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Old label and bridge. Schönbach transitional?...


Marc Genevrier
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Hi all,

 

I've just took the belly off of an older saxon violin to repair some open cracks. Overall, the violin seems quite well built. It has a clean inside work, is fully blocked, has a modern neck (I see no sign of alteration here), an integral bass bar about 24,5 cm long, 9,5 mm high and almost triangular in cross section in its highest part. Quite nice wood and at about 65g for the top, this may be a keeper, who knows.

 

No label was visible from the outside, but one is glued to the belly near the bass bar, in the upper bout:

 

post-23716-0-70773900-1370981990_thumb.jpg

 

I read "Josef Volkmann aus Schönbach bei (Eger???) N°150

hat diese Violine gemacht"

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I guess it means "N°150", because I don't think that there's a year date here. Also, a date would probably stand elsewhere in the sentence.

Actually, there is another label on the upper block, but it doesn't give any more info. Volkmann is clearly legible on this other label, however, which helped me a lot to decipher the whole writing.

 

The violin came with an old bridge, which looks pretty close to what I understand would be a "transitional bridge". Here it is:

 

post-23716-0-32978900-1370982390_thumb.jpg

 

So, what do you think?  Would you date it before about 1850? 1830?

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything about a Josef Volkmann.

 

In any case, I will repair the cracks, leave the bar as is for now and rather spend some time on exterior work, since the varnish (and some wood...) of the belly has suffered a lot in the bridge area. Then maybe I will put gut strings on it.

 

Thank you for your interest and for any hint!

 

Marc

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The label indeed reads:

Joseph Volkmann aus
Schönbach bei Eger Nr. 150
hat dieser Violine Gemacht
 
Number 150 will be the house number (i.e. his adress) and not a date. This system still exists in many smaller Austrian towns, where anyone who builds a new house, gets the next “Konsriptionsnumer”, so that one can go mad looking for No. 150, since all the numbers on all the houses are scattered higgledy-piggledy throughout the town. Volkmann is one of the many Schönbach vm. families. Drescher in his supplemental volume (Band III) of Lütgendorf lists 14 of them, unfortunatly none with the christian name Joseph.
 
The bridge is a standard blank that one could order from Pfretschner, probably until about 50 years ago, I think I have a few unused ones somewhere.
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what Lütgendorf has:

 

 

Volkmann. — Schönbach b. E.
Dieser Familie gehören die folgenden Geigenmacher an:
 
Volkmann, Anton, ist Geigenmacher und
Musiker, hat aber seit etwa 6 Jahren sein
Werkstatt aufgegeben
 
Volkmann, Christoph, begründete 1858 sein  
Geschäft und fertigte hauptsächlich Violon-
cello und Bässe an, für die er 1892 in Eger 
eine Medaille erhielt.
Geigenzettel : Christoph Volkmann / Instrumenten-  
macher in Schönbach 1867(gedruckt).
Sem Nachfolger ist:
 
Volkmann, Heinrich, der noch jetzt tätig ist 
 
Volkmann, Wenzl, hat eine Streichinstru-
mentenfabrik—
 
Volkmann, F. - Glogau. 19. Jahrhundert 
Handschriftlich vermerkter Name eines Reparateurs in 
einer älteren Vogtlandischen Geige. Die Arbeit ent- 
sprach der eines Musikers, der sich mit Reparaturen
beschäftigt.
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The bridge is a standard blank that one could order from Pfretschner, probably until about 50 years ago, I think I have a few unused ones somewhere.

 

 

You can still get them from other catalogs, http://www.metmusic.com/parts/bridges/teller-bridges/violin-unfitted/1225/violin-bridge-tourte-model-4-4

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Ok, thank you very much for the explanations!

Thus I understand that the bridge gives no clue as to the age of the violin. I know that Milo Stamm also offers such bridges today, but I thought - wrongly -  that they had been abandoned for a long time until our modern taste for authenticity brings them to the market again.

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From my very preliminary and cursory search, assuming your label is real, your cello can't be any older than 1850.  Prior to that you would be hard pressed to find any record of Volkmann in Schönbach.  The Volkmanns only start showing up in significant numbers there in 1860. (2nd generation)

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Ummmmmm.....

Hi all,

 

I've just took the belly off of an older saxon violin to repair some open cracks.

 

 

From my very preliminary and cursory search, assuming your label is real, your cello can't be any older than 1850.  Prior to that you would be hard pressed to find any record of Volkmann in Schönbach.  The Volkmanns only start showing up in significant numbers there in 1860. (2nd generation

Ipse dixit or merely lapsus clavis? :lol: Otherwise, decent reasoning :)

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I think it diffucult to imagine a more authentic looking label (although we have yet to see the violin). Re. period; the earliest Schönbach “Volkmann” recorded by Drescher (Lütgendoeff III) is Leopold, of House No. 286, born on 17.8.1821. Drescher cites Ernst Volkmann, his great grandson as his scorce. Leopold Volkmann is said (by his great grandson) to have been a joiner, who later turned to violin making.

 

There is however a trace of the Volkmanns in house No. 150. The baptismal register:


 records that Anna Volkmann, daughter of (can’t read the name) Volkmann, Miller, of Schönbach No. 150, and his wife Magdelena nee Stingl, on 2nd November 1874, gave birth to an illigitimate son called Josef, in the house Schönbach No. 69. The father was Ignaz Himmer, violin maker, born in Schönbach No. 83, son of Johann Himmer, violin maker & Katherina Placht from Schönbach No. 292. Witnesses were Joseph Placht, Josef Sandner, and someone I havn’t deciphered yet.

 

It is not possible to say with any certainty if this boy would have been the maker of the OP violin, although there doesn’t seem to be a glut of other Josef V.’s to choose from.
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I find it interesting that, presumably at the height of Dutz production, someone in the village was taking the time to make and personally label an entire violin.  Jacob, could this violin have been presented as a 'proof of mastery", or were they doing that then?

 

Thank you for posting the Acta Publica link, BTW :)

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A correction:
I just noticed that is says (on the left in the margin) that Josef, the son of Anna, died on 6.Mai 1875, so he will hardly have made a violin in the 6 months the poor lad had to live.
 
In the Sterbebuch (death registry) though:
a Josef Volkmann, Instrument maker and wood dealer, also a son of the same miller from house #150, ie. Anna’s brother,  died on july 10th. 1901, aged 62 years, 4 months and 26 days and was buried in Schönbach cemetery.
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I find it interesting that, presumably at the height of Dutz production, someone in the village was taking the time to make and personally label an entire violin.  Jacob, could this violin have been presented as a 'proof of mastery", or were they doing that then?

 

Thank you for posting the Acta Publica link, BTW :)

 
 
Oh dear, a diffucult question where I can only speculate :o
 
It is incredibly rare to find an individual Schönbach violin (should the OP one really be one!) of this time. Since our Josef V was decribed (also) as a wood dealer in the Sterbebuch, one could wonder if he just made himself a fiddle, to see what all his violin-making townsfolk were grumbling about all the time :)
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