not telling

Factory instruments reworked, sold as new artist instruments

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On 7/11/2018 at 9:59 AM, Rue said:

I really don't see why the industry can't agree to start a new, above board, labelling/branding system.

So anyone can do what they want - and the consumer can buy what they want.

Some violin dealers with skilled repairers/restorers in the shop produce and sell instruments labelled ABC Shop or ABC Atelier.  These are not labeled with the name of a single maker and are sold at a much lower price than hand made instruments by a single maker.  Possibly these are tweaked and finished white boxes bought from who knows where.  Should this practice be criticized if there is no deception of the customers?   It could be a way for students to buy good instruments for affordable prices.  Not sure how much business this kind of thing takes away from makers of bench made instruments by single makers.

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On 7/11/2018 at 5:02 AM, not telling said:

wonder if these alleged fraudsters are competing in the VSA and etc. with their imported instruments? I don't know why they wouldn't.

Surely the VSA judges would know,  they're the experts after all? :ph34r:

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4 minutes ago, gowan said:

Some violin dealers with skilled repairers/restorers in the shop produce and sell instruments labelled ABC Shop or ABC Atelier.  These are not labeled with the name of a single maker and are sold at a much lower price than hand made instruments by a single maker.  Possibly these are tweaked and finished white boxes bought from who knows where.  Should this practice be criticized if there is no deception of the customers?   It could be a way for students to buy good instruments for affordable prices.  Not sure how much business this kind of thing takes away from makers of bench made instruments by single makers.

As I've tried to make plain in other posts, most people who knowingly buy trade fiddles (of whatever description), would generally never pay the premium for violins by  "makers of bench made instruments by single makers". in the first place, so I feel that the open practice of selling a "shop brand" is not in competition with such makers.  What does, IMHO, divert business from them is when their less ethical colleagues sell trade fiddles to the unwary as personally benchmade.

My own personal feeling on this matter is that all deceptive marketplace tactics should be investigated and prosecuted as felony fraud, with all the power and fury available to the law.  This is a major "broken window" issue being allowed to run unchecked in our society, and a bad example which encourages other crimes.

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1 hour ago, Martin McClean said:

Surely the VSA judges would know,  they're the experts after all? :ph34r:

I'm not sure how they would know, unless they knew what the work of the maker individually looked like. A challenge with this is that the "makers" of the instruments they are judging are not disclosed. To the judges, it might just look like the work of a maker whose style was "commercial-like", or who had worked or trained in a production environment.

Any suggestions?

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1 hour ago, duane88 said:

Has everything that has come out of Sam Z's shop been made completely by Sam Z., or are the workshop assistants responsible for certain aspects of the work and Sam finishes them, and/or does it matter?

A bit like comparing apples to orangutans, the issue revolves entirely around misrepresentation, fraud. As I recall we had to sign a contract stating who made the instruments entered in the VSA, that included very specific definitions of what it means to make, for instance pegs and fittings by other makers were allowable, whereas precarved kit fiddles were not. Given the value placed on a gold win to a makers ability to generate sales , what,s in a name and reputation is not to be underestimated. In full agreement with VDA on the prosecution of these crimes. 

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If somebody re-graduates a Stradivarius or does a major restoration, should they take out his label and put in their own? :ph34r:

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2 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

If somebody re-graduates a Stradivarius or does a major restoration, should they take out his label and put in their own? :ph34r:

Then we might have very few Strads with Stradivarius labels. ;)

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5 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

If somebody re-graduates a Stradivarius or does a major restoration, should they take out his label and put in their own? :ph34r:

Seriously? Or just trolling? no, however to answer the question,one would expect a full pre and post condition report would most defiantly be in order, including high def pics. Dealers have been held liable for misrepresentation on more than one occasion, moreover ,would an untouched Strad generally cost or be valued over one that has been fiddled with ,regardless of tone? 

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9 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Some of them sure are, but ultra-cheap instruments are a huge and very successful part of their market.

What I found when I was in China was that most of these factory violin makers don't consider themselves to be "violin makers". They think of themselves as "factory workers", just like those in any number of other Chinese factories, and are paid about the same. They come to the factories from all over China, often from far far away, often live in dorms furnished by the manufacturer, live very frugally, and after 15 years or so, can return to their home village with enough money to perhaps buy a house or start a business. Working conditions may not look very good, by our cushy standards, but one of these factory jobs is considered to be a big opportunity, and offers them a step up in life which they wouldn't be able to achieve any other way.

My wife works for the American business unit of a huge Chinese company, and one of her observations while visiting one of their factories was rather interesting: In the parking lot of a US factory, one might find 5000 cars, and 3 bicycles. Outside a Chinese factory, one might find 5000 bicycles, and 3 cars.

My best friend was a foot soldier in Mao's cultural revolution, dragging people out of their houses.  After he grew up he became a scientist and defected to the U.S.  I have lots of China stories :)

Regarding violins, I think you can have them made to your specifications, more than just buying a load of Chinese violins to be branded.  I assume using your wood if you choose.  I was talking to a violin maker who has shop instruments at least partly completed in China.  On the label for those he tags "and associates" after his name.  He mentioned how "we" improved our knowledge over the years, not "they", making me think they could do whatever he wanted.

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43 minutes ago, James M. Jones said:

Seriously? Or just trolling?

Seriously. Well, as a thought experiment, anyway. 

It seems to me that the question being asked here is how and when does a violin become the authentic work of an individual maker?

If a violin maker starts modifying a violin, whether it be a Stradivarius violin or a Chinese violin or a violin created by their own employees, at what point can they legitimately claim the violin as a product of their own work?

Too bad Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume isn't around to join this discussion.

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28 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Too bad Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume isn't around to join this discussion.

Or Michele Deconet..........    :lol:

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1 hour ago, Bill Merkel said:

... making me think they could do whatever he wanted.

That has not been my impression, from the few fakes of my instruments I have seen. Other contemporary makers who have had their instruments faked have had the same impression.

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That has to say more about the fakers and how convincing they want to be than the abilities at large there though.  If somebody wanted to make a good fake, there's probably somebody anywhere who could do it.

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49 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Seriously. Well, as a thought experiment, anyway. 

It seems to me that the question being asked here is how and when does a violin become the authentic work of an individual maker?

If a violin maker starts modifying a violin, whether it be a Stradivarius violin or a Chinese violin or a violin created by their own employees, at what point can they legitimately claim the violin as a product of their own work?

Too bad Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume isn't around to join this discussion.

How about reverse engineering the question, at what point would you be satisfied to. Find that your “expensive” bench made violin marketed and sold as made by favorite maker x, by hand, utilizing Cremonesse materials and methods and was later found to have much less value than you paid ,because the deception was reviled and the consumer base upholding saiid value had eroded, would you ...A . Just let it slide? And be happy knowing you have a fine violin worth 5000 orB. Seek compensation.? 

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1 hour ago, gowan said:

Some violin dealers with skilled repairers/restorers in the shop produce and sell instruments labelled ABC Shop or ABC Atelier.  These are not labeled with the name of a single maker and are sold at a much lower price than hand made instruments by a single maker.  Possibly these are tweaked and finished white boxes bought from who knows where.  Should this practice be criticized if there is no deception of the customers?   It could be a way for students to buy good instruments for affordable prices.  Not sure how much business this kind of thing takes away from makers of bench made instruments by single makers.

There is a similar product in both cases maybe, but it is honest to put the shop label in a reworked factory box...then sell that as a budget model...and it's not so honest to put the personal label in. The difference ends up being up to $10,000 or maybe more in some cases.

The people who want a truly bench made instrument still want one. They buy them--or they hope they are buying them, that's the problem. There's no way to know unless you really know the person you're dealing with.

Why even get into violin making if you're not going to be 100% doing it, every part of the process? Oh, I know. People want the Instagram famous prestige and the impressed strangers listening to them lie their asses off with authority. "Yes, I make violins. From scratch." Everyone: "Ooooh." If you do only a third of the work, you can still get all of that! Shhhh. It's a secret.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I'm not sure how they would know, unless they knew what the work of the maker individually looked like. A challenge with this is that the "makers" of the instruments they are judging are not disclosed. To the judges, it might just look like the work of a maker whose style was "commercial-like", or who had worked or trained in a production environment.

Any suggestions?

So it's an ethical question rather than one of quality? 

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No! It's both. Real quality is obvious to those looking for it, and it's something customers can ask their luthier about so that they can learn to see it too. But there are lots of successful marketers out there with middling, or low-end professional stuff, or not even that, and no one would ever know what they're doing... I think we should all care though. 

Some bigger names are getting by with this because no one is willing to call them out in such a small and interconnected industry as this is. And  while it is true, and I am really upset obviously, I'm not out buying my pitchfork and torch just yet because it's not for me to do anything about it. This thread is pretty much all I can do.

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27 minutes ago, James M. Jones said:

How about reverse engineering the question, at what point would you be satisfied to. Find that your “expensive” bench made violin marketed and sold as made by favorite maker x, by hand, utilizing Cremonesse materials and methods and was later found to have much less value than you paid ,because the deception was reviled and the consumer base upholding saiid value had eroded, would you ...A . Just let it slide? And be happy knowing you have a fine violin worth 5000 orB. Seek compensation.? 

The fact (sad or not, I don't know) is that even authentic made-from-scratch violins by lesser-known makers drop significantly in market value the moment they are paid for and leave the maker's shop.

The reason that I can't answer your question is because I don't have an answer to the basic question of at what point in a production process a maker can legitimately claim a violin as a product of their own work.

And the next question (which I think you are asking) is what if a buyer disagrees with a maker's claim that a violin is legitimately a product of their own work?

Even Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel by himself.

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42 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

That has to say more about the fakers and how convincing they want to be than the abilities at large there though.  If somebody wanted to make a good fake, there's probably somebody anywhere who could do it.

I wouldn't go nearly as far as saying that somebody anywhere can do a convincing fake. There are a few people in the world today who can do superbly convincing copies, but luckily for me, they are focused more on copies of Strads and Guarneries, than of mine.:D

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)n

49 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

The fact (sad or not, I don't know) is that even authentic made-from-scratch violins by lesser-known makers drop significantly in market value the moment they are paid for and leave the maker's shop.

The reason that I can't answer your question is because I don't have an answer to the basic question of at what point in a production process a maker can legitimately claim a violin as a product of their own work.

And the next question (which I think you are asking) is what if a buyer disagrees with a maker's claim that a violin is legitimately a product of their own work?

Even Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel by himself.

 Pretysure the price on any instrument sold as bench made by one person, would decrease more than the simple devaluation of new to used lower end makers experience.,if fraudulent practices were exposed.Think you ar e standing on semantics, you could answer the question if you. Choose. In fact Lots of makers have help , again no secret, Prety sure Michelangelo was not hiding the help, proclaiming only his labor was responsible for the results....Ergo no Deception. When does a Ford become a Porsche ? ....it doesn’t.lying is lying. 

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I wouldn't go nearly as far as saying that somebody anywhere can do a convincing fake. There are a few people in the world today who can do superbly convincing copies, but luckily for me, they are focused more on copies of Strads and Guarneries, than of mine.:D

There are many more ppl who could do it than are doing it.  Plus I watched an art documentary about fakes, and it said that a customer who wants to believe is key.  Meaning that not every worthwhile fake is indistinguishable.  Somebody linked on here years ago to a possible fake Burgess on German language ebay.  Did you ever see that? 

 

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I’m not sure I understand the problem. My cello was 100% handmade. One man working alone, from the cutting of the tree to the aging of the wood to the handmade tailpiece...except for the purfling. I was astonished to learn that he used pre-made purfling. Oh well.

But having a company do the rough-out work on your wood is no different from having an apprentice do it. It is the last 20% that reveals the master and not the first 20%. If the bulk of the instrument, especially the most important bulk of the instrument, is made by the master, and the process isn’t hidden, nor the maker deceptive about it, I don’t see a huge issue, although it is a separation from the makers who DO make all their instruments-including the purfling- by their own hand.

That may be a small number, but if I were looking for a cello that’s where I’d look.

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25 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

There are many more ppl who could do it than are doing it.  Plus I watched an art documentary about fakes, and it said that a customer who wants to believe is key.  Meaning that not every worthwhile fake is indistinguishable.  Somebody linked on here years ago to a possible fake Burgess on German language ebay.  Did you ever see that? 

 

Not sure about that one. I don't peruse Ebay. Mostly, I get photos of instruments sent to me for verification. Perhaps that was one of them?

I highly question whether there are many people who "could" do really convincing copies or fakes. Like most things, it's pretty far-fetched to be able to do something well, without having attempted repeatedly.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I wouldn't go nearly as far as saying that somebody anywhere can do a convincing fake. There are a few people in the world today who can do superbly convincing copies, but luckily for me, they are focused more on copies of Strads and Guarneries, than of mine.:D

I do not think the interest of this kind of fake is to make an exact copy to be sold at high price as an original, but simply to attach a well-known name to any violin that can easily be sold at a low price to unsuspecting people.

I have come to know at least five or six violins with my name inside, but that I have never built, because the owners have contacted me to make my acquaintance sending me the photos of the violin.

It is not pleasant to say to these people that they have been cheated and it has always been too long to go back to the original fraudster, moreover people often do not want to start the long process of an international complaint with an extremely uncertain outcome for a few thousands bucks.

Moreover, the original fraudster has probably sold the violin to a dealer who then sold it to a retailer who eventually sold it to the final purchaser, vaining the attempt to figure out where the scam started and if there is was bad faith even in the next steps (in my case I have a strong suspicion, if not even certainty, that the original fraud can come directly from here in Cremona, while the final buyer really cheated is on the other side of the world ....).

Sad stories caused by miserable people  that no certification could prevent (in one case there was also a falsified certificate of the Cremona Consortium, who did not want or could not do anything to pursue fraud), the only thing I can do is to suggest to those who may happen to buy my violins around the world to contact me before the purchase, sending me the photos to establish the originality.

Fortunately (and with hindsight, far-sightedly) I have always kept a photographic archive that includes all my instruments, which allows me an unquestionable identification beyond any possible doubt as a guarantee of originality and against frauds.

I think this is the only actual possibility of certification that can not be counterfeited in any way.
 

 

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