GlennYorkPA

A Beautiful Case

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I thought this might be of interest............

This fine case by W.E. Hill & Sons was made c1900 intended to be pleasing and beautiful, made of the finest possible  materials and workmanship, as receptacles worthy of fine violins. 

“The  most careful attention has been paid to every detail of construction, and the locks and flush bolts are all specially made after our own patterns. We may mention that the lock is so made that if it be damaged it can be taken out without disturbing in the least the woodwork or the lining of the case. The loop to contain the point of the bow is stiffened to protect the head. Without enumerating further details, we think we are justified in stating that no such cases as these have ever been made before. To show that these cases have already met with some recognition we may mention that the beautiful violin case of mahogany and satinwood, in which a Stradivari violin was presented to Dr Joachim on the occasion of his Jubilee was made by us.”

In 1889, English friends and admirers of Joachim, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Joachim's debut recital in London, presented him with "an exceptionally fine" violin made in 1715 by Antonio Stradivari, called "Il Cremonese”.

According to a contemporary account - ‘It is a “red” Strad, accompanied by a gold-mounted bow, from the famous factory of Tourte. When the outer leather case is opened a fine case of Honduras mahogany of English make, is disclosed, and on it is the legend: “To Joseph Joachim, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of his public appearance. A mark of admiration and esteem from English friends, April 13, 1889.”  

History records that Joachim was delighted with the Strad : “You could not have chosen a better outward sign of your appreciation,” he said, “than this red Strad. I own already a yellow and a deep brown Strad, but I have always longed for a red Strad,”

I have been unable to trace the original Joachim case but this is its twin and a grade higher than the one they made for Sarasate which can be seen in the Conservatorio de Musica in Madrid, Spain.

Glenn

Adamstown Closed Sm.jpg

Adamstown open Sm.jpg

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Great addition to your collection, Glenn!

It almost looks like a dart-shape version of the Apostles, which are as you know better than I, are from the exact same period and built in the same atelier. Now if I can only discover who was the original owner of my 1887 Apostle -

The lateral locks seem to be the same - I suppose they are solid brass too, correct?

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On 10/13/2017 at 5:50 AM, Dimitri Musafia said:

Great addition to your collection, Glenn!

It almost looks like a dart-shape version of the Apostles, which are as you know better than I, are from the exact same period and built in the same atelier. Now if I can only discover who was the original owner of my 1887 Apostle -

The lateral locks seem to be the same - I suppose they are solid brass too, correct?

 

Hi Dimitri,

It's true that this dart-shaped case is from the same period as the apostles. In both cases, the choice of veneers was exceptional and every one was unique in some details. For example, yours is the only one I ever saw with flush, military-style handles recessed into the ends thus eliminating projecting hardware. Odd, therefore, that there are projecting latches on yours but flush, sliding latches on mine. 

Yes, all metal fittings, including hinges, are solid brass but there seems to have been a thin protective plating of something (gold?) which wears off the most touched parts. Any idea how brass can be treated to prevent oxidation/discoloration?

My registry pics of your case below.

Glenn

Skinner closed.jpg

Skinner pic open.jpg

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Interesting article and pictures. I wonder why back thenthey would have put the carrying handle on the top of the case versus the side. It seems like the case would be awkward to carry any distance .

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deans   

So Joachim played on a factory made bow. Wonder if the factory had smoke stacks and a rail spur.

Great case, but what I want is a violin worthy of it.

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32 minutes ago, Jeff Jetson said:

...I wonder why back thenthey would have put the carrying handle on the top of the case versus the side. It seems like the case would be awkward to carry any distance .

I believe it was because cases like this were not really intended for musicians to carry violins around in.  They were more intended to be display cases that would look elegant either open or closed when placed in a prominent place in the music room.  Someone who owned a case like this would have had servants to carry it for him (Most likely it would have been a man.) if it needed to be moved.  A working musician would normally not be able to afford a case like this and would have used something more utilitarian.

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1 hour ago, Jeff Jetson said:

Interesting article and pictures. I wonder why back thenthey would have put the carrying handle on the top of the case versus the side. It seems like the case would be awkward to carry any distance .

 

Jeff,

I think Brad is correct regarding the rectangular cases. They were definitely intended to grace a music room rather than act as a transportation device. That said, the good state of preservation of these cases is usually due to the fact that they came with a cover, usually leather, that had a handle in the more usual side position.

The dart shaped cases are much more comfortable to carry with the top handle although a front positioned handle would be better. The trouble with that is that it would interfere with the locking key.

Glenn

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1 hour ago, deans said:

So Joachim played on a factory made bow. Wonder if the factory had smoke stacks and a rail spur.

Great case, but what I want is a violin worthy of it.

 

Yes, breaking news, Tourte had a factory - LOL. 

I thought Joachim's reaction to the Strad was more interesting............ wow, now I have a red one to complete the set!

Deans, the reason I collect the cases is precisely because I can't afford the fiddles so they reside in virtual form inside these amazing cases.

Glenn

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Richf   

Glenn, Dimitri's apostle case is not the one shown in your book "Art & History of Violin Cases," right?  Can I assume that that case along with your latest acquisition will be in the second edition?  How's that coming along?

Richard

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3 hours ago, Richf said:

Glenn, Dimitri's apostle case is not the one shown in your book "Art & History of Violin Cases," right?  Can I assume that that case along with your latest acquisition will be in the second edition?  How's that coming along?

Richard

 

Richf

You are correct. The case now in Dimitri's collection only came to light quite recently and several years after my book was published in 2008. 

The book only recorded two Apostles, the one commissioned by Tsar Nicholas 11 and the Isaac Stern one. Not even Ricci's magnificent example is included so you see why an update is indicated. 

I have now located a statistically significant number of Apostles (Hill rectangular Art cases) and the corresponding dart cases (the one in the original post being the lastest) that an entire chapter is now in the works for 'golden age' Hill cases (1880 - 1920).

I was shooting for publication of the 2nd edition this year but it will now be 2018.

Glenn

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

Magnificent cabinetry!  I see that they've held up very well.

 

That's a good way of putting it.

W.E. Hill & Sons, like Herter Brothers in USA, assembled an excellent team of craftsmen specializing in furniture skills such as wood selection and assembly, veneering, inlay. marquetry, metalwork fittings etc. 

Not only has the wood moved or cracked very little over the last 100+ years, the cases even smell nice when the lid is lifted.

Glenn

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On ‎14‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 3:13 PM, Jeff Jetson said:

I wonder why back thenthey would have put the carrying handle on the top of the case versus the side. It seems like the case would be awkward to carry any distance .

Absolutely true. The fact is, these cases were never conceived to by carried anywhere, just to be displayed on top of your Bechstein in your music room. Hill's "Art Cases" as they were called, were halo products, designed to show the world what they could do. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they sold them at a loss.  

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On ‎14‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 3:01 PM, GlennYorkPA said:

For example, yours is the only one I ever saw with flush, military-style handles recessed into the ends thus eliminating projecting hardware.

 

Indeed when I first saw the case in photograph in The Strad, I was convinced that the handles were actually painted on! They are so precisely flush with the surface... Once again, Hill used a single piece of solid brass and then worked it to obtain this result. Incredible.

You can trust me (LOL!) if I say that nobody makes cases like this any more! 

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In the 80s at Berkeley they lent students instruments from the school collection.   I was lent a Vuillaume, in a fancy veneered case. I assume the case was also from Vuillaume's shop, but have no confirmation of that.  On the outside it was very much like the one in the OP, except the handle was in the modern position.   I don't remember the arrangement of the inside exactly, but it was simple, and not nearly as beautiful the one posted.    Altogether it was a convenient enough case, and not overly heavy.   On the outside it was absolutely beautiful.  I'd love to have such a case again.   While less functionally convenient, it rather makes the Bam case I have today seem like modern plastic trash.

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10 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

Absolutely true. The fact is, these cases were never conceived to by carried anywhere, just to be displayed on top of your Bechstein in your music room. Hill's "Art Cases" as they were called, were halo products, designed to show the world what they could do. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they sold them at a loss.  

 

They were sold for GBP 10 in c. 1890. Can anyone do the conversion to what that would equate to today?

Thanks

Glenn

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23 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

GBP 10 in 1890 is approximately equivalent to GBP 1180 in 2017.

Really? Glenn, are you sure about the sales price? You couldn't START to make case like that today for GBP 1180. Ask Salvi...

And GeorgeH, I suppose that doesn't include 20% VAT, or it does?

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9 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Hi Dimitri,

No, I don't think so. I used the GBP inflation calculator here:

http://inflation.stephenmorley.org

Pretty cool, thank you. But there's no way an Apostle could have been sold new for today's equivalent of GBP 1180 (plus VAT), when a first-class suite on the Titanic cost a quarter mil $ fifteen years later! Something's fishy here... can someone illuminate please?

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GeorgeH   

Ticket prices on Titanic according to James Cameron:

"The first class tickets ranged enormously in price, from $150 (about $1700 today) for a simple berth, up to $4350 ($50,000) for one of the two Parlour suites. Second class tickets were $60 (around $700) and third class passengers paid between $15 and $40 ($170 - $460)"

http://www.jamescamerononline.com/TitanicFAQ.htm

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5 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

Pretty cool, thank you. But there's no way an Apostle could have been sold new for today's equivalent of GBP 1180 (plus VAT), when a first-class suite on the Titanic cost a quarter mil $ fifteen years later! Something's fishy here... can someone illuminate please?

 

Dimitri,

Nothing fishy. You have to consider that highly skilled craftsmen were little better than indentured slaves in those days. They worked long hours, trembled when the boss appeared and hadn't yet dreamed of unionisation.

Maybe there was a period of inflation following the death of Queen Victoria or maybe they were loss leaders but we know they never made many and they certainly didn't figure in their 1937 catalog.

Glenn

Art cases.jpg

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