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jacobsaunders

French Cornerblockology

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For ages and ages, years in fact, have intended to add an appendix to my “cornerblockology” thread https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/328919-violin-id/&page=2&tab=comments#comment-594080

which is largely centred on the distinction between Mittenwald and Markneukirchen. to include the (also good quality) Mirecourt makers of the late 19th & early 20th, C.

 

This French method is basically a sub-group of variety No. 3, built on back, except it is “built on back around corner blocks” a method which incidentally is still taught in the Franz List Hochschule in Budapest, and is quite useful if you're cobbling together a copy where the back and belly outlines diverge.

 

It is easily recognisable in that the corner block glue surface covers as much as double as much area between corner block and middle bought rib as would for instance a Mittenwald violin, leaving a relatively short distance for the centre bout lining, which is not let in, to cover. If you see this phenomenon, you can be virtually certain that you have a French fiddle.

 

I have had this violin sorted out for demonstration pictures for years, but haven’t photographed it until now, because I have been a little reticent about taking the belly off to get a good view.

Foto 3.JPG

Foto 3.JPG

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While I am at it, perhaps a plea if anyone can help re. identification of this violin, beyond a high class French violin. It had a label once upon a time, since one can still see the “label shadow” where it was stuck in. The customer of mine who played it as his principal violin for many years, always said “Derazey” to it, although I wasn't sure, and find it difficult to tell these makers apart.

 

After a slightly agitated rehearsal, he went with this violin to his car. When he got there, he couldn't find his car keys, and put the fiddle down on the ground to search all of his pockets (it is astonishing how many pockets one has when it's cold). He frantically searched all his pockets, and found the key – thought”ah, super” got in his car and reversed out of the parking space – right over the violin.

 

Curiously the back and ribs remained in pristine condition. The neck though snapped off in the middle of the neck root. The belly was severely caved in though, and the sound post emerged through the belly. I have been putting off removing the belly for absolutely ages, and when I did, it disintegrated into 17 pieces, all hanging together by a thread. I have now glued it back together, one step after another, far enough to make a plaster cast, and should be able to persuade all the cracks to go back in register now.

Foto 2.JPG

Foto 1.JPG

Foto 2.JPG

Foto 3.JPG

Foto 4.JPG

Foto 5.JPG

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20 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Very interesting, Jacob. Thank you. 

What is the basic procedure that is used to build on back around corner blocks?

The way I was taught it by a Hungarian colleague, was that you glue the blocks onto the back, and cut them to shape, making sure that they match the belly outline too, and glue the ribs to the blocks. You need the long surface of middle bout/block glueing area to be able to apply a clamp.

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So, these Mirecourt corner blocks are extended towards the center bout, not away from the center as in the Mittenwald approach, right?  That's a very helpful clue to look for, Jacob.  Am I correct in seeing in your example that, at the corners, the upper and lower bout ribs overlap the center bout ribs, too?  And would that be a feature that also can be generalized to this Mirecourt approach?

That's a great job piecing the top back together.  I'm sure it will look perfect when you're done!

Richard

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30 minutes ago, Richf said:

  Am I correct in seeing in your example that, at the corners, the upper and lower bout ribs overlap the center bout ribs, too?  And would that be a feature that also can be generalized to this Mirecourt approach?

That's a great job piecing the top back together.  I'm sure it will look perfect when you're done!

Richard

If you don't mind me saying so, this is an illustration of why I thought photos were necessary, because I'm not sure if I understand your question. Whereas we expect the Saxon (and other) built on back ribs to have the joint between the upper/middle ribs in the middle, and the Mittenwald ones on a mitre, this French way can be a bit hit and miss between the two, although it isn't really contingent on the building method, and thus not suitable as a clue.

 

Touch Wood with the belly, 'cos I haven't done it yet:)

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Wow! That was quite the accident. 

How do you determine if an instrument is worth repairing when damaged to this extent?

I know it can be done...but should it be done?

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40 minutes ago, Rue said:

Wow! That was quite the accident. 

How do you determine if an instrument is worth repairing when damaged to this extent?

I know it can be done...but should it be done?

It always depends how you calculate something and what attitude you have. Repairing such a run-over violin for a third party who ran it over personally himself can safely be predicted to be something of a disaster, because you a) have some nervous wreck, who will constantly ring up and ask if it is finished yet and b)if you repair for a third party, you are obliged to make a success of it. In this case I adopted plan B, and sold him an Oddone violin instead, and took the run-over violin in part exchange for a nominal sum. Now I can repair it, when I am in the mood, and if I were to make a pigs ear of it, I wouldn't have to justify myself to anybody. Not that I'm planing on making a pigs ear of it, just that I do not have that psychological pressure. Also a commercial calculation is hardly necessary, since I don't pay myself wages.

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The corner blocks and linings are very neat. I think this will contribute to a better sound because there are no nooks and crannies disurbing the air flow as we see on many other violins.

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Okay! Sounds like a very good approach to the situation! :)

My other (possibly dumb) question:

What is the resale value of a heavily repaired instrument  of this type  - and who would buy it?

FWIW: I like antiques and expect some repairs - but this would be "too repaired" for me to consider (all hypothetical of course ^_^...)...

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30 minutes ago, Rue said:

Okay! Sounds like a very good approach to the situation! :)

My other (possibly dumb) question:

What is the resale value of a heavily repaired instrument  of this type  - and who would buy it?

FWIW: I like antiques and expect some repairs - but this would be "too repaired" for me to consider (all hypothetical of course ^_^...)...

That is, if I my say so, one of those questions like “How long is a piece of string”. Of course something in absolutely mint condition is the most valuable. Everything else is to some extent restored. What is “too repaired” for you to consider, will be a factor of how successful a restoration is, or not.

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

 In this case I adopted plan B, and sold him an Oddone violin instead, and took the run-over violin in part exchange for a nominal sum.

This is always the most wise way to handle it, but it requires to have a spare Oddone at hand.B)

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Jacob, thank you so very much for posting this topic.  I'll be watching with great fascination.  :)

2 hours ago, Rue said:

What is the resale value of a heavily repaired instrument  of this type  - and who would buy it?..

Depending on how much Jacob wants for it when he's done, your question may already be answered. :lol:

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I realize it is one of those open "it depends" questions - and I appreciate all answers and discourse on it...

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7 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The way I was taught it by a Hungarian colleague, was that you glue the blocks onto the back, and cut them to shape, making sure that they match the belly outline too, and glue the ribs to the blocks. You need the long surface of middle bout/block glueing area to be able to apply a clamp.

After perusing the above photos, I was wondering why they would carry the corner blocks so far into the C bouts, and now this makes sense. I imagine they would have been much thicker and trimmed after the ribs and linings were installed.

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Years ago, a friend of mine was recording in the studio, and afterwards we were talking in the parking lot while loading up his vehicle. He was all loaded up, except for the accordion which was behind his vehicle ready to be put in the back. After finishing our conversation he hopped in the drivers seat and started backing up, and we both heard a grinding noise from under the vehicle.

He stopped and looked underneath to discover the accordion case was wedged underneath the fuel tank. I lifted up on the bumper enough that he could pull it free, where upon he opened the case, put the accordion on and tried it out only to exclaim "It plays better than it ever did!"

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4 minutes ago, Bill Yacey said:

Years ago, a friend of mine was recording in the studio, and afterwards we were talking in the parking lot while loading up his vehicle. He was all loaded up, except for the accordion which was behind his vehicle ready to be put in the back. After finishing our conversation he hopped in the drivers seat and started backing up, and we both heard a grinding noise from under the vehicle.

He stopped and looked underneath to discover the accordion case was wedged underneath the fuel tank. I lifted up on the bumper enough that he could pull it free, where upon he opened the case, put the accordion on and tried it out only to exclaim "It plays better than it ever did!"

Like!!!! :lol: 

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7 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

While I am at it, perhaps a plea if anyone can help re. identification of this violin, beyond a high class French violin. It had a label once upon a time, since one can still see the “label shadow” where it was stuck in. The customer of mine who played it as his principal violin for many years, always said “Derazey” to it, although I wasn't sure, and find it difficult to tell these makers apart.

 

After a slightly agitated rehearsal, he went with this violin to his car. When he got there, he couldn't find his car keys, and put the fiddle down on the ground to search all of his pockets (it is astonishing how many pockets one has when it's cold). He frantically searched all his pockets, and found the key – thought”ah, super” got in his car and reversed out of the parking space – right over the violin.

 

Curiously the back and ribs remained in pristine condition. The neck though snapped off in the middle of the neck root. The belly was severely caved in though, and the sound post emerged through the belly. I have been putting off removing the belly for absolutely ages, and when I did, it disintegrated into 17 pieces, all hanging together by a thread. I have now glued it back together, one step after another, far enough to make a plaster cast, and should be able to persuade all the cracks to go back in register now.

Foto 2.JPG

Foto 1.JPG

Foto 2.JPG

Foto 3.JPG

Foto 4.JPG

Foto 5.JPG

That is a smashing violin.

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9 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

This French method is basically a sub-group of variety No. 3, built on back, except it is “built on back around corner blocks” a method which incidentally is still taught in the Franz List Hochschule in Budapest, and is quite useful if you're cobbling together a copy where the back and belly outlines diverge.

 

Interesting points to learn about are, IMO

- why and when did they start to teach this method in Budapest and

- are there possibly Hungarian violins using this method, of which period and can they be confused with french for this reason?

Dear Jacob, can you share any informations to answer this questions?

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14 hours ago, Blank face said:

Interesting points to learn about are, IMO

- why and when did they start to teach this method in Budapest and

- are there possibly Hungarian violins using this method, of which period and can they be confused with french for this reason?

Dear Jacob, can you share any informations to answer this questions?

At the place where I worked when I first moved to Vienna in the middle of the '80's, I sat next to a Hungarian colleague who demonstrated to me how he had learnt to make the ribs during his apprenticeship in the Franz Liszt Academy (now University, I think). His “Meister” (instructor) was Ferenc Lakatos (which roughly translates to “Frank Smith” I think). Although the Hungarians had traditionally used a half outside form from Schweizer onwards, they also have a large history of making “copies” (or fakes if you prefer). This rib construction lends itself excellently to making a wonky fake, so I guess that is where that “tradition“ comes from (only conjecture on my part).

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Thank you, Jacob. I can't put into words how much I appreciate your contributions on this forum...

  Last night I closed a nice Mirecourt violin. I remembered reading here your cornerblockology essay, and this morning here it was again, bumped up. I wish I had seen this  before I closed the violin. The blocks in it are extended into the c-bout ribs, as you described. Now I know more about how it was constructed.  

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Jacob, although a Markie violin is probably more distinguishable from the exterior features than others, is there a feature of the corner blocks in a Markie relative to the lining that are tell-tale (assuming it has all of the cornerblocks, of course)?

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25 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I am afraid that I don't think I understand your question

So, your OP of a French cornerblock example makes sense, but I am wondering if there are typical cornerblock/lining features to determining a Markneukirchen (assuming that it has all 4 blocks)?  Hopefully that makes sense... :)

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42 minutes ago, ClefLover said:

So, your OP of a French cornerblock example makes sense, but I am wondering if there are typical cornerblock/lining features to determining a Markneukirchen (assuming that it has all 4 blocks)?  Hopefully that makes sense... :)

I thought I had disused that in enough detail in my original “Cornerblockology" post https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/328919-violin-id/&do=findComment&comment=594080

One may expect a “Markie" corner block to have roughly an equilateral triangle form, viewed from above

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