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Who made this violin?


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Hello guys, it's my first post here. I am wondering if someone could help me about finding out who has made this violin and is it possible to get certificate anywhere? I guess that I can't post pictures so I'll simply try to add a flickr  photostream link:





I have been told that this kind of instrument is very hard to be identified and therefore certified but I am not giving up yet.


Your comments are welcome!


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It's even harder when you only give 3 photos of the front and don't tell us anything else about it.  Please tell us, are you buying it, selling it, own it already, where did you get it, what did it cost, what did the label say, what have you been told about it, how does it sound, etc., and post  front, back, both sides and endpin area photos, (preferably well lit and in focus) at the very least. Detail views of corner areas and all aspects of the scroll will help a lot.  Nobody can do anything for you if you don't give enough information to work with :)

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Oh, excuse me that I didn't give additional information, I was even not sure if my post is going to appear. But its strange that you could open just three photos, I have uploaded about 15 photos, 2 of the front , 2 of the back, 2 - both sides, 4 of the scroll, 1 of the f-whole and...few more. Also there is option to open the pictures with a different sizes so you can have close-up. The pictures are not professionally taken for what I apologize, but I believe that they can give some information.


Otherwise I own the violin, I got it about 6 years ago from my teacher. Before, he bought it from an retired musician from Bulgaria who played on the instrument since his childhood. Is the price important in order to identify an instrument? There is no label unfortunately, just a very faint circle stamp which I uploaded in the same photo stream  in flickr on my previous post. I don't want to influence you with other opinions..nothing to hide out... what I know is that this is not italian or english instrument.

These are the measurements:


Body length - 357 mm
Upper bouts - 165 mm
Middle bouts - 115 mm
Lower bouts -  206 mm
The sound is very warm and colorful. It is not very powerful instrument but projects extremely well.
And I can add one more time links to each photo I uploaded in flickr:






























Hope that helps!

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I assume that the photos have improved in the last few hours .... :rolleyes:

OK I will go out on a limb - haven't had enough abuse today.

Looks to me like good Markneukirchen work (?). The lower tongues of the f-holes are rather broad and disproportionate, the pegbox cheeks have a bit of a tradey taper, but otherwise it seems very attractive - one step up from a 1930s EH Roth perhaps. I'm pretty sure someone more knowledgeable than me could put a name to it.

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I should perhaps mention, that I have had an email correspondence in recent weeks with the OP re. the identification of this violin. I had an idea what it COULD be, but am anything but sure. I would be interested to see if anybody else has any opinions or ideas, and, since I have already achieved my 10 post qualification (ah-hem), am posting the pictures of the violin that he sent me here (with his permission).


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IMHO, It absolutely isn't a Dutzend and If it has a one piece lower bout, I'd be voting for interwar period Mittenwald.  The lack of pegbox work argues against anything older, and the corners, etc., don't look Saxon to me.  I don't have enough experience with Eastern European to speculate in that area.  The varnish looks to me like an oil based that hasn't aged with much grace.


I wanted to know the price and source to evaluate possible origins, like if you got it on eBay for $50.00, I could rule out Cremona immediately :lol:

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Who the hell does make such a faint brand, that we're going to get into a quiz?

If Jacob has got an idea, I'm curious, if he will tell later.

My first impression is french (or Mittenwald, of course, they often copied the french style).

Bilotet would be an idea, in the 40's.

Quote from Viaduct:


Beside his label L. BILLOTET used two different stamps :
one "L BILLOTET" placed to the inside back just over the label
one inscribed in a circle placed half on the upper left corner of the label, half on the back.


But the button seems to rule it out, as the scroll doesn't look Mittenwald alike.

Martin: The broad, in a way disproportionate F-holes are IMO late Guadagnini style, not Markneukirchen.

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Blank Face,

Point taken about Guadagnini ... didn't mean to say the disproportionate lower tongues were Markneukirchen, just that they were slightly lacking in style, like the pegbox cheeks.

Billotet looks very French, long droopy corners with big ends, flat scroll eyes, sharp edge outside the purfling etc : http://www.londonviolins.co.uk/violins.php?s=1&id=265#i265

There's a very similar one on Viaduct Violins.

Unless it's an out and out bench copy disguising its origins (which it doesn't seem to be) I don't think it can be French. :)

Still rooting for MK!

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Hi Martin,

Billotet was just an idea; Viaduct shows a second Bilotet with very short corners, narrow purfling and a similar scroll; I remember, that some years ago Bongartz sold a Billotet with an identical varnish. Maybe there is somebody out there, who knows more about this maker and his workshop style. But I agree, that edges and purfling are pointing more to Mirecourt than Paris, if it is french at all.

And you are right, that many Markneukirchen Guadagnini copies have similar F-holes.

The problem with 20th century violins is, that many former typical styles were "exported", when a maker got his training in a particular workshop and went somewhere else later, that means globalisation.

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Please forgive my not-modest lack of knowledge but, I'm really very off of the mark if I say the varnish looks either new or thoroughly retouched to antique it (even the varnish ripples)?


If not for the opinions given till now I'd just would have think: another 'ebay.de' violin.


Sorry however if I'm delirius!

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IMO the varnish does not look like your typical antiqued Chinese instrument like Jay Haide etc. The photo of the front gives good detail and it looks like original varnsh.


I'm with Martin on MNK but as my violin identification skills are very  limited  forget I said that.

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Which means that some have told you that it was not?

I was thinking that it is not, because it looks like re-varnished at least for my untrained eye. Four luthiers in person told me that in their opinion it is original. And here is the dilemma, has somebody used a similar varnished? Have you ever seen a master instrument, beginning of 20th century, maybe different model but with a similar varnish?

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Martin and Blank face, what about Czech or Hungarian (austro-hungarian) origin?

Maybe now is a good moment to mention that "the usual suspects" for authorship till now have been  - "some of the best German or Czech makers from the turning of the past century" ... but no names. Once the instrument received a "french diagnose" with a name (!) but unfortunately I found out that the violin was bought when the suspected maker was 17 years old. Also the violin already had some worn and without  label which means - relatively "old".

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 I remember, that some years ago Bongartz sold a Billotet with an identical varnish.

 And I remember many other violins, dating from the 1920's till, let's say, 1970's, with similar varnish, from different countries, including "MNk"(interesting acronym). This varnish is sensitive against sweat and polishing with solvents (spirit or some oils), and possibly somebody tried to clean it incautiously.

But with some effort there might be a chance, to fake this appearance - also the irregular wear and the unsightly glued F-hole cracks.

Jay Haide are trying to imitate this look, that's right, and It might be also possible, that they changed the style of their scroll and purfling for this instrument.

Tailpiece and chinrest are obviously chinese, so I apologize for a rather brillant, but wrong expertising - I looked too much at the details, not the rather distant photos. (no emotic.)

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Blank face - either you are having a comedy moment or you have gone a bit mad (or both).

I've seen this kind of varnish deterioration on a lot of violins - the Luigi Salsedo/Andreas Renisto violins are famous for it.

I had a Josef Polak from Prague c1930 which had not dis-similar similar varnish treatment and wear.




Sometimes it's a defect in the varnish, sometimes it's the result of being left for a few seasons in a very hot attic. The OP's varnish looks to me like slight melting.


So yes, Czech or Hungarian are also possibilities, though I still think the hurried details point to MNk.

Jay Haide and other imitators are getting very clever, but they seem to be incapable (so far) of irregular pegbox cheeks and scroll eyes which don't match ....

If this is modern Chinese I will eat my Renisto.

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Yes, Martin,

I was droven mad by some postings - it's familiar to me, that some violinists often are suspecting clean old violins to be revarnished or chinese, especially from the distance (and from the right distance, 100 feet or more, a Scott Cao might look like a Cremonese).



thank you very much for trusting me, but I told everything I can say - for the austro-hungarian school you asked the right man before.

You can look here


it's a nice collection of czech violins, although the pictures are not with a high resolution.


I doubt, that the violin was made before 1920, and the varnish IMO was stripped by too intensive cleaning, not only by wear.

As Martin told, this varnish was used nearly everywhere, from Sicilia (Puglisi) to England.

As far as I know (and that's not much), czech, hungarian and Markneukirchen master violins of this time usually don't have such a delicate purfling and (slightly irregular) scroll, but there could be exceptions.

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Again un-all eyes opinion but It seems that whenever someone tries to 'produce' an old french / english / italian violin of decent origins the source material is always the same: german (and for that I refer to all the terms I've read like 'saxon', 'markneukirchen', 'dutzenarbeit', 'germanic', etc.)


I don't know what this violin might be, but I think whatever it is, the whole think has been retouched rather than restored whit the aims to pass like a...(that's the part the experts must fill)

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I sold a good Mittenwald violin some time ago with varnish crazed like this, but with a full coat. I saw it last year after it had been thoroughly cleaned by another maker using something called Supernicco (?). It had lost the varnish down to the ground in all the usual places, and while every ounce of conservation ethics in my body was deeply hurt,I must confess that it looked rather nice!

My feeling is that this may be from MNK, but I don't know. I have seen this bright soft oily varnish on fiddles from all over, and I think that it could well be perfectly genuine, and worn as a soft varnish should be.

My old workshop partner's father was from MNK, and his brother remained there as a trade maker all his life. He supplied violins in two grades, oil and spirit. I was told that some makers, if they wanted to sell an oil varnished violin, and the varnish was still a bit soft, sometimes put a coat of spirit on top, and this caused the crazing. I'm not sure if this was done on this violin, but I'm sure it was sometimes done, and you do often see the crazing with a very brushy pattern.

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Re. previous posts about the varnish. I have seen this sort of varnish on instruments from roughly the early part of the 20th. C. from various geographies. In the hope that Roger isn’t reading, I would speculate that it might be a fatty oil varnish with too much oil in it, that crackled relatively soon after it was applied. I particularly remember getting into a dreadful pickle, pressing a Brugere with such a varnish into a plaster cast with a warm sand sack, partly squashing some parts of the bloody craquelure flat by accident.

As I said above I have an opinion on this violin, as of 10th September 2013. Since I am painfully aware that I am not always necessarily right, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time and without notice.

The very second I was sent these photos, I thought, “Oh! a Georg Rauer” I have one customer here in Niederösterreich who has such a violin, also I sold a Rauer cello to a gentleman in Wels about 20 years ago. He brings it for a 10.000 mile service every few years, so I am quite familiar with it. Both have exactly this varnish. Theoretically I should have (analog) photos in my archive, but I haven’t been able to find them yet I’m afraid, and not for want of looking (I am not the world's most organized person). The OP’s first questions (to me) were “who is Georg Rauer” and “where can he get certification” neither of which can be answered easily and I told him that it is dreadfully difficult to identify this kind of violin.

First of all, it was much easier to tell makers or regions of 18th C/earlier 19th C. makers apart, using the varieties of different building methods that certain schools invariably used – I explained that in detail in Post #46 here:

 From the mid 19th C. on though, certainly throughout the German speaking part of Europe and presumably elsewhere, the use of “Schachteln” (pre-fabricated ribs, and roughly finished plates etc.) bought from the Markneukirchen trade, or in the case of Vienna, directly from Schönbach (Schönbach, being Austrian, was not subject to Austrian import duties) became prevalent, to the point where making a violin from solid lumps of wood in a large town became practically extinct. This leaves one with precariously little to go on, (e.g. f-holes, corners, purfling, varnish) should one wish to say dogmatically if a violin was made in Vienna, Munich, Berlin or Pappenhaltenhausen and by whom. These German “Stadtmeistergeigen”, some of which are quite excellent, should not be confused with the cheaper to cheapest school violins that were supplied from Markneukirchen/Schönbach finished, and only got labeled up, if that.

Georg Rauer was born in Vienna in 1880 and died there in 1935 (of cancer). He was apprenticed to Karl Haudek – a pupil of Voigt and employee of Lemböck. Rauer passed his “Gesellenprüfung” (journeyman's exam) in 1897, and went “auf der Waltz” (on his journeys) to Budapest. Subsequently he worked for Jaura for 6 years before opening his own shop. He also briefly had his own branch in Karlsbad (Czech: Karlovy Vary) which was a popular spa resort, and favorite holiday destination for wealthy Viennese. In 1912 he became successor in the shop of his late teacher, C. H. Voigt. He was one of the foremost circle of Viennese violin makers of this period also dealing with more expensive instruments. One could almost think of him as a kind of Viennese “fin de siècle” Christopher Reuning. He was an expert regarding antique instruments and was made “Gerichtlich beeidete Sachverständiger” (court expert) for instruments of the violin family. He was also awarded the title of Kommerzialrat, which normally indicates active participation in the chamber of commerce. Any Maestronetter who has his own violin shop, will realize that such activity would result in Rauer having had, at best a homeopathic amount of time to spend “at the bench”. This proffers the question: who worked for him? That isn’t easy to find out. The register of the “Genossenschaft” records him as having sent Josef Aigner, Erich Heberlein, Georg Heindl, Karl Richard Kaltenbrunner, and Karl Pölzelmayer, his apprentices to their journeyman's exams. Rauer, as a member of the violin making “Champions League” of his time, would have had numerous journeymen sent to him from colleagues of similar stature. Karel Josef Dvořák is an example of one of these. Kaltenbrunner, his earlier apprentice, later (1923) became his business partner.

I am well aware that Viennese violin makers of the late 19th and early 20th C. is not a topic that has ever been one of widespread international interest, so we could use this opportunity for a quick look. I first moved to Vienna in 1985, and have never ceased to be astonished how many violin makers there were here in that period, there must have been a couple of hundred, and even now, 28 years later, I still regularly stumble over one that I had never heard of before. To try and structure my thoughts, I tried to divide them up a bit. Since Vienna was such a melting pot from the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire, I thought that one could try to divide them up ethnically, there being a genetically more Hungarian group, another more ethnically Schönbach one, as well as many from various Austrian provinces. Occasionally I wonder if there wasn’t some Mittenwald contribution too. Since they all worked together in various workshops, this approach transpired to be of limited use, since styles get largely mixed together. I also tried to divide them into groups of different qualities, which I think works better. The very best Viennese makers of that period IMHO would be the likes of Johann Stübiger, Anton Poller, Rauer and Kaltenbrunner (I have yet to see a Voigt). The next group, also very good, but not quite at the very top of the league were for instance Enzensberger, who I would put a shade in front of Jirowsky. The next group might include the likes of Güttler, Prüller, Richter or Ostrizek. At the bottom I would put people like Mönnig, Ferenczy or Alois Leja, some of whose violins you would have difficulty giving me for nothing. When appraising such instruments, one also has to be careful if they were made personally or bought pre-fabricated, and if so, to what extent. This is further complicated by the fact that “Schachteln” or at least rib garlands were mass produced here too, not just bought from Schönbach. I have two big boxes of finished rib garlands, from the estate of Trostler (successor to Jaura) who in turn had them from Carl Zach, who went spectacularly bankrupt in 1897. I know this for a fact from the pencil inscriptions on the ribs, where Zach had allotted particular rib cages to particular workers. I believe these ”Viennese Schachteln” were made using a half outside mould. From the same estate I also got a great big box of still straight unbent 19th C. ribs, some of which I gave to Roger, because I figured if anybody could bend the bloody things without snapping them, he would.

Up until the outbreak of WWI, Viennese violin making had prospered, witness the amount of people who came here into our trade. After WWI, Vienna, which until then had been the capital of a large empire, was suddenly a vastly outsized capital of a relatively tiny country. Saddled with war reparations, the economy was desperate, and bitter poverty widespread. To make a bad situation worse, there was also armed conflict on the streets between the two political parties that today form our governing coalition (and still hate each other). Although a sizable middle class still had a little money with which to buy a violin, the large majority didn’t, rather they hardly had anything to eat. This meant that many violin makers, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum sought other ways to make a living. Some became retailers of gramophone records, since that was something new, that people would still have had some cash left over for. Even today, as a relic from this time, my ”Gewerbeschein” as a violin dealer (trade license, I have two of them, one for violin making and one for violin dealing) is a sub-section of the electronics retailer classification. In general, Viennese violin making had fewer highlights between the two world wars than pre-WWI, although I recently had a Kaltenbrunner from 1945 in the workshop, which left me wondering why I should even bother to try and make new violins.

All things considered, I can’t really see how anybody is going to be able to pick the bones out of all these makers, and whenever anyone thinks he can, I have an inborn reflex to think “he must either be a genius, or a self-opinionated twit” (three guesses!). So I hope that our dear OP will feel able to accept a “I think it could well be” rather than a certification.

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