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jadethomp

Help ID this violin

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Hi all,
 
Just hoping you might be able to ID the maker of my violin. I was given it as a child and as it is in some serious need of restoration, I am hoping to ID it before I take it to a repairer. It says GVILLAMI inside but a google search has returned little to nothing! As I am a newbie, I am unable to upload photos. But if you know of any leads, anything will help.
 
Thank you in advance!

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Jade,

From what I can see in your photos, your violin could well be a Guillami. Your photos are a bit too distorted to see the outline and other important things like the shape of the pegbox or f-holes, but my personal impression is that it could be real, though the head may have been replaced. Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of the Guillamis (father and son, both used the GVILLAMI brand stamp) is they often used a local softwood for the top that has the unfortunate tendancy to crack to bits, and that top will be very costly to repair. I hope you can bring it to a professional restorer for a thorough examination. I may be wrong, but I believe it's too nice a fiddle to have it "fixed-up" by a non specialist.

The Guillamis were the leading violin makers in Barcelona from around the 1740's-1790's. The ones I've seen are exquisitely made, with very stylish workmanship, a nice soft warm red varnish, and lots of personal character. I've played on one that wasn't full of cracks, and it sounded very warm and pleasant, a good 18th century instrument. The others I've played were full of cracks, so the sound quality was more a question of the restoration quality than the instrument itself. 

Good luck with this violin and keep us informed how it goes.

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I would suggest completely loosening the strings on the violin. That soundpost break (Dont think it can be classified as a soundpost crack anymore) doesnt need any more pressure. :o

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Jade, I agree with kallie and Michael in that, the person you take it to really needs to know "restoration" well enough to deal with the soundpost area properly, it's a bit of a mess.  Don't price shop this out and get good recomendations to where you take it.  You asked Michael about how to vet this out, you would probably start by telling us where you live and maybe some here could help.   jeff

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Thanks so much for your help all. I have loosened the strings entirely to relieve the tension. 

 

I live in West of Sydney, Australia. Any ideas on a restorer (and price range of restoration) or a good place to look at selling it would be very helpful.

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From the looks of it, it's not going to be cheap restoring this violin professionally.

If you sell it, you will not get as much as selling it restored and in perfect order, restoration cost included.

I cannot help you with pointing out a good restorer, but if you go to a symphony orchestra concert, talk to the violinists there. They will be able to give good advise..

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Hi all,

 

Can anyone suggest a good starting point? Whether it's a good place to sell or to get it valued in Australia?At the moment I'm hoping to get a valuation from Lespetts Camden Violins and Raffan Kelaher and Thomas. 

 

 

Many thanks,

Jade

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Guillami is a very rare maker indeed. You could send photos to Tarisio, who have sold a couple of Guillamis recently, including a phenomenal viola which was in similar shape to your violin.

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I didn't see the one in Brompton's, but I took a close look at the violin (Juan Sr.) and the viola (Juan Jr.) at Tarisio. The violin was in fairly good condition, and lived up to the reputation of having a rich, complex but not very powerful sound. It sold for 18000£. The viola was in a similar condition to the OP violin. (I was actually afraid to play on it too much) It went unsold at that auction without topping 7000£. It sold at the next auction for 8000£. I was tempted to bid on it, but I have too many small violas at the moment.

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I've been looking in vain in the Bromptons catalogues for the Guillami - I remember exactly where it was in the saleroom, but it's not in a catalogue ...

I recall seeing a lovely small Guillami violin recently, maybe a 3/4, but it could have been the same one.

Like Michael I spent quite a lot of time with the instruments at Tarisio. I found the violin unremarkable, and I seem to have written "condition" in my notes. The viola was a different story, and I really anguished over it. Irrespective of size it was tonally right up my street, and I played it for quite a while (I suppose I thought if it fell apart I wouldn't be held to account) - however, I couldn't see any possibility of restoring it without a huge amount of work. There were multiple ragged cracks in the table and the arching had sunk badly.

The market for small violas is quite specialized, and I very reluctantly kissed this one goodbye.

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For that kind of work, I'd suggest James Robinson would be well qualified to fix it, who is in Chatswood. otherwise I would probably send you down to victoria. Or to America.

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