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Collin-Mezin or Schonbach box?

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Hello everyone,

I was offered a violin by a man from whom I bought (in an auction) another violin in the past.

Unfortunatelly I cannot look at the instrument in person, I only have some snaps of it.

What do you think, could it be a real Collin-Mezin, or is it just a cheap Schonbach (or Mirecourt) VSO?

Can anyone give me his/her opinion about it? Thanks in advance.

BTW, there is only the signature on the label inside the violin, nothing else...

The requested amount is pretty high, so I am rather hesitant...


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Judgments maybe a bit hasty .....!

The scroll is confusing but there are many violins that can rightly be called Collin-Mézin, spanning about 80 years of production from the father's early work (stunning) to the monstrosities of "Le Victorieux" etc.

I would say this was French, pre 1890, wouldn't want to go any further without seeing the inside and some more shots of the neck, back of the scroll, the whole table head-on etc.

It looks like a lovely violin but the repairs are a bit ragged.

I would ignore the label.

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The purfeling looks like it comes from a Markneukirchen “Adermacher”, although I can have no idea if they supplied anyone in Mirecourt. There are some occasional violins where one can get confused between Mirecourt and Markneukirchen, where one sits dreadfully frustrated, wondering if one is in the right business, not even being able to tell that apart! The belly cracks will be well nigh impossible to make a reasonable cosmetic job of. The general rule is never ever send any ebay scavenger any money at all, if there is even the remotest fraction of a grain of doubt in your mind.

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Thank you all for your contributions and for saving me an equvilant of $1200! :)

I once bought quite a nice (concert, not master) violin from that seller (and I got it cheap!) made by Fr. Kriz (a good Czech luthier of the first half of 20th century), so this offer cought my attention.. IMO the man believes that he's got a real deal.

Yes, the scroll was the primary reason of my doubts about the violin's origin. And I agree that the craks are ugly.

Just for fun, this is the back side of the scroll:



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I agree with Jacob that it's wise to sit out anything you can't be 100% sure of, and like him I'm not 100% sure of this violin. I'm pretty sure it's Mirecourt, though I recently saw a nice Wolff Bros which looked very like this though with greener varnish (I assumed it was made in Mirecourt, but some German workshops copied the French style pretty assiduously).

The back of the scroll looks more Mirecourt than Markneukirchen, also I'm more used to seeing Markneukirchen instruments with blacking on this inside of the pegbox. But I still don't think the scroll's quite right for the body.

The purfling looks a bit heavy on the black, but it's possible that French workshops bought MK purfling - they certainly bought in scrolls from time to time (though they didn't look like this one).

I would go 90% in favour of Mirecourt, however I doubt the label has anything to tell us, and with these cracks I think $1200 is a bit steep.

Incidentally Fr. Karel Kriz is another minefield, perhaps you should post photos of that!

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My feeling is that this is a German fiddle.

Here, these were called ''German fiddles in the French style''. There are a few features that I see that make me think it;s one of them.

As pointed to before, the purfling, with the very fine white, the working of the edge doesn't quite look French, and the scroll looks German.

Another telling feature of these German violins is the cutting of the neck, which was much more deeply cut at the thumbstop, whereas the French left theirs so full that they usually need recutting.

These German violins rarely quite capture the look of the Mirecourt work, I think because they had different training and working methods. But they can be confusing.

I have seen a German violin with a Collin Mezin label, and it had an oval label with the signature, stuck on the back, south of the treble F hole, where the signature should be.

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I would bow to Conor's experience - in fact I can't help thinking of an FA Bruckner I had a couple of years ago (labelled and branded) which looked very like this, except that the varnish was more yellow.

But I certainly don't think it could be described as a VSO or a Schoenbach box .....

To me what would clinch it would be original cleats in the back seam (mirecourt) or a very convex heel (mirecourt)

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Martin, I’ve been expecting something like this to come up on our final exam! :)

The varnish does look Mirecourt, and the back has almost the right look. The top looks more Mark-Schön, including the wood (?)

The volute is larger than the typical Mk/Sch, and has a flat eye and verticality, but still not French. There is a hint of a hundenase.

The purfling is the clincher: Markneukirchen!

That’s what I would write on my exam paper, anyway. :ph34r:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Actually with Kriz it's more a question of the range of instruments that carry authentic labels - I think he put his label in a lot more violins than he actually made .....

You raised a point of interest. French Violin making has been more often Italian violin Making more of a "colaborative" work than a me alone with my tools kind of thing. "made by" is to be understood rather loosely. Having said that it does not mean that the works varied necessarily a lot. I remember René Morel sharing his memories : having children start very young and hitting them with a stick until there every move were as the master wanted is a lot more effective that the we making is now teached. And that was just talking about the mid 1940's..

Anyhow this one looks to me more like a German fiddle, imo a $1200 price tag does not seems outrageous (if the cracks are not open)

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