Three fake Voirin violin bows... or ARE they?


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Can I remind everyone the 'Scroll's rules:

The Auction Scroll is for sharing opinions on instruments listed and offered for sale online on this site or any other. It is for the civil exchange of ideas and opinions about the instruments themselves.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the poster, and do not represent the opinion of Maestronet or its forum moderators.

Personal attacks on individuals will not be tolerated and will result in banning from participation in the forums. For example you are free to state that in your opinion a certain instrument labelled such and such is or is not authentic. You can also support your opinion with facts as you see them, as long as you make no reference to the individual or company listing the instrument or use hearsay in your argument. You cannot say for example that such and such an instrument is not authentic because you know the individual listing the instrument is not trustworthy or you believe the company routinely uses false descriptions of its instruments. That will get you banned.

Similarly, you can defend the authenticity of an instrument with the facts as you see them, as long as personal attacks and hearsay are not used. For example, you could refer to the shape of the f holes in support of a certain origin, but what you cannot do is attack any individuals that may hold a different opinion.

This is a unique forum, so please abide by these rules to ensure it continues in its current form.

It seems to me that the kind of post that Philip has made is exactly what the 'Scroll is for.   On a recent thread Martin expressed that the 'Country Auction Sleeper' was more or less a thing of the past because of the reach of internet advertising, then here he complains that Philip might have spoiled someone's country auction bargain hunt. I respect Martin hugely but I don't think he can have it both ways. In addition, Maestronet is a massively useful resource and I appreciate everyone's contributions here. However, the reach of Maestronet is comparatively small and I'm not sure discussion here would make so much difference to auction prices of items discussed here except that it has helped countless beginners from being taken advantage of and thus may have lowered bids on some Fleabay items over the years. Do we have any evidence for Maestronet discussions leading to inflated prices at auction? Nearly everything Philip has asked about has been listed on Liveauctioneers or Invaluable and anyone who was in the market would have already seen them if they had been looking. 

47 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

I hope people are not offended by me listing all the upcoming UK auctions?

I do it just out of interest for auctions in general.

I don't discuss items I am looking to buy on here. I just discuss the junk things I buy months afterwards ha ha.

I have found Shelbow's auction listing thread fun and useful because it saves me a heap of time from having to keep as much on top of things than I otherwise would. Please don't stop updating it.

3 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

is the preference now that we don't mention auctions until after they are finished?

From the rules again:

The Auction Scroll is for sharing opinions on instruments listed and offered for sale online on this site or any other. It is for the civil exchange of ideas and opinions about the instruments themselves.

The bold italics are mine.

As Joe would say...

On we go

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You're right of course, I can't have it both ways ...

There is nothing that I or anyone else can do to stop discussion of items coming up for sale at auction. However, for as long as i can remember, I have been saying that if the purpose of posting is to learn about features of particular makers etc. then this is the worst context in which to do it.

Firstly we are often being drawn into discussion of what things aren't, rather than what things are.

Secondly we are caught up in the (quite powerful) tide of disinformation which accompanies any authentic item which might be bought cheaply. If you know the relevant players on Maestronet you will know that everyone posts in their own commercial interests. Several people have done this in this thread, myself included - I am a dealer after all.

So if the intention is to learn, it's better to study authentic examples from archives. Or better still to handle them in the flesh.

 

 

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40 minutes ago, martin swan said:

You're right of course, I can't have it both ways ...

There is nothing that I or anyone else can do to stop discussion of items coming up for sale at auction. However, for as long as i can remember, I have been saying that if the purpose of posting is to learn about features of particular makers etc. then this is the worst context in which to do it.

Firstly we are often being drawn into discussion of what things aren't, rather than what things are.

Secondly we are caught up in the (quite powerful) tide of disinformation which accompanies any authentic item which might be bought cheaply. If you know the relevant players on Maestronet you will know that everyone posts in their own commercial interests. Several people have done this in this thread, myself included - I am a dealer after all.

So if the intention is to learn, it's better to study authentic examples from archives. Or better still to handle them in the flesh.

 

 

I actually think that Martin is correct, and this has become an issue because I posted several items in the last week or so. My personal goal is to develop an eye. (And how to do that is worthy of a post of its own, which I should probably write)

Martin is suggesting that while the auction is live, there might be unscrupulous people who might have a particular interest in being dishonest about the widget in one way or the other, and unsuspecting people might get taken in by a, “yes this is real, in perfect condition, and so cheap!“ Or the opposite.As a matter of fact, I can imagine sellers hoping for exactly that scenario. 
I’m not a devious person, so it honestly never occurred to me.

However, in my own defense, it seems that just about every day somebody posts an eBay link asking exactly the kind of questions I was asking.However, in my own defense, it seems that just about every day somebody posts an eBay link asking exactly the kind of questions I was asking.

Edited by PhilipKT
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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

However, in my own defense, it seems that just about every day somebody posts an eBay link asking exactly the kind of questions I was asking.

yes that's true, but with a bit of experience and some knowledge of who our members actually are you can see that many responders have an agenda or an axe to grind ... myself included

Some sell on Ebay, some have been badly burned on Ebay, some buy on Ebay and then resell, some are in competition with Ebay, some have to put up with endless Ebay bargain hunters turning up at their shops asking for free evaluations - all of which introduces a bit of bias.

Witnessing or participating in these debates is very entertaining but it's not the most efficient way to develop an eye ...

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47 minutes ago, martin swan said:

yes that's true, but with a bit of experience and some knowledge of who our members actually are you can see that many responders have an agenda or an axe to grind ... myself included

Some sell on Ebay, some have been badly burned on Ebay, some buy on Ebay and then resell, some are in competition with Ebay, some have to put up with endless Ebay bargain hunters turning up at their shops asking for free evaluations - all of which introduces a bit of bias.

Witnessing or participating in these debates is very entertaining but it's not the most efficient way to develop an eye ...

Oh of course, I know exactly the best way to develop an eye, that’s what I was referring to when I suggested that I should write a post about it.

Look at instruments in person, many many many of them. That’s impossible for me. Looking at pictures, even highly detailed pictures, helpful as it is, is also inadequate. What does one look for? What are traits, how does one tell knife or file? The taper of the stick, how the grain goes through the wood, What does one look at in the F hole shapes, Is there any meaning to thick or thin purfling? Or purfling that made of Willow or Bamboo or whale bone or whatever? 
The quiz for Addie is wonderful, but again, incomplete. What I need, and what many need, is a teacher, someone to guide and to show and describe, as well as being able to examine in person. It’s literally impossible to do it alone because there are so many variables.

the “Voirin” bows offered a great chance to look at three examples-or not examples- of his work, and even negative traits would be meaningful. 

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On 9/21/2020 at 8:27 PM, PhilipKT said:

Here’s what I see: the stamps are in different places, the ebony rings are different sizes( the bottom one is out of alignment) the button collars are different, though the top and bottom appear similar, the throat looks similar in the top and bottom bows, but not the middle frog, which looks quite different from the other two. I can’t say anything about the heads because I don’t know how to look.

what do you folks see? 

E6BC417F-E80C-4FA8-8AAD-36181AB18EE6.jpeg

2B4C4F53-DC80-46DF-B99B-D45B03B4596D.jpeg

What do I see? Crappy photos out of focus.

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As a (mostly) lurker, I find PhilipKT's kind of threads (and their responses) to be very interesting and educational.

On whole, I think the abysmal percentage of authentic and/or bargain items found in auctions--as demonstrated on the board--has helped more potential buyers be steered to brick and mortar shops than encouraged to pull the trigger on Ebay or has puffed up the price on the unicornesque real deal.

These threads are kind of the entire raison d'etre for the Auction Scroll.

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1 minute ago, deans said:

In case anyone cares, it went for $7500, plus 30%.

The Widhalm violin went for 5K plus 30%

 

I came here to post the exact same thing, there was also a Gold Hill bow that I never noticed before that sold for about $5000. And it was beautiful. And a group of three bows that included a nice Nurnberger sold for $3200.

Anyway, now that it’s all over except for the writing of the checks, @martin swanCan we please hear from the experts as to whether they were real?

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2 minutes ago, deans said:

I put a bid on the "Widhalm", but didnt get it, might have been more aggressive if I could have seen it. I was also interested in the "Ceruti" but didnt bid.

 I don’t know much about Ceruti, Although one of my teachers had a lovely cello by one, but that viola looked pretty unappealing to me.

But Violas are so variable as to size, that I would consider it pretty risky to buy one unless I were myself a violist.

If that Widhalm Is in good shape and sounds as good as the one that I spent several years listening to in the orchestra, it was quite a good buy for someone. She also had an Antoniazzi, and the sound of her Widhalm was far superior. I could listen to that lady play scales, all day, on that violin. God she was a beautiful player.

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I think PhillipKT is waiting for someone to give an opinion on these bows, so for whatever it's worth I'll toss in my 2 centimes' worth.

These photos aren't good enough for me to say anything with total assurance, but thet do show three interesting bows that if I were in the market, and they were less than 4-5 hours drive from me, would have incited me to go take a look in person. I have learned the hard way NEVER to buy a bow without inspecting it in person first.

Of the frog view, the top and bottom look like they could be real. The middle looks like something else, or perhaps has a replaced frog, though the facets of the handle look a little "clunky" to me.

The brands on the top and bottom look good. The different placement is not a problem, during his long career Voirin could place the brand closer to the grip or right above the frog, it's not a significant point. You should know it's not a "machine process." It's a hand held metal stamp that gets heated over a flame and pressed in by hand on the stick, so there are inconsistencies. 

The heads look interesting on all three. Nothing I can make out from the mediocre photo makes me think any one of these is NOT possibly a Voirin, but they could all also be something else. The nose of the middle one also looks a but thick to me. Voirin inspired generations of bowmakers all over the world, so I wouldn't dare draw a conclusion from these photos alone, but the photo does make me want to take a look in person.

Good luck to whoever did buy them!

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PhilipKT sorry to be so coy, but I didn't wish to answer in detail until the sale was over, for obvious reasons ...!

I broadly agree with Michael above. I looked at these bows online about a week ago - I suppose like many dealers I have automatic searches for such things. Like Michael, I would never buy a bow at auction without looking at it closely under magnification for breaks and lifts. Ideally one would play it, but if it doesn't have hair I would still want to check the strength of the stick. As a general principle, for any bow that doesn't have hair I would risk half as much as if I had been able to play it. Bows that end up at auction without hair - generally there's a reason, either disguised lifts/breaks behind the head or just very poor playability.

Luckily I have an expert colleague and good friend who lives 5 miles from Monrovia CA, so I asked him to visit based on the photos.

What I saw in the photos was this ...
The top bow is all Voirin, and appears a nice example but with some worrisome wear to the handle - you can see that the brand is slightly eroded ... the brand is correct, all features are correct, the wood is very typical, the head is classic, quite flat cheeks, elegant and skeletal. The button has a bit of a messed up collar, the screw mortise will need bushing, other bits of maintenance required, but basically a decent-looking Voirin.

The third bow looks good for the stick and the frog, but the button appears to be a replacement - the metal doesn't match, the pin visible in the back ring is poorly done, the cap is very flat rather than slightly rounded, and the fact that the front ring has rotated suggests it might not be pinned. There are at least two significant cracks to the handle behind the frog ...

The second bow looks like a copy - the brand is wrong, the head is "fat", the throat of the frog rising up from the ferrule is quite different in shape from the other two (though this is slightly confused by the worn thumb projection), the soldering to the ferrule looks crude, the angle of the back of the frog is too acute ... BUT ... it has good Voirin features. I just wouldn't be certain enough to want to lay money down for it and I would guess it's a later "hommage".

So then comes the issue of weight - many Voirins are just too light or flexible to be easily sold. And if a bow is under 58 grams or a bit floppy, it's really not something I would buy, however cheap ... unless it's a Tourte. 

My friend went to look at the bows (and the other items in the sale) twice. The upshot was that he came to exactly the same conclusions about authenticity and condition and he thought both 1 and 3 were soft and a bit light. So we decided to bid no more than $3500, since in a worst case scenario if we ended up with one saleable but floppy Voirin, we could always put it into a Tarisio sale and hopefully double up :lol:

 

If there are any specific details you'd like to discuss, now's a good time! I hope that's a helpful snapshot into how a rather embattled dealer might approach the matter - you get to be very wary of auctions, and even something like this from a known collection is likely to be worse than you hope. An auction is an extremely clever and sophisticated system for generating the greatest possible amount of recklessness from a buyer, and it's always good to remember that.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

@martin swan

That was a very thoughtful, interesting, and kind post. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

I was wondering if your friend had a chance to look at the other lot of bows (with the Nürnberger), and had any thoughts on those?

Hi George, the Nürnbberger was good but I didn't ask my friend to check the weight - the other bows as I recall, one was an OK new bow by a Mexican maker, the other some kind of trade German stick with a Knopf-ish silver button that didn't belong. 

 

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

Hi George, the Nürnbberger was good but I didn't ask my friend to check the weight - the other bows as I recall, one was an OK new bow by a Mexican maker, the other some kind of trade German stick with a Knopf-ish silver button that didn't belong. 

 

I'm more curious about the violins they had, the bows were easy but some violins were interesting.. did your friend check those out?

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4 hours ago, martin swan said:

PhilipKT sorry to be so coy, but I didn't wish to answer in detail until the sale was over, for obvious reasons ...!

I broadly agree with Michael above. I looked at these bows online about a week ago - I suppose like many dealers I have automatic searches for such things. Like Michael, I would never buy a bow at auction without looking at it closely under magnification for breaks and lifts. Ideally one would play it, but if it doesn't have hair I would still want to check the strength of the stick. As a general principle, for any bow that doesn't have hair I would risk half as much as if I had been able to play it. Bows that end up at auction without hair - generally there's a reason, either disguised lifts/breaks behind the head or just very poor playability.

Luckily I have an expert colleague and good friend who lives 5 miles from Monrovia CA, so I asked him to visit based on the photos.

What I saw in the photos was this ...
The top bow is all Voirin, and appears a nice example but with some worrisome wear to the handle - you can see that the brand is slightly eroded ... the brand is correct, all features are correct, the wood is very typical, the head is classic, quite flat cheeks, elegant and skeletal. The button has a bit of a messed up collar, the screw mortise will need bushing, other bits of maintenance required, but basically a decent-looking Voirin.

The third bow looks good for the stick and the frog, but the button appears to be a replacement - the metal doesn't match, the pin visible in the back ring is poorly done, the cap is very flat rather than slightly rounded, and the fact that the front ring has rotated suggests it might not be pinned. There are at least two significant cracks to the handle behind the frog ...

The second bow looks like a copy - the brand is wrong, the head is "fat", the throat of the frog rising up from the ferrule is quite different in shape from the other two (though this is slightly confused by the worn thumb projection), the soldering to the ferrule looks crude, the angle of the back of the frog is too acute ... BUT ... it has good Voirin features. I just wouldn't be certain enough to want to lay money down for it and I would guess it's a later "hommage".

So then comes the issue of weight - many Voirins are just too light or flexible to be easily sold. And if a bow is under 58 grams or a bit floppy, it's really not something I would buy, however cheap ... unless it's a Tourte. 

My friend went to look at the bows (and the other items in the sale) twice. The upshot was that he came to exactly the same conclusions about authenticity and condition and he thought both 1 and 3 were soft and a bit light. So we decided to bid no more than $3500, since in a worst case scenario if we ended up with one saleable but floppy Voirin, we could always put it into a Tarisio sale and hopefully double up :lol:

 

If there are any specific details you'd like to discuss, now's a good time! I hope that's a helpful snapshot into how a rather embattled dealer might approach the matter - you get to be very wary of auctions, and even something like this from a known collection is likely to be worse than you hope. An auction is an extremely clever and sophisticated system for generating the greatest possible amount of recklessness from a buyer, and it's always good to remember that.

 

 

Martin, and @Michael Appleman, thank you so much for your kind and thorough reply. I’m happy that I thought the middle one looked off, and I’m also happy that I noticed the wrong button on the bottom one. I did remember that Voirin bows can be very soft, so one should inspect in person, but because I was never intending to bid, that part slipped my mind. Everything else you and Michael shared was new to me. Thanks especially for the clarification about brand location. I thought it would be applied at the same point in the process, in the same way, and would therefore be in the same place.

 One thing I make a point of doing when I make such posts is to copy and paste the photos from the auction so they remain for future reference. I will return to this often and study.

Thanks also about the comment on the Nürnberger group. Miguel Huipe is a real guy but I don’t know anything about him, the third bow was a fictitious name, and $3200 is a lot of money to chance on even a good Nürnberger. Did you have any thoughts about the Widhalm?

finally, what is a “lift”? 

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