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A look inside an unusual American antique violin


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Recently I had to send my 1913 N. W. House violin (listed in Wenberg)  off to get the reglued as the recent heat and humidity caused the glue to fail. The luthier took pics of the inside and I thought some of you would get a kick out of some of the unusual features. I had assumed the violin had no corner blocks and now I see that the walnut faces on them made them hard to see. I have no explanation for the 2 piece blocks or the tube for the end pin.

Corner block (and hideglue chips) - CopyS.jpg

Lower block (before being glued) showing odd two piece buttonS.jpg

Top interior fullS - Copy.jpg

upper blockS - Copy.jpg

Double barS - Copy.jpg

Repair signature 2S - Copy.jpg

Makers markS - Copy.jpg

Repair signatureS - Copy.jpg

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I wonder whether the central bar was added to give the top more mass. The normal one seems to be a replacement, so I assume the other one was made at the same time. It also looks like there’s a piece of hardwood running up the middle of the neck, perhaps to prevent warping. Definitely an intriguing  experimental instrument. 

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Love the uniqueness in this.  Wow, a lot to look at.  Worried about that cracked endblock as it seems the grain in running with the grain on the ribs, looks like that could easily carry into cracking the lower rib bouts.  Normally we would replace that endblock, but that's too idiosyncratic to change out, need to repair it instead.

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Here is Wenberg's interesting entry regarding N.W. House:

'Worked as a violinist in a theatre orchestras in Chicago. Violin maker. Worked in Springfield OH 1909 to 1910. Also worked in Ann arbor, Michigan, doing repair work. Own original model. Wings of f-holes bevelled qt ends. Edges of the top have maple grafted on to prevent damage. All ribs made with an outward bulge. Two piece neck with sides of pegbox ornamentally carved, on some “HOUSE” is carved on the back of the pegbox. Golden brown spirit varnish. Handwritten label directly on the back. Fine artistic workmanship. Also rebuilt instruments using multiple bass bars'.


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