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Sarah11

Help With Violin Identification

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I inherited this violin from my great grandmother, and frankly we thought it had been lost when my grandpa died. We recently found it, and I would love to learn more about it and potentially get it restored. We believe the "Grace A. Miller" written on the inside of the violin is my grandmother's cousin who died in 1906 (the same year my grandmother was born) at the age of 16. Her family was quite wealthy and lived in the Chicago area. I hope to take the violin to a professional when the world opens up again, but for now I thought the experts here might be able to give me some hints about this violin's history.

In case it is hard to read in the pictures... the label says "Paolo Albani, fecit in Palermo, 1680"

 

 

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I can’t comment on the violin except to say it’s interesting and I’d sure be wanting to know more if it were in my family.

it appears to have a one-piece bottom rib and the saddle is inlet into the rib. Unfortunately I don’t remember what if anything that means.

have you looked up Albani Violins to look for similarities?

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1 hour ago, Sarah11 said:

I inherited this violin from my great grandmother, and frankly we thought it had been lost when my grandpa died. We recently found it, and I would love to learn more about it and potentially get it restored. We believe the "Grace A. Miller" written on the inside of the violin is my grandmother's cousin who died in 1906 (the same year my grandmother was born) at the age of 16. Her family was quite wealthy and lived in the Chicago area. I hope to take the violin to a professional when the world opens up again, but for now I thought the experts here might be able to give me some hints about this violin's history.

In case it is hard to read in the pictures... the label says "Paolo Albani, fecit in Palermo, 1680"

 

 

20200621_202109.jpg

20200621_203526.jpg

20200621_203408.jpg

20200621_203034.jpg

20200621_203136.jpg

20200621_202422.jpg

20200621_202922.jpg

Violin Label2.jpg

Violin Label.jpg

20200621_202346.jpg

20200621_202414.jpg

20200621_202510.jpg

20200621_203556.jpg

20200621_203308.jpg

20200621_203540.jpg

That’s an interesting violin - if you’re still in the Chicago area, you probably couldn’t do much better than to show it to Darnton and Hersh for their opinion. 

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This is what the dealer said it was. I'd take their attributions with a grain of salt though. It's too bad it's so knackered. 

Screenshot_20200622-054458_Chrome.jpg

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Please forget about Paolo Albani; this is the most dubious maker of the family, and his name therefore often abused for the commercially reprinted labels (which the OP seems to be). I can't see resemblances to any of the know makers of the Albani family, especially not in the varnish.

At first glance I would put the instrument into the Saxon/Bohemian region from the ca. 1800 period (a one piece lower rib is unusual, but not impossible for this origin), but to confirm or confute this we would need more informations, especially those Jacob asked for.

Is this a bottom post crack visible at the last photo?

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Looks like it was once a nice violin, shame it has been trodden on by a horse in the past.

I would speculate that it is at least 100 years younger than the spurious label might have us believe, probably more in reality.

 

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27 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Please forget about Paolo Albani

Of course, but it would be fun to know if it is the same violin in the catalog @JRyn posted.

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Won't make much of a difference, but this small paper stripe with the tattered edges looks like switched over from another instrument.

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6 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Won't make much of a difference, but this small paper stripe with the tattered edges looks like switched over from another instrument.

With this stock list being a published catalogue, it makes it ripe for plundering, and using the numbers to upgrade another violin.

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28 minutes ago, Blank face said:

but this small paper stripe with the tattered edges

 

20 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

it makes it ripe for plundering,

Interesting. I'd suggest that the tattered edges are because the numbers were hand-torn from a strip of printed number labels, in which case the tattered edges would be expected. The OP said that the owner lived in the Chicago area, and that violin number and description were from 1901 Lyon & Healy catalog, a Chicago music house.

If it is indeed a 7/8 violin, then I think it is reasonable to conclude that the OP's violin and listed the violin in the Lyon & Healy catalog are the same instrument.

 

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3 hours ago, JRyn said:

This is what the dealer said it was...

"The dealer" being Lyon and Healy, as shown in their catalog of about 1900.

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Unfortunately everybody forgot to quote the first half of my sentence. Lyon and Healy surely had some expertise (we discussed recently a Mausiell with a similar number which looks very convincing), but I doubt that they ever came across a real Paolo Albani. Who else did?

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23 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Unfortunately everybody forgot to quote the first half of my sentence. Lyon and Healy surely had some expertise (we discussed recently a Mausiell with a similar number which looks very convincing), but I doubt that they ever came across a real Paolo Albani. Who else did?

Interesting to note in the putative catalog description of this violin, Lyon & Healy don't attribute it to "Paolo." 

(Note: Because the poster is new, any additional information from her may be waiting for the moderator approval.)

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7 hours ago, JRyn said:

This is what the dealer said it was. I'd take their attributions with a grain of salt though. It's too bad it's so knackered. 

Screenshot_20200622-054458_Chrome.jpg

So...the family bought this for Grace A. Miller in 1900?  And we may have a record of it? 

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9 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

How would you be able to write your own name neatly, on the centre of the back, without the top being off?

You wouldn't, but clearly the top has been off.

Maybe Grace dropped it, and decided to autograph it before the top was put back on. Or maybe she asked the luthier who repaired it to write her name in it.

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7 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Welcome, @Sarah11,

Thanks for posting pictures of your violin.

It would be useful to know the length of the back (LOB) to see if it is a 7/8 size. 

You can learn how to measure the LOB here:

https://www.wikihow.com/Measure-the-Body-Size-of-a-Violin,-Fiddle,-Viola,-Cello-or-Upright-Bass

It looks to me like the back is 343 mm, but I'm far from an expert. 20200622_140934.thumb.jpg.f7633375b98539d7b470299c08494c1a.jpg

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Thank you all for your fascinating insights. Six months ago I would have just taken a road trip to get it checked out by an expert, but as with many other things, the current situation has obviously postponed that. Frankly we had fairly low expectations of the violin. When we found it recently, the hope was that it might be of just enough value to justify repairing it to playing condition without spending twice what it is worth. No one in the family currently plays violin, but as an elementary music teacher I've always wanted to learn and the idea of playing my great grandmother's violin has sentimental value.

The Lyon & Healy catalogue is quite fascinating. Grace would have been about 11 in 1901 and she died only 5 years later. I did find some very old rosin with a Lyon & Healy logo in the case. Interesting, but hardly definitive.

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4 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Interesting to note in the putative catalog description of this violin, Lyon & Healy don't attribute it to "Paolo."

Regarding the Alban family, there were three reknown and documented early makers from Bozen: Mathias (II) and his sons Michael and Joseph (Giuseppe), both later working in Graz/Austria. Jacob S. posted not long ago a viola d'amore by Joseph (s.below). There was also a certain Joseph Anton Alban working later in the 18th century in Bozen, but his relation to the other Albans isn't really clear. BTW his shop was succeeded by Johannes Jais.

Important is that this Joseph Anton wrote at his labels ""Josephus filius Matth. Albani", Joseph son of Math. Alban (though it's challenged that he in fact was Mathias' son), and this spelling led to the wrong conclusion that all Alban family members spelled themself "Albani" which is the genitiv of the correct latin form "Albanus", the form all other family members used! This informations are given by the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum https://musikinstrumente.musikland-tirol.at/content/musikinstrumenteinhalt/dietirolerschule/

which I would regard as a very reliable source in this matters. Therefore it's very probable that a maker with name and label "Paolo Albani in Palerma 1680" is a made up name, invented by dealers to sign anononymous but somehow "Tyrolean" looking instruments (which were usually made in Markneukirchen or Bohemia). It's also odd that today nearly everybody is using this misspelling to describe the instruments made by this family!

So whoever attributed this violin to "Albani" based on a label with a spurious and misspelled name can't be very trustworthy anyway IMO.

 

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I had a viola which contained an inventory number from Lyon and Healy and was labeled and attributed to Barthol Karner. Jacob quickly pointed out that the label was spurious. This makes me question though whether it was Lyon and Healy putting in these false labels to begin with.

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3 hours ago, Sarah11 said:

It looks to me like the back is 343 mm, but I'm far from an expert.

That would be the right size for a 7/8th, further suggesting that this is the violin that was listed in the Lyon & Healy catalog.

2 hours ago, Sarah11 said:

The Lyon & Healy catalogue is quite fascinating. Grace would have been about 11 in 1901 and she died only 5 years later. I did find some very old rosin with a Lyon & Healy logo in the case. Interesting, but hardly definitive.

It would not necessarily have been sold in 1901, but that is when it appeared in their catalog.

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