Since the subject has cropped up a couple of times in recent weeks, I would just like to clarify Seidel violins from a violin identification point of view. This is the stamp, in the usual label position. (Picture #1)
Seidel violins come at a sort of transition period from a construction point of view. They have (when original, as here) carved rather than glued in bass bars, which in contrast to the roughly hewn out attempts one might be used to seeing, are absolutely meticulously done, including the adjacent belly thickness’s being in exact harmony with the rest of the belly thickness’s. This is quite difficult to achieve, as I found out once making such a belly with integral bar myself. This is, in my mind, the proof that this method was certainly not for time saving (I can fit a glued bar far quicker!), but rather what the makers of this region wanted, for whatever reason. Since the violin has been open in my workshop, already a couple of ignorant people have asked if I am going to make a “proper” bar, and have been suitably admonished. (Pictures #2 & 3)
Whilst one is used to violins with carved bars, having a through neck, Seidel is a newer development in this department. He has large, almost semi-circular top/bottom blocks, with the neck fitted very much in the modern manner. The neck in this violin was unchanged, but falling out of it's own motivation, so I have taken it out, and will glue it back as it was when the belly is closed. (Picture #4)
The ribs though were still built on the back, as can be witnessed by the corner blocks with a roughly equilateral plan view, and the rib end joins being in the middle of the rib ends. The centre bout linings are not let into the corner blocks. All the inside work displays an awesome degree of perfection, as does the rest of the fiddle. (Picture #5)
Probably the best known feature of Seidel is the 5 ply purfling. I am relatively expert on his purfling at the moment, having had to make some last week. One corner was smashed off and missing, including purfling. I had to think long and hard what to do about it, since I (and not just me) don't have any 5 ply purfling in my purfling glory box. At first I thought of using normal purfling, and painting the middle black stripe on, but I realised that I would need a brush with one hair, and a more than steady hand. Seidel purfling, despite its 5 strips, is actually thinner than almost any other purfling in my glory box. I have glued the roughly shaped replacement corner on now, and will finish the shape after the belly is glued back on, should I require any leeway. (Picture # 6 &7)
I am the first person to have ever opened this fiddle. The smashed in bottom rib had been repaired in the Gynaecologist manner, pulling a glued stud through the f hole on a string. A method I learnt many years ago from a Bass repairman, but would not recommend to anyone. It also had a total of 4 belly sound post cracks, which had been glued from the outside with white glue which kept me busy for a while.
Altogether a Seidel violin represents the top grade of violins from this area at the time, also a quite modern, if transitional making technique, by no means to be confused with the proverbial “Dutzendarbeit”. The wonderful woodwork is perhaps not done justice too by the varnish, which is a thinnish brown stain(?) polished over, with an originally contrived wear pattern reminiscent of the area, so that one can easily miss these rather beautiful fiddles if one is not concentrating.