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False Leon Bernardel...so what is it?


majhodge
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Hello all, 

 

I currently own a violin that is labeled as a Leon Bernardel violin but there are a lot of features on this instrument that are not consistent with anything of this maker. It may not even be French at all.

 

I was wondering if anyone has some experience or expertise with identifying instruments, and what could have led to the fabrication of this false label. Quite honestly, I don't know the genuine age of this instrument. 

 

Here are some photos I have taken of the violin: 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/brnb6cwf5vrnzcd/AAC6pShk38VlUsffQRVG7x_Na?dl=0

 

Some automatic giveaways that this is not a Leon Bernardel:

-back of the scroll

-the "bee-sting" on the purfling

 

Let me know what you think. Help is much appreciated!!

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On the contrary, Martin. He was a first class maker, and made a relatively small number of high quality hand-made violins, that are among the best of that long family line. At one point, though, he went "industrial" and started selling mostly Mirecourt trade violins with his label, the better ones labelled "by" him, which he may have finished and varnished, and the lesser ones as shop fiddles. I watched Vatelot become very enthusiastic about a fine Strad copy one of my students brought to him many years ago. The workmanship was first class, and apparently these fiddles are fairly rare. I've only seen two others (vs. dozens and dozens of the Mirecourt type). Just to be clear, I'm not saying the violin above is one of these. I agree the violin is not French, and probably Saxon as stated previously. 

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On the contrary, Martin. He was a first class maker, a

nd made a

 relatively small number of high quality hand-made violins, that are among the best of that long family line. At one point, though, he went 

"industrial" and started selling mostly Mirecourt trade violins with his label, the better ones labelled "by" him, which he may have finished and varnished, and the lesser ones as shop fiddles. I watched Vatelot become very enthusiastic about a fine Strad copy one of my students brought to him many years ago. The workmanship was first class, and apparently these fiddles are fairly rare. I've only seen two others (vs. dozens and dozens of the Mirecourt type). Just to be clear, I'm not saying the violin above is one of these. I agree the violin is not French, and probably Saxon as stated previously.

Sorry my computer is acting up and I can't erase what I don't want to discuss.

 

Michael, can you give an estimate of prices on the best ones?

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I personally haven't seen one for sale for a little while, but the last one I saw in a shop here in Paris was a few years back and was in the 35k€ range. It was a decorated "prize" violin, though. I think the "made by" Leon Bernardel violins are priced pretty much like the other good luthier made French violins circa 1900, Emile Germain, Caressa & Français, Jombar, Hel etc.

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I used to have a Charles Francois Gand and my sister had a Charles Nicolus Eugene Gand,  The latter from Moennig. "Gand pere" and "Gand fils".   I knew that later the two families joined to form "Gand and Bernardel."

 

Were these later violins the mirecourt violins rebadged?

 

No, this is one of the neat stories of long term "dynasties," and brings up a point that Martin Swan, among others here, often bring up. Why are violins priced the way they are? Gand "père" was one of Nicolas Lupot's assistants (along with Bernardel "père"). Gand "père" took over Lupot's shop after the latter's retirement (and early death) and carried on making violins as his former employer taught him. Bernardel opened his own shop at the time as well. Their respective sons carried on ("Gand Frères") and decided to merge the two shops a generation later, forming "Gand & Bernardel." The shop then passed on to Gustave Bernardel, then was taken over by two of the makers working for him, Caressa & Français, after which it was carried on by Emile Français, after which it was carried on by Marcel Vatelot, Etienne Vatelot and today Jean Jacques Rampal. 

 

All through the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th, the shop produced high quality hand made violins under its own label, made either by the names on the labels themselves, or one or two high quality luthiers working in the shop (Gaillard, Sylvestre among them). They also were big-time dealers, handling Strads and Del Gesus, as well as selling student grade violins from Mirecourt. There are plenty of fake Gand & Bernardel labelled violins, but I do not believe they sold Mirecourt violins labelled as their own production. The Gand/Bernardel "school" (which could be called the "Lupot school") produced a fairly large number of high quality, hand made violins, mostly on a Strad model inspired by Lupot, with a few Del Gesu and Maggini models along the way. They were rivals to Vuillaume in many ways, but their workshop was smaller and they didn't produce the same volume of instruments and products. They also didn't go for Vuillaume-style antiquing, sticking with the "Lupot formula" of a soft red varnish that wears away rather easily that has kind of become the "French violin varnish" stereotype.

 

This brings up the question of why a Lupot is worth 5-6x a Gand "père," or why a Vuillaume is worth 5-6x a Gand "frères" or a Gand & Bernardel? Like any maker, there are better examples and lesser ones, but all in all, these are well made good sounding violins, and they are a "reservoir" of affordable professional quality instruments for orchestral violinists and young soloists here in France.

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No, this is one of the neat stories of long term "dynasties," and brings up a point that Martin Swan, among others here, often bring up. Why are violins priced the way they are? Gand "père" was one of Nicolas Lupot's assistants (along with Bernardel "père"). Gand "père" took over Lupot's shop after the latter's retirement (and early death) and carried on making violins as his former employer taught him. Bernardel opened his own shop at the time as well. Their respective sons carried on ("Gand Frères") and decided to merge the two shops a generation later, forming "Gand & Bernardel." The shop then passed on to Gustave Bernardel, then was taken over by two of the makers working for him, Caressa & Français, after which it was carried on by Emile Français, after which it was carried on by Marcel Vatelot, Etienne Vatelot and today Jean Jacques Rampal. 

 

All through the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th, the shop produced high quality hand made violins under its own label, made either by the names on the labels themselves, or one or two high quality luthiers working in the shop (Gaillard, Sylvestre among them). They also were big-time dealers, handling Strads and Del Gesus, as well as selling student grade violins from Mirecourt. There are plenty of fake Gand & Bernardel labelled violins, but I do not believe they sold Mirecourt violins labelled as their own production. The Gand/Bernardel "school" (which could be called the "Lupot school") produced a fairly large number of high quality, hand made violins, mostly on a Strad model inspired by Lupot, with a few Del Gesu and Maggini models along the way. They were rivals to Vuillaume in many ways, but their workshop was smaller and they didn't produce the same volume of instruments and products. They also didn't go for Vuillaume-style antiquing, sticking with the "Lupot formula" of a soft red varnish that wears away rather easily that has kind of become the "French violin varnish" stereotype.

 

This brings up the question of why a Lupot is worth 5-6x a Gand "père," or why a Vuillaume is worth 5-6x a Gand "frères" or a Gand & Bernardel? Like any maker, there are better examples and lesser ones, but all in all, these are well made good sounding violins, and they are a "reservoir" of affordable professional quality instruments for orchestral violinists and young soloists here in France.

 

 

Many thanks for this history..   That is all very interesting.  Was this Francais related to the Jacques Francais of New York?

 

And please tell me how to make the c-cedilla.   I have here the extended ASCII code. 

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On mine, I hold down "ALT" and type 135  for "ç" and 128 for "Ç"

 

Thanks,  the extended ASCII code table seems to be numbered in different ways according to the medium where you are typing.  <alt>132 gives ç in wordpad,  but you need <alt>135 here.................  One cannot cut and paste from wordpad to here.  I will have to check on the HTML list,  I suppose.

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  • 4 years later...

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