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Robb

Interesting things written inside instruments

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This is an American violin made in San Francisco in 1928 by A. Grosjean. I took the top off to repair a sound post crack with some difficulty because he used casein glue.  I found the following written inside- "I am now 72 years old.  We have made wonderful discoveries in my generation. Now it is up to you fellows to see what you can do. We have tried to communicate to Mars by radio but have failed. We are now building a torpedo boat to make a trip to planet Venus and may get there. But I do not think we can get back again. (Maker) A. Grosjean  San Francisco California 1928."  This was written a year before the stock market crash in 1929. I wonder what he would have said then.  If you have found interesting inscriptions in instruments you have opened please share.

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Got to thinking about this and wondering what I or others might write about our time. What he said seems to have an optimistic tone and a challenge to future generations.

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No time capsule but a label recently placed inside my early 1800's violin says "Made by Charles Harris, London. Signed on Table". I'd love to get confirmation of that, but although we have the technology to see inside the human body and the brain non-invasively, isn't it frustrating that we can't read what's written on the underside of a violin table without major surgery?

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When I started work at a certain large old violin shop I was told tales of the schenanigans my predecessor, Edward

had pulled leading to his dismissal.

Later I discovered a nice old violin in the back room with much of its top smashed away.

Inside of it, among some old 'repaired by' labels, was scrawled "Wrecked by Eddy K. "

 

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Very cool,  back when people could still write in cursive and radioed Mars and built torpedo boats to go to Venus.   What a generation!  

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3 hours ago, matesic said:

No time capsule but a label recently placed inside my early 1800's violin says "Made by Charles Harris, London. Signed on Table". I'd love to get confirmation of that, but although we have the technology to see inside the human body and the brain non-invasively, isn't it frustrating that we can't read what's written on the underside of a violin table without major surgery?

You should get a decent endoscope that works with your phone - I think workable examples are available on Amazon for $18 and up. Make sure that the business end is small (5.5-mm seems to be usable), and carefully insert it through an F hole (or the endpin hole). You should be able to see most of what you want to with a little twisting and turning, just be careful of the varnish on the edges of the ffs...

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John Delaney,  who worked  in  Dublin  about  1800, had an interesting  label. 

It read

Made by John  Delaney in order to perpetuate  his memory in future  ages.

Liberty  to the world,  black  and  white. 

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11 hours ago, Three13 said:

You should get a decent endoscope that works with your phone - I think workable examples are available on Amazon for $18 and up. Make sure that the business end is small (5.5-mm seems to be usable), and carefully insert it through an F hole (or the endpin hole). You should be able to see most of what you want to with a little twisting and turning, just be careful of the varnish on the edges of the ffs...

My endoscope is too thick to go through the f and too stiff to get anything other than a very oblique view of the table but I'll see if I can find a smaller one and enter via the end hole - thanks!

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I once found a note saying "I am 13 years old today and this is my 10th violin"  signed Theresia Toth  and I believe 1911 The elevator operator of the building translated it from Hungarian.

When I looked her up I found a bio that said pupil of her father which ended 1918 and for years have assumed she was a victim of the Spanish Flu however just now I looked her up in Brompton's and found she lived until 1972. Glad you made it Theresia!

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found this recently in a violin labelled "cha. and sam. thomspon in st. pauls church yard london":

"Repaired after extensive damage by leoivard collett wenhaston soffolk, june 1968"

funny thing is he left out the comma after damage so is the damage by him?.... the ribs are affixed to the back with white glue

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35 minutes ago, gtd said:

funny thing is he left out the comma after damage so is the damage by him?.... the ribs are affixed to the back with white glue

The readiness to write a repair notation inside a violin is in the rule in inverse proportion to the quality of the repair

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Years ago I repaired a bass that had a note written sometime in the early part of 20th century by a Detroit  repairmen which read: "To hell with the Kaiser".

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3 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The readiness to write a repair notation inside a violin is in the rule in inverse proportion to the quality of the repair

 

I once found an inscription "Zu Tode repariert von..." (repaired to death...name and date).:ph34r::lol:

2 hours ago, frizz said:

Years ago I repaired a bass that had a note written sometime in the early part of 20th century by a Detroit  repairmen which read: "To hell with the Kaiser".

Was he a German immigrant?

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On 8/6/2019 at 6:55 PM, Brad Dorsey said:

I remember seeing an old guitar that turned up at a local guitar store that said inside: "Made under Halley's Comet, 1910."

I like this!

I haven't fount anything that interesting.  My best one being "Belly made from 200 year old wood".  The violin dated 1884.

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I worked on a viola that had an inscription claiming to be the first viola ever broadcast on the radio. The player’s name and the orchestra he played in were also listed. 

Also, there was a cello that came into the shop that had been repaired by monks in a monastery. The repairs weren’t very professional, but they showed some skill and care. There were some religious inscriptions and a cross in addition to a long parchment strip down the center joint of the back with a Bible verse copied out. 

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On ‎8‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 6:01 PM, Conor Russell said:

John Delaney,  who worked  in  Dublin  about  1800, had an interesting  label. 

It read

Made by John  Delaney in order to perpetuate  his memory in future  ages.

Liberty  to the world,  black  and  white. 

Was this on his label itself or hidden in the instrument?

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And then there was the cello, that I have previously mentioned on this forum, that another luthier told me about.  She looked in the end pin hole and saw something like, "You wear funny clothes and you're ugly, too."

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3 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Was this on his label itself or hidden in the instrument?

It was on his label. It's thought he was a Republican and follower of Wolfe Tone, who led the 1798 rebellion.  Liberty from  oppression  and  the 'Rights of Man' were central to that movement.  

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Here are a couple of interesting inscriptions I just found again. From the inside of a John Gould violin, one of my favorite instruments ever. A beautifully executed piece of work. Flawless.

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Very sweet. Interesting that he lived in Maine. Probably a Summer home. Damn Massholes grabbing up the land even back then.;)

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