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The Old Paris School

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Hello everyone!

I have a few questions that I hope someone here can provide more insight about.

I have a very interesting and beautiful violin made by Joseph Nicolas LeClerc. I found some information on him, but not very much and wondering if anyone has had any experience with his instruments or know more about this maker. I am not even sure of the value range for this maker either.

My second question is that I have a Honore Derazey likely from his early period from what I’ve been told. I am finding myself gravitating towards the LeClerc for tone and playability. It’s very powerful with great character. The Derazey is also rich and powerful, both amazing instruments. Would you value a LeClerc above a Derazey? Both are in very good condition.

I’m considering letting one go, but I know how hard it is to find good examples of these instruments so am a bit torn about what to do.


I attached pictures of the LeClerc.


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Leclerc was an interesting maker. He was the Tourte brothers' neighbor in the low-tax zone "Quinze-Vingt" tradesman area in the 1770-80's and was part of the last wave of "Vieux Paris" makers, just as interest in Stradivari violins started to pick up and makers started flattening their arches, broadening their models, and making f-holes with larger squarer wings. This would culminate with Pique and Lupot starting to make more and more convincing Strad "copies" (at least Strad-inspired models) towards the 1790's.  One of my former students had a nice Leclerc and he used it to win his way into a good European orchestra.

Your violin is not typical of the Leclercs I've seen, looking more like an earlier Mirecourt model (like Frebrunet) but with a varnish that looks nicer and less hard than what I'm used to seeing. It also doesn't have a brand stamp on the button/upper back, but depending on who certified it for you, I could imagine it could be a Leclerc, perhaps an early one from before he set-up in Paris.

I've seen an early Derazey from before he went to work for Vuillaume that really surprised me. I thought it was something earlier like a Bassot, but it was signed inside and Rampal certified it without hesitation. Usually an Honoré Derazey is more of a typical mid 19th century French Strad-model, and so they tend to be easier to sell and for a higher price than a Leclerc which have the slight stigma of being late "vieux Paris" violins, and slightly higher-arched, Amati-inspired, and usually a harder yellow varnish (not in your case).

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