JacksonMaberry

Branding Bridges - why we stamp them, when it started

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When did the practice of stamping bridges kick off, where did it first emerge, and why do we do it as a matter of course? Every now and then this thought has popped into my head as a point of historical interest. 

Of course other things get branded, too - blocks, buttons, bows, backs, and so on. Some instruments are branded in multiple locations, some sort of primitive anti-counterfeit technology. 

Anyway - why? When? Where?

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My luthier does excellent bridges and set-ups, so I am happy to see his name on my bridges.

I also think it reminds a luthier if he has worked on a particular instrument in the past.

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1 hour ago, JacksonMaberry said:

 

Anyway - why? When? Where?

Why: The same reason a craftsperson might brand anything.

When: Don't know exactly when, but I've seen some rather old bridges with shop or individual brands.

Where: Geographically, all over the place.  On the bridge, usually the face.  :)

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I acquired a lovely Gräbner cello several years ago. Grabner Was born and trained in Germany, but immigrated to South Africa where he became a well-known maker, and I purchased this on the advice of a colleague who has a splendid viola of his. The instrument was branded on the inside but was undated. However,  the bridge was stamped “Michael Kauffman Stuttgart“ and the underside of the bridge, difficult to see unless removed, was dated August 1987. Grabner immigrated to South Africa in the 60s, So it is logical to date this cello to before that time. It’s a minor bit of knowledge, but that bridge provides more information then we had previous, so I for one am glad that the practice exists.

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1 hour ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

 On the bridge, usually the face.  :)

When I first moved to Vienna, I discovered that vm‘s there generally stamped their name on the back of the bridge, so that the wretch who has to play it, has the name right in front of their nose all the time. I constantly got shouted at „Herr Sounders (that‘s how they pronounce me) a Viennese bridge is always stamped on the back!“. I stamped the next bridge on the back as told, which made him hopping mad again, because it was a cello bridge.

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4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

When I first moved to Vienna, I discovered that vm‘s there generally stamped their name on the back of the bridge, so that the wretch who has to play it, has the name right in front of their nose all the time. I constantly got shouted at „Herr Sounders (that‘s how they pronounce me) a Viennese bridge is always stamped on the back!“. I stamped the next bridge on the back as told, which made him hopping mad again, because it was a cello bridge.

Tsk...and did you ever get it right??? :ph34r:

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25 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

When I first moved to Vienna, I discovered that vm‘s there generally stamped their name on the back of the bridge, so that the wretch who has to play it, has the name right in front of their nose all the time. I constantly got shouted at „Herr Sounders (that‘s how they pronounce me) a Viennese bridge is always stamped on the back!“. I stamped the next bridge on the back as told, which made him hopping mad again, because it was a cello bridge.

You could have simply apologized, admitted "My mistake" and flipped the bridge around for him.:lol:

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42 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

When I first moved to Vienna, I discovered that vm‘s there generally stamped their name on the back of the bridge, so that the wretch who has to play it, has the name right in front of their nose all the time. I constantly got shouted at „Herr Sounders (that‘s how they pronounce me) a Viennese bridge is always stamped on the back!“. I stamped the next bridge on the back as told, which made him hopping mad again, because it was a cello bridge.

Hahaha!  Good for you!

 

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1 hour ago, JacksonMaberry said:

I think some of you have got the idea that, just by enquiring, I'm representing an anti-branding stance. This is not the case. It's a genuine, earnest question based on a thirst for knowledge. 

My answers were not influenced or colored by any neutral, pro or con branding stance on your part.

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The earliest plausible-looking branded bridge I can find in the violinbridges.co.uk site is a Betts, which would be towards the middle of the 1800s. They have relatively many from around 1900.  I have seen older bridges that weren't branded.

I hope that no one who does this work needs to see a stamp to recognize his own bridge!

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12 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

I hope that no one who does this work needs to see a stamp to recognize his own bridge!

Hadn't thought of that for a reason to stamp them... but one never knows.  We're not getting any younger after all... we may need name tags to recognize our spouses eventually!  :) 

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A downside to stamping is that you never know when the bridge is going to end up on another violin, poorly fitted of course, and making you look bad. I've seen this more than once.

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8 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Hadn't thought of that for a reason to stamp them... but one never knows.  We're not getting any younger after all... we may need name tags to recognize our spouses eventually!  :) 

It is not that far from having a belt buckle with your name on it in the 70's, or that ID bracelet.......Of course that may have been because of what you hippies were smokin..

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

It is not that far from having a belt buckle with your name on it in the 70's, or that ID bracelet.......Of course that may have been because of what you hippies were smokin..

Had you gone through what some of us did in the 60's and 70's, and survived.....  :lol:

I'm still really sad about Paul Siefried passing away. We worked together in the Weisshaar shop. He was an amazing guy in so many ways, but was also hugely vulnerable in other ways.

 

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3 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I'm still really sad about Paul Siefried's

Me as well.  He came up with some of the most elegant techniques.....I will never forget his face when at the Miami Beach Federation convention you introduced him to me as Doug Raguse. 

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10 minutes ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

Me as well.  He came up with some of the most elegant techniques.....I will never forget his face when at the Miami Beach Federation convention you introduced him to me as Doug Raguse. 

Well, all of us were fungi (fun guys), weren't we? ;)

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18 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

you told me that you were a "kick ass dude"

Perhaps so, but this needn't rule out or be incompatible with being a "fun-guy". :)

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25 minutes ago, Tets Kimura said:

@Andreas Preuss can correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems far less common to stamp bridges here in Japan. I suspect it's something to do with the traditional craftsman's mentality. 

Makes sense, if true. I read a really interesting book years ago - The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty, by Yanagi Sōetsu. 

In the West, especially in the medieval and early Renaissance and particularly relating to artworks dedicated as religious devotionals, it was once the rule rather than the exception to leave works of art or craft unlabeled. 

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I think the reason for stamping a bridge is the same as the reason for stamping an instrument. Each requires Significant skill, although of course There’s a drastic difference, but the pride of fashioning a bridge should be reflected in the name that goes on it.

Several years ago, I bought a 1993 Stöhr cello with a named bridge. On a whim, I did a search for the name and found the guy. We had a pleasant exchange and he explained to me a lot about those imported Stöhr cellos. Mine was a higher level instrument because it had a handmade and signed bridge, and the lower level instruments did not. 

I thought that was cool.

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Edited by PhilipKT
Added picture

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