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Andreas Preuss

Oppio - terminology

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I was doing some internet search to find out what sort of maple is correctly called 'Oppio'.

In short there was nothing. The wood database doesn't mention anything, From a general search in Google I just learned that the Italian word 'Oppio' means 'opium' in English. 

So where did the term come from to describe a certain type of maple and why (despite it is quite different from other types of maple) botanolgists didn't create a name for it? 

 

 

 

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Sacconi calls it "acero campestre", some say "acero nostrano".

Roberto Montagna, a maker, wrote this about it:

Acero Campestre (acer campestris)

L’acero campestre è uno degli alberi più conosciuti dal medioevo in poi in Italia, cresce fino a quote collinari e nella terra dove sono nato nasce spontaneamente dove il terreno non è già stato coltivato. Il suo legno è spesso compatto e se stagionato secondo il giusto metodo restituisce una fibra dura e sorprendentemente elastica. Storicamente, l’uso che ne è fatto riguarda più un uso agricolo, come ad esempio quello di tutore naturale e vivente per i filari delle viti o come legna da ardere. Oggigiorno tale pratica è molto cambiata, sia per carattere culturale poiché sempre meno persone dedicano tempo a tale pratica, sia per carattere economico poiché si tende a sostituire tali tutori con semplici pali prefabbricati i quali non richiedono nessun trattamento anno per anno. L’acero campestre infatti, soprattutto se nato spontaneamente e con sufficiente luce non ha una crescita molto veloce anno per anno, tende a far crescere un grosso e tozzo tronco alla base con tanti rami a cespuglio. Probabilmente per questo motivo viene chiamato “loppo” oppure “oppio” in pianura padana, poiché ogni anno veniva capitozzato per togliere i rami in eccesso e poter quindi usare il tronco per l’uso prefisso. Un altro uso, data la sua buona fibra era quello di essere usato per lavori al tornio oppure per delimitare zone di confine terriero. Per quanto riguarda la liuteria gli strumenti musicali costruiti con questa essenza sono tantissimi, tant’è che in una nota del ‘600 di un artigiano di Cremona vi è appunto indicato l’oppio “per fabbricare violini dolci e sonori”. Gli strumenti pervenuti a noi sono dei più abili liutai di tutti i tempi, dalla scuola napoletana passando per quella toscana e quindi diffondendosi in tutto il nord Italia. Data la sua tipologia di crescita non sempre è possibile poter usufruire del suo tronco poiché spesso non raggiunge pezzature utili all’utilizzo liutario.

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Oppio is Italian firewood. It is called „Feldahorn“ here, can almost be considered a weed and it grows everywhere all the way up to Sweden. It becomes annoying when some miscreant claims of the top of his head that some crumby violin is made of “Oppio” and must therefore be Italian.

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translation:

Acero Campestris (acer campestris)

The field maple is one of the most known trees from the Middle Ages onwards in Italy, it grows up to hilly levels and in the land where I was born it arises spontaneously where the land has not already been cultivated. Its wood is often compact and if matured according to the right method it returns a hard and surprisingly elastic fiber. Historically, its use is more of an agricultural use, such as that of natural and living guardian for the rows of vines or as firewood. Nowadays this practice has changed a lot, both for cultural character because fewer and fewer people dedicate time to this practice, and for economic character because we tend to replace these braces with simple prefabricated poles which do not require any treatment year by year. The field maple in fact, especially if born spontaneously and with sufficient light, does not grow very fast year by year, it tends to grow a large and stocky trunk at the base with many bush branches. Probably for this reason it is called "loppo" or "opium" in the Po valley, since every year it was pollarded to remove the excess branches and then be able to use the trunk for prefix use. Another use, given its good fiber was to be used for lathe work or to delimit land border areas. As for the violin making, the musical instruments built with this essence are many, so much so that in a note of the ‘600 of a craftsman from Cremona there is precisely the word opium 'to make sweet and sounding violins'. The instruments received by us are of the most skilled luthiers of all times, from the Neapolitan school through to the Tuscan one and therefore spread throughout northern Italy. Given its type of growth it is not always possible to take advantage of its trunk because it often does not reach sizes useful for violin-making.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Evan Smith said:

translation:

Acero Campestris (acer campestris)

The field maple is one of the most known trees from the Middle Ages onwards in Italy, it grows up to hilly levels and in the land where I was born it arises spontaneously where the land has not already been cultivated. Its wood is often compact and if matured according to the right method it returns a hard and surprisingly elastic fiber. Historically, its use is more of an agricultural use, such as that of natural and living guardian for the rows of vines or as firewood. Nowadays this practice has changed a lot, both for cultural character because fewer and fewer people dedicate time to this practice, and for economic character because we tend to replace these braces with simple prefabricated poles which do not require any treatment year by year. The field maple in fact, especially if born spontaneously and with sufficient light, does not grow very fast year by year, it tends to grow a large and stocky trunk at the base with many bush branches. Probably for this reason it is called "loppo" or "opium" in the Po valley, since every year it was pollarded to remove the excess branches and then be able to use the trunk for prefix use. Another use, given its good fiber was to be used for lathe work or to delimit land border areas. As for the violin making, the musical instruments built with this essence are many, so much so that in a note of the ‘600 of a craftsman from Cremona there is precisely the word opium 'to make sweet and sounding violins'. The instruments received by us are of the most skilled luthiers of all times, from the Neapolitan school through to the Tuscan one and therefore spread throughout northern Italy. Given its type of growth it is not always possible to take advantage of its trunk because it often does not reach sizes useful for violin-making.

 

 

Evan,

thanks for the translation. Saves me the time to work through the article with my knowledge of French, because I didn't learn Italian yet. :rolleyes:

And thanks to @MANFIO for posting. Interesting indeed. clarifies a lot.

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13 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Oppio is Italian firewood. It is called „Feldahorn“ here, can almost be considered a weed and it grows everywhere all the way up to Sweden. It becomes annoying when some miscreant claims of the top of his head that some crumby violin is made of “Oppio” and must therefore be Italian.

Well, true enough. I found my Oppio at the workshop of Marc Rosenstiel in the haute Alpes. He said its from his garden and gave it me for free if I would promise to make a volin from it.

18086390666_6b83eaa7c1_k.jpg

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13 hours ago, Dwight Brown said:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_campestre
 

maybe useful.

 

i guess since it is of the genus Acer it is a “true” maple?

botany is a law unto itself. You will notice the taxonomic levels labeled as “unranked”.

 

DLB

I found it inparticular interesting for the section listing all the varieties of the 'acer campestre'. Just a pity that Wikipedia doesn't show the different types as cut wood. :wacko:

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9 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Well, true enough. I found my Oppio at the workshop of Marc Rosenstiel in the haute Alpes. He said its from his garden and gave it me for free if I would promise to make a volin from it.

Yes nice work.

So what does it feel like under the tools,

what is different about it?

Though I realize that could be difficult to explain, as I've had maple supposedly from Europe that is hard and dense almost waxy in feel, to stuff that is insanely lite and almost could be described as Styrofoam like and very chippy,,,

so what did that particular piece feel like?

Great fun with those knots for sure!

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3 minutes ago, Evan Smith said:

Yes nice work.

So what does it feel like under the tools,

what is different about it?

Though I realize that could be difficult to explain, as I've had maple supposedly from Europe that is hard and dense almost waxy in feel, to stuff that is insanely lite and almost could be described as Styrofoam like and very chippy,,,

so what did that particular piece feel like?

Great fun with those knots for sure!

Oh my gosh! That's now 7 years ago.

cant remember anything totally different to other maple except that I had to be a bit careful with the knots. It was a bit on the harder side with a dry feel but not difficult to work with. Just from my often incorrect memory:D

(On the other hand I am still traumatized by the experience working with chestnut. This stuff was more stubborn than Germans fighting a lost war...)

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