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michaeld

1897 J.Johnson Violin Indentification

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Hi all, new here.  I have this old violin.  Inside is penciled:

J. Johnson
Mineapolis
1897

(notice the one 'n' in Minneapolis)  I live in Minnesota, so I am assuming "Mineapolis" refers to the one in the Twin Cities.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?  Any idea of its worth?

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Agree with Brad 100%. Not a valuable instrument . Not quality wood.

It looks like the center  seam in the top is separating - or there is a soundpost  crack.

Repair would probably exceed value of the instrument if properly done.

But I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, so see what others say.

Out of interest: is it French or MKN?  I got the last one wrong . This looks BOB to me but with a number of French features in particular the shape which is probably the clincher, and the scroll. Purfling and edges could be French as well. Button a bit small for French but wrong shape for MKN. Maybe I'm talking rubbish.

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It looks MKN to me. I think that the neck/scroll are later additions. Scroll varnish looks different and newer, and it looks like there has been work around the button. I would expect the inside to be blackened, too, if it was the original scroll.

Still curious about the 1-piece back. Does not look like plain maple to me, more like poplar.

button.jpg

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I thought it looks a bit wide at the waist for MKN but picture is not straight on.

Michaeld, in case you are wondering what we are talking about, MKN stands for Markneukirchen, a place in Saxony, Germany.   Was a trade center for hundreds of thousands of mostly low quality violins.

I may be talking nonsense about it's origin but I'm fairly certain the instrument is not valuable as is.

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I thought American...

Someone is out to lunch (probably me, but I can always hope for a miracle...)

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40 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

the purfling actually looks quite nice to me. It is perfectly centered at the edges,

How can something be centred at an edge?

Andrew

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1 hour ago, rudall said:

How can something be centred at an edge?

Andrew

I probably verbalized it wrong, if you lookat the corner that is Pictured, the ends of the purfling come together in the center of the wood, the corners are clean and symmetrical. I probably described incorrectly, but that’s what I referred to.

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I think the back is maple.  IMHO  It would be interesting to get some photos of the sides/ribs (straight on) to get a better feel of the edge and corner work. Also a shot of the end pin area may be helpful. The varnish on the back does appear to be quite thin especially at the edges. The purfling is quite tidy...no beee sting and going dead on into corner. It will be interesting to see if the origin can be determined.  

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I suspect that J. Johnson was a Norwegian living in Minneapolis - and that he made it. He may have trained in MKN, which many Norwegians did - or maybe not. But it looks oddly Norwegian to me, just don’t ask me to explain why. 

I would call it a «flatfele», a «flat fiddle» as opposed to the Hardanger fiddles. And a nice one, too.

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4 hours ago, Felefar said:

I suspect that J. Johnson was a Norwegian living in Minneapolis - and that he made it....

The Wenberg book lists a Johannes August Johnson who was born in Norway and who worked in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  (I don't know how close that is to Minneapolis.)  I considered this Johnson possibly the maker of this violin until I noticed that he was born in 1892, making him five years old in 1897.

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You can find a lot of pen or pencil written inscriptions at the bottom of trade violins (what the OP obviously is), usually refering to hobby repairers or owners. I won't trust a year given with such inscriptions, could be fantasy only, and if it doesn't tell you explicitly "made by" it has nothing to do with the hand full of different persons involved into the process of making it in division of labour.

If someone was trained in Markneukirchen during the late 19th century he/she was either specialized  in making a few parts of the violin only (necks, box, purfling, varnish etc.) or if the person was a pupil of the violin making school the result should look much better than this. So I can see nothing but a plain straight forward cottage industry instrument with a later replaced scroll, possibly instead of the original through neck.

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On 12/30/2018 at 2:30 PM, GeorgeH said:

Is that back made of poplar?

That's what plain quartersawn maple looks like!

I agree with Blank Face, a very straightforward MK/Sch trade violin, though the scroll/neck might be from a Mirecourt violin (hard to say from the one side-on shot).

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

That's what plain quartersawn maple looks like!

Thanks, Martin. It was the figure in the lower right corner of the picture that made me wonder. It reminded me of this violin, which I have been told has a poplar back.

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22 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

The Wenberg book lists a Johannes August Johnson who was born in Norway and who worked in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  (I don't know how close that is to Minneapolis.)  I considered this Johnson possibly the maker of this violin until I noticed that he was born in 1892, making him five years old in 1897.

Prenatal violins are not unknown, and according to the label one of mine was made by a man 13 years dead. Nothing unusual in the world of violins! :p

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