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Not a Cuypers


Bownut
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Dear Sirs, I have done my level best to show the violin adequately but I know better pictures simply give more of the Information required to aid identifcation. To see the instrument live is, of course, the only way of satisfying the eyes of a bona fide expert. ( Or, according to some, " clever-clogs": if I need medical treatment,  I make sure I get to see the cleverest-clogs I possibly can, who has studied and practised his /her art/science for a considerable period. An interesting violin or bow deserves no less!) Normally, I could wait a month or two until I am professionally in a city with an expert to visit and consult. At the present, this is not going to happen so fast and a trip to a country that could be, or turn into, a "high-risk area" is not feasible. So, dear Maestronetters ( I may be a Maestronutter!) my violin and my question. I thought at first it could be a Cuypers: the F-holes, the one-piece table, the similarity of the wood to some instruments of the family of which I have found pictures. But then the length-of-back, (35,8) the, even-for-Cuypers extremely unfinished scroll and peg-box and, most particularly, the corners started leading my, admittedly amateurish, investigations to a variant conclusion. The instrument, as you can see, is falling apart but all the bits are there except the bite out of the upper treble bout. This enables me to report that the corner blocks conform to the " inner mould" model described by Herr Saunders. My current idea is that the violin could be old French, whence, of course, Cuypers is reputed to have learned his craft. Your thoughts gentlemen, please! My main question: would it be worth restoring, given there are no major and barely any minor cracks to the plates and might it be possible to get a fine sound from it? ( I am a pro player with the great good fortune to own and use a beautiful Daniel Parker.)20201023_121933.thumb.jpg.a46eb9324d18aa0f788a30595a7843d2.jpg Thank you in advance for your help, Bownut

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Edited by Bownut
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56 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

My first impression is of a Saxon violin

A one piece belly would be a bit unusual. We got to know now if it really has inside mould blocks, longer in the outer bouts than in the C bouts with the linings inserted to them, the scroll front flutings going to the bitter end and possibly an undivided lower rib. If all this is the case, I would assume a rather low grade Mittenwald from the late 19th century roughly. Anything close to Cuypers or 18th century French seems to be a bit overoptimistic (to say it politely;)).

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I am afraid I had misremembered or misread the " cornerblockology" Post of August 17, 2013. I have added a picture of the bass-side block, which is clearly longer toward the middle bouts and does not, I think, have linings let in. To answer your other queries: the fluting of the scroll does not go to the " bitter end"; in fact it gives up the fight pretty early and the lower rib is two-piece. The table is  definitely of one piece. I did manage myself to curb the initial over-enthusiasm but could at least the f-holes be described as "somewhat Cuypers-like"? I find the " rather low-grade" a bit harsh as the overall impression is really quite pleasing and I do see quite a few nice fiddles, if not the volume necessary to truly educate one's taste. 

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1 hour ago, Delabo said:

Are these saw marks commonly seen in French violins ?

Not in all, but exactly how many Mirecourt products of the period look inside.

 

3 hours ago, Bownut said:

I find the " rather low-grade" a bit harsh as the overall impression is really quite pleasing

One needs to understand the way how these fiddles were sold. no matter if Mirecort, Mittenwald or Markneukirchen, through catalogues, mail order or wholesalers. They had more expensive types with highly flamed woods, neatly varnished and precise craft work (purfling, scrolls, edges etc.), mid range a bit less of this and so on. It doesn't mean that it's a bad violin for a musician's purpose. "Cheap and nasty" would express more disregrad, low grade is just an objective description. There's a big fan community of the Medio Fino, which was the ultimative low grade from Thibouville Lamy for example.

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3 hours ago, Bownut said:

I am afraid I had misremembered or misread the " cornerblockology" Post of August 17, 2013. I have added a picture of the bass-side block, which is clearly longer toward the middle bouts and does not, I think, have linings let in. To answer your other queries: the fluting of the scroll does not go to the " bitter end"; in fact it gives up the fight pretty early and the lower rib is two-piece. The table is  definitely of one piece. I did manage myself to curb the initial over-enthusiasm but could at least the f-holes be described as "somewhat Cuypers-like"? I find the " rather low-grade" a bit harsh as the overall impression is really quite pleasing and I do see quite a few nice fiddles, if not the volume necessary to truly educate one's taste. 

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Yes, the inside work seems to be clearly French. Apart from the shape of the block, also the block wood used (willow, lime or something like it) Would hate to argue, but lowish grade seems fair enough

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I am wondering if the wood was cut by a dutch windwill saw as seen in this video.

They advanced timber  a notch at a time and have been in existence for 300 years.

The Dutch processed and exported timber all over Europe using these windmills. Having said that its difficult to explain how  an up down windmill powered  fret saw would cut on an angle as seen in the OP photo..

A circular saw would better fit, but were there circular saws that advanced a notch at a time  ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEqBpG2aNhE

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8 minutes ago, Delabo said:

I am wondering if the wood was cut by a dutch windwill saw as seen in this video.

They advanced timber  a notch at a time and have been in existence for 300 years.

The Dutch processed and exported timber all over Europe using these windmills. Having said that its difficult to explain how  an up down windmill powered  fret saw would cut on an angle as seen in the OP photo..

A circular saw would better fit, but were there circular saws that advanced a notch at a time  ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEqBpG2aNhE

No. Forget about windmill powered saws or other fanciful contraptions. It's a 20th century violin.

Circular saw blades come in all kinds of sizes, numbers of teeth etc. Some are for heavy-duty cutting of large timbers, and others are very fine blades for cutting thin material, minimising wasted wood. Here it will be a thin kerf, on a blade of a smaller diameter.

Due to the way they cut, it always leaves a series of marks as the wood is advanced.

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I am really grateful to all who have given their time and shared their expertise so liberally! I am learning a thing or two indeed! As a player, I regularly ( if a good bit less regularly at the moment!) see first-rate instruments in the hands of colleagues: for instance,  I played a concert in Berlin recently and the back row of second violins ( no such thing as a desk, at the moment and we all swap around, playing first and second violin on alternate tours) was a Ferdinand, a Janarius Gagliano and my Parker, with a Guadagnini with other lovelies in the section, too! But, naturally, my colleagues would not take it too kindly if I prised the tops off their fiddles to get a good look at the inside work! Thus, my knowledge of such matters is, to say the least, limited. I am perfectly satisfied with the judgement, " lowish-grade French", now, knowing what depth of scholarship backs it up. Only a shame that I probably won't be able to justify restoring it to playing condition, given the low probability of it producing a sound likely to please a fuss-pot like myself!

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18 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

No. Forget about windmill powered saws or other fanciful contraptions. It's a 20th century violin.
 

When I first set up my own shop in the late 80’s. An important customer was having the pear tree in his garden chopped down. I, on his insistence, reluctantly took it home, and asked the local organ builder where I could get it sawn up. He sent me to a Herr Zöbel in Oberbergen. Herr Zöbel was a very old man in a green hat, who asked me if I wanted it chopped up for firewood. I explained about the customer, and how important the wood was to him. Then he surprised me, by saying I would have to wait until it rained, because he hadn’t enough water in his reservoir. To my amazement, it was a water powered saw. I thought I was in the wrong century.

Years later, after the wood had seasoned, I found a joiner to make him a (lovely) kitchen table out of his pear tree, so I escaped that one:)

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4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

When I first set up my own shop in the late 80’s. An important customer was having the pear tree in his garden chopped down. I, on his insistence, reluctantly took it home, and asked the local organ builder where I could get it sawn up. He sent me to a Herr Zöbel in Oberbergen. Herr Zöbel was a very old man in a green hat, who asked me if I wanted it chopped up for firewood. I explained about the customer, and how important the wood was to him. Then he surprised me, by saying I would have to wait until it rained, because he hadn’t enough water in his reservoir. To my amazement, it was a water powered saw. I thought I was in the wrong century.

Years later, after the wood had seasoned, I found a joiner to make him a (lovely) kitchen table out of his pear tree, so I escaped that one:)

What a great story :)

Water and wind power have long been harnessed in the pre electrical age, to do a lot of grunt work with belt driven machines, as can be witnessed in any old mill or similar. One thing I do not know is if JTL factory, as an example, was built alongside a river.

While working tools and machinery can remain useful, I would think in the case of factories, efficiency is as much of a concern, and would expect that into the early 1900's, places were moving over to diesel generators and the like.

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  • 1 year later...
On 10/26/2020 at 3:56 PM, jacobsaunders said:

When I first set up my own shop in the late 80’s. An important customer was having the pear tree in his garden chopped down. I, on his insistence, reluctantly took it home, and asked the local organ builder where I could get it sawn up. He sent me to a Herr Zöbel in Oberbergen. Herr Zöbel was a very old man in a green hat, who asked me if I wanted it chopped up for firewood. I explained about the customer, and how important the wood was to him. Then he surprised me, by saying I would have to wait until it rained, because he hadn’t enough water in his reservoir. To my amazement, it was a water powered saw. I thought I was in the wrong century.

Years later, after the wood had seasoned, I found a joiner to make him a (lovely) kitchen table out of his pear tree, so I escaped that one:)

In the 1970s I made some toothed plane blades in a machine shop in Lincolnville, Maine which had originally been powered by water which ran into a reservoir during high tide and then fed through a gate with a power wheel when the tide went out. The shop had been converted to a single enormous electric motor which powered two jack shafts which ran down the sides of the shop and were connected to the various machines by flat leather belts and levered clutches.

I also had the feeling of going back in time and had visions of an Occupational Safety and Health inspector having a heart attack on the spot if he ever saw the place.

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