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GeorgeH

How Do Auction Houses Grade Violins?

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9 hours ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

Here’s a Stainer on Tarisio described as fine, even though its top has been replaced. One might think that its fine designation would have fallen in the trash can along with its original top. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful instrument with historical importance, but is a violin with a replacement top still worthy of being referred to as fine?

 

https://tarisio.com/auctions/auction/lot/?csid=2198749184&cpid=3495804928&filter_key=

 

In the past every auction house had a definition of their terms in the back of the catalog. Unfortunately those definitions seem to vary slightly from auction to auction.

The word 'fine' just doesn't make any claim to how much is original. And as long as the top was marked as replacement in the description, there is nothing which could be called misrepresentation. It is 'fine' in the described terms with a replacement top. Good enough I think.

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5 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

It's an almost complete violin by one of the single greatest makers of the classic era of making, with an expertly made replacement belly. I would be shocked to see it listed as anything less than fine. 

I’m not sure if Tarisio subscribes to that hard and fast rule, as I believe that I have seen multiple other golden age makers not possessing the fine designation.

Here's a question, and just in your opinion, if the violin had a replacement top and a replacement back, and they were both expertly made by one master maker, would it still be worthy of being called a Fine Austrian Violin by Jacob Stainer? If so, how many replacement parts would it require before it should rightfully lose this specific designation?

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11 minutes ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

I’m not sure if Tarisio subscribes to that hard and fast rule, as I believe that I have seen multiple other golden age makers not possessing the fine designation.

Here's a question, and just in your opinion, if the violin had a replacement top and a replacement back, and they were both expertly made by one master maker, would it still be worthy of being called a Fine Austrian Violin by Jacob Stainer? If so, how many replacement parts would it require before it should rightfully lose this specific designation?

It seems to me that the "Ship of Theseus" ground has been trod more than once on these forums, and I don't necessarily care to retread. 

Just for fun, however, let's arbitrarily say that a violin really only consists of four parts of equal value - head, garland, belly, and back. I think that if you lose more than 1 of four it becomes "a fine composite violin". Does this satisfy?

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9 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

It seems to me that the "Ship of Theseus" ground has been trod more than once on these forums, and I don't necessarily care to retread. 

Just for fun, however, let's arbitrarily say that a violin really only consists of four parts of equal value - head, garland, belly, and back. I think that if you lose more than 1 of four it becomes "a fine composite violin". Does this satisfy?

That would seem more appropriate from my perspective, however I still find it odd for an item missing a major original component to be referred to as fine. Good, perhaps, but fine -- no.  JMHO.

I wonder if Tarisio has ever sold an instrument entitled, A Fine Composite Violin.

I also wonder what constitutes a composite component verses a replacement part in the fine violin world. In this situation, the top was made specifically for this violin. If the top had once been part of a different instrument, would this violin then be officially identified as a composite? If both the top and back had been specifically made for this violin, would they still be replacement parts or would the violin then be deemed a composite?  

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On 6/6/2018 at 5:53 PM, Mark Neukirchen said:

Here’s a Stainer on Tarisio described as fine, even though its top has been replaced. One might think that its fine designation would have fallen in the trash can along with its original top. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful instrument with historical importance, but is a violin with a replacement top still worthy of being referred to as fine?

 

https://tarisio.com/auctions/auction/lot/?csid=2198749184&cpid=3495804928&filter_key=

 

Interesting isn't it. I've had that particular violin in my hand, and as an ensemble, it is a deeply impressive instrument (I have a feeling the front is Forster, fwiw), regardless of it being a composite. BUT yes, as I am instantly uncomfortable about it being a "fine example of" Stainer's work, because clearly it can't be. 

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13 hours ago, Ben Hebbert said:

Interesting isn't it. I've had that particular violin in my hand, and as an ensemble, it is a deeply impressive instrument (I have a feeling the front is Forster, fwiw), regardless of it being a composite. BUT yes, as I am instantly uncomfortable about it being a "fine example of" Stainer's work, because clearly it can't be. 

Thank you for sharing your insight and thoughts on this violin.

May I ask your opinion as to what constitutes a composite component verses a replacement part? For example, would it be normal industry practice to identify a violin as a composite, even if the replacement part was expertly made specifically for the instrument?

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5 hours ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

Thank you for sharing your insight and thoughts on this violin.

 

May I ask your opinion as to what constitutes a composite component verses a replacement part? For example, would it be normal industry practice to identify a violin as a composite, even if the replacement part was expertly made specifically for the instrument?

 

You are correct. I think Ben is describing the violin itself as "composite."

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For me a composite would be a violin with a replacement back or a replacement front (or more ...) even if made specifically for the original parts.

I wouldn't describe a violin with a replaced head as a composite. And probably if all the ribs had been replaced but everything else was there it still wouldn't qualify as a composite.

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