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Took the Plunge - First eBay violin - toughts?


BassClef
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Within a google research for Phillipus Wurm I found this note:

 

"In his Will of February 17, 1795, Johannes Radeck left 50 violin tables, and other parts, to each of his former luthier friends and colleagues, Philipp Jakob Wurm (1729-1803), Jakob Fux (1753-1819) and Franz Geissenhoff (1753-1821), (see Viennese Stringed Instrument Makers, 1700-1800: Richard Maunder, Journal of the Galpin Society Oxford, Vol.52, April 1999). It is probable that one of these men completed this instrument after Radeck’s death, using the parts, including the original printed labels, inherited from Radeck. Then, it would appear, he altered the date on the label according to the date of completion of the instrument and, perhaps, to distinguish Radeck’s work from his own."

http://www.netinstruments.com/violins/violin/18th-century-austrian-violin-johannes-radeck/

 

50 violin tables probably used by the other mentioned makers are a lot and don't make things easier - and surely there were some other heritages.

 

Everybody who is bored now, should not wonder why he didn't learn in some years of reading MN.

 

Thanks, that just goes to underline the point I was making, that the Viennese makers of this period were a very close knit community, to a conspicuous degree related to each other, who had indentured and or worked for each other etc. and thus no small wonder that they can sometimes be tricky to tell apart. Carl Stross will probably wade in now with Adam Smith quotes, and won’t be entirely wrong, although definatly not entirely right either.

 

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Thanks, that just goes to underline the point I was making, that the Viennese makers of this period were a very close knit community, to a conspicuous degree related to each other, who had indentured and or worked for each other etc. and thus no small wonder that they can sometimes be tricky to tell apart. Carl Stross will probably wade in now with Adam Smith quotes, and won’t be entirely wrong, although definatly not entirely right either.

 

Jacob,do you see that this is a historical example of what I was saying in the "New Italian Violin" thread about fungibility due to homogenization of design and techniques, only local rather than global?  Shift the labels around and one is totally at sea in some cases. 

 

In the examples of "fake rubbish" I linked to earlier, outside of the finish on the varnish (which can always be changed) there is only one major difference between the fakes and the original Dutzendarbeiten (and that can't be seen clearly without having one in your hands).  If they were being sold as some other cheap historical fiddle, even that might be missed, and if some clown relabeled them as newly built by darned near anybody obscure, I see a major problem for buyers. 

 

Advancing evidence that this is nothing new, and that local finishing and wholesale relabeling was rife in the earlier eras that we treasure could start quite a discussion, I feel  :lol: 

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Jacob,do you see that this is a historical example of what I was saying in the "New Italian Violin" thread about fungibility due to homogenization of design and techniques, only local rather than global?  Shift the labels around and one is totally at sea in some cases. 

 

In the examples of "fake rubbish" I linked to earlier, outside of the finish on the varnish (which can always be changed) there is only one major difference between the fakes and the original Dutzendarbeiten (and that can't be seen clearly without having one in your hands).  If they were being sold as some other cheap historical fiddle, even that might be missed, and if some clown relabeled them as newly built by darned near anybody obscure, I see a major problem for buyers. 

 

Advancing evidence that this is nothing new, and that local finishing and wholesale relabeling was rife in the earlier eras that we treasure could start quite a discussion, I feel  :lol:

 

No, I don’t understand what you are talking about
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There were several 18th C. Viennese workshops (Posch, Leidolff, Thir, etc.) where the sheer volume of instruments produced make it evident to anybody who is prepared to switch his/her brain on, that consisted of several workers. As any maker today will know well, all the business commitments keep “the boss” away from the bench. J. J. Stadlmann was not only Kayserlich/Königliche Hof Geigenmacher in Vienna, which would involve plenty of maintenance work, as well as supplying strings, sundry instruments, and whatever else they wanted, but also had the similar post in Eisenstadt, where he had to keep a certain Mr. Haydn happy. A normal workshop would have apprentices, who started at around the age of 13, journeymen, who had often learnt elsewhere, as well as adult workers, who had served their apprenticeship in the shop. Most 18th C. Viennese makers were ethnic Füsseners, and to some degree related to each other. There were other workshops such as Johann Georg Huber, who left few instruments, leaving one to wonder if he worked alone. Wurm would be another, whose instruments are quite rare (and very similar to Stadlmann’s).

There is no way (or none known to me) to find out who worked for whom and when. The only occasional proof is to be found when a deceased maker leaves artifacts to one of his workers in his will, (Mathias Daum, for instance), or an ex-employee applies to open his own shop, having to state where he learnt (Magnus Anton Fichtl, for instance), or when an employee marries the daughter/widow of the boss. It is extremely unusual to find an inscription inside an instrument, like the exception that I reported here, in a late Stadlmann cello, which seems to have been made by a certain Herr Graf, who I have never heard of otherwise. J. J. Stadlmann, notwithstanding his official posts, died more or less penniless, so one could imagine that Michael Ignaz (his nephew, not son) might have been the only, or one of the only assistants towards the end. This implies, for practical purposes, it can only be guesswork if a violin such as yours is a late “Johann Joseph” or an early ”Michael Ignaz” regardless of the label.

The Labels: The Stadlmann labels are copper engravings. Michael Ignaz’s possibly being from the same adjusted “block” as Johann Josef, except that in the bottom line the word “in” is, on his early work, replaced with the word ”Adunct” (Assistant, i.e. assistant Hof-Geigenmacher), until such time as he was appointed to this post himself, whereupon he for a while, cut the word “Adunct” away with knife such as here:

attachicon.gifmistadlmann.jpg

This label belongs to the viola that I sold some years ago to the principal violist in the Grazer Philharmoniker.

After a period of years, Michael Ignaz got around to going to his engraver and having the block changed to have a squiggly line in place of the word “Adunct“, as you can see on the label in the so-called “Homolka” thread,

where I was using this label to show how the Austrian number one was invariably written at the time, with a dot on, as opposed to the rubbishy fake Homolka label with later undotted “ones”. The label in your violin seems authentic enough to me, and since one can recognise what the fiddle is within a couple of years, without looking at the label anyway, so I see no reason to doubt it. I would though expect a Stadlmann label to always be glued in parallel to the middle joint, yours appears to have been removed, perhaps in the course of a repair, and glued back in afterwards crooked (for god's sake leave it though). Yes there are fake Stadlmänner labels amongst the quarto sheets sold by the Markneukirchen Wholesalers. I reproduce one here, that I took out of a violin (which is a very funny anecdote in itself, that I won’t bore you with now unless asked). As you can see, this has a spelling mistake, allocating Stadlmann an extra “e” in the middle of his name.

attachicon.gifqtstadlmann.jpg

A parchment (rarely paper) strip reinforcing the back middle joint WAS STANDARD. These strips were from some old “recycled” (as one would say today) book/bible/hymnbook/music score etc, A strip taken from a margin has no writing on it, one from the middle of the page does. That yours refers to a pope is entirely coincidental and of no significance whatsoever, indeed the Emperor had the pope near the top of his shit list at this time, culminating in the Josephinian reforms of 1785. I remember repairing a fiddle where the writing on the parchment seemed to be instructions on how to feed cattle!

The Jaura stamp on the neck: Jaura was one of the leading Viennese shops of his time. Although I am not too keen on their new making, they did first class restorations. Jaura was one of Lütgendorff’s main sources of information, and his knowledge is still to be found, unacknowledged and thrice (or much more) plagiarized by crummy text books and web sites. It is not unusual to see his stamp on the G string side of the neck root, when the Jaura workshop did a neck graft, although he seems to have restricted this treatment to instruments that he particularly treasured. The Jaura firm was succeeded by Ludwig Trostler (I would bet you a lunch that that is where your dad bought it!), where I bought all sorts of old wood, “schachteln”, and bits from his widow's estate.

36243-slow-clap-citizen-kane-orson-w-bJk

Priceless response.  Thank you very much. I would be interested to hear your story regarding the fake Stadlmann label that you removed from an instrument.  Do you have a sense of how many violins/cellos/violas the 18th century Viennese masters produced and how many survived?  Where JJ Stadlmann falls in a rough list of who produced the most and least stringed instruments? Any guess as to what the number carved in the side of the fingerboard means and why the f holes were rearranged? Any chance the pegs and end pin are old/original?

 

How would I go about obtaining the oldest possible tailpiece, preferably from Austria?  I'd like to replace the newer tailpiece on the JJS with a vintage one that would make historical sense with the instrument (if that even makes sense). Are period fittings pretty much impossible to obtain? 

 

Update on the OP violin: I brought it to a luthier today who took a look at it.  What occurred, however, made me pretty nervous about handing any violin to this man again.  He examined the violin, had some comments about what's wrong with the fingerboard and then proceeded to shove a crudely shaped tool sideways into the left f hole in order to show me how far the bassbar was from the hole.  In the process of moving this tool back and forth repeatedly, a significant amount of the black varnish was scraped off of the rim of the f hole about an inch long.  I saw it happening, got a little concerned and asked him to please be careful scraping the varnish off.  He seemed unconcerned and said he would fix that. 

 

He did finally procure some kit that looked like what a woman would use to apply mascara and "painted" over the "damage" (pictured below).  I also asked about the bassbar crack.  He examined it, said there was one cleat used to repair it and that he would have done it differently, particularly considering how long it was.  He also said it wasn't a bassbar crack, but rather a crack near the bassbar.   Then he "examined" the crack from the outside by pressing his thumbs on one side of the crack with significant force, easily enough to snap a pair of chopsticks in half.  He determined that there might have been a little movement (I couldn't see it), but I was more relieved at this point that he didn't break the violin in half (I'm sure some loyal MN readers would have probably been relieved with the opposite outcome).  It seriously seemed that he was trying to break the violin, surely if the "repair" was any less stable he would have put his thumbs clean through the top of the violin. I was however happy to hear that a new soundpost would cost me $10 which I'll have done next week by his partner who hopefully has a gentler touch. He noted that the violin projected very well and seemed to have no "open" cracks and was in "good shape."

 

jacked-up-heidegger-schoenbach-f-hole_zp

post-66674-0-52553400-1390331377_thumb.gif

post-66674-0-45502100-1390331378_thumb.jpg

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I guess you didn't tell this restorer you got it on Ebay or it would have been a bassbar crack for sure.

A bassbar crack seems to be a "movable feast" depending on how a luthier or dealer feels about the violin and the customer, and on whether they're buying or selling.

From my point of view, if it can be correctly repaired without removing the bassbar, it isn't a bassbar crack. I never saw how this one could be, given that it travels down from the middle of the top eye of the f-hole in a vaguely outwards direction and there must be at least 5mm clearance.

As I understand it, bassbar cracks only merit their special name and their place in the list of uniquely devaluing flaws because repairing them is costly (requiring removal and sometimes replacement of the bassbar). This crack could be repaired with normal cleats = not a bassbar crack.

 

Your story reminds me of the barber we used to go to in Peebles ... as he got into his 80s and just wouldn't retire, it got to be more and more terrifying to visit him. Everyone hoped and prayed to get the son instead, who was already 50 and itching to take over the business.

One time I watched a mother bravely offering up her 4-year old to the slaughter (a haircut in fact). The old codger advanced with the clippers buzzing, his hands shaking. At the last second she lost her nerve, leapt up and snatched the child off the seat. A very funny but rather sad moment.

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I would be interested to hear your story regarding the fake Stadlmann label that you removed from an instrument. Do you have a sense of how many violins/cellos/violas the 18th century Viennese masters produced and how many survived? Where JJ Stadlmann falls in a rough list of who produced the most and least stringed instruments? Any guess as to what the number carved in the side of the fingerboard means and why the f holes were rearranged? Any chance the pegs and end pin are old/original?

How would I go about obtaining the oldest possible tailpiece, preferably from Austria? I'd like to replace the newer tailpiece on the JJS with a vintage one that would make historical sense with the instrument (if that even makes sense). Are period fittings pretty much impossible to obtain?

Your fiddle got “modernized” presumably within the last 100 years (by the Jaura workshop?). Originally, it would have had a nailed on neck and a bottom saddle that would have been simply about an inch of ebony edge replacement. The tailpiece was almost certainly one with a silver (or brass) tail-"gut”, that went under then through the wooden part, where it would be soldered to a silver (brass) shield. There are many Viennese violins of the period with all of there original bits and pieces on display (and considerably more not on display) in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna. Should you ever get to go there, be sure not to forget to take a torch (US “flashlight”) because they are one of the most extreme proponents of the current ridiculous museum fashion of keeping everything in the dark. You can walk around, bumping into furniture, looking at dark violin shaped silhouettes otherwise. Old tailpieces tend to get collected by violin makers, and if you go to one, and ask politely/devotedly, you might well find that they have a shoebox full to chose from. I have no idea if your fiddle has the original bass bar, but I would be a little surprised if it did. The pegs/button are in the Viennese style, but possibly as late as early 20th C. Jaura's collection of original old tailpieces/pegs/bridges etc. belongs to the Technische Museum Wien, where a selection is on display

Do you have a sense of how many violins/cellos/violas the 18th century Viennese masters produced and how many survived? Where JJ Stadlmann falls in a rough list of who produced the most and least stringed instruments?

I have never thought of arranging these makers in a productivity league table, but since you ask, and off the top of my head: The J.J. Stadlmann workshop was nowhere near as productive as for instance either main Thir workshop, or Geisenhof or Leidolff, but much more productive than Huber, Wurm, Radek, Wörl, and probably roughly on a par with some of the Bartl or possibly Fichtl

Any guess as to what the number carved in the side of the fingerboard means and why the f holes were rearranged?

I’m afraid I do not recognise the number. I would imagine that it is someone’s inventory number. Somebody evidently thought that the f hole nicks were in the “wrong” place.

I would be interested to hear your story regarding the fake Stadlmann label that you removed from an Instrument

About 15 years ago, when I had my shop in Krems an der Donau, which is about 40 miles upstream from Vienna, I was sitting in my workshop, minding my own business, when the phone rang. It was a gentleman from Australia, who I had know for a while, since he was a customer of my father, and an owner of one of his Violas (still is). He asked me, “How much is a Stadlmann violin worth?”, and inevitably got my standard answer “That depends on whether it is one or not”. He then proceeded to wrong foot me, by saying “OK, I will be in Europe in 3 weeks, can I drop by with it?”. I found that priceless, since the Viennese always rang and asked when I would be in Vienna next time, and the Australians ring and ask if they can “drop in”. When he came a few weeks later, I told him straight away that it wasn’t a Stadlmann, but a Ficker, and if he were to let me take the fake label (with the spelling mistake) out, there would most likely be the Ficker stamp “I*G*F” underneath. He sat there next to my bench miserably for about an hour, sitting first on one buttock, then the other, until he couldn’t stand it any longer and said, OK, take the label out. I put a wet paper towel on it, and we all went for lunch at the ”Goldenen Hirschen”. After lunch, I lifted the label with a pallet knife, and lo and behold there was the Ficker stamp. For years afterwards, I got letters from all over Australia with photos of crummy violins, until they got sick of my standard answers (cf. ”Heidegger).

Since then the fake Stadlmann label has lived in my stamp album.

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I have a violin by JC Leidolff although after reading Jacob’s comments, I suppose it might be from his shop rather than by his own hand.

My point in writing is thank Jacob for his comment about the use of soot to darken the varnish. Until now, I subscribed to the received knowledge that these Viennese varnishes had darkened with age. The finger is usually pointed at the use of asphaltum causing a progressive darkening with oxidation but the chemical analysis Jacob refers to points to deliberate blackening at the outset.

 

This is puzzling because my next thought would be that the use of a varnish almost black would serve to hide the use of inferior wood but this seems not to be the case. That leaves only the explanation that such a dark color was selected for aesthetic reasons.

 

My instrument dates for 1755 falling more or less in the middle of the timespan indicated by Jacob and the varnish is (fortunately) not as dark or opaque as the varnish on that early cello. 

 

Was there a gradual lightening of the varnish as tastes changed in the lead up to the 19thC when the practice of dark varnishes died out?

Glennpost-5422-0-28058900-1379602235_thumb.jpgpost-5422-0-51853700-1379602304_thumb.jpgpost-5422-0-08498000-1379602460_thumb.jpg

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Hi Glenn!

Maybe I'm completely mistaken, but your violin looks revarnished (the red colour very "stained"), it looks much different from the usual Leidolff patterns (the corners, C-bouts and F-holes), the date 1755 is hard to believe and the label could be an original one by Leidolff (difficult to decide by the small pic), but looks, as if it was freshly glued in not long ago, maybe after cleaning the inside, but possibly as a "switch-over". Has it a reliable certification?

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BassClef,

I think you should try to find a better luthier.  Yours, who could immediately scratch off varnish, touch it up instantaneously, and offer a new post for $10, all in the same breath, without dying of embarrassment, means that you are hanging out in a dangerous neighborhood for poor innocent violins.  I believe you said you live in the NY area.  There are some other choices.   

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Hi Glenn!

Maybe I'm completely mistaken, but your violin looks revarnished (the red colour very "stained"), it looks much different from the usual Leidolff patterns (the corners, C-bouts and F-holes), the date 1755 is hard to believe and the label could be an original one by Leidolff (difficult to decide by the small pic), but looks, as if it was freshly glued in not long ago, maybe after cleaning the inside, but possibly as a "switch-over". Has it a reliable certification?

Since Glenn presumably isn't advertising his fiddle for sale, he doesn't have to justify anything to sellers like you.

When you advertise a fiddle for sale, any potential customer has the right to ask you to back up you claims. 

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Hi Glenn!

Maybe I'm completely mistaken, but your violin looks revarnished (the red colour very "stained"), it looks much different from the usual Leidolff patterns (the corners, C-bouts and F-holes), the date 1755 is hard to believe and the label could be an original one by Leidolff (difficult to decide by the small pic), but looks, as if it was freshly glued in not long ago, maybe after cleaning the inside, but possibly as a "switch-over". Has it a reliable certification?

 

Hi blankface,

 

Good luck with your online appraisal business!

 

You do know that if you click on the thumbnails, they enlarge, right?

 

Glenn

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Update on the OP violin: I brought it to a luthier today who took a look at it.  What occurred, however, made me pretty nervous about handing any violin to this man again. 

 

But didn't you buy this violin with the intention of giving it to your one-year-old daughter as a toy?

Why should you care about a scratch - or even take it to a luthier in the first place - if it is shortly to become even more wrecked than it is already?

 

Andrew

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The LOB is 360mm

Do you need more measurements?

Glenn

 

It's a little larger than the measurements on two J.C. Leidolffs at the Orpheon Foundation:

From 1748:                            From 1739:

Length  357                           355

Upper   165                           163

Middle   110                           110

Lower  200                           202

Rib Ht    34                             33

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They're very high ...!

If the total volume of air inside a violin doesn't matter, then I suppose it doesn't matter :), but if your tonal ideal is a golden period Stradivarius then to start off with about 10% more volume AND significantly higher arching is probably not a great idea. 

Horses for courses - Leidolffs probably work better for some things than Strads.

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They're very high ...!

If the total volume of air inside a violin doesn't matter, then I suppose it doesn't matter :), but if your tonal ideal is a golden period Stradivarius then to start off with about 10% more volume AND significantly higher arching is probably not a great idea. 

Horses for courses - Leidolffs probably work better for some things than Strads.

 

 

Oh, I see what you mean - good point.

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Hi blankface,

 

Good luck with your online appraisal business!

 

You do know that if you click on the thumbnails, they enlarge, right?

 

Glenn

Thanks for the good wishes - I didn't earn anything yet with this business, but let's see what the future will bring... :rolleyes:

But seriously, you asked for the varnish, and I told my first impressions - and never said, that it is not genuine at all and made the reservation being wrong.

 

It is not unusual, that the varnish of the dark viennese violins was altered during 200 or 260 years:

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/327977-seb-dalinger/?hl=dalinger

 

Your pictures looked as if (by clicking and zooming) the varnish is thick, fresh and stained at the back (the reddish colour), and it could be revarnished, especially because there is not much wear visble - just a few thoughts, not an appraisal.

 

 

 

They're very high ...!

If the total volume of air inside a violin doesn't matter, then I suppose it doesn't matter :), but if your tonal ideal is a golden period Stradivarius then to start off with about 10% more volume AND significantly higher arching is probably not a great idea. 

Horses for courses - Leidolffs probably work better for some things than Strads.

 

Very high ribs aren't untypical for viennese violins, and the pattern of Glenn's violin isn't untypical for a Leidolff, as I learned meanwhile.

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They're very high ...!

If the total volume of air inside a violin doesn't matter, then I suppose it doesn't matter :), but if your tonal ideal is a golden period Stradivarius then to start off with about 10% more volume AND significantly higher arching is probably not a great idea. 

Horses for courses - Leidolffs probably work better for some things than Strads.

 

Another idiotic prejudice

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