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Rubén Pérez

Breton model violin. I would like to know a bit more... :) Thanks!

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Good morning! Hi everybody!
 
I recently have purchased a violin (my third violin) that sounds quite nice for me. I'm only an violinist that loves knowing about violins, etc. and I would know, if possible, a bit more about this violin.
 
It's supposed to be a French violin from the beginning of the 1900's to 1930’s. Breton model, unlabeled, 35,8 LOB. It smell "old" trought the f holes, like and old Church. 
 
The top seems quite fine to me, it's spruce with few "maschiatura" (more in the bass side). It sounds great. The ribs seems to be from a very good maple, maybe better than the maple used for the back. I think that the wood quality is better than the craftmanship. The arching are good, the purfling is ok, like if the violin could be made by an advanced student.
 
The f holes I think are Stradivari model, but, shorter and wider I think.
 
As I can see, it has some repaired cracks. One in the upper rib and one just under the chinrest. The rib's repair is "strangely" repaired. I can see a "whole SPRUCE under rib" through the button hole.
 
It also have a restoration on the neck. I think the neck is not original, it has lower quality than the rest of the violin. I can see a crack in the back, where the necks join the back, like the violin was suffered an accident. I think the scroll work is also of a lower handcraftship quality. The neck itself have resporation for adjusting the angle.
 
The varnish seems to be "newer", I don't know. I only know that the chinrest crack seems to be older than the varnish because I can see it using a UV lamp (no differences of varnish in the crack). I can see several varnish retouches (neck back crack).
 
What do you think about the violin? Do you recognize something “French” in it? Maybe the work of an advanced student?
 
Let me know please.
 

Rubén

 

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Looks like a nice perfectly serviceable instrument. Don't see what you are talking about with the neck. I also don't understand what you are talking about with the rib repair.

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Looks like a nice perfectly serviceable instrument. Don't see what you are talking about with the neck. I also don't understand what you are talking about with the rib repair.

 

Hi deans!
 
You don't understand me because of my English :)
 
As I told in the post, the violin has a break in the upper rib of the bass side, you can see it in the pìctures. Instead of gluing it and reinforcering the lining, someone did another rib from spruce, a whole rib, and glued it (attached) in the inside of the rib. If you look trought the button hole, you can see another whole rib from spruce glued to the rib, and without both upper and lower linings in that rib.
 
Maybe I will arrange with my trusted luthier to open the violin (in the future) to repair it properly. I think the actual repair doesn't affect the sound so much, but I think that it would be well repaired.
 
I told that I thought the neck had been replaced. The purfling in the top is new for about 3 mm from the neck in the treble side, like if the violin had suffered and accident and broken at the neck. You also could see the button in the back in the violin broken, then repaired and revarnished. 
 
But, I think the scroll carving is a bit poor craftmanship than the rest of the violin (archings, purfling,...)
 
Thank you for your answer :)

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The neck looks badly twisted at the peg box. It looks like a Bohemian trade violin to me.

 

Hi George!

 

I think it looks badly twisted because of the picture angle. Maybe the violin was a bit twisted, only a bit, because the neck is quite centered at the peg box.

 

Thank you for your answer :)

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I like your violin Ruben, the top has a nice patina to it and bet it sounds as good as it looks.

Hi Jeff!!

 

Thank you for your answer. As I said, I think the woods used are of a nice quality. The top seemed to me to be "abete rosso" from the Alps, and it sounds quite nice, sure 

 

:)

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I see what you mean with the rib. It looks like the neck was broken off at one time resulting in the damaged rib. The repairer probably thought it was good idea to double the rib for strength. I would not worry about it, it looks OK to me, and the neck projection looks fine. I'll bet there is also rib doubling at the chin rest, common for cracks due to chin rest crunch.

 

The instrument looks fine, if it plays fine you're a winner.

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I see what you mean with the rib. It looks like the neck was broken off at one time resulting in the damaged rib. The repairer probably thought it was good idea to double the rib for strength. I would not worry about it, it looks OK to me, and the neck projection looks fine. I'll bet there is also rib doubling at the chin rest, common for cracks due to chin rest crunch.

 

The instrument looks fine, if it plays fine you're a winner.

 

Hi deans!

 

Exactly! As you told, the repairer doubled the rib for strength. As I told, I think it really has very few effect on sound.

 

I'll try to see if there is a doubled rib at the chinrest, it could be possible.

 

Now the violin is at my trusted luthier for a bridge replacement and for bushing the peg holes and setting new pegs. I've chosen a simple but beautiful French pegs Mirecourt style, excellent ebony quality. The old pegs were Swiss style (you can see de pictures below), very thick and short.

 

old%20and%20new%20peg.jpg

 

I will post pictures next week when having my violin back.

 

Thank you all.

 

Rubén

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Hi Rubén

Pretty much all the Mirecourt workshops/factories sold a "Breton" model around the turn of the century (1890 -1920 ish). Even Collin-Mézin advertised this violin when they started selling bought-in student instruments.

Mostly these violins have a characteristic brand on the button, but not always. The one thing they have in common is that they are typical Mirecourt trade instruments which have no connection with any luthier called Breton.

I could be wrong, but I don't really see any strong Mirecourt traits in your violin, and would have thought without the label that it was Bohemian. The long and slightly rounded corners, the narrow purfling set back from the edge, and the model - I can't quite see any of these as French. The neck is surely not Mirecourt, and not the sort of thing one would find on a Breton, but I think that's as likely to be because the violin is not a Breton as that it's a replacement.

I would welcome other opinions, but it looks to me more like a Bohemian or Schoenbach violin which is attempting to cash in on the success of the Breton brand.

However, the f-holes are quite Mirecourt, so I do think it's possible that it's a cut & shut ...

Could you take a photo of the label?

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Hi Rubén

Pretty much all the Mirecourt workshops/factories sold a "Breton" model around the turn of the century (1890 -1920 ish). Even Collin-Mézin advertised this violin when they started selling bought-in student instruments.

Mostly these violins have a characteristic brand on the button, but not always. The one thing they have in common is that they are typical Mirecourt trade instruments which have no connection with any luthier called Breton.

I could be wrong, but I don't really see any strong Mirecourt traits in your violin, and would have thought without the label that it was Bohemian. The long and slightly rounded corners, the narrow purfling set back from the edge, and the model - I can't quite see any of these as French. The neck is surely not Mirecourt, and not the sort of thing one would find on a Breton, but I think that's as likely to be because the violin is not a Breton as that it's a replacement.

I would welcome other opinions, but it looks to me more like a Bohemian or Schoenbach violin which is attempting to cash in on the success of the Breton brand.

However, the f-holes are quite Mirecourt, so I do think it's possible that it's a cut & shut ...

Could you rake a photo of the label?

Hi Martin!

 

First at all, thank you for your answer.

 

It's true that "f holes" are what I see more "Mirecourt style". The violin is unlabeled, that's why I asked in the post if anyone could see any "French thing" in the violin.

 

I think too that the neck could be replaced. And I also think it could be a trade violin, "Breton" model, made by a student maybe. It has the "Breton" stamp on the button (poorly visible at the pictures).

 

But I also think that the wood is "abete rosso", from the Alps (maybe I'm wrong), and as I posted, and in my opinion he wood is very nice quality (despite the craftmanship). I don't know if Bohemian and/or Shoenbach luthier used to use this kind of spruce. As the violin is at my luthier, I'll post some close up pictures of the top.

 

Thank you for your answer again!! :)

 

Rubén

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Ok I couldn't work out if there was a brand or not ... it looked a bit like a brand and a bit like a messed up button. Could you take a close-up?

I have never seen the brand on a non-Mirecourt violin, so I think we can conclude that the body is Mirecourt trade, turn of the century, and the neck is later, possibly MK.

As for the spruce, I really think it's impossible to identify one form of alpine spruce from another, except by dendrochronology. Mirecourt is/was a centre of violin-making precisely because it is close to high altitude wood.

I agree that the wood looks nice, but this kind of "maschiatura" is quite common in French violins - Georges Chanot loved it!

And yes, some Mirecourt trade violins sound excellent, in spite of their low financial value.

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In my eyes the scroll is an exceptional typical Mirecourt tradeshop JTL-alike piece of work ca. 1900, roundings, broad chamfers going from round to flat, a "step" before the nut etc. and fits the body perfectly (although surely made by another hand). Even a twisting would confirm this IMO. So what to worry about?

 

BTW, definitely not a "students" work, but the usualy division-of-labour by professional speedy workers. ^_^

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Hi Blank Face

I have 9 Breton scrolls in my archive - all have flat scroll eyes ...!

 

Hi Martin!

I guess it's depending of the period - the roughly after 1910 Mirecourt scrolls are tending to have those flat, broad eyes, while pre 1900 scrolls are often featuring the smaller, rounded ones in the style of the "before Vuillaume" older french school.

This as an example from a late 19th Caussin style instrument, mind chamfers, circular windings, narrow throat, form of the pegbox and eye:

 

post-57937-0-16310200-1480341564_thumb.jpg

 

And "step" ^_^

 

Another scroll from a much older, also pseudo-Breton labelled viola

 

post-57937-0-23780000-1480342269_thumb.jpg

 

 

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In my eyes the scroll is an exceptional typical Mirecourt tradeshop JTL-alike piece of work ca. 1900, roundings, broad chamfers going from round to flat, a "step" before the nut etc. and fits the body perfectly (although surely made by another hand). Even a twisting would confirm this IMO. So what to worry about?

 

BTW, definitely not a "students" work, but the usualy division-of-labour by professional speedy workers. ^_^

Hi Blank Face:

 

The violin could be that, a trade violin from Mirecourt. Scroll and body made by different workers.

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Ok I couldn't work out if there was a brand or not ... it looked a bit like a brand and a bit like a messed up button. Could you take a close-up?

I have never seen the brand on a non-Mirecourt violin, so I think we can conclude that the body is Mirecourt trade, turn of the century, and the neck is later, possibly MK.

As for the spruce, I really think it's impossible to identify one form of alpine spruce from another, except by dendrochronology. Mirecourt is/was a centre of violin-making precisely because it is close to high altitude wood.

I agree that the wood looks nice, but this kind of "maschiatura" is quite common in French violins - Georges Chanot loved it!

And yes, some Mirecourt trade violins sound excellent, in spite of their low financial value.

 

Hi Martin!

 

I will post some close up pictures of the brand as soon as having the violin back home. :)

 

I don't know this kind of spruce was common in French violins, thank you for the information.

 

Rubén

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Hi Martin!

I guess it's depending of the period - the roughly after 1910 Mirecourt scrolls are tending to have those flat, broad eyes, while pre 1900 scrolls are often featuring the smaller, rounded ones in the style of the "before Vuillaume" older french school.

This as an example from a late 19th Caussin style instrument, mind chamfers, circular windings, narrow throat, form of the pegbox and eye:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_4490.JPG

 

And "step" ^_^

 

Another scroll from a much older, also pseudo-Breton labelled viola

 

attachicon.gif10.02.2011 12-22-46_0770.jpg

You really want me to put up 9 Breton scrolls? I will if you like ...

You are right to say that some pre-1900 Mirecourt work can have a rounded scroll eye, but generally with a rather fine chamfer and deep fluting.

But Bretons (or at least the type of Breton that is branded on the button) are quite consistently not of this type, and the scrolls are generally of the Mirecourt "monkey with a mallet" genre.

Here is a typical example just to whet your appetite 

post-34919-0-58815700-1480352231_thumb.jpg

The Breton name was used pre 1890 - perhaps as with your viola, but I am only thinking of the model with the italic Breton brand on the button.

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Here is a typical example just to whet your appetite 

 Hmm, an appetizingly scroll ;) .

 

It's unnecessary to post 9 scrolls, I've got enough photos of this type by myself - and I don't understand the agitation, just said that the OP scroll is typical Mirecourt in my eyes.

If the actual known Breton/italic violins have in general the flat eyed scroll, this rule is valid untill you find the exception, and now here is one - probably, if the neck wasn't taken from a different Mirecourt factory violin as replacement (I don't believe this).

 

Possibly the scroll was kept in the storage of the factory for one or two decades and was put to the violin accidentally, who can say?

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 Hmm, an appetizingly scroll ;) .

 

It's unnecessary to post 9 scrolls, I've got enough photos of this type by myself - and I don't understand the agitation, just said that the OP scroll is typical Mirecourt in my eyes.

If the actual known Breton/italic violins have in general the flat eyed scroll, this rule is valid untill you find the exception, and now here is one - probably, if the neck wasn't taken from a different Mirecourt factory violin as replacement (I don't believe this).

 

Possibly the scroll was kept in the storage of the factory for one or two decades and was put to the violin accidentally, who can say?

 

Hi Blank face:
 
My luthier and I used a UV lamp to see varnish retouches, and I thought the button has the same "orange color" (supposed to be same varnish) that the rest of the back. There was clearly only a varnirsh retouch in the broken zone of the button (I'm sure the neck broke down as you can clearly see the break both sides in the button).
 
But, being an original button, the neck and scroll could be different, as well as MK, or as well as Mirecourt more modern. Or just the "exception" of the rule, I don't know.
 
Thank you.
 
Rubén

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You really want me to put up 9 Breton scrolls? I will if you like ...

You are right to say that some pre-1900 Mirecourt work can have a rounded scroll eye, but generally with a rather fine chamfer and deep fluting.

But Bretons (or at least the type of Breton that is branded on the button) are quite consistently not of this type, and the scrolls are generally of the Mirecourt "monkey with a mallet" genre.

Here is a typical example just to whet your appetite 

attachicon.gifDSC03034.JPG

The Breton name was used pre 1890 - perhaps as with your viola, but I am only thinking of the model with the italic Breton brand on the button.

 

Hi Martin!

 

As I have told to Blank Face, the button seemed to be original for me (UV lamp view). I also will post a picture of the back with the UV lamp on in order to show you the button.

 

Thanks so much!

 

Rubén

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Hi all again!!

 

I have found this picture

 

Breton+Brevete+-+existing+01.jpg

 

Breton+Brevete+-+existing+head.jpg

 

Those pictures are of a 3/4 late 19th JTL Breton (labeled). The "f holes" are quite similar to mine, and maybe the corners. There isn't a side picture of the scroll so I can't compare with mine.

 

Thank you all for all the information you are giving to me.

 

Rubén

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The "Breton" labeled violins I have seen have been all over the map, and I'm sure some were Czech, and some were various French. This one looks French to me, but thats only based on a certain overall "look"

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Hi all again!!

 

Mery Christmas!!

 

I have my violin back again. As I told you, I brought the violin to my trusted luthier for a new setup (bridge and soundpost), new pegs and peg holes, dyneema tailcord,...). 

 

I send you some pictures of it. I also post some pictures of the "f holes", neck (you can see that the original neck supposed to be wider), and neck button under UV light (varnish retouches).

 

Again, I think that we agreed the neck is not original, but, looking in detail the "f holes" and purfling... Can you told me something more about the violin?

 

What I found more similar ("f holes") is a JTL Breton Model, but as something told, it could be a German violin.

 

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas to all of you.

 

Rubén

 

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I am still of the same opinion.

The body looks 100% what one would expect of a Mirecourt "Breton" violin circa 1910-1920, and the brand on the button is exclusive to Mirecourt instruments - though i suppose you could transplant a button. These were sold by all the main workshops, including JTL and Laberte, and even Collin-Mézin.

The neck (or at least the scroll) doesn't look right for a Breton, and I would assume it has been taken from something German.

A Breton scroll would be worse, and would have a flat eye, probably left flat off the file. I have one in the workshop which I will photograph now, but I could show you dozens (of the Mirecourt variety).

There are German Bretons, but they invariably have the word "BRETON" emblazoned on the upper back in a sort of crescent shape

post-34919-0-16001800-1482176302_thumb.jpg

post-34919-0-28699700-1482176335_thumb.jpg

 

It's possibly helpful to note that this scroll, which is so utterly Mirecourt (albeit low level) with its big flat surfaces, flat eyes, pronounced ducks arse and rather monolithic exaggeration, also has fluting which stops at 6 o'clock. So while this is a great way of differentiating between Mittenwald and Markneukirchen, it's not helpful when it comes to distinguishing Mirecourt from Markneukirchen. I suppose it's fundamentally a way of saving time on a scroll ...

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