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franciscus

Anton Schwartzmann violin: copy?

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Before I started this topic, I've exhausted all my skills by searching all the resources that were available to me, especially Maestronet, but I have not found an answer. So: I've seen an ad in which the seller offers a violin on which he knew nothing except that owned by his family for about 40 years. As a rookie here, I am unable to use Gallery, then - here are some pictures, copy-paste from ad:

amwd40.jpg

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Everything I've found: "SCHWARTZMANN, Anton Worked circa. 1750 Mittenwald Germany. Musician and luthier. Few instruments recorded. Anton Schwartzmann musi- / kant und Geigenmacher in / Mittenwald in Tirol 17.." (The Brompton’s Book of Violin & Bow Makers).

The seller's location is some 3 hours from me, by car in this time, so I asked him to send me a few more pictures, especially pictures of the scroll. What he sent, is here:

34xj248.jpg

o8rnua.jpg

20gnt07.jpg

nvcl1w.jpg

 

My speculations are going in this direction: if this is a "real McCoy", the scroll should be grafted.This one is not, as much as I can see. So, it could be a copy, but where it was made and when? If it's a copy, are there its sisters?

 

I kindly ask for opinion, before I go to the adventure of driving through Bosnian mountain in December in order to see and, hopefuly) play this violin (seller told me itis "playable", whatever that means). BTW, I am not a dealer, nor luthier - rather - I play violin for my own pleasure (and in one informal chamber orchestra, but of and on) and I like to consider myself able to do basic setup of violins that I buy from time to time. Some of them I sold (rarely), some (mostly) I keep, according to my pretty tight budget for my toys. 

 

Thanks in advance for your patient reading of my broken English and thanks a lot for any contribution to my humble knowledge.

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Anton Schwarzmann is listed by Lütgendorff as “a Vogtländer of the (late) 18th C. who called himself Musician and Violin maker on his labels and Mittenwald (sic.) as the place of origin”. I would expect this violin to be “as labeled”, but it is important that you should realise that this is in reality an early (probably) Schönbach maker who used “Mittenwald” as a bogus place of origin, as did several makers from there (e.g. Schetelig in “Innsbruck”, Hamm in “Rome”, etc.). If you had time or interest, you could spend an hour or two trying to find him in the Schönbach baptismal register:

http://actapublica.eu/matriky/plzen/prohlizec/5414/?strana=156

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Although I am not well-versed in these highly arched violins, based on the height of the strings above the fingerboard and what I can see of the fingerboard projection, it may need a neck reset.  Just as a matter of curiosity, it would be interesting to know the distance between the f-hole upper eyes -them's the widest I've seen.

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@jacobsaunders: Thank you very much, Sir. The label in OP violin, seemingly, says what you cited: "Anton Schwartzmann musikant und Geigenmacher in Mittenwald in Tirol 17..". If I understood you well, you do not think that's impossible that this violin is really made by this versatile gentleman? Before you've post the link to Geburtsbuch, I even did not know for this initiative in order to make available this kind of documents. Wonderful source, altough that's a (to myself) somewhat difficult to read this wonderful penmanship. If I at the end of the day buy this violin, I will certainly make a serious attempt to dig the data about mentioned Musikant und Geigenmacher.

 

@Brad: Intrigued by your question, I tried to make some measurement using the seller's picture and assumption that the violin is really 60 cm long as the base, because I do not have the violin in my hand. So, here is what I've done:

 

29gere0.jpg

 

 

Obviously, the distance between the f-hole upper eyes is not the lonely unusual measures here. I also think that you're right regarding the very low neck angle - maybe that's not a bug but feature (Bill Gates would say) :) After this analysis of the picture, I asked the seller that again, but this time carefully, measure the violin.

 

Now, I really became interested in this violin, not just as a musical instrument, but more as the object from tales of ancient German/Chech violin makers. If someone has a price proposal which would realistically have to pay for the violin?

 

Edit: I am really sorry for the huge delay in answering, but, I am still limited to one post in 24 hours, so - please, understand that.  

Edited by franciscus

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I personaly rather like early Schönbach violins, particularly the (rare) ones with an original label. I should point out though, that I am in rather a minority, and that such violins are inexpensive when one turns up. I don’t comment on violin prices on Maestronet, and don’t know what you would be wanting to do with it, or if you have someone who is able to repair it for you. From my position as a violin restorer (in Austria), doing the mental arithmetic for the cost of the repairs required, would prohibit me from paying more than a couple of hundred Euros.

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Regarding the neck, you should consider, that this violin probably still has it's original 18th century neck and bassbar, what means:

1) the neck stop is supposed to be shorter than the modern, possibly something around 125 mm, and

2) the neck angle is very low, what implicates, that the fingerboard needs a wedge to make it playable (or a neck reset, like Brad was proposing, but this will be very complicated. The "through-neck" construction requires to open the violin and to set in an upper block).

3) If it still has the original bassbar, it will be carved out of the table, not glued, and might be smaller and shorter as a modern. This may cause, that it won't work really satisfying with modern high tension strings - it's a so called "baroque violin"  in an unaltered condition, built for playing with thin gut strings.

 

For the rest I'm on Jacob's side, finding it very interesting to see such a "rare to find" instrument discovered in the bosnian (?) mountains.

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@jacobsaunders: I took everything you have written without any grain of salt, and sent an offer to the seller. I know that "such violins are inexpensive when one turns up" (file:///D:/maestronet/schwartzmann/A%20VIOLIN%20%20%20Christie's.htm), but i do not see this violin as an investment or new violin, rather as a piece of history which I can save from oblivion and return back to life. I'm somewhere in between violinist and fiddler, I have a few violins which I play and I am very pleased with them..

 

 I can estimate, at the basic level, violin's condition; I can handle pegs-nut-bridge-tailpiece-saddle-endpin.issues at some basic level, but by no means intend to make modern violin from baroque one. I do not know, at this moment, if this violin needs a repair, so I'll leave it for the next post (hopefully, with the exact measuremet and better picture) Thanks a lot, once more.

 

@Blank face: If this violin is really violin made in the 18th, I will not try to transform into something it is not, but I'll try return it to its original state, as much as possible. Bosnian mountains lie between me and violin, since I live in Tuzla (NE Bosnia), while mentioned violiin sleeps in Sarajevo..

 

pp: I am still under supervision, so 24 hours min between my messages is still current.

Edited by franciscus

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Regarding the neck, you should consider, that this violin probably still has it's original 18th century neck and bassbar, what means:

1) the neck stop is supposed to be shorter than the modern, possibly something around 125 mm, and

2) the neck angle is very low, what implicates, that the fingerboard needs a wedge to make it playable (or a neck reset, like Brad was proposing, but this will be very complicated. The "through-neck" construction requires to open the violin and to set in an upper block).

3) If it still has the original bassbar, it will be carved out of the table, not glued, and might be smaller and shorter as a modern. This may cause, that it won't work really satisfying with modern high tension strings - it's a so called "baroque violin"  in an unaltered condition, built for playing with thin gut strings.

 

For the rest I'm on Jacob's side, finding it very interesting to see such a "rare to find" instrument discovered in the bosnian (?) mountains.

 

So, I've got it and some things are a little bit clearer now.

 

1) Neck stop is at 130 mm. Unfortunatelly, seems that this violin is not in original shape (if it is Schwartzmann's violin at all). Here are some details:

 

11gncyt.jpg

 

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10h8zuf.jpg

 

312e80o.jpg

 

2. The neck angle is so low that fingerboard lies on the soundboard - see first picture, the second one shows the mess on soundboard caused by, IMO, installation of new neck and upper block (yes, this violin has an upper block - actually, it is fully blocked and lined). Third picture shows ebony edge on the button, pretty imprecisely made, and fourth sows the scroll - the edges doesn't stop at the six-o-clock, but go all the way.

 

3. The bass bar was glued on the soundboard. On the next picture the bass bar is visible:

2gtc8dx.jpg

 

What I've seen more: body interior is very clean, maybe too clean, and the only visible fleck is the glue smeared all around the label:

 

ridwk5.jpg

 

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This violin has a highest arch I've ever seen, i.e. the sound post is 65 mm long (yes, the sound post was tight in place, but because it's some 4 mm longer, that resulting in the deformation of soundboard:

 

fojf3s.jpg

 

Violin has a lot of open seams and cracks, two craks (as far as I can see) were closed and cleated, the other are not. 

 

So, finally, this wooden lady remained a mystery for me. Should I leave it the way they are or try to take it back to live? What should be done in order to restore it, what can be realistic done, worth it at all and finally, what is it? For any question mark erased from this list I would be more than grateful and I kindly ask for advices.

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Your violin is certainly a ca. 200 year old Schönbach (or near) one. The violin is in a rather sorry state, and seems to have been “modernized” at some stage. Repairing it properly, would be fairly routine to someone who restores violins professionally, but biting of more than one can chew for hobbyists. The neck seems to have been lengthened and rather cobbled together to achieve the “right length”. The belly, particularly in the area at the top where the neck is let, in has multiple sins. The only good plan here, would be to take the violin to bits, open, wash out and re-glue all cracks (including the ones described as “not open”!) re-achieving the integrity of the original arching again (there are ways and means) and possibly (I can't tell from photos) a patch at the top of the belly. As I said above, this would not be a commercially viable project for a professional who has to live from restoring violins, but as you (rather beautifully) put it “a piece of history which I can save from oblivion“. Another feasible option worth considering is to just keep it like it is, and enjoy it as a reference example.

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Excellent thread. If you don't mind I have a few questions:

1. how much was the seller asking?

2. how much did you end up paying?

3. how did the negotiations go down after you saw the violin in person?

4. Was it thrilling for you? Did you feel the rush as you left with the violin in hand?

5. How was the drive?

6. What are your plans now?

7. How much you you recon a full restoration/repair would cost?

8. Is the label original to the violin?

9. What other violins do you own?

10. Have you considered restoring the violin to its original form? (if it ain't baroque, don't fix it)

11. Are you willing to pay more than the violin "is worth" to restore it and bring dignity back to this historic violin?

Thanks for your time and for making this interesting thread.

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@jacobsaunders: You answered all my questions. Thanks a lot for your time and knowledge shared with me and the others on MN. Plan you've described, in the sense that I implement it by myself, is maybe feasible, but maybe it is not. That second "maybe" is what I'm worried about, so, because I would not want to do any irreparable damage, I will not do anything irreversible. I'll wipe the dust from the violin and put it on the shelf above my home desk for a while, so that more often remind me to re-asses my hobby luthier's skills. So far, I can take the top off, clean, glue and re-glue cracks, but nothing more. That's not enough as far as I can see. Unfortunatelly, in Bosnia and Herzegovina is no more educated luthiers able (and willing) to repair really old violins, I'm affraid that situation in Croatia is not much better, do not anything about Slovenian luthiers, so Austria is nearest place where I can take this violin in order to repair it. OK, that's something I can think about if I (very probably) conclude that this job is beyond my ability, especially because I quite often travel to Austria in the framework of cooperation between my Uni and Montanuniversität Leoben. Maybe you'll finally see this violin :)

 

@BassClef: I am very glad you've found this thread interesting. I will do my best in order to answer your questions:

 

1. 200 €
2. 200 € (Seller is the son of original owner, who was very well known to me as a Founder of Puppet Theatre in Sarajevo and the author of many puppet shows in which I enjoyed as a child. Seller sold this violin in order to pay setting of gravestone on the his father's grave. A few days before Christmass, I quit the negotiations in such cases).

3. I bought the violin without seeing it, because my leg was injured, so I could not drive.

4. Hehe, seems that you know very well this feeling.
5. N/A, as I said before.
6. To calm my self down and analyze of situation for a while.
7. I do not have an idea at the moment.
8. Frankly, I do not know. At the moment, I decided that I consider it as the original.

9. Nothing fancy - my workhorse is one "genuine German Stradivarius copy" (in need for ribs shortening), the other is the one rather old German (I would say) violin where I need to fix broken rib at c bout, but I do not want to start before I know more about it, the third is Lewis and Son from around 1950 (in need for end pin hole plug) and the fourth is brand new Gear4Music Deluxe Chinese where I spent two days in order to set it up after I bought it, waiting for the buyer. All this violin are what they are, but still better than I need for my playing skills (OK, this Chinese one is a little worse). 

10. Yes, restoring the violin to its original form is something I would like to do, but I am not sure is it possible at all, after all this modifications already made. 

11. I am almost always willing to pay (of course, if I have the budget for my toys at the moment) more than the violin (and not only the violin) is worth (in the money) to restore it.

 

Thanks for your participation in this discussion and for intriguing questions.

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Thanks a lot for your answers, I appreciate it. So, have you had the chance to think over your next step? Without intending to be mean, my (uninformed) gut reaction is that if your luthier skills are limited to only taking off the top and gluing the cracks, I imagine you might not want to touch the violin AT ALL and leave even those steps to someone highly qualified to preserve the integrity and history of this incredible violin. Have a great holiday season and please keep us informed of the latest.

 

Cheers.

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Thanks a lot for your answers, I appreciate it. So, have you had the chance to think over your next step? Without intending to be mean, my (uninformed) gut reaction is that if your luthier skills are limited to only taking off the top and gluing the cracks, I imagine you might not want to touch the violin AT ALL and leave even those steps to someone highly qualified to preserve the integrity and history of this incredible violin. Have a great holiday season and please keep us informed of the latest.

 

Cheers.

Thank you for your interest, I am very glad to have an opportunity to discuss about this topic. Therefore, your gut reaction was appropriate, because I still just look at the violin, not having the courage to do anything. As I said before, I cannot discuss about any kind of repair with some luthier in my neighborhood, because in my neighborhood is no more luthiers (except for one totally crazy alcoholic and one young wannabe maker who does not want to even talk about repairs). So, what I can do at the moment is leave this violin as is for a while. Maybe forever, why not? At the very least, it is very nice toy for me, for looking, touching, thinking about it. If I ever make some steps toward repair, I would be very glad to publish it here. I wish you happy New Year, good health and good opportunities.

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