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DrAdamLee

Antique Violin Age / ID

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Hi guys!

I'm new to this forum, and was wondering if someone out there might be able to kindly help me shed some light on the age or potential age and value of this violin. I honestly have hardly any reliable information on it, and if it once had a label, it has long since fallen out, and been lost. I've had this violin for over 13 years, and I love it very much. It's extremely lightweight, hugely resonant, with a deep, characterful tone on the lower strings, and wonderful projection and singing highs on the higher strings.

Here's what I do know. I bought this from a lady (here in the UK) who collected a myriad of stringed instruments, and had more than 100 odd violins in her home. I was only 11 years old at the time, but I distinctly remember trying out several instruments (including several Strad copies that she was enthusiastic about), and this one really standing out to me for it's fruity, sustaining tone. The others she had had thinner, more nasal mids, and sounded nowhere near as musical. She was a little uncertain about the history of this violin, other than - if memory serves - telling me that she thought the instrument to be approximately 150 years old back then (making it 163, today), and came with its original hardwood case (which is remarkably resilient, and looks as old as the violin, with worn brass hinges and buckles, a leather strap and what remains of a green velvet lining). It's clearly been played a fair bit, and has darkened and worn down - particularly towards the right side of both front and back, where presumably playing hands would have come into contact with it. There is evidence of a single crack to the top, that appears to have been repaired some time ago, and this doesn't appear to have any bearing on the violin's tone. There doesn't appear to be any joining around the pegbox-neck junction, but the ridge and carve on the scroll appears to extend all the way down into the pegbox.

Violin measurements:

A 356 mm (back length)
B 161 mm (upper bout)
C 111 mm (middle bout)
D 202 mm (lower bout)
E 3mm (thickness of the top centre at f-hole)
F 130mm (neck)

The bridge is a cheap temporary replacement, and I'd very much like to have a professional one fitted. It was deciding this that made me want to actually ask if the violin was worth the upgrade, hence sparking my curiosity to finally enlist some help and opinion regarding the instrument's age and potentially its value.

I hope you can help me - apologies for the lengthy post. I figured it would be best if I could provide as much info as possible. When I was in orchestras while I was younger, all the other violinsts I knew would always comment on how resonant and rich this violin's tone was. I really do love it, and would love to learn more about it - irrespective of its value.

Thanks again, and hope someone can help!

Adam

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Edited by DrAdamLee

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The corners appear to be "built on back" which would normally lead to Markneukirchen area German, but the lack of purfling, and the horribly wonky scroll make that somewhat questionable. The neck has been reset, and possibly lengthened. It's an odd duck, so I just don't know.

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Thanks so much, Doug and Jacob! That's cool to hear. I've always wondered about the neck. I have little knowledge about violinmaking, but I can't see a join at the pegbox (unless I'm just missing it), and was curious as to whether the whole neck/scroll assembly might have been a later addition to the instrument? Is this possible? That said, on the right side of the neck, just beneath the nut, there appears to be an impression that looks like a small iron nail, but this doesn't show through on the other side... 

Edited by DrAdamLee

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Should you’re violin retain its original neck, It should have a “through neck” i.e. no top block. The circle just below the nut would probably be a filled worm hole.

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4 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

i believe it is a through neck, not grafted.

This photo shows significant neck work. If it was a through neck originally, I'm pretty sure that it's not anymore.

 

Schneck.jpg

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Thanks for the input, everyone! Doug - that's what my untrained eye suspected, hence I took a photo of the heel of the neck. To me, there's a very clear line around this, which looks as though the neck may have been added on afterwards. Might this indicate the instrument is older still, and the neck was replaced to modern spec at some point?

Regarding the crack - it seems to be pretty solidly filled in. There's no evidence of any play or give anywhere on the instrument, at all. I also always wondered if the violin was 'deeper' in its belly on the back than other instruments? It seems to have a pretty deep case, and doesn't really lie flat in other cases, hence I never replaced its ancient, rather tattered-looking coffin case. My friends' violins always seemed to be shallower than this one, if I remember correctly, but I may be wrong. It tried to photograph it from the side, in case it looked unusual to anyone.

When I was a child, I did try to use some musical instrument polish, but only on the top face. I remember rubbing lightly, and the whole cloth was darkened immediately, so I stopped. I had heard that the varnish on older instruments was the component that made many of them sound special, so I panicked. The lighter coloured, shiny patches on the top flanking the fingerboard are the result of my cleaning attempt!

Also, I'm guessing it's hard to tell anything about who built it, other than it's maybe German? I'm told it's near worthless. I'm just curious to learn as much as I can. Would this have been a 'factory'-made or handmade instrument? All I can really contest to is how lightweight, and how wonderful, rich and singing it sounds...

Edited by DrAdamLee
Additional details about the varnish.

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Shame about the "polish", but at least you're man enough not to blame your little brother.

The distinction to be drawn isn't really between "hand-made" and "factory-made" but whether it was the work of an individual or a collective. I think almost certainly the latter, since that was how the vast majority of instruments were made in this part of the world

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Thanks, matesic - I realised the error in my description. I did understand the difference, I just didn't phrase it correctly, apologies!

As for the polish - definitely my mistake! What was left underneath was lighter coloured wood, however, glossier than before; which makes me wonder if I removed a ton of crud, or if I did, in fact, remove some of the old varnish. Either way - crud or varnish; it's perfectly in-tact everywhere else on the instrument haha!

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