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jacobsaunders

Baron Lütgendorff, Violin Lexica, Eduard Emanuel Homolka and Caspar Strnad.

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Should one be in the habit of reading and cross referencing the diverse violin lexica, one can’t help but constantly ascertain that they are all, be it Jalovec, Vannes, Henley, Dillworth, or the various Auctioneers, little more than a sloppy translation of Lütgendorff, in some cases (notably Henley) with arbitrary invented (anti-German) invective, presenting “their” findings without reference, as if they were original personal research.

 

Lütgendorff himself was an academic and gentleman of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire (in England I would call him Victorian). He was an art historian and linguist, who also collected violins and spent decades researching the subject. Much of his research involved correspondence abroad, indeed he himself bemoaned the lack of counterparts in (then) “enemy foreign countries” (at the time Italy).

 

He also relied on several like minded violin researchers, one in particular, Eduard Emanuel Homolka in Prague, who was a keen student of violins of the Prague area, and who's 1896 book

was the basis of the (accurate) information on Prague makers in Lütgendorff’s lexicon. Homolka also served as proof reader for Lütgendorffs publication.

 

All of that considered, it was very interesting for me to recently come into possession of a viola by Caspar Strnad of Prague from 1815, that Homolka had sold himself in 1917 to a customer in Sweden. I reproduce Homolka’s (surely the finest expert of Prague violin making of all time) certificate/appraisal below.

 

For those who might struggle with his handwriting, the text of the certificate (in the German language) is:

 

Der Endesgefertigte erklärt hiermit, dass die alte Concert-Viola, die der Hr. Conzertmeister Kadraba um den Preis von 1000 Kron. Eine echte Caspar Strnad (böhm. Stradivari), in Prag 1815 verfertigt …

Viola ist und dem Preise vollkommen entspricht.

 

Ed. Eman. Homolka

Geigenmacher

Kgl. Weinberger

Tyl. Namesti 28 n.

Kgr. Böhmen

 

which I would translate into English such:

 

The undersigned hereby declares that the old concert viola, which Mr. Conzertmeister Kadraba has bought at the price of 1000 crowns. A real Caspar Strnad (bohemian. Stradivari), made in Prague in 1815 ...

The Viola is completely in line with the price.

 

Ed. Eman. Homolka

Violin maker

Kgl. Weinberger

Tyl. Namesti 28 n.

Kgr. Bohemia

 

The viola comes with further correspondence, which sheds light on violin dealing in Bohemia, in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian empire, just two years before the inception of Czechoslovakian Republic, An upheaval that makes Brexit look like a walk in the park.

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The viola also comes with an (outsized) calling card, recommending the viola, from the violist Karel Moravec. Moravec was the violist of the Ševčík-Lhotský String Quartet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0ev%C4%8D%C3%ADk-Lhotsk%C3%BD_Quartet

the leading string quartet of the time. Mr. Sikota, violist from the Austrian Radio Symphony, who very kindly deciphered the (difficult) handwriting, and translated it for me (into German), assured me that the Czechs of the time had a very advanced school of Viola playing, “miles better than Turtis or Primrose” (c. Sikota). Although one may wonder if Mr. Sikota is completely impartial, there are lots of viola studies, less well known than those of his teacher, Ševčík, but every bit as fiendish.

 

I reproduce the visiting card, and the Translation below. My English version would be

 

Dear Freind,

The Viola that Mr. Homolka showed me, is a very good instrument and I hope that you like it too. It is a wonderful example from Strnad. It mostly needs playing that it’s tone will emerge. How are you?

With greetings

your Moravec

 

 

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That the violin trade can be difficult in normal times, is well known. In war time it is evidently even more awkward, as a further outsized calling card from Homolka, this time in Czech shows. I would translate this as follows:

 

Dear Sir,

Since a money transfer abroad isn’t permitted or possible, I am unable to send you the viola. When the law is changed, I will send it straight away, as adjunct I enclose the invoice. Strings and bow hair will also be included.Patience for the moment

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Alls well that ends well it seems, since Homolka sent an invoice confirming payment, this time in the German language, which again for those with difficulty with his handwriting reads:

 

Rechnung über eine alte Conzert Viola von Casp. Strnad 1815.

1 Viola 1.000 Kr.

Saldo 1.000 Kr.

 

…………………….

Kgl. Weinberge Ed. Eman. Homolka

13/12 1917 Geigenmacher

Kgl. Weinberge

Dankend Tyl. namesti 28 n.

saldirt Kgr. Böhmen

Homolka

13/12 1917

I can’t imagine that a translation is necessary there.

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I couldn't help thinking that wartime or not, things seemed much more casual back then. If I write an invoice today, there are all sorts of VAT numbers, tax registration numbers, bank numbers, references to law paragraphs, and the like

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The label:

I wrote a long piece on, particularly the way the number one was written at the time here: https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/328294-emanuel-adam-homolka/&do=findComment&comment=587555

and this case in point has as expected the dotted ones. Should one see K & K labels of the late 18th or early 19th C. with ones without dots (with the exception of occasional thousand ones), one may be confident that the label is not genuine. Strnad had some 4 different copper engraved labels, all of which curiously have a printed 17, which had to be corrected into an 18. There are many fake Markneukirchen Strnad labels invariably from the year 1791 one of which I illustrated here https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330195-johann-adam-sch%C3%B6nfelder/&do=findComment&comment=621046, which are lithographed, rather than being copper engraved. If someone rings up and says that they have a Strnad from 1791 in their attic, one gets the same sinking feeling in the stomach as when someone rings up about a violin with a Schweitzer label from 1813

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Jacob,

that's all very interesting. 

I didn't know that Homolka made the proof reading for Lutgendorff. 

Having cross read the major dictionaries on violin makers myself from the first to the last page, it is indeed quite astonishing what labour Lutgendorff put in his work. No single date goes without proof for it and the only regrettable 'mistake' in his ouevre was that he made 5 persons out of G.B Guadagnini. This shows however how meticulous he was, Lacking the proof for G.B.G. traveling from city to city he rather tried to stay on the safe side and see different violin makers working. 

In defense for Henley(!) I have to say that I found about 100 entries on American violin makers in his work which  must be original. The rest of the close to 6000  articles is basically rubbish. His most track able habit was to extend working periods when Lutgendorff just mentions one year from a violin he had seen. Henley would read it and think 'no one works only one year' and he would systematically add five years on either side to prolong if to 10 years. He only got in trouble when later scholars found a death certificate that fell short of Henleys estimate.

I want to mention too that Rene Vannes was a scholar equal to Lutgendorff. True, he copied articles from Lutgendorff without mentioning the source, but all translations into French are well done without trying to obfuscate the source. I found it very interesting that Vannes must have had direct contacts to Eastern German violin and bow makers because he mentions most of the time the correct workshop address. Those articles were obviously written by Rene Vanes. 

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

 

In defense for Henley(!) I have to say that I found about 100 entries on American violin makers in his work which  must be original. The rest of the close to 6000  articles is basically rubbish. His most track able habit was to extend working periods when Lutgendorff just mentions one year from a violin he had seen. Henley would read it and think 'no one works only one year' and he would systematically add five years on either side to prolong if to 10 years. He only got in trouble when later scholars found a death certificate that fell short of Henleys estimate.

 

Henley was "finished off" by Cyril Woodcock, with whom my father had a long dispute. It didn't do him much good, since his entry reads "Still working, 1960"

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Woodcock was a strange character.  Many years ago when I was a student I bought what was supposed to be a R. & A. Gagliano from him with his certificate.  A decade or so later, I gave the instrument to a student and I thought he might like to see the certificate which I had lost.  I wrote to Woodcock to ask for a copy and to my surprise he replied that he didn't keep records but sent me a blank certificate with his signature and told me to fill in whatever I liked.

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On 9/14/2019 at 1:12 PM, jacobsaunders said:

not yet, it's in bits, and VdA hasn't asked what it sounds like yet;)

I can't ask that until you've got it back together, now can I?  :P:lol:

Thank you lots and lots for starting this delightful thread, and all the illustrations.  :)

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On 9/15/2019 at 7:31 AM, nathan slobodkin said:

Jacob,

In your spare time perhaps you could translate the Lutgendorff book into English for us.:) 

No need to translate.  Jalovec has already done that.

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Googled from some consular report back in 1918, I believe the conversion rate then was about 5 Bohemian crowns per US dollar.  So, that means a $200 violin, a little lower but not too far out of line with sales prices for a Strnad offered in the US in 1925 (from Elkhardt).  That U.S. shop listed a Strnad and a Stainer each for $275.

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21 hours ago, Richf said:

No need to translate.  Jalovec has already done that.

Not really. Jalovec plagurised exerpts that he needed (into Czech)

32 minutes ago, Richf said:

Googled from some consular report back in 1918, I believe the conversion rate then was about 5 Bohemian crowns per US dollar.  So, that means a $200 violin, a little lower but not too far out of line with sales prices for a Strnad offered in the US in 1925 (from Elkhardt).  That U.S. shop listed a Strnad and a Stainer each for $275.

The Nationalbank has heaps of Indexes, which (as they admit themselves) aren't much use. It depends on how you index it, for instance how many loaves of bread would you have got for 1000 Crowns in 1917, or how many Kilos of coal etc. The longer you work different things out, the more you realise how meaningless it is, particularly during wartime. Also you would need to work out how much 275 1925 Dollars would be worth today.

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21 hours ago, jezzupe said:

Does anyone know what 1000 crowns is worth in usd at present? Sounds like a lot.

 

48 minutes ago, Richf said:

Googled from some consular report back in 1918, I believe the conversion rate then was about 5 Bohemian crowns per US dollar.  So, that means a $200 violin, a little lower but not too far out of line with sales prices for a Strnad offered in the US in 1925 (from Elkhardt).  That U.S. shop listed a Strnad and a Stainer each for $275.

At the current gold price of $1508.05, that would translate to $14591.68.  $275 would equal $20063.56. We really need to get back to the gold standard at $20.67 an ounce, right, Jezzupe?  :ph34r:

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On 9/18/2019 at 8:28 AM, Violadamore said:

 

At the current gold price of $1508.05, that would translate to $14591.68.  $275 would equal $20063.56. We really need to get back to the gold standard at $20.67 an ounce, right, Jezzupe?  :ph34r:

Thanks Vio'

Actually I'm a strong proponent of a global publicly generated fiat currency, one that has representation in every country with the intent of creating a "created with no debt attached" global currency system that would act as a global means of exchange and store of wealth that would be a monetary system that served humanity. It would be similar to the global central banking system with the exception that "our" currency would not be a "product" owned by "private' banking cartel that is enslaving humanity with fraudulent debt. 

This currency would eliminate the need for the PM market, the crypto market and the fiat market, I see no need for the land raping, environment destroying practice of mining in order to have a "scarcity based" monetary system that allows one to "corner" a market and create more of what we have now.

With a clean monetary system, ones monetary/economic power , both as an individual and nation would be solely based on ones smarts,work ethic and luck in a free market system that allows anyone to become the best that they can be.

Knowing the post is about a violin, it does just point out the insanity, stupidity and over all "carny scammed, low iq" reality of "stupid" humans who are playing a game for points and do not have the "whatever" it is to question the "points" in the game that they are playing for, as these "points" are still controlled by the same people now as then. Governments and countries are fleeting, debt based monetary systems are forever, but only because apparently it's "too much" for "us" to deal with or think about.

The knowledge, information and technology are all in place to "un-enslave" humanity, Yet, the thoughts about such things are not in the idiom of most people.

And so that leaves us with the typical "that's just the way it is, there's nothing you can do about it, just get what you can out of it, in it to win it" mentality 

And now so here we are 2000+ years on since Cesar took bronze coins minted at cost and then changed them to gold created as interest , money, loaned into existence, he destroyed the Roman empire all those years ago and created a lasting 2000 year long scam that has ended up enslaving the globe, pretty much using gold as the vehicle to do that....so no, not a big fan of the gold as money thing, it just leads to more usury at creation or moment of inception.

There have been but a few who would stand up against the banks, those that have have either been killed or vilified, but as time goes by and the technology changes and allows for the sharing of ideas, no longer are they able to control the narrative. I along with several other global partners have been working on this problem for about 10 years now and as important as it is, it is "funny" how hard it is to get people to care about "money" outside of wanting it. The inability for most to conflate local and global problems to the currency/monetary systems they use is astounding sometimes.

edit; that being said look for a strong uptick in the price of gold, particularly as the repo liquidity market goes to crap as the fed tries to stave off reality....the market wants high interest rates, painful ones, in order to "take your medicine" and reach "normalization" whereas the FED is creating low rates that are undermining normalization and reality. There was a 75 bil shortfall today {9/19/19} they had no other choice but to inject that into the system to cover it, I think the orange man is trying a different tactic in order to avoid the dirt nap, make them look bad and force them to do stupid things in public. 

oh that and several of the FEDs subsidiaries, like good ole' JP, have been busted manipulating the market, there have always been rumors of artificial suppression of prices...I don;t think ole' JP cares which way the market goes as long as he makes mullah 

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