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jacobsaunders

Martin Mathias Fichtl Vienna, Large Cello

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20 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Agreed, the soundholes are exquisite.

Second and third that.:rolleyes:

You forgot (?) to show the scroll, which I'm expecting to be similar impressive (or damaged?).

And, for everybody reading this, here's the time and place to stand up and say "I was looking for a large bassy cello since years"!!!

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56 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Second and third that.:rolleyes:

You forgot (?) to show the scroll, which I'm expecting to be similar impressive (or damaged?).

And, for everybody reading this, here's the time and place to stand up and say "I was looking for a large bassy cello since years"!!!

Yes, I forgot the scroll, which seems a little bit small for such a large cello. The Iphone we used for everything else has gone dead though, whichever button you press, nothing happens, so I will try to get some hapless customer to photograph the scroll for me, as soon as one comes where I think I could get away with it. The scroll has been broken off at some stage, glued together, and reinforced with a particularly ugly “cheek”. Also, as I mentioned, the neck has been lengthened at the neck root, which is always a problem should one wish to return anything to the original specs, since the neck root won't meet the button like that. Also the neck (look at the picture of the back) is nowhere near in the middle of the back. As often, one is snookered whichever way one turns.

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2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Value as is (in pieces): Is negligible, since I have been wondering what to do with it, and it has been blocking the doorway into my store room for years. It was handy to show the English principal cellist, what his Cello was originally like recently, but that is about all.

 

Value fully restored. Cost of full restoration. Saleability: Impossible to judge value fully restored (original size), since there is no market (to my knowledge) for it. Cost of full restauation also depends on how you judge things since it is mine and I am not writing anyone an invoice, but I would think about 2 months wages, which I suppose varies depending on what standard of living you would wish to concede me.

Value when cut down. Cost of repurposing. Saleability. The value would also depend on the succses of the operation. As described above it would be of a sort in demand by principal cellist of major orchestas. Cost of “Repurposing” (a funny word), would also be about 2 months work, spread over a longer time frame. I could think of several people one could realistically offer the cello

 

 

I personally am more the idealistic type and think that it should not be cut down. In my opinion as a restorer we have an ethical obligation to choose treatment options thinking about what is best for the object, and try to preserve as much original material as possible. The economic value shouldn't be a reason for such a invasive treatment. But obviously this is a pretty idealistic thought. 

Even if you cut it down this would not mean that the instrument has a sound that is sufficient for a professional musician and in original shape the instrument would be much more valuable for collectors or museums. 

@jacobsaunders Have you tried to sell it to museums or collectors? Maybe Museums like the Kunst-historishes-Museum-Wien or the Musik-Instrumenten-Museum-Berlin would be interested in such an acquisition. For example here in Berlin the collection has a focus on baroque instruments. The advantage would be that you wouldn't need such a extensive restoration because you wouldn't have to bring it to playing condition but just a conservation treatment. That would be cost effective too. 

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3 hours ago, Barnes Ziegler said:

I personally am more the idealistic type and think that it should not be cut down. In my opinion as a restorer we have an ethical obligation to choose treatment options thinking about what is best for the object, and try to preserve as much original material as possible. The economic value shouldn't be a reason for such a invasive treatment. But obviously this is a pretty idealistic thought. 

Even if you cut it down this would not mean that the instrument has a sound that is sufficient for a professional musician and in original shape the instrument would be much more valuable for collectors or museums. 

@jacobsaunders Have you tried to sell it to museums or collectors? Maybe Museums like the Kunst-historishes-Museum-Wien or the Musik-Instrumenten-Museum-Berlin would be interested in such an acquisition. For example here in Berlin the collection has a focus on baroque instruments. The advantage would be that you wouldn't need such a extensive restoration because you wouldn't have to bring it to playing condition but just a conservation treatment. That would be cost effective too. 

Dear Barnes,

You rather describe the quandary I'm in. Re. Kusthistorische Museum, you can die and bequeath it to them, from whence it would land in some store room. I think “Baroquecello” is probably closest with “Bass violone” (Bass Geige in German). Although one might read about those in some doctor thesis, I am not aware of them being in any use even privately.

 

When one embarks on any major project, one can never make a certain prognosis what it would sound like afterwards, or one would have to be incredibly rash, although my experience with Posch/Leidiolf/Bartl etc. Celli makes me exceedingly optimistic. In this case, it belongs to me, so is not such an issue, but I would never promise a player what his cello will sound like, after I had been at it, sounds like a first class ticket to trouble to me.

 

When I consider a larger project, I usually spend a week or two cleaning the rivers of glue and general grime out, and make a sketch of the cracks to get to know the instrument, and work out what I intend to do, and in particular in what order, which I will try to post here.

fichtl_cond-front.thumb.jpg.5f03c312d2b1cb66baa198855e4ca28a.jpgfichtl_cond-back.thumb.jpg.2c3dd4b825396cecd4fde430f908bf4a.jpgfichtl_cond-rib.thumb.jpg.51445bc6bc0f8edda38a9e5dd0f98141.jpg

I have played the cello myself since I was 8 years old, and should I put my cellists hat on, I wouldn't go near a cello (if that is what it is) with a 438mm stop length and a 264mm neck. Thus its difficult to see what good it would be to spend such a lot of time repairing something that nobody would want to play. And yes, I do repair instruments for a living, so financing it is a background thought.

 

 

 

 

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I don't envy you the decision Jacob.

I too have a collection of old instruments, in various states of disrepair, some far less interesting than your cello, and really not worth keeping at all, but I can't bring myself to modernising them or to throwing them out, just because someone like me took the time to make them.

Really, I can see this sitting in your shop until you retire, unless you make it useful.

It would probably work very well, shortened as you describe, and make someone a lovely cello.  I think on balance I'd cut it down. 

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24 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Dear Barnes,

You rather describe the quandary I'm in. Re. Kusthistorische Museum, you can die and bequeath it to them, from whence it would land in some store room. I think “Baroquecello” is probably closest with “Bass violone” (Bass Geige in German). Although one might read about those in some doctor thesis, I am not aware of them being in any use even privately.

 

I think you are underestimating the amount of interest in such Instruments. Here is Ronan Kernoa playing one in the Brandenburg 3. And here Caroline Kang: 1st suite, and Fabian Boreck (solo Cellist of the Oldenburg orchestra, right next door to me):  Galli

There are most definitely more videos around, but in the end the difference is dificult to see and to hear it you would need to hear it live.

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I play in many English groups where these are regularly used and there are many others as well. In France practically every baroque ensemble is using them regularly for most of their performances. There is a big demand out there although I agree not many rich performers who may pay what the restoration work deserves.

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34 minutes ago, baroquecello said:

I think you are underestimating the amount of interest in such Instruments. Here is Ronan Kernoa playing one in the Brandenburg 3. And here Caroline Kang: 1st suite, and Fabian Boreck (solo Cellist of the Oldenburg orchestra, right next door to me):  Galli

There are most definitely more videos around, but in the end the difference is dificult to see and to hear it you would need to hear it live.

Thank.you very much for the links. You are right, I was not aware. It is a bit of a surprise (Brandenburg) seeing people playing what look like standard issue ¼ sized celli tied around their neck, and one wonders if this has academic basis  (I hope you will tell me). It is also notable that most seem to be playing on new instruments, so it would be interesting to know what historic model they used.

Re. The Bach Cello Suite, I would like a closer look (and chance to measure), since I don’t think the Fichtl could feasably be transformed to those specs from ist’s current state.

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53 minutes ago, Mark Caudle said:

I play in many English groups where these are regularly used and there are many others as well. In France practically every baroque ensemble is using them regularly for most of their performances. There is a big demand out there although I agree not many rich performers who may pay what the restoration work deserves.

Personally I have found this demand to be entirely theoretical ... though perhaps you might like to buy it?

I have been faced with similar issues, but this one seems to be specifically to do with an instrument which has no future if restored and kept at its original size (a baroque player won't buy it for a sum that would justify the work and a museum wouldn't want it) but which would serve a player very well if cut down. 

Since it is so heavily compromised already by its condition, i would have no hesitation in cutting it down. I really appreciate Jacob's scholarship and his desire to do the right thing, but if he doesn't cut it down it will just fester away ....

If you think about how the arguments would develop in relation to a small viola, it would all look very different. In fact we are currently enlarging a small but knackered Ferdinand Gagliano viola, but have decided to leave an even smaller one alone because the condition is perfect. I think it's important to make a separation between great reference or collectible examples and player's instruments - this cello is in the latter category.

We had a Strnad/Homolka 1820 violin with original neck which I would have modernised but for the heavy moral pressure put on me by various colleagues (some on Maestronet) who hadn't shelled out their own money on it. It festered for 4 years while I waited for all these HIP enthusiasts to materialise, and eventually I put it into auction, simply to pass on the problem to someone else. In the case of a Kennedy violin similarly endowed with its original neck, I got it from someone who couldn't bear to do the deed - I just couldn't see that there was anything that special about an 1820 violin with an unmortised neck, nor could I imagine the player who would want it. So that got the chop.

So - not the most thoughtful of responses from me, but I would just defend Jacob's right to do exactly what he wants to - in a way I think the most important thing is that he be inspired to carry out the restoration, and this is clearly more likely to happen if he cuts it down.

 

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Those are Violoncello da spalla, sometimes called viola pomposa. I think they are all made by Badiarov. There was a scientific paper on it by him with proper references to sources and Instruments he used for the recreation of this type of cello. I think it is clear that such Instruments existed, and after reading that paper I have to reluctantly admit that there is the possibility that indeed Bach did write some of his cello music for it. Personally I don't think the cello suites were written for it, with exception maybe of the sixth, but there are cantatas that seem to ask for such an instrument.

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I would just add that self-evidently anyone performing in the 17th and early-mid 18th centuries would have been playing a new instrument (with a few exceptions).

A baroque zealot must immediately see the absurdity of playing on a heavily restored 250 year old instrument - that they generally don’t is a source of some vexation to me, suggesting as it does that the whole philosophy of Baroque performance is a bit of a movable feast.

Ideally Jacob you could take very precise measurements and offer any potentially offended parties the opportunity to purchase a new copy of the Fichtl. Then you could cut down the original instrument with a clear conscience.

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Back to the OP What was the Cello if not a Christa?

...and was he upset, or was it of equal value?

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2 hours ago, reg said:

Back to the OP What was the Cello if not a Christa?

...and was he upset, or was it of equal value?

It could have been any of several ethnic Füssen makers, spread along the Danube from the first half of the 18thC. No he wasn't upset, it was very nice, meeting again after 40 years, and interesting for him to see one like his in bits.

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My old cello has a pencil note inside from a 1900 restoration stating something like "I did not cut down this cello."  I had never really been able to see any indication that it had indeed been altered.  But this thread got me thinking again about how one might accomplish that, covering up evidence of the change at least to the untrained eye.  Looking more closely now, I think I see signs of half-edging on the upper bout, front and back.  (After a couple hundred years of dinged edges, it's hard to be super sure.)  I don't see any similar evidence of half-edging on the middle or lower bouts.)  

In cutting down the upper bout, is that something you would do to get enough thickness to a recreate the purfling channel and purfling?  Maybe as further evidence of that change in contour,  I don't think the upper and lower bout purflings match.  I'm sure there could be lots of other reasons for what I think I'm seeing.  But, could I be on the right track???????

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2 hours ago, Richf said:

My old cello has a pencil note inside from a 1900 restoration stating something like "I did not cut down this cello"...

:P

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Hi Jacob,

At the start of my career I did cut down two celli. One was done at Weisshaars and it was there I learned the technique. We tried to keep as much of the original purfling and edge as possible. If radically cut, the grain lines, especially on the spruce, begin to go visibly skew to the rest of the belly. The first cello was an unidentified of German origin and the second was from Markneukirchen with a 42 cm stop. Too far to push the bridge up.
 
After those jobs I declined any regraduation or redimensioning of instruments. The saying in Italian being: "You know where you start but you do not know where you will end up." or "It's easier to remove wood than it is to put it back." .
 
It's unfortunate that Museums seem to be more keen on expensive and playable instruments. A fine example of one or even several larger size celli would, for me, be a must in a museum to cover the various types of celli and to more completely trace their development.
 
I can't name names but I know of a dealer who had a fine Ruggeri cello that had been "lengthened". It was done well enough but you could still see the work. The dealer declared to the owner that Ruggeri made the cello but realized immediately that it was too small, so Ruggeri lengthened it himself!!!! Odd he didn't use the same varnish....
 
If I wanted to be a total cynic, I could suggest that, once the repair is done, you could tell the prospective purchaser that you found it already cut down. This would get you off the hook and you could put the blame on Claude-Victor Rambaux or some other dead maker who can't defend himself for having perpetrated such a vile deed. By going public with this dilemma on Maestronet, you may no longer be able to get away with that.  
 
Honestly, I can't imagine your making a false declaration to a customer anyway.
 
Good luck in your choice and all the best.
 
Bruce

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3 hours ago, Richf said:

My old cello has a pencil note inside from a 1900 restoration stating something like "I did not cut down this cello."  I had never really been able to see any indication that it had indeed been altered.  But this thread got me thinking again about how one might accomplish that, covering up evidence of the change at least to the untrained eye.  Looking more closely now, I think I see signs of half-edging on the upper bout, front and back.  (After a couple hundred years of dinged edges, it's hard to be super sure.)  I don't see any similar evidence of half-edging on the middle or lower bouts.)  

In cutting down the upper bout, is that something you would do to get enough thickness to a recreate the purfling channel and purfling?  Maybe as further evidence of that change in contour,  I don't think the upper and lower bout purflings match.  I'm sure there could be lots of other reasons for what I think I'm seeing.  But, could I be on the right track???????

Generally, one notices if an Instrument has been „cut down“, because the portion of the arching, where it changes from being convex, to being concave is too near the edge. Once one has noticed that, one checks if the edgework has been renewed, at which point one may be certain.

 

I should point out that I have never „cut down“ anything, although I once had a monkey-puzzle repair where a „cut down“ job had gone a bit awry. I was also once asked to „enlarge“ a viola, which I refused as pointless, not least since there is no direction for the arching to go any more.

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41 minutes ago, Bruce Carlson said:

Hi Jacob,

At the start of my career I did cut down two celli. One was done at Weisshaars and it was there I learned the technique. We tried to keep as much of the original purfling and edge as possible. If radically cut, the grain lines, especially on the spruce, begin to go visibly skew to the rest of the belly. The first cello was an unidentified of German origin and the second was from Markneukirchen with a 42 cm stop. Too far to push the bridge up.
 
After those jobs I declined any regraduation or redimensioning of instruments. The saying in Italian being: "You know where you start but you do not know where you will end up." or "It's easier to remove wood than it is to put it back." .
 
It's unfortunate that Museums seem to be more keen on expensive and playable instruments. A fine example of one or even several larger size celli would, for me, be a must in a museum to cover the various types of celli and to more completely trace their development.
 
I can't name names but I know of a dealer who had a fine Ruggeri cello that had been "lengthened". It was done well enough but you could still see the work. The dealer declared to the owner that Ruggeri made the cello but realized immediately that it was too small, so Ruggeri lengthened it himself!!!! Odd he didn't use the same varnish....
 
If I wanted to be a total cynic, I could suggest that, once the repair is done, you could tell the prospective purchaser that you found it already cut down. This would get you off the hook and you could put the blame on Claude-Victor Rambaux or some other dead maker who can't defend himself for having perpetrated such a vile deed. By going public with this dilemma on Maestronet, you may no longer be able to get away with that.  
 
Honestly, I can't imagine your making a false declaration to a customer anyway.
 
Good luck in your choice and all the best.
 
Bruce

Thanks for your thoughts Bruce, similar ones have been going through my head.

 

Yes, I’ve already been told by private email why I shouldn’t have posted my „dilema“ here. I have even less of an excuse because it belongs to me, and I can’t make rude remarks blaming some „ignorant“ customer for the problem. I think it’s back into the store room for now, and I will have to read up on „Bass Violone“.

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5 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Yes, I’ve already been told by private email why I shouldn’t have posted my „dilema“ here. I have even less of an excuse because it belongs to me...

... I think it’s back into the store room for now, and I will have to read up on „Bass Violone“.

That's unfortunate. You are an expert. It is your cello. Do with it as you see fit. You are well within your rights to ask for opinions. No one has a right to "tell" you what to do.

I suppose the store room is as good a place as any...hopefully this endeavour didn't give you a headache.

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On ‎6‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 5:49 PM, jacobsaunders said:

The probate records of M. M. Fichtl are preserved in the “Stadt und Land Arkiv” in Vienna, and I have requested a copy, in the hope of seeing what if anything he left, and if so to whom.

The Viennese Archive sent me the probate record, which I could (try to) post here should there be interest-

On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 6:21 PM, Blank face said:

You forgot (?) to show the scroll, which I'm expecting to be similar impressive (or damaged?).

Sorry, I forgot again! here is the scroll:

Foto 2.JPG

Foto 3.JPG

Foto 4.JPG

Foto 5.JPG

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As a buyer, not a seller, I would be more concerned of the tonal advantages of a larger cello, possibility the same reason my son pursued many Motagnanas prior to his final selections.  The 30-35mm difference can’t make that much of a difference in overall left hand technique with respects to the fact that string length can be tweaked.  Finding a suitable case might be my only concern, but not enough to deny a purchase altogether.

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I have to say after thinking about this I find it surprising that so many on this board aren't having trouble with the idea of cutting down this instrument. The sentiment here has generally been very very conservative about historical instruments.

Yes it may be difficult at this time to find somebody who wants it, even an historical instrument enthusiast, but down the road somebody might want it, and there cant be that many around.

Knowing the cost of this level of work I'm also having a hard time thinking that the amount of time spent on cutting down an instrument like this even makes economic sense for a maker/restorer.  I certainly don't want to tell Jacob his business, but there has to be more work out there for someone with his skills, that both serves the music community and makes good business sense.

 

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Yes, as one wag here suggested, I have „re-stored“ it, and am just researching both Fichtl, and the „Bass-Violone“ for my own education. Any colleagues that have seen it, all said „Jesus Ma, des ist a hinnige Häusl“ or words to that effect. I have actually found someone who „would like it“ and plays such music, but predictably, he has no funds, and at the (provisorily) end of our conversation, borrowed a baroque cello bow from me (which he „would like“ too).

 

I now have the probate document, which I will try to post later should anyone else want to make a picture for themselves, how our 18th C. colleagues subsisted.

 

You needen’t worry. I have plenty to do, including watching a lot of football at the moment.

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