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Hyacinthus

Yet another violin identification question :)

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Hello everyone!

First of all, I've been observing this forum for a long time and I'd like to thank you all for countless hours I spent here, exploring the fascinating subject of violin making and its history, the amount of knowledge one can find here is just unbelievable! I have here a violin which I'm curious to know more about - it's actually not yet another "how much can I sell it for" topic, I'm not interested in the value, I'm just very interested in knowing as much as possible about the model and origin of this violin. I tried to do my best, I did my homework and read the guidelines for taking pictures, hope they are sufficient - if not, let me know how can I improve them! I also measured it, the measurements are 359; 167/110/203. There is a label inside, but since it's for sure fake, I thought I shouldn't show it yet in order not to influence anyone's opinion.

If you have any thoughts about this instrument, I'll be very grateful if you share them!

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Well, I guess by now this topic is too old and far away from the first page of the forum for anyone to notice it anymore, how do I delete it? Or could I ask the admins to remove it, so that it doesn’t clutter the archives, like many other unanswered, lonely topics I’ve seen on this forum? ;)

Cheers!

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I think it is very nice violin.(but I don't know much)

Maybe it is very good violin and nobody want make fool of himself saying what it is in case it wouldn't be correct.

How is inside work?

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This looks really nice ...

I find it a bit confusing but the scroll, the varnish and the short f-holes make me think of late 18th century English makers, Duke and Hill for example.

Anyway, it's worth taking to someone who knows a thing or two ...

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Great, thanks so much for your replies!

I tried to take some pictures of the corner blocks - unfortunately it's quite a challenge with just a simple camera and a dentist's mirror, but hope it's still useful! They are all of the lower right corner block, from what I can see, the blocks are not perfectly triangle-shaped, which would imply an inner mould, right? I also took a picture of the button area. To make it even more confusing, I attach a picture of the label - it's much easier to read in real life (for some reason the pictures make it much less clear), it says:

Matthias Albani filius

Cremona 1709

 

I tried to look for some information about the Albani family but looks like it's quite messy and unclear, in any case apparently none of the sons of Matthias were ever working in Cremona, so looks like this label doesn't make much sense.

 

Apart from what's inside, I'm really curious to learn about the model of this violin - I remember seeing one topic here about how difficult it is for a beginner to find any literature that would help in learning about the differences in models and I totally agree! Martin for example, when you say (thanks so much!!!) that these f holes are short and make you think of English makers, what exactly does it mean? Which part exactly is shorter and compared to what? I tried to read as much as I could and basing on my very limited knowledge, it seems clear to me that this is a violin based more or less on an Amati model, but I'm very curious and would love to learn more - especially since as you can see, this violin is quite confusing ;) Of course I do understand that a true professional won't say anything decisive unless he's 100% sure, so once again, I'd say that I'm actually more interested in your thinking process when you look at this violin than in the final result of it, if you know what I mean :)

In any case - thanks so much for all your comments!

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Can the paper experts comment on whether the label is an example of the really old method of manufacture?

As I understand it that left a grid pattern from compression, which I cannot make out in the photos, but it does seem like unusually thick 'pulpy' paper.

Henley says this.....

"ALBANI, MATHIAS (2)
Born 1650. Son and pupil of the preceding. After some years in his father’s workshop he travelled to Cremona to receive instruction from (and subsequently worked for) Amati. Later established a business at Rome but eventually returned to Bozen. Died 1715.   "

Cremona! :ph34r: 

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The label seems to be written with some steel pen writer leaving impressions in the surface of the rather modern paper, unsimilar to old prints or handwritings. Neither the label nor the instrument has anything in common with the work of the Albani family.

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3 hours ago, Blank face said:

The label seems to be written with some steel pen writer leaving impressions in the surface of the rather modern paper, unsimilar to old prints or handwritings. Neither the label nor the instrument has anything in common with the work of the Albani family.

Could you explain why you think this was written with a steel pen ?

I have blown it up and cannot see any impression in the paper. It looks like old paper with lampblack ink and using a quill.

I would be more interested in why a label that was made by a skilled luthier with very sharp tools could not cut a nice rectangular label.

Anyway, the "C" for Cremona was the clearest,so could you elucidate what you are seeing please. :)

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6 hours ago, Amateur Dieudonne said:

"ALBANI, MATHIAS (2)

Born 1650. Son and pupil of the preceding. After some years in his father’s workshop he travelled to Cremona to receive instruction from (and subsequently worked for) Amati. Later established a business at Rome but eventually returned to Bozen. Died 1715.   " 

Yes, I found this info in some sources too, but if he really went to Cremona and worked for Amati, would he be allowed to use his own name on the label, as well as deviate so much from the model? For example this violin has the back length of 359, that seems far too long for anything to do with Nicolo Amati's model, right? And I guess there are dozens of other tiny details that my unexperienced eyes can't catch (and they are in fact what I'm the most curious about), not to mention that the inner construction even for such an ignorant as me is clearly not Cremonese. B)

In general, please don't get me wrong, but statements such as "Bohemian Box" or "nothing in common with the work of the Albani family" are of course very welcome and to some extent even informative, but I don't feel I'm learning much from them, could I ask you to elaborate a bit? What makes it a Bohemian Box? Are you referring to the arching, model, varnish? And historically, which "Bohemia" do you have in mind? And what is definitely not Albani-like? Some details that even I could notice are for example that the middle strip of the purfling is much lighter in color than the rest of the instrument, in a way it "sticks out", but quite obviously that was the idea (although it's much less obvious on the back of the instrument) and from what I can see, this indeed has nothing to do with the beautifully crafted Albani's instruments I saw - does it make sense or am I over-interpreting? Or, when I look at the outline of the curve of the upper body around the neck, especially looking at the back, it seems to me that it's more circular, rather than a bit flattened, would that imply any particular model? Recently I saw a violin by Barak Norman which had this feature, but pushed to an extreme, the upper part of the body is almost perfectly circular. Of course I'm not suggesting that what we have here is a Barak Norman's violin, I'm just curious about what style/model would best describe it, since as Martin already said, it's a bit confusing... And again, I'm a total beginner willing to learn, so be patient and have mercy please! ;)

 

 

Edited by Hyacinthus
I just added one more question

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5 hours ago, Hyacinthus said:

 but if he really went to Cremona and worked for Amati, would he be allowed to use his own name on the label, as well as deviate so much from the model?

It is very common, even in the 18th century, for violin makers to put in false labels and make fake attributions such as made in Cremona.  I suspect that Jacob called this violin a "box" because it lacks the basic construction of a Cremonese violin of that period among other things. The real Albani family did have connections to the Amatis, so one would expect to see evidence of this in the making  of your violin.

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On 3/9/2019 at 8:36 AM, martin swan said:

This looks really nice ...

I find it a bit confusing but the scroll, the varnish and the short f-holes make me think of late 18th century English makers, Duke and Hill for example.

Anyway, it's worth taking to someone who knows a thing or two ...

I'm with Martin on taking it to someone competent to examine it.  I'm wondering if it might be one of those "German" violins reported in the late 1700's as being exported to Italy to be sold as Italian, which I consider a very underresearched aspect of the trade at that time.  If that really was going on, you'd expect to see some remnants of it occasionally.  :)

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7 hours ago, Hyacinthus said:

What makes it a Bohemian Box? Are you referring to the arching, model, varnish? And historically, which "Bohemia" do you have in mind? And what is definitely not Albani-like?

You can ask anything, but the experts (yes they are) will give what they feel like ^_^

You have to understand that what they give, has to be somewhere in between of advertising their knowledge (what they are daily paid for) and yet not entirely giving away their tricks of the trade.

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9 hours ago, Delabo said:

Could you explain why you think this was written with a steel pen ?

I have blown it up and cannot see any impression in the paper. It looks like old paper with lampblack ink and using a quill.

I would be more interested in why a label that was made by a skilled luthier with very sharp tools could not cut a nice rectangular label.

Anyway, the "C" for Cremona was the clearest,so could you elucidate what you are seeing please. :)

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First answer would be: I wrote exactly "it seems.." just because this isn't finnaly to decide by photos. Second very easily from experience, because I've seen dozens of similar labels: Paper surface rubbed and scratched with some dirt attached to make it look older and the writing look faded. This was common in the first half of the 20th century.

Laid paper, even if rubbed and/or sanded doesn't have this fibrous appearance which is common to modern paper made of cellulose, not rags, while even old  and faded laid paper has a smooth surface.. Quill writing usually has more swelling and fading lines, usually more dark at the edges (albeit this effect can be imitated by a trained steel pen writer), while this writing looks too homogeneous.

Third would be that the content (Albani was trained in Cremona) was reported erroneously by late 19th/early 20th century writers, so that a label reffering to that legend is most probably written in the early 20th century, while earlier fakers would have used the commercially available prints to put in an "Albani in Tyrol" label. This indicates also, that it wasn't inserted by the "maker" (if  this violin was made by a single person at all and not in a division of labour).

7 hours ago, Hyacinthus said:

In general, please don't get me wrong, but statements such as "Bohemian Box" or "nothing in common with the work of the Albani family" are of course very welcome and to some extent even informative, but I don't feel I'm learning much from them, could I ask you to elaborate a bit?

You are asking a lot from a bit - it's a very widely spread matter to learn violin identification. The first thing to do would be read the "brief and necessarily incomplete blueprint for distinguishing"  about constructionmethods to start with, because it is usually referred to when considering possible origins

Having worked out this, you'll possibly notice that your violin was made using the "building free on the back" method what excludes origins like Cremona, Mittenwald and the whole Albani family, which all used an inner mould construction.

There's nonetheless much left, especially Saxony and Bohemia or the most part of the English makers (and a lot of more).

As you see it's not unusual that there are disagreements between experienced people like it's to notice above, so it's not an easy undertaking. I myself was just wondering if it's one of those (Bohemian or English), but to be on the safe side it's always better to say "I don't know".B)

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7 hours ago, Hyacinthus said:

, but statements such as "Bohemian Box" or "nothing in common with the work of the Albani family" are of course very welcome and to some extent even informative,

 

 

I suppose “Bohemian Box” is at least alliteration. The building method of the violin in German is called “Aufgeschachtelt” which would roughly translate to boxed up,i.e. built on the back without a form (which excludes any of the Alban family). Also one gets the impression that the violin had, once-upon-a-time, a dark varnish, remnants of which are still to be found in odd dents and soaked into some end-grain areas. There are many such violins from the late 18th C. and early 19th C. from the area of Bohemia and Austria. Many of these either never had “original" labels or have had them replaced with those such as Albani, amongst others. This renders it practically impossible to ascribe such instruments to a particular maker. In the 19th C: one could even buy quarto sheets of such facsimile labels to stick in anywhere, which I wrote about here

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330195-johann-adam-sch%C3%B6nfelder/&do=findComment&comment=621046

Albani is one of the very favourite apocryphal labels, and should one be familiar with genuine Albani instruments (I have a Viola D’Amore from Michael Alban Graz from 1710 on my bench right now), one becomes weary of explaining that 99% of Albani labelled instruments have nothing to do with the Albani family whatsoever. The label in your fiddle is nothing but a distraction, and it would be infinitely more rational to ask what your violin is, than why isn’t it an Albani.

 

Should you wish to read up on the Alban family, notwithstanding your fiddle, the best place to start would probably be the Österreichische Musiklexicon http://www.musiklexikon.ac.at/ml/musik_A/Alban_Familie.xml;internal&action=hilite.action&Parameter=Alban

PS.I see BF beat me to it:)

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What kind of ink would be used on a typical 18th century label? Oak gall/gum Arabic was mostly used for writing according to a documentary on BBC4 last night and this did not fade with age.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

First answer would be: I wrote exactly "it seems.." just because this isn't finnaly to decide by photos. Second very easily from experience, because I've seen dozens of similar labels: Paper surface rubbed and scratched with some dirt attached to make it look older and the writing look faded. This was common in the first half of the 20th century.

Laid paper, even if rubbed and/or sanded doesn't have this fibrous appearance which is common to modern paper made of cellulose, not rags, while even old  and faded laid paper has a smooth surface.. Quill writing usually has more swelling and fading lines, usually more dark at the edges (albeit this effect can be imitated by a trained steel pen writer), while this writing looks too homogeneous.

Third would be that the content (Albani was trained in Cremona) was reported erroneously by late 19th/early 20th century writers, so that a label reffering to that legend is most probably written in the early 20th century, while earlier fakers would have used the commercially available prints to put in an "Albani in Tyrol" label. This indicates also, that it wasn't inserted by the "maker" (if  this violin was made by a single person at all and not in a division of labour).

Thanks BF, much appreciated. :)

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Amazing, thank you all so much for all this info, that's exactly what I was hoping for - lots of hints and clues I can now start reading about!

Just to clarify, because I probably totally failed at making it clear after all - I'm fully aware that this is NOT an Albani nor anything remotely Albani-like, so no worries, I'm not trying to get any assurances of it being a real thing here (in fact I already wrote in my very first post that the label is for sure fake). The "why isn't it an Albani" question's purpose was only to learn more about what are the clearly obvious characteristics of a real Albani that are not present in this particular instrument - since one can only learn these things by comparing different instruments, I thought that would be informative, I was already aware that the inside has absolutely nothing to do with Cremona, but the information that it was built on the back is totally new to me and I will very happily search and read more about this topic! I'm a professional player and this violin is my working tool, and as such it is doing a great job, so even if ultimately it turned out to be a factory violin from Czechoslovakia, I wouldn't really care that much (ok, maybe just a bit ;)), all my questions come from a genuine interest in violins in general.

Once again, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, it's very much appreciated!

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I do think it’s a nice piece to look at.  In fact, I was looking at the photos again and my wife walked in.  With an insistent tone, she asked, “ what are you gawping at?” Had it not been for the sugar cookie I was snacking on, it may have looked like I was looking at porn.

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