814 or 1824, not 100% sure which.

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It is perfectly clear now from stylistic and building method reasons, that Ries didn`t make this violin himself in Vienna in 1824, but had it made in Schönbach or Grazlitz of that time and inserted his label as a dealer.

I agree, I also have a similar fiddle with purfling set near the edge, almost on the top of the recurve, labelled Anton Jais, and no such thing.

Bohemian, early 1800's

I don't think anything to do with Vienna

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Understood. I am glad to hear that it is considered a work of craftsmanship.

Martin, I do hope that I did not come up too short on this deal. Give me the truth don't hold back.

I must say, just for the record, that of all the violins I have played, approx 12 so quite a small sampling for sure, this particular stands alone in sound. Each string just sounds completely different. I did not know that such a difference could be possible.

Not sure if it was a fiscally sound trade but considering my goal in the beginning was to explore playing different sounding violins and in that goal this trade has proven to be the right move.

Out of curiosity, is this a particular style violin as in Strad or Amati? Perhaps it is made with a different style in mind which is why it sounds so different.

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I don't think you came up short. You have a venerable old violin whose sound you like and which is a real piece of history, instead of an anonymous modern violin that no-one could identify but which has an incorrect certificate. In strictly financial terms it's impossible to say without knowing who actually made your "Fagnola". Assuming as I do (perhaps incorrectly) that it was a trade instrument, I would rather have the one you have now.

But I suspect the trade works very well for the shop too ...!

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Out of curiosity, is this a particular style violin as in Strad or Amati? Perhaps it is made with a different style in mind which is why it sounds so different.

The model is, approximately, that of Jakob Stainer from the little village of Absam near Innsbruck. I believe it's fair to say (others will correct me if I'm wrong) that his fiddles were far more in demand than Stradivari's or Guarnieri's until the advent of concert halls.

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