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Violin, unlabelled, Mittenwald?


Purple Viper

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Hi,

I have recently come into possession of this violin at auction, at what I believe is an extremely favourable price.

It is unlabelled, and there is no evidence of any label being removed. It has numerous repaired cracks and a back crack that is close to the soundpost but far enough from it that the soundpost is not bearing weight on it. The back crack has been repaired with reinforcing studs and seems very stable. All repaired cracks seem stable. The soundpost is fitted well. There is evidence of worm damage.

Length of back : 358mm

Vib String Length : 327mm

Width Upper Bouts : 167mm

Width Middle Bouts : 113mm

Width Lower Bouts : 202mm

The scroll appears to have been competently grafted. There is a "Mittenwald Notch" which is visible in one of the images.

I was advised at purchase that it is from Mittenwald. I have re-strung it and to me it sounds amazing, and it will now be my main instrument as I am studying in my third year at a conservatory (not violin performance though - composition! I do still play violin a fair bit in the course of my studies though). I performed yesterday at a quite raucous wake, and only after photographing it today, realised that the bridge is not at a great angle, so please forgive me - I have re-adjusted the bridge since photographing it.

I have a few questions for anyone who is kind enough to lend their opinions : is it in your opinion from Mittenwald? Can an approximate age be suggested from the photos? If it is from Mittenwald, is there any possibility that one of the Klotz family had a hand in making it, and if so then what would be the most authoritative means to confirm that? I wouldn't be averse to a trip to Mittenwald from Australia one day, if it seemed like it was at all a possibility that it is a Klotz. I personally have a feeling it isn't though, after studying many pictures of Klotz violins. I could very well be wrong though.

Another related question : I have seen that it is not uncommon for Mittenwald or Klotz violins to have uneven notches between the left and right f-holes. Why is this? I have never been able to work it out as such care seems to have been put into every other aspect of their violins. You can see that the inner notch in the left f-hole seems to have been carved in a somewhat careless fashion, to my eyes at least. And that the left and right f-hole notches are certainly not symmetrical.

Any help or observations would be greatly appreciated, many thanks in advance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back 1.jpg

Bottom.jpg

F Hole Left 2.jpg

F hole Right 2.jpg

Front 2.jpg

Full Front 1.jpg

Mittenwald Notch.jpg

Scroll Back.jpg

Scroll Front.jpg

Scroll Left.jpg

Scroll Right.jpg

Side Left.jpg

Side Right.jpg

Soundpost Crack.jpg

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This checks all the boxes I've learned about on MN for identifying old Mittenwald.  As I understand it, the chances of identifying a particular maker are remote, in large part because there probably was no single pair of hands involved in making it.  Sorry, I've no idea of why the f-holes are a little messed up -- maybe more evidence of many hands??  Regardless, I can easily imagine that it's fun to play.  

I'm bumping this thread back to the top mainly because I was  interested in the old baroque pegs on it.  

Despite all those top cracks as evidence of a long life, it's interesting that the pegs look like they could be original, in part because the peg holes have not yet been bushed.  But the pegs seem very short.  Is that the typical length for pegs of that era?  I have a very similar set (from a circa 1850 fiddle) that I wanted to put back in service, but I didn't know what if anything to do about the shortness.  Are there any thoughts out there on peg restoration? 

BTW it may be time for you to think about bushing the peg holes.  I think I see a nascent crack heading north from the A string peg.  Also, have you looked at the repairs to the soundpost crack on the back?  If it's not done well, maybe there's more sound to be squeezed out.  It certainly could be made to look better.

Richard

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Thanks for all of your help, folks. And thank you to Richf for pointing out the potential crack at the A string peg, that had completely escaped my attention. The G and E string peg holes have been bushed, it's a bit hard to see in the photos since the shadows fall that way and to get enough light I had to go out into the blazing hot Australian sun. Most of the pegs have had a second hole put into them to hold the string - as the pegs have gone in so far. Surprisingly though, the pegs all seem to turn and hold pitch reasonably well. Is the fact that the D and A string peg holes have never been bushed perhaps a sign that the instrument has spent long stretches unplayed in an attic somewhere? That may also possibly explain the worm damage too, I guess.

The sound post crack seems to have been repaired reasonably well to me, and it's hard to judge but it looks to have been done a fair while ago. It's been fixed up with 6 reinforcing studs. Which is outside of my level of expertise - is this how it would be repaired if it was done today? I have no idea.

It is definitely an absolute joy to play. Here's a link to a fiddle tune that I recorded the day after I bought it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akJ-Nc_ZY14. Please excuse the wobbly intonation - it's got a slightly different scale length to what I'm used to and it took a while to adjust. Also, the angle of my wrist - I have been busking for over 20 years and play fiddle tunes like that so that I can keep my head free to look around, smile and thank people. I should record a classical piece some time which will probably give a fairer representation of its sound. As this was played the day after I bought it, it was still fitted with the ancient Dominant strings that it came with - it's sounding significantly better now that I've re-strung it with Obligatos.

SP crack.jpg

Edited by Purple Viper
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Thank you for the performance.

You resurrected an ancient artifact and used it to provide a transcendent experience to us. Something others have, no doubt, been doing with that violin for centuries. In a sense, that fiddle, through your hands, has provided us with a personal connection to musicians from the past..

Sorry to wax so spiritual. As I age, my natural skepticism tends towards outright cynicism. This was a welcomed check to my decline. >grin<

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Indeed, thanks for that performance, Purple.  Very nice listening.  For sure get that A peg hole fixed.  But I would look into repairing the post crack correctly.  Not my area of expertise, but I believe that cleats generally are not at all the best way.  You need to consult with someone down there who can correctly patch it on the inside and cosmetically on the outside.  From the outside, it seems to be a very long crack, which might complicate the patching.  (Google "sound post crack Maestronet" and you will find lots of discussion here, some including photos.)

Eric, the old English pegs I have are only 5cm long, whereas the new pegs on my other violins are about 6cm.  Was that shorter length the standard back in the day?  Is that how you would make them?  The old ones don't show much thinning (see photo), so I'm also wondering if those diameters are approximately original, too.

Richard

thumbnail_IMG_1808.jpg

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3 hours ago, Richf said:

Indeed, thanks for that performance, Purple.  Very nice listening.  For sure get that A peg hole fixed.  But I would look into repairing the post crack correctly.  Not my area of expertise, but I believe that cleats generally are not at all the best way.  You need to consult with someone down there who can correctly patch it on the inside and cosmetically on the outside.  From the outside, it seems to be a very long crack, which might complicate the patching.  (Google "sound post crack Maestronet" and you will find lots of discussion here, some including photos.)

Eric, the old English pegs I have are only 5cm long, whereas the new pegs on my other violins are about 6cm.  Was that shorter length the standard back in the day?  Is that how you would make them?  The old ones don't show much thinning (see photo), so I'm also wondering if those diameters are approximately original, too.

Richard

thumbnail_IMG_1808.jpg

RichF,  I had a set of old boxwood pegs similar to yours but the shafts were worn out so Bogaro & Clemente in Italy were kind enough to graft new shafts onto the old heads. Should be good for another century or two as long as the glue holds up.

Glenn

Boxwood_pegs.jpg

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Glenn, do you recall how long your pegs were before Bogart & Clemente fitted them with new shafts?  I'm still wondering if 5cm (2 inches) was any kind of standard 200 years ago.  

Also, do you know how B&C did that?  Did they save any of the original peg shaft?  "Grafting" doesn't quite explain the process.  Maybe they reshaped the originals (into a cone, a square peg, ???) before inserting them into boxwood dowels and tapering?  Are the restored pegs a modern length?  I've never seen that before.

Richard

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I have several sets of these old pegs that I have been given. Yes they all seem short at pegs go. I never measure the whole length as peg heads differ so much. I figure I'm ok if the shortest violin peg is over 35mm in shaft and cello is over 65.. These boxwood english pegs are well short of that. Some have two string holes however so perhaps the pegs are so old that they worked their way in and were thereby shortened. It does seem to mean that they were thought enough of that they were not thrown away. Perhaps that means they were Scottish :). 

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14 hours ago, MeyerFittings said:

I have several sets of these old pegs that I have been given. Yes they all seem short at pegs go. I never measure the whole length as peg heads differ so much. I figure I'm ok if the shortest violin peg is over 35mm in shaft and cello is over 65.. These boxwood english pegs are well short of that. Some have two string holes however so perhaps the pegs are so old that they worked their way in and were thereby shortened. It does seem to mean that they were thought enough of that they were not thrown away. Perhaps that means they were Scottish :). 

I, too, have collected a few of these old boxwood pegs over the years and the shafts rarely exceed 30mm in length.

It's clear that pegs were much shorter in the 18thC. I'm led to this conclusion by studying how modern violins fit (or don't) into early violin cases. Even when the body of the violin fits into the space allocated to the main instrument, the head won't fit owing to the width of modern pegs.

I've often wondered if the collar on pegs was specifically designed to butt up against the peg box thereby adding a little more friction to prevent slippage. 

Glenn

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