Help with violin identification: Paul Bailly?

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,


5 years ago I started a topic on this website to find the origin of my violin. I got only one suggestion to take it to a violin builder, but up to date still no clear answer about the origin of my violin.

I found out it is a Maggini model. 

A little bit of history: This violin belonged to my great grandfather. He worked and lived close to the French border in Belgium, and traveled a lot in Europe. I got his violin from my grandmother (his daughter) when I started playing the violin myself 25 years ago. However, it was too big at that time (I was still a child), and I quit playing before I actually could use it. Since then this violin has been safely stored in my living room.  I have a pictures of him playing it around the 2nd worldwar. Don't know when exactly he bought the violin. 

By chance I took it out 5 years ago and noticed a label with the following text:

Paul Bailly, luthier à Lille, élève de  Jean-Baptiste vuillaume à Paris


With some sort of stamp: PB

I took this violin to a violin builder years ago after the start of a topic on this forum , who did an examination of the violin (kept the violin for 1 week). Afterwards he told me he and his colleague were not sure, and thought it might be just a German violin, based on the imperfection on the back ( the vertical scar), but they were not very conclusive/sure. They also examined the inside, guess they used a scope, because they left a lot of scratches.

I had a good look this afternoon. The label looks very basic, can't find an identical one on the internet. The proximal border is also curved from a certain point, like it has been cut very sloppy. 

Description as mentioned above.

The good thing is that it has a signature of him on the back wall of the violin, signing with PAUL BAILLY 1881 high up the right side of the back,  difficult/not visible on the pictures but in a very similar handwriting then signatures available on the internet and it looks quite authentic.

Would you think they would copy a PAUL BAILLY in the early 20th century, our could this be an original violin?  Why would they copy a rather unknown violin builder at that time? And do the copies also have a signature? 

What do you think?

I found this about Paul Bailly on the internet and it seems to fit.. 

Born at Mirecourt, 1844. Pupil of Jules Galliard and Vuillaume. Worked at Lille and Douai. Returned to Mirecourt 1871 - moved to Paris 1880 - lived at Brussels - had a brief sojourn in America - worked at Reims - came to London - worked for Harry Dykes at Leeds. Finally settled at Paris 1899. Died 1915.

Exceptionally gifted with rapid dexterity - produced about 2,000 specimens, each of exemplary neatness etc. Particularly expert copyist of the Italians from Maggini to Guarnerius; also built many replicas of the Vuillaume style, made from Swiss chalet pine, 200 years old. Especially successful in imparting a non-new tonal quality. Various shades of varnish - brilliant red perhaps favoured.

Please your advice/opinion. Thanks,



Edited by ejdwolf
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't tell but some people on this forum are quite knowledgeable with French violins, even though it might be difficult from photos in some cases.

Given that a genuine Paul Bailly is worth some serious money, you may want to find a luthier with recognised expertise in French violins. Paris is always worth a visit :-)


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul Bailly is something of a can of worms ... yes he worked in many different styles, including a kind of Maggini model, but he also sold a lot of violins with his label that he can't have made.

I can't really comment on the OP violin since I've never seen an authentic Paul Bailly Maggini model - it doesn't bear any of the attributes of the many Paul Baillys we have handled, though it would be illuminating to see the scroll.

When it comes to Bailly we always just take them to Rampal. There seems to be very little consistency in model, varnish, inner work, labelling, numbering ... and I don't trust myself with them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was once a Maggini model by Bailly in a Bongartz auction catalogue - I would need to search a while to find it.

In general, Maggini models, no matter by whom, aren't really popular and rarely are sold for prices coming close to the Strad or Guaneri copies, mostly due to the big dimensions.

The OP violin has a lower rib with continuing flames, which leaves me wondering if it's french at all or more probably made in South Germany or Austria(Bohemia/Hungary using an inside mould. The inside work (are there assymetrical corner blocks with the ends of the C bout linings morticed in?) could give a clue. The label looks like junk photocopied badly from somewhere, and inscriptions or even brands can be added easily once the violin is opened.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.