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French violin identification points?


Vethen
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Your question maybe came up because of the " Guarnerius copy identification" thread?

That particular violin has some features  that were made to resemble a french fiddle  as VdA pointed out.

 

SOME features seen in SOME French violin scrolls:

the scroll is "beveled" along the edge of the turns.

Ears of scroll not rounded but flat.

There can be a blackened stripe along the edge (not here)

No "dog nose". No "hinterkopf".

Duck's arse is not too pronounced.

 

I'm referring mostly to factory French here .

 

The posted fiddle has blackening inside the pegbox which is a Dutzend feature.

 

I shouldn't comment much on edging (sometimes  flatter and very even) , corners (bold, squarish), shape, varnish, button (often large), wood ( top MAY have wider grain) etc. as it confuses me to no end and

all of the above should be taken as an amateur's observation.

 

French violins have changed a lot over the centuries and as far as the older ones I am clueless.

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After handling and repairing a few, Saxons in general (and Dutzendarbeits in particular) are remarkably easy to spot.  Jacob S. has covered this exhaustively, and I won't recapitulate it here.  Mittenwalders are probably second in uniqueness.  If you can identify those two, you've pretty well defined "German" for low end auction/eBay/online store/found it in an attic purposes.  The second most likely source of rubbish is Mirecourt factory French (again, well covered elsewhere), which shouldn't be considered until German is eliminated.  The third most common antique bird at this low altitude is British of some flavor, which usually shows quirks of carving the others don't because all I've seen so far are bench made from small shops and often have an original label. 

 

Anything outside the above, I'll leave to the experts.  Most things with a clear and attractive provenance are ferociously expensive and not what I'm looking for.  Modern violins in particular are far too much of a minefield to meddle with, and "Italian" in my price range is usually either blatantly faked, nonexistent or truly ghastly postwar trash..

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After handling and repairing a few, Saxons in general (and Dutzendarbeits in particular) are remarkably easy to spot.  Jacob S. has covered this exhaustively, and I won't recapitulate it here.  Mittenwalders are probably second in uniqueness.  If you can identify those two, you've pretty well defined "German" for low end auction/eBay/online store/found it in an attic purposes.  The second most likely source of rubbish is Mirecourt factory French (again, well covered elsewhere), which shouldn't be considered until German is eliminated.  The third most common antique bird at this low altitude is British of some flavor, which usually shows quirks of carving the others don't because all I've seen so far are bench made from small shops and often have an original label. 

 

Anything outside the above, I'll leave to the experts.  Most things with a clear and attractive provenance are ferociously expensive and not what I'm looking for.  Modern violins in particular are far too much of a minefield to meddle with, and "Italian" in my price range is usually either blatantly faked, nonexistent or truly ghastly postwar trash..

 

VdA, this site's search function doesn't produce much information on how to identify French versus other  violins.

Would you be able to point to some threads that might help?

Thanks

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The place to begin is the Roland Terrier website which has a virtual library on French violins (you linked this once yourself :) )

http://www.luthiers-mirecourt.com/home.htm

 

Then there are shops on the web with well photographed examples, such as:

http://www.westcountryviolins.com/

http://www.martinswanviolins.com/

 

And any number of threads with a tidbit here and there.

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329280-whats-this-french-1880s/?hl=mirecourt#entry601778

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329738-french-workshop-violin/?hl=mirecourt#entry609516

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329325-josephus-laurantus-mast-toulouse/?hl=mirecourt#entry602706

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329158-holy-duiffoprogcar-batman/?hl=mirecourt

 

Searching on "Mirecourt" will turn up lots of them, mostly on The Auction Scroll.

 

Hope this helps :)

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In the real world, you learn how to tell French violins apart by being apprenticed to, or working for years as a journeyman for someone like Terrier, not by gawping at his web site. Expecting to learn anything reliably from the web-site of a self-taught SW English amateur, who has drifted into violin dealing and lists as labelled (unless someone has told him otherwise) is an obvious case of “blind leading the blind”. Unlearning the wrongly understood is more difficult than doing it properly from the start

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In the real world, you learn how to tell French violins apart by being apprenticed to, or working for years as a journeyman for someone like Terrier, not by gawping at his web site. Expecting to learn anything reliably from the web-site of a self-taught SW English amateur, who has drifted into violin dealing and lists as labelled (unless someone has told him otherwise) is an obvious case of “blind leading the blind”. Unlearning the wrongly understood is more difficult than doing it properly from the start

Yes, Jacob, but the question was dealing with what's available online.  I do thank you for the caveat that you offered about a certain site, which I did not feel qualified to inflict, (and figured you would as soon as you noticed it)..  If one reads my postings carefully and in order, you'll note that I said that you have to eliminate Germany as an antique provenance before moving on to anything else.  Nice exercise  :P

 

You'll notice that the "key" is beginning to structure :lol:

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Jacob might sound mean or dismissive with this post, but I'm afraid I can only agree with him. I've never been able to help anyone with information shared this way, and I've never learned anything useful in this way, either. The only way to learn anything useful is "hands on" under the tutelage of someone with knowledge and experience. Once you've got a certain amount of experience, certain tips and photos can help, but trying to help someone who asks "how do you recognize a French violin" is a bit like trying to answer someone who asks "how do you recognize a piece by J.S.Bach?" The best way is to study and memorize every single piece by J.S.Bach so you'll know one when you hear it. If you don't have the time for that, if you've studied enough music, you should be able to pick out baroque music from most other styles, then after further study, you should recognize German baroque music from other national styles, then as your knowledge grows, you'll narrow it down further and further. By that time you may well have studied a few hundred pieces by bach, so back to solution one...I think most of the people who love violins here acknowledge it takes time and effort to learn pieces and develop a useful repertoire of music. Some of us seem to think learning the work of makers and schools and building up a visual memory repertoire should be much easier and faster...

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I have seen many threads where people ask for an ID of their random violin, and people always can chime in with ideas of places. This just amazes my untrained eye. So I have to wonder, what do you look for in a old French violin?

 

 

Yes, Jacob, but the question was dealing with what's available online

 

Is that so ?  

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Jacob might sound mean or dismissive with this post, but I'm afraid I can only agree with him. I've never been able to help anyone with information shared this way, and I've never learned anything useful in this way, either. The only way to learn anything useful is "hands on" under the tutelage of someone with knowledge and experience. Once you've got a certain amount of experience, certain tips and photos can help, but trying to help someone who asks "how do you recognize a French violin" is a bit like trying to answer someone who asks "how do you recognize a piece by J.S.Bach?" The best way is to study and memorize every single piece by J.S.Bach so you'll know one when you hear it. If you don't have the time for that, if you've studied enough music, you should be able to pick out baroque music from most other styles, then after further study, you should recognize German baroque music from other national styles, then as your knowledge grows, you'll narrow it down further and further. By that time you may well have studied a few hundred pieces by bach, so back to solution one...I think most of the people who love violins here acknowledge it takes time and effort to learn pieces and develop a useful repertoire of music. Some of us seem to think learning the work of makers and schools and building up a visual memory repertoire should be much easier and faster...

Actually, the method I'm recommending is close to your Bach example. Please remember as well that my recommendations deal with the readily available bottom of the market, which one can obtain hands on with without breaking the bank.  Telling the more august examples apart, I'll leave to those who have ready access to them, but telling a Dutzend from a JTL catalog example is within everyone's grasp :)

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