sjb

Vuillaume Viola authenticity?

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Hi!

I'm an intermediate violist looking to upgrade as I've outgrown my current viola. I'm looking at one from a private seller, the label inside looks like this one:

 etiquette_JBV_zpsoxogojnu.jpg

However it also has 18 printed with 69 written in making 1869. Here's a photobucket with images http://s1379.photobucket.com/user/sjbglobal/library/ Sorry I don't have better images of the instrument, those are the only ones provided by the seller and I didn't think to take more when I viewed it. The seller claims to have purchased if from a conductor who purchased it in France in 1944. It has a lovely rich tone with great projection and response on all four strings, and seems free of cracks or other obvious damage. It definately feels like an old instrument, the back has lots of wear and slight pitting. I realize this is probably not an actual Vuillaume, however I'd be keen to know if it's likely to have possibly made by someone connected to his workshop. If it is a copy then what is a rough ballpark of what something like this would go for? Are there specific marks to look for that indicate the maker? Also the fingerboard is quite light (should hopefully shown in the images) is this something to concerned about? Any input would be hugely appreciated! Thanks!

Edited by sjb

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Ok thanks, I figured I should just judge it on tone. Any thoughts on the fingerboard color? Is discoloration common in old instruments or does it indicate low quality ebony/non-ebony?

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A couple of things to keep in mind:

First, that's Vuillaume's most faked label.

I've seen a few J.B. Vuillaume violins before, and all of them have had a really big 'messy' scribble on the inside on the back plate on the upper right bout, and often they have it stamped "VUILLAUME" in small letters on various parts of the inside, and also they tend to have other pencil writings like numbers and dates on the inside, written in really elegant letters. Those would be indications towards authenticity but without a proper certificate from a reputable dealer I don't think he should be asking big Vuillaume bucks for it.

And second, that fingerboard is either sub-par ebony quality, or some other wood that was stained black and wore through the stain eventually.

I'll shut up now and let the true experts comment on the shape and all those other characteristics. :) 

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Awfully small diameter peg holes and no bushings for a 150 year old instrument...

Not much wear on the back of the scroll, either. It seems more modern, but those pictures don't give much help.

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What does the seller claim? It could still be a good buy, if the price is right, looks like a serviceable instrument. The fingerboard could be switched out and it looks it needs some other tweeks, but nothing major.

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"..........purchased in France in 1944."

That's about the right time to have been hidden from the nazi's. Me, I'd like a violin that'd been hidden from Napoleon during the War of 1812. ;)

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17 hours ago, MarkBouquet clearsky said:

"..........purchased in France in 1944."

That's about the right time to have been hidden from the nazi's. Me, I'd like a violin that'd been hidden from Napoleon during the War of 1812. ;)

What on earth makes you think that "the nazis" would even want some garbage JTL Viola, even if you wanted to give it them for free?

PS. it looks that the neck is either falling out, or fell out and has been glued back at the wrong angle

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5 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

What on earth makes you think that "the nazis" would even want some garbage JTL Viola, even if you wanted to give it them for free?

PS. it looks that the neck is either falling out, or fell out and has been glued back at the wrong angle

I am sometime confuse by your comment it feels like you are favoring Nazi !

  If it's not the case i apologize for being rude.

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Thanks for the comments! He's asking $4000nzd ($2900 usd) and doesn't seem keen to budge. He claims it was purchased for 700 pounds in France in 1944 by a local conductor but I'd take anything he says with a grain of salt. It's in a different city so I'll see if he'll let me get it checked by a string shop the next time I am over there. I'll post some better photos as well. Assuming it's structurally sound (apart from the warped bridge) is that price a bit high to be judging something purely on tone rather than origin/age?

Cheers again for the advice

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2 hours ago, rossini said:

I am sometime confuse by your comment it feels like you are favoring Nazi !

Ah. Godwin's law. Never fails lol. 

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7 hours ago, rossini said:

I am sometime confuse by your comment it feels like you are favoring Nazi !

  If it's not the case i apologize for being rude.

Maybe you should try a little bit harder to understand what he was saying?

There were some other threads referring to otherwise very dull violins which should be pimped up with unverifiable legends regarding Nazi incidents (a variation of Godwin's lawB)), which has nothing to do with "favoring" something..

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33 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

They didn't use pounds in France.

Good point, either he means the equivalent in francs or he's telling stories.

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All I can add is that this instrument doesn't look very much at all like two genuine JBV violins I see regularly (friends/colleagues own them) and and one viola I saw and tried a few years ago. The workmanship on JBV instruments is second to none, at least in the examples I've seen.

All that said, $2,900 for a decent viola if you like the sound and it is the right size, is not a bad price. A real JBV viola would need at least zero added to the price, and maybe two. Even then, I wouldn't dream of buying this or any instrument without playing it myself and asking a couple of friends to comment, while ideally comparing it to several other choices in a similar price range.

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9 hours ago, Blank face said:

Maybe you should try a little bit harder to understand what he was saying?

There were some other threads referring to otherwise very dull violins which should be pimped up with unverifiable legends regarding Nazi incidents (a variation of Godwin's lawB)), which has nothing to do with "favoring" something..

What on earth makes you think that "the nazis" would even want some garbage JTL Viola

first of all i ask directly maestro jacopo. .and apologized if it s not the case. and i think i may read more carefully and seriously that's why i asked the Q .to me the above sentance means natzi ware deserved  better .

that's important to me to know, who to respect  personally   i really treasure his comment and expertise on instrument 

 

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13 hours ago, rossini said:

 

that's important to me to know, who to respect  personally   i really treasure his comment and expertise on instrument 

 

I'm afraid you misunderstood completely the irony of clearsky and Jacob's answer, and that your interpretation could be offensive. But right, it's not my business.

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On 17/07/2017 at 3:26 AM, sjb said:

Thanks for the comments! He's asking $4000nzd ($2900 usd) and doesn't seem keen to budge. He claims it was purchased for 700 pounds in France in 1944

£700 pounds or French Francs, £700 pounds in 1944 was  quite alot of money .

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On July 17, 2017 at 3:49 AM, sjb said:

Good point, either he means the equivalent in francs or he's telling stories.

He's telling stories. In purchasing violins, some stories can be fun to hear, but without valid documentation, they should generally be discarded as any proof of provenance or value.

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