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Michele Deconet

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Stephen,

I've spent too long in 17th century archives (albeit in London - not Venice) to agree with you. In all candour, a paleographer would find it this too small a sample to be able to stand up in court and make a statement of authorship, but the hands are consistent with each other and IMHO likely to be the same. There seems to be very much the same angle of sland to both, the terminal "e" of Michele and Setembre is actually rather close. I'd completely discount the "t", because it has a terminal flourish on deconet and not in setembre. When you read longer manuscripts, patently written by a single hand, you will find all sorts of variations, often unconciously based on the relationship of one letter to the next. Hands change ever so slightly depending on the cut of the quill (just as my ballpoint hand is different from my fountain-pen hand), and to the kind of paper and comfort of the reader (signed standing up or sitting down, on a single sheet of paper on a hard surface, or on a book). Against that, due to education systems, you'll find a huge standardisation in the hands of people who came from the same background. That in itself could stand in Deconet's favour, if his hand is distinctly different from the general Venetian hands found in these documents...

I think that the single most significant style-point is, as Will L pointed out, the spelling of deconet as one word with a lowercase "d" matching the labels. In other documents cited by Stefano Pio earlier in this thread, it was abundantly clear that notaries and other officials spelt his name in a large variety of ways.

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I note that the terminal 'e' (michele/setembre) and the 'm' in particular seem radically different; but I agree with you, Ben, in that this is too small a sample to make any definitive statement of authorship.

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It's also interesting how the two samples don't appear to be by the same hand (maybe they're not supposed to be, I don't know); note the letters m and t; also e.

The example with the signature suggests to me that the writer wrote too little to have mastered the quill pen, which if you've ever used one yourself you know is quite tricky.

Note that there are 4 examples of the e in the signature alone, and no two are alike; there are also 2 c's that are completely dissimiliar.

The writer might well have been nearly illiterate. Compare that scribble with the preserved facsimiles of, e.g., Jeffrey Amherst's correspondence from the same time period - the difference is great. The "setembre" on the label is done with much more care, but the writer still ran out of room at the end and jammed the final letters together hopelessly.

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Stephen, I should have asserted my view a little stronger. I can't find any reasonable grounds to doubt the hand, but as Jacob correctly points out, this is all a side issue and a red-herring. Remember also how consistent these two sources are with forty years between them. The inconsistencies that I hadn't mentioned are simply consistent with the expected inconsistencies inherent within one hand.

Bean_fidhlier's comments, I'm sorry to say, are rather beside the point. We have a grotesque fascination with the possibility that craftsmen of the past were less literate than us, but by his arguments I think even Shakespeare would have to be deemed illiterate.

384px-Shakespeare_sigs_collected.png

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I am happy to see that Will L noticed the lower case "d" that appears on the label and the document. I agree that this is an important factor in the discussion.

I was hoping that someone would notice the writing that appears faintly on the left side of the label. I have attached this image in reverse because it is actually the same ink that was applied to the reverse side of the label. Look carefully at this label, and you will see that Deconet took great care to touch up certain letters and add dots above the j for instance.

I have also posted a Deconet signature from 1764 from archival sources. I'll try to post another label soon.

I, for one, am not going to rely on Stephen Maloney's handwriting expertise (or any of his other areas of violin related "expertise" for that matter). I am not a handwriting expert either, but this all looks the same to me.

I am beginning to understand the depth of Jacob's cynicism, but I really can't perceive any evidence that would support his and Pio's conclusion. It stretches all logic to imagine a violinist commissioning instruments, taking such care with the label, and somehow selling them as his own through the course of a lifetime (whether the Guild allowed such commerce or not). There really is no historical precedent for such fantasy!

post-388-0-37613900-1355946528_thumb.jpg

post-388-0-95488000-1355946554_thumb.jpg

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I am beginning to understand the depth of Jacob's cynicism, but I really can't perceive any evidence that would support his and Pio's conclusion. It stretches all logic to imagine a violinist commissioning instruments, taking such care with the label, and somehow selling them as his own through the course of a lifetime (whether the Guild allowed such commerce or not). There really is no historical precedent for such fantasy!

If a simple, sober statement of fact is cynical, then I can only take that as a compliment. It’s 100% common ground between you and you’re friend Prof. Pio, that Deconet (de-Conet) labeled violins.

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If you are referring to William of Stratford, he was only semi-illiterate. The Shakespeare "signatures" are not signatures at all. I invite you to read:

Shakespeare Signatures Analyzed

Yawn...! my point still stands. Whatever the example, you will find a similar variance between several signatures (or instances of writing) of the same person, whoever they are.

Thank you for citing a tendentious website dedicated to perpetuating conspiracy theories. Let's stick to topic, eh?

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Bean_fidhlier's comments, I'm sorry to say, are rather beside the point. We have a grotesque fascination with the possibility that craftsmen of the past were less literate than us, but by his arguments I think even Shakespeare would have to be deemed illiterate.

Sorry, Ben, but I really must contradict you: the incompetent look of the alleged Deconet writing is very much to the point. And Shakespeare was, at best, semi-literate judging from his alleged signatures.

Signatures are generally the best-practiced significant words anyone writes. I have an indenture on parchment dating from 1674, not even 100 years after Shakespeare's time, and well before Deconet's. The signatures of the contracting and witnessing parties - John Hoyle, Tho: Hesletine Jno, Tho. Nisbett Jnr, Jos: Heslerton, Thomas Rayson, Richard Benson, Matthew Rayson, Samuell Smith, G. Frost, and John Herbet - are as smoothly written as anyone's signature today. They were obviously done by people completely comfortable with the pen and the written word. Just as obviously, Deconet (if that writing is his) was not.

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Please stop it now, both of you before I fall off my chair laughing and do myself an injury. Bean_fidhleir, you have just written... "And Shakespeare was, at best, semi-literate judging from his alleged signatures." Let's please get back to topic before you loose all credibility.

Parchment, incidentally is specially prepared to have a smooth surface. That's why its possible to write smoothly on it, but it is much more expensive than paper.

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If a simple, sober statement of fact is cynical, then I can only take that as a compliment. It’s 100% common ground between you and you’re friend Prof. Pio, that Deconet (de-Conet) labeled violins.

Surely, Jacob you must have something to contribute on topic then? The deafening silence from you and Venice defending the elaborate theory is notable...

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I think you need to give Jacob and prof Pio time to wake up, Chris! Its the middle of the night in Europe....

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I am happy to see that Will L noticed the lower case "d" that appears on the label and the document. I agree that this is an important factor in the discussion.

I was hoping that someone would notice the writing that appears faintly on the left side of the label. I have attached this image in reverse because it is actually the same ink that was applied to the reverse side of the label. Look carefully at this label, and you will see that Deconet took great care to touch up certain letters and add dots above the j for instance.

I have also posted a Deconet signature from 1764 from archival sources. I'll try to post another label soon.

I, for one, am not going to rely on Stephen Maloney's handwriting expertise (or any of his other areas of violin related "expertise" for that matter). I am not a handwriting expert either, but this all looks the same to me.

I am beginning to understand the depth of Jacob's cynicism, but I really can't perceive any evidence that would support his and Pio's conclusion. It stretches all logic to imagine a violinist commissioning instruments, taking such care with the label, and somehow selling them as his own through the course of a lifetime (whether the Guild allowed such commerce or not). There really is no historical precedent for such fantasy!

Why so nasty, Chris?

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Hey everyone. I have been lurking in the background wondering where this thread may be going. I will put this thought out there. Why not curate a Deconet exhibition with a panel of diverse experts and physical examples of "his work" and make it a situation where we can all participate and learn from our immediate involvement with the specimens in question at hand. I would definitely attend. Maybe if enough of us could commit to attendance and assistance in some form or other we could really get somewhere. I would be happy to volunteer some time in any manner that may be deemed helpful.

r.

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No problem, Chris. I think one can respectfully disagree without being disagreeable. No one here is questioning your scholarship or your professional ethics or anything of the sort; it's just that the internet is a sort of equaliser where folks can research independently and come up with their own (perhaps incorrect or skewed!) conclusions. But I at least try to keep an open mind and find the truth where that is possible. I'm sure that Dr. Pio is earnest in his research efforts and even if he ends up having been wrong I have found him to be a very nice gentleman, willing to share his knowledge and research. As have you. There's no need to malign anyone, IMO, just my 2 cents.

Btw, I actually don't claim any lutherie or rare violin expertise at all and I'm the first to admit I'm just an enthusiast trying to learn more about the subject, which is why I joined here. I think it's valid not to accept out of hand, without question, the status quo, not in an irrational or conspiracy theory fashion of course, but so as to get to the root of the matter at times. To reveal the unvarnished truth apart from any agenda that might exist (I'm not saying one exists here, I don't believe one does).

I know a little Photoshop and was comparing letters which don't seem to match. No biggie! For what it's worth, the writing (as Ben pointed out) may be completely within normal variation and at any rate probably irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Thank you, Chris.

Cheers,

Stephen

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I realize that, but if we continue to speculate about things we have no physical knowledge of we are simply making assumptions.

r.

EDIT:

By the way I was of course not including those who actually have seen many examples in hand. (Pio, Reuning, etc)

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Surely, Jacob you must have something to contribute on topic then? The deafening silence from you and Venice defending the elaborate theory is notable...

It is a little rich to suggest that Prof. Pio has not contributed anything to the discussion, without having read his book(s). One cannot really speak of a Pio “theory” (or indeed “Doctrine” c. Rosengard), rather Pio fills out the detail on the discovery of Mr. Paul, published in “The Strad” in 1972.

His work “Violin and Lute Makers of Venice 1640-1760” arranges the documentary evidence of the time on about 380 pages into a narrative. Surely it is up to you to explain how someone who’s trade was described in contemporaneous documents (exclusively) as a musician/singer should have been the most prolific Venetian 18th. C. maker, despite anything but slouch-like competition, guild rules etc. Since you are apparently in the possession of the (copies of) documents that lead Mr. Paul to the same conclusion as Prof. Pio, it would be fascinating to know with which reasoning you differ, rather than reading your thoughts on D. labels, which were never contentious at any time.

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