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Thomas Knight

Violin ID Help

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  Hello MN members, Hope I sized the pics properly.  I have never posted but followed MN for years hoping to learn something. I have collected violins for years before following this site but knew nothing about them. I am uncertain on this violin, and have had it a long time. Should I have it repaired? Let's see if I have learned from the masters here how to identify violin traits. The saddle is cut into the top plate. Looks to be an early 1700's Strad copy, cheeked pegbox with the scroll cut nicely but not relieved a lot, the duck's tail more pronounced toward the neck heel. C-bout pointy linings cut into Willow? Pine? I dont know how to tell  Lower wings of f-holes are slightly fluted. Purfling is well done IMHO, yet no bee stings close to the c-bout tips. It has the name of a previous owner in Boston circa 1920's inside on the back so I am guessing American, early 20th century, maybe Boston. Did I fail miserably?

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Edited by Thomas Knight
grammatical errors

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Thank you Mr Saunders for responding. I value your input immensely. I should have added more pics, but I dont know how many are too many for this forum. I am also photographically challenged :-)  I had read your post about Mittenwald violins before, but after reading it again several times I noticed the c-bout ribs ending into the upper and lower rib joints. I had considered Mittenwald, but the lower rib is two pieces, there are no bee stings, and the saddle is cut into the top. Am I correct in thinking experts take the traits that are most important such as inner construction and the scroll's carving and give less weight to smaller details in determining the region? And the smaller details such as no bee stings to be the preference of each individual maker or finisher? I find it all fascinating.

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I agree with Jacob's inference that the inner work shares traits with Mittenwald - the fiddle was clearly made on an inside mold, the linings set in at a point as with Mittenwald.

However, although I haven't handled many American instruments I would think that's what this is. The belt 'n braces dovetail in the neck, the unusual choice of materials for blocks, the rather opaque oil varnish and the scroll carving all make me think that, as do the stubby corners.

Nice violin!

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I had a "Mittenwalder Geigenbau 1930" labelled violin, made at the very late end of the "classical" Verleger period, looking very similar: Squarish edgework, cut lower rib, opaque oil varnish etc. Though I haven't any clue what the Americans were doing, the scroll with the sharp ending pegbox rear appears to be typical Mittenwald.

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I think the easy part about trying to place your violin, is to note that it has a couple of Mittenwald features, but otherwise possably isn't from there, and that it isn't Saxon. At that point, it gets difficult. To follow the usual identification routine, one would have to wonder if it hasn't had it's varnish sanded off, and been re-varnished. Also if the scroll doesn't hail from a different violin, respective if whoever made the peg box cheeks didn't make a bit of a dogs dinner of the rest of the peg box whilst he was at it.

 

You ask about Boston, which is light years away from any area of interest of mine, and I know that Americans like to imagine that there was a Boston “School”. I certainly would not dignify Boston with the word “School”, which in my book would consist of a few generations of makers, who learnt off/worked for each other, and had a distinct working method. Boston, to me is rather more an accumulation of maverick autodidacts on the one hand, and importers on the other, so that you could almost get away with calling any gargoyle “Boston School” if you were to do so with enough conviction.

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  Mr Swan, thank you for your input. Having followed MN since about '98 there are a handful of experts that I am grateful to who take their time and educate those of us with no clue. The dovetailed miter joint holds the neck in place even with no glue, and that fact escaped my eye. Blank Face, I am happy to receive any comments on the violin as I learn about their origins. Some of you may think your help is taken for granted, but I assure you that your reputations are enhanced by offering an opinion. I have had many hats in my years including as a golf professional, where I repaired very expensive wood golf clubs. So with limited ability I started years ago rebuilding the student grade violins in my collection and selling them. I have all the tools, but limited experience and this violin, had it been a low grade instrument, would have been glued together and sold. When Mr Swan comments that it is a 'nice violin' I instantly put it on the back burner for some time so I get more practice with the hide glue. I will leave the nicer violins to my family.

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  Mr Saunders, I enjoy your sense of humor. Yes, we Americans made some hideous violins, of which I have a half dozen or so. One has a three piece top, some made from old church pews, several have scrolls that can cause the great violin makers of the past to roll over in their graves, and f-holes that would perplex even Van Gogh. I dont believe the top or ribs have been refinished on this violin, but the back has an extra coat of varnish as I can see the brush strokes. The neck varnish is the same as the ribs, but the peg box and scroll are recoated. As to it's origin, maybe this was one of the many 'kits', or imported 'in the white'. I thank you.

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I certainly agree some misfortune involving that scroll.

Martin, "Belt and Braces"? Are you referring to the depth?

Jacob, someone said that the pointy cul de poule is typical M'wald. My own impression was that a some what squared off heel was more typical at least in the nice older stuff. Am I wrong?

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  Hi Mr Slobodkin, yes, the scroll has seen better days. There must be a way to repair the excess varnish on the sides of the pegbox and scroll. I wondered about Mr Swan's expression and believe belt 'n braces might mean sort of overkill. The taper which holds the neck wedged into the dovetail and the depth. On a different note after close inspection in the sunlight I found #21 in pencil on the underside of the fingerboard, inside the pegbox rear under the varnish in ink, and on the neck block in pencil. Maybe that shows it is the original neck. Another weird thing is the bassbar has been moved/ replaced. It originally was angled toward the bass side on the lower bout and treble side on the upped about 3/8" (10mm) and it now runs parallel to the grain. Is anyone aware of makers who angle the bassbar?

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Mr Saunders, here is one of my gargoyle violins. Parts of it are truly nauseating, while others quite nice. The top is 'church pew pine' I believe. 3 pieces. I have no words for the scroll--crude is quite kind, yet somehow I am strangely attracted to this sort of creation. I hope these pics cause you no discomfort.

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I have two violins by James Duncan of Cluny, Aberdeenshire and both have dovetailed necks.  Apart from this, they don't resemble the first instrument depicted here but I'm wondering how common this is.  A real nuisance when a neck reset is necessary (as was the case in both of my Duncans).

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