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Michael Ventura

Can you read this signature?

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Here's the signature:



This is a violin that came into my shop for an adjustment, and when I pointed out that there was a signature inside (which I noted was not necessarily that of the maker), the owner was unaware, and understandably curious.

I couldn't quite make out the signature, so thought I'd reach out to this diverse group and see if anyone could recognize a name, names or even letters.

I've got some incomplete thoughts for parts of the name, but don't want to bias any opinions, so I'll note them at the bottom of this post.

I don't have the violin for identification purposes, but in case anyone is interested, here are a few notes about this fiddle along with the photos.

  • Body length: 357
  • Fine, delicate edges with purfling set in about 3.6mm
  • Low overstand - 4.5mm on bass side
  • Varnish is rather opaque and dark reddish brown in color
  • Purfling mitres extent to very tips of corners
  • Rib mitres are long extending close to ends of corners
  • No fluting on lower f-wings



So, here are my thoughts on the signature.

The first name looks like Thorval, but I'm not really sure if the first letter is a T or an F, and I'm also not sure if the second letter is an H.

I understand that Thorvald is a Scandinavian name, but I don't see a D at the end of the signature, so perhaps Thorval is not the first name.

The last name is more difficult for me to read. The last name appears to end "xemberg", though the "X" looks larger than the other letters, so I'm not sure that's correct either. Can't seem to make heads or tails out of the beginning of the last name as it's a bit smudged .


Thanks everyone for taking the time to take a look and any thoughts or comments would be much appreciated.



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Thorval H(or K) Fouxemberg is what it looks like to me. I can't make the first letter of the surname be anything but an F, the next letter is o or a but most likely an o; the third is an overlined u. The following x being slighty larger than the rest is not that uncommon. E and m (or n) are hard to make out but I think it's -em-. And then probably ending in -berg. 


The -d at the end of Thorvald is silent in most dialects, so it was not uncommon to drop it. Very many names had a lot of "alternative spellings" in the 19th century and before: Torval, Torvald, Thorval, Thorvald, Thorwal, Thorwald, and even Thorwaldh are known spellings.

Not likely to be Swedish, very unlikely to be Norwegian, possibly Danish, most likely German.


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Doesn’t sound very German neither. To add the first letter of a second christian name in the middle seems to be more an American attitude and is rarely used here, too.

The violin itself looks like what was described as a Großstadtgeige here several times, meaning made from a Markneukirchen white box somewhere else, roughly around 1900. The varnish is interesting.

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I see "Thorval K Foúxenberg", which is almost as interesting as that varnish to me.

Thorval is VERY Scandinavian (being from the Old Norse "Þórvaldr", though the dropping the ultimate "d" is more common in Denmark and Greenland), but Foúxenberg is VERY Flemish/Belgian (the accented "u" existing for syllabic emphasis right up until the Flemish spelling reform in the 60s/70s.)

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Thanks for all the input.

There was some really interesting insight with regard to the spelling of the name, which I had completely missed - such as the overlined u and the middle initial K, as well as thoughts on the name's origin.

I'll check back with the owners to see what they know with regard to the history of the instrument from their point of view.
Apparently, it's been in the family for somewhere around 100 years, so they may have even gotten it when it was new.

I'll follow up this post with anything I find in case there's any interest.


Thanks again  - Michael

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