Victor the violinist Cat

Violin ID: Schonbach? Markneukirchen? Outer Space?

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Hi people! 

I would like to know your opinions in a violin that I recently adquired. I bought it on ebay, because I like to buy instruments that catch my eye if they are at a low price. I have got some nice american folk fiddles, and other rarities to add to my colection.

This one is a violin labeled as Robert Gregson 1898. As you can see, I wouldn't believe the label, as the paper is too white for the age, and I'm reasonable sure that ballpen was not invented yet at that time (or at least not popularly used). I believed it to be a saxon cheap violin, but now i´m a bit confused

I evaluated the violin with Jacob's checklist for Mittenwalt/Saxon violins (I think that list is really the state of the art regarding this issue). I got some conclusions but still have a few doubts:

- The violin is indeed built from the back (no corner blocks, ribs cut flush at the corners)

- The scroll fluting ends before the end of the throat, and the spine finishes in a delta

- The neck is built in a guitar-like way, being the neck block and the neck itself the same piece, with the ribs inserted into it. 

- It has no linings in the top side (??? never seen this before)

- The purfling is painted instead of inlayed

- I'm pretty sure the wood of the back and neck is not maple. I would recognize it as Sycamore, but it doesn't fit my idea of a German violin.

- The body is of normal measure (355mm) but the neck is rather short, resulting in a string lenght of 310mm.

- The neck projection to the bridge is standard, and being the neck as it is built, I doubt somebody changed it.
 

- The saddle is inserted onto the ribs, and seems to be bone, or ivory.

I know nothing about english violins, so I don't know if it could be really English. There are a few poorly repaired cracks (one of them is a very nasty soundpost crack). All are stable, but I'm thinking about redoing that. I think is somewhat a transitional violin, maybe 1850 or so? I don't know if spend time fixing the cracks better and making a half neck to correct string lenght, set it up as a late baroque instrument, or just set it up as a modern 7/8 instrument. It depends a lot on how valuable it could be. I still dont try it, but it seems to sound rather nicely.

So, what do you think?

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A rather low grade but at some points (scroll) nicely made Vogtland or Salzkammergut with beech wood neck and bottom.  A proper repair of the bottom sound post crack would surely be extremely uneconomical, otherwise it could be used as a beginner's baroque, a folk fiddle etc.

What's a half neck?

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The label has been snipped out of page 134 of the Meredith Morris book from 1904, if it hasn't been photocopied.

I would agree with mid-19th. C Salzkammergut, and that the condition is such that the commercial value is nil

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5 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The label has been snipped out of page 134 of the Meredith Morris book from 1904, if it hasn't been photocopied....

Okay. That blew me away. :blink:

Did you have the page number memorized?

Btw: all this fakery to obscure the origins of obscure instruments with more obscure labels - must mean there are a lot of really knowledgeable fakers out there. Right?

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Not really. The Meredith Morris book has been an unbearable temptation for people faking up violins for generations. Meredith Morris was a clergyman who toured the British Isles 1900ish, visiting and interviewing all violin makers he could find, both hobby/amateur (from hopeless to pretty good) and professional. He gave a short (sometimes longer) biography, sometimes a pretty pejorative one, and, it would seem always tried to scrounge a label, which he used to illustrate his book. Snipping out the label of one of these (many) entirely otherwise unknown autodidact makers and sticking it into all and any sorts of unidentified fiddles, is a tried and tested tactic, since the thought it was made by some joiner from Blackburn at the end of the 19th.C., touches a weak spot in the imagination of the common Ebay punter, and no appraiser has a clue what a Gregson, Blackburn should look like.

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12 hours ago, Blank face said:

A rather low grade but at some points (scroll) nicely made Vogtland or Salzkammergut with beech wood neck and bottom.  A proper repair of the bottom sound post crack would surely be extremely uneconomical, otherwise it could be used as a beginner's baroque, a folk fiddle etc.

What's a half neck?

Thanks! Beech in this kind of violins is new to me! I knew of the Guarnieri's "Terminator", and a few others., but i didn't think it was used in factory fiddles. Messing with the cracks will not be profitable at all, but making it as a beginner's baroque is a good idea. It can be cheaper than the crappy chinese baroque violins, and probably sound nicer, and look better.

I think my english term is not right about "half neck". That is how we say it in spanish, just translated. Is when you take out the neck to make a new one, but keeping the scroll. So is just the half of the neck what you make... haha. Neck graft is the proper term maybe?

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12 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The label has been snipped out of page 134 of the Meredith Morris book from 1904, if it hasn't been photocopied.

I would agree with mid-19th. C Salzkammergut, and that the condition is such that the commercial value is nil

Thanks! I can't believe you even know from wich page it was taken hahaha. 

Putting obscure labels in weird violins is common, and way more effective than trying to make it pass as a Guarnieri or Strad.
But I didn't buy for the label, as it was clearly too new to be real, and the violin looks older than the label date even.

Just from learning all this, the price I paid is a investment on learning. If my interest were commercial I should be selling something else, as I still don't know a billionaire luthier. But this instrument will make a good service to some student who can only afford a cheap chinese violin, to later spend much more of the cost itself to make it baroque. 

If possible... what features makes you look to Salzkammergut among all the Vogtland possibilities?

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20 minutes ago, Victor the violinist Cat said:

Thanks! I can't believe you even know from wich page it was taken hahaha. 

in maestronet site you can learn so many things about violin identification particularly one of the most reputable expert Jacob Saunders , also the wonderful guy blanckface & some nice other members too

here is the book in PDF file ,

have a look in page number 134 :D 

British_Violin_Makers_Classical_and_Modern.pdf

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12 hours ago, Victor the violinist Cat said:

Thanks! Beech in this kind of violins is new to me! I knew of the Guarnieri's "Terminator", and a few others., but i didn't think it was used in factory fiddles. Messing with the cracks will not be profitable at all, but making it as a beginner's baroque is a good idea. It can be cheaper than the crappy chinese baroque violins, and probably sound nicer, and look better.

I think my english term is not right about "half neck". That is how we say it in spanish, just translated. Is when you take out the neck to make a new one, but keeping the scroll. So is just the half of the neck what you make... haha. Neck graft is the proper term maybe?

 

12 hours ago, Victor the violinist Cat said:



If possible... what features makes you look to Salzkammergut among all the Vogtland possibilities?

I'm afraid that you are exactly wrong calling such an object a “factory fiddle”. They were, to be more accurate, subsistance farmers/foresters in a very beautiful corner of Austria with a rich folk music tradition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFk6t9J_k8w

You might like to put “Salzkammergut” into the search function at the top right of this page, since I have written about them often enough. Obviously, if you are a subsistence farmer, living up a mountain, where there is deep snow for half the year, you can spend the winter making tobacco pipes, cuckoo clocks, or even violins rather than twiddling your thumbs.

The most obvious features that point towards a fiddle from this area are the painted purfling, which gets wobbly beneath the button, and by cheap ones, the use of beech and the omission of linings. Should you follow BF's advice and make a “Baroque" Violin out of it, you will leave the neck well alone. The original fingerboard would have been plain maple painted black. We have gone into the other tell tale features elsewhere.

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11 hours ago, mood2000 said:

in maestronet site you can learn so many things about violin identification particularly one of the most reputable expert Jacob Saunders , also the wonderful guy blanckface & some nice other members too

here is the book in PDF file ,

have a look in page number 134 :D 

British_Violin_Makers_Classical_and_Modern.pdf

Thank-you for finding the PDF of Meredith Morris. It is a fascinating example of Victorian English, a long lost language, where one could be pretty rude politely with ease. I rather like the entry on James Briggs (an excellent maker) where Morris goes on a rant about copying: (page 85)

 

"A facsimile copy, like that of Mr. Briggs' Paganini-Joseph,requires immense skill and patience, and it also requires a

length of time. To exercise the greatest skill and patience

is commendable, but to consume over-much valuable time is

against the interests of the art. The fiddle world cannot

afford to allow a born artist to dally with scratches and

patches."

 

Having put the knife in, he relents a little to avoid uppsetting Briggs:

 

"As an original worker, Mr. Briggs is remarkably free from

conventionality, and allows his genius unlimited liberty. At

one moment he worships at the shrine of old Antonio, and at

the next he is an uncompromising iconoclast. Genius ever was

a mystery"

 

They don't do write ups like that any more, do they?

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12 hours ago, Victor the violinist Cat said:

But this instrument will make a good service to some student 

It looks very like one of the horrendous objects my school forced me to learn on. The first Chinese Skylarks weren't much better but nowadays beginners are far better served. Put it out of its misery!

14 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

"As an original worker, Mr. Briggs is remarkably free from

conventionality, and allows his genius unlimited liberty. At

one moment he worships at the shrine of old Antonio, and at

the next he is an uncompromising iconoclast. Genius ever was

a mystery"

Not so much a knife as a stiletto (tr. "He's a complete nutcase"). In his second edition Morris writes a whole page about the maker of one of my violins, William Walton (no relation?), including the names of all his children.

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18 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

and no appraiser has a clue what a Gregson, Blackburn should look like.

What MM said about Gregson:

"His one mistake is that he does not copy anybody...Talents must be fed and pruned like fruit-trees in an orchard. Gregson is impatient of detail. The more conspicuous parts of the instrument are carefully handled, but there is a disregard for purity of outline and clean inlaying of the purfle..."

I have one of Gregson's violas and what Meredith Morris says is very true.

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1 hour ago, antero said:

 

I have one of Gregson's violas and what Meredith Morris says is very true.

If I put my pedantic hat on, and get very theoretical, you can only know if you have a Gregson, once you  have seen (at least) a second one.

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9 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

...........a fascinating example of Victorian English, a long lost language, where one could be pretty rude politely with ease........

It's not entirely lost.  An energetic review of my various postings, commensurate with your scholarly reputation, would prove that I do my best to keep it alive.  :ph34r::lol:

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On 7/12/2018 at 9:54 PM, mood2000 said:

o.jpg

oops - some rather important bits missing ....

To be pedantic, that is a scroll awaiting a neck graft, lying next to the neck it used to belong to.

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20 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

I'm afraid that you are exactly wrong calling such an object a “factory fiddle”. They were, to be more accurate, subsistance farmers/foresters in a very beautiful corner of Austria with a rich folk music tradition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFk6t9J_k8w

You might like to put “Salzkammergut” into the search function at the top right of this page, since I have written about them often enough. Obviously, if you are a subsistence farmer, living up a mountain, where there is deep snow for half the year, you can spend the winter making tobacco pipes, cuckoo clocks, or even violins rather than twiddling your thumbs.

In fact, searching in the site about Salzkammergut gave me material to study several days about it. But I will do it later, because seeing your video let me with a huge need of eating charcuterie, drink draft beer and practice my yodel singing.

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