Sign in to follow this  
reepicheep

Latest eBay Purchase - in a Maine attic for decades!

Recommended Posts

It may be clear by now that I'm a huge sucker for sad fiddles listed on eBay usually with horrible photos.  I just wanted to share the latest one :)

The seller used the term "alligator-ing" to describe what happened to the varnish.  I've seen it before but not to this extent.  It's like folk art at this point! He said it was from being in a hot attic for many years. 

On a side note the seller shipped the fiddle in the case.  Period.  Slapped a label on the outside of one of those old cardboardy antique cases, wrapped it around a few times with priority mail tape, and stuck it in the mail from the East Coast to Seattle.  A couple plastic grocery bags underneath was the extent of the packing.  I can't believe it didn't get crushed on the way!  

 

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

4.jpg

5.jpg

6.jpg

7.jpg

8.jpg

9.jpg

10.jpg

11.jpg

12.jpg

13.jpg

14.jpg

15.jpg

16.jpg

17.jpg

18.jpg

19.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The violin looks to be solidly made, no reason not to take the top off, considering it’s already partially off. I’d like to hear suggestions about what to do with the varnish?

I guess there’s no makers label inside?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, no label or brand or anything inside, and no evidence of removed labels.  It's about 355 and really delicate, the scroll is tiny.  Pale yellow linings and an elongated D shaped neck block of pink-ish wood with "wings" on each side that continue kind of into the linings about 1/2 "... I'm not at all well versed in construction so I don't know if that is weird or not!  The interior work looks nice to me from what I can see. There is one small repair under the top lobe of the treble f hole, just one cleat.   The top will definitely come off when I get it to my friend's shop!   He'll probably hit me over the head with it first LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, reepicheep said:

   He'll probably hit me over the head with it first LOL

Hey, this is Seattle. No Varnish Shaming allowed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The varnish makes it almost like it is made of leather. So a good conversation piece if nothing else.  3,000+ miles in a chipboard case with no damage??? I guess Musafia, Bobelock, Bam, et al are investing way too much time in construction engineering!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, jacklinks said:

The varnish makes it almost like it is made of leather. So a good conversation piece if nothing else.  3,000+ miles in a chipboard case with no damage??? I guess Musafia, Bobelock, Bam, et al are investing way too much time in construction engineering!

Even a blind squirrel find a nut once in a while...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, reepicheep said:

Yep, no label or brand or anything inside, and no evidence of removed labels.  It's about 355 and really delicate, the scroll is tiny.  Pale yellow linings and an elongated D shaped neck block of pink-ish wood with "wings" on each side that continue kind of into the linings about 1/2 "... I'm not at all well versed in construction so I don't know if that is weird or not!  The interior work looks nice to me from what I can see. There is one small repair under the top lobe of the treble f hole, just one cleat.   The top will definitely come off when I get it to my friend's shop!   He'll probably hit me over the head with it first LOL

 When your friend takes the top off, get some detailed photographs of the inside because the experts here will almost certainly be able to identify probable place and probable era. I’m eager to hear suggestions about dealing with the varnish, but I think the violin looks very nice and is worth attempting to salvage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks PhilipKT!  Definitely, there will be more photos forthcoming.  I like it too!  And I'm also curious what if anything can be done with the varnish, or if it's best to just leave it.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I vote for folk art leather varnish that looks like the poor thing has measles to be left as is - but I love alligatoring.

It's part of the history and very individual......besides what can you do?

Sand it off?

Dissolve it with alcohol? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Never tried this, but I have heard of violins in this condition being treated by putting in a warm chamber of humidified alcohol.

This sounds more like a party activity for adults, but nothing I would ever do with a somehow valuable violin.:wacko:

This kind of varnish is often seen at better Mittenwald violins of the 19th century; might have to do with fat oil varnish and coloring agents of red iron oxide. The OP features a rather moderate blackening, I've had examples much worser. Carefully grinding the pimples with a 1000 grit paper can help sometimes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Blank face said:

This sounds more like a party activity for adults, but nothing I would ever do with a somehow valuable violin.:wacko:

I understand what you mean. The person who was explaining this technique to me (in a conversation) acknowledged that it was controversial, but that it was an methodology for repairing a badly-damaged original varnish as an alternative to revarnishing or doing nothing. As I recall, it wasn't a fast procedure either; it took days. 

I think that the damage to the varnish of the OP's violin has essentially destroyed most of its retail appeal, even beyond what a good re-varnishing would do. It would be hard to sell it at close to the prices of similar violins with undamaged varnishes. I have my doubts that "carefully grinding the pimples with a 1000 grit paper" is going to do much to improve its retail value, but I have never seen a before and after of such a procedure, so I don't know. 

I love a fine craqueler, but this ain't that.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't see this appearance as a bad damage at all, it's just the way the particular varnish looks like after 150 years or longer.

Putting a violin for a longer period into a !warm chamber" humified with substances which have an uncontrollable impact is never a good idea. Iremember some violins being a pub wallhanger for years, which might be similar, having a smell which made them unsellable to people with a healthy nose:). Glue joints could be damaged, warping of all kind etc., so beware of such experiments.

Grinding the surface only (!) can take away an amount of the dark colour, but only if the process (which might have to do with oxidation) isn't progressed too deeply. Otherwise I would leave it as is, just as a part of the history.

Two photos (unfortunately not before-after), the first of a violin I found nearly black, but became much better after taking away a bit of the surface, the other as an example how it can look like after nearly 200 years of aging.

IMG_4028.JPG

IMG_s6893.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah it's pretty sad... like I said I'm a sucker for lost causes!  If my friend is willing to work on it I'll probably just keep it for myself.   Amusingly I was one of five people bidding on it, I didn't expect any competition at all!  I just thought it could be a good one, despite the varnish.  Also I have a bad habit of sometimes buying things to find out what they are :wacko:  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, reepicheep said:

 I just thought it could be a good one, despite the varnish. 

IMO it is a good one, and I won't see the varnish as a flaw at all. Maybe it depends of how many of this you have seen to get used to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would think being in an unheated uncooled and not humidity controlled attic for years would expand and shrink the instrument and varnish and could produce a similar effect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, vathek said:

I would think being in an unheated uncooled and not humidity controlled attic for years would expand and shrink the instrument and varnish and could produce a similar effect?

A red herring. There was a period whee some makes there (knilling family for instance) used an oil varnish that has badly crazed. I was told that the colour was bitumin, cant't recal who told me now. Other makers elsewhere had a similar varnish problem. Jeffrey Gilbert of Northampton for instance. Some of his (otherwise very nice) work, Looks like it has cornflakes, chared to a cinder, glued on all over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

...Some of his (otherwise very nice) work, Looks like it has cornflakes, chared to a cinder, glued on all over.

*gag*:wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

 I was told that the colour was bitumin, cant't recal who told me now.

Now when you're mentioning it, I recall that I was told similar. Maybe it can give a clue how our lungs might look like after being exposed to Diesel cars for some decades.:huh:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

A red herring. There was a period whee some makes there (knilling family for instance) used an oil varnish that has badly crazed. I was told that the colour was bitumin, cant't recal who told me now. Other makers elsewhere had a similar varnish problem. Jeffrey Gilbert of Northampton for instance. Some of his (otherwise very nice) work, Looks like it has cornflakes, chared to a cinder, glued on all over.

it may be what we in the states call Asphaltum. As a color from a tube, asphaltum is nice, but real asphaltum is a coal tar substance that will cause what we see here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/18/2019 at 8:37 PM, GeorgeH said:

Never tried this, but I have heard of violins in this condition being treated by putting in a warm chamber of humidified alcohol.

A techique from art "restoration" history. Now considered dangerous and not a good technique for consolidation of crackled paint/varnish. I do know one person who does this with violins, in a trash can(...). On his new violins, ok, fine, just don't blow the basement up. On old instruments, he has told of more than one violin that the varnish simply sloughed off of.

Share this post


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.

Guest
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.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.