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Antoine Becker viola. Any information?


geoff1954
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I've recently acquired a 16 inch viola with the label:

Antoine Becker

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Antonius Stradivarius

No 9064        France

Can anyone provide information? The one reference I've found says that it is  one of the several names used by JTL. But if 9000 were made, where have they all gone? (But maybe the number does not mean that.) The viola looks as if it could be JTL. Characteristic square cleats down the back joint. Square corners. It looks to have been made recently, but did come to me with the remains of old gut strings. So in storage since 1930s? 

And before you ask, its definitely not Anton Becker!

I could provide photos if it helps. I've no delusions about it being anything other than a 'trade fiddle' but I am hoping to add something to my scarce knowledge.

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I've attached some photos of the viola. The label also has the word 'France'. 

There are a series of flat, square cleats down the middle of the back, as were used by JTL. But the neck looks far more modern. The flame of the maple is genuine, rather than painted on. I included a photo of the case it came in. I know that instruments can 'move home' but there is a good chance that this is the original case. 

The pegs are rosewood, as often used by JTL.

So could there be an 'Antoine Becker'? Or JTL factory made? Or modern, even Chinese?

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On 8/24/2020 at 12:08 AM, geoff1954 said:

The purfling is inlaid. But not particularly well done. I've handled quite a few Medio Fino type violins, the varnish on this is different. Looks more modern.

Looks a few models up from the medio-fino, like Duchene. They made them early 20th Century and it might just be in spectacular condition. Or they may have made them still unchanged until the closed down around 1970 or so. Don’t know.

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I noticed the start of a soundpost crack to the belly so here are some photos of the inside of the viola. (No need to criticise my sp patch, we'll take that as read!) 

As you see: decent shape of bass bar. smooth interior, wide and flat linings (JTL style), fully blocked, linings not inserted into blocks and series of central cleats. Does this help to identify?  There is also the pencil inscription shown on photo.

The sp crack might explain why the viola might have been out of use for several decades?

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46 minutes ago, geoff1954 said:

(No need to criticise my sp patch, we'll take that as read!) 

I'm not criticising, but in this particular case neatly applied cleats would have been the much better option. If you didn't cut out wood, you could still change it.

The inside work looks in full congruence with ca. 1930-60 Mirecourt work.

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