Worn-off Violin Corners?


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Recently when researching into different styles of violin corners, I have noticed a very typical wear pattern on many old violin corners, as shown in this picture:

1.jpg.40592f99614e0d17fb85f36e1c17bc87.jpg

One can observe that the very tip of the corner is worn-off, and even making the purfling "curve" inwards toward the ribs. In some cases, if view from the side, would be something like this following picture, where the tip, or the "beesting" of the purfling joint can be seen looking from the side view (sorry for the quality of the photos, as I do not own any violins with such worn corners. These are sourced from the internet).

2.jpg.23a1da52139afc074a435ee56b761c94.jpg

It is actually quite hard to phrase my question... I am wondering, if any of these "curved purfling" traits (where the purfling extend all the way to the end of the corner to an extent that it is almost visible from the side) comes from a particular style of making? German? Or they are mostly likely just wear, and wouldn't be like this when they were new?  Or an alternative question, do certain corner designs tend to wear off faster than the others (German vs Italian for example)?

CLARIFICATION: I know for sure that the corner in the first of this post is worn-off, but I am just referring to similar pattern in all my questions. Do not limit your answers to my photos :) 

And on top of that, how well does "careful preservation" protect against corner wear? i.e. I have seen strads that have almost new corners (extreme example, Lady Blunt, or the Messiah if you would), but also some with very worn-off corners (i.e. Titan). Do they wear off that dramatically without proper care? Because of the old cases?

Waiting to be educated! Thank you very much! :lol:

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I think that the concept of “corners wearing” is overestimated. When playing a violin, putting it in it’s case, etc. I see no necessary process of gradual abrasion, rather some corners get smashed off with the bow ferrule or similar and others wouldn’t. Therefore one should ask oneself to what extent the corners (particularly when all 8 are the same) were originally made like that or not. Not every violin started life with sharp Messie style corners. Many were nice comfortably rounded off friendly looking ones

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4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Not every violin started life with sharp Messie style corners. Many were nice comfortably rounded off friendly looking ones

Thanks Jacob! This is exactly what I am looking for! Can we make any connections between this "rounded corner" design to any particular region, school, or even time period?  Thanks!

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I think you will find, that there isn’t one “rounded corner design”, but hundreds. Some corners are distinctive, for instance those I call “dead pig’s noses” which one can see for instance on some Leidolff instruments, which help instrument recognition, but one would have to write a book on the subject, and they are well nigh impossible to describe in words.

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6 hours ago, W.C. said:

Recently when researching into different styles of violin corners, I have noticed a very typical wear pattern on many old violin corners, as shown in this picture:

One can observe that the very tip of the corner is worn-off, and even making the purfling "curve" inwards toward the ribs. In some cases, if view from the side, would be something like this following picture, where the tip, or the "beesting" of the purfling joint can be seen looking from the side view.

2.jpg.23a1da52139afc074a435ee56b761c94.jpg

 

I think that much of this sort of wear is an artifact of the violin rocking around in old-style poorly padded cases, back when roads were far from smooth. Or imitation of such wear.

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Instruments with a low bridge or a bridge tilted too much towards the treble side are more likely to get a worn upper treble side corners because it is getting 'bowed over'. (Or worse hit by the frog.)

 
In some modern compositions there is a rapid change between
bowed string and pizzicato (holding the bow) which seems to be a risky business for the upper treble side corner of a violin or viola.

Speaking of very old instruments there might be a sort of erosion going on by rubbing corners over the cloth of the player when holding the instrument and other occasional contacts. At least I don't see any better explanation for worn corners on the back. 

 

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20 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I think you will find, that there isn’t one “rounded corner design”, but hundreds. Some corners are distinctive, for instance those I call “dead pig’s noses” which one can see for instance on some Leidolff instruments, which help instrument recognition, but one would have to write a book on the subject, and they are well nigh impossible to describe in words.

Ian Dury fan?

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34 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I think you will find, that there isn’t one “rounded corner design”, but hundreds

Yes I think I can relate that. In my impression I do remember seeing more German violins with more rounded corners than the others? I may be wrong.:)

 

17 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I think that much of this sort of wear is an artifact of the violin rocking around in old-style poorly padded cases, back when roads were far from smooth

 

15 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Speaking of very old instruments there might be a sort of erosion going on by rubbing corners over the cloth of the player when holding the instrument and other occasional contacts

I think these two lines from David and Andreas are what I was looking for. Thanks! I think can assume those with well-preserved corners were either kept in better designed cases, or hardly travelled? 

Also, is "Rounding the corners" a typical thing makers would do when antiquing? (I don't infer to the process of making bench copies, where the maker usually just copy the traits of the original, but rather just a normal antiquing process)

 

15 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Instruments with a low bridge or a bridge tilted too much towards the treble side are more likely to get a worn upper treble side corners because it is getting 'bowed over'. (Or worse hit by the frog.)

 
In some modern compositions there is a rapid change between
bowed string and pizzicato (holding the bow) which seems to be a risky business for the upper treble side corner of a violin or viola

This is definitely a killer factor! I've seen those "C bout protection covers" on Amazon and find them sometimes useful during practice.^_^

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23 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I think that much of this sort of wear is an artifact of the violin rocking around in old-style poorly padded cases, back when roads were far from smooth. Or imitation of such wear.

Should one distinguish between “wear” and straightforward “damage” I find that unlightly, particularly when all 8 corners are "worn" the same

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To resurrect a serious discussion about violin corners; I post pictures of the 8 corners on an 1815 Widhalm violin as an example.

Of course there is some (little) “wear”. All 8 corners are however eminently similar, and I would contend originally conceived so by Mr. Widhalm himself. I always used to have arguments with my father about this, since he had the lower and upper bouts outline and the centre bout outline just finish, and that was the corner. I find, a drawback with much “new making”, whereas the Widhalm corners almost look as if they grew like that, and have a character and charm of there own

 

Widhalm_1815_back_II.jpg

Widhalm 1815 belly.jpg

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I was told by an expert that the French sharply squared their corners because they were essentially the first Europeans outside of Italy to study unworn Cremonese instruments, and they were trying to copy these instruments.

As the sharp square corners of these instruments became worn and smooth over time, later makers copying them rounded their corners.

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4 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I was told by an expert that the French sharply squared their corners because they were essentially the first Europeans outside of Italy to study unworn Cremonese instruments, and they were trying to copy these instruments.

As the sharp square corners of these instruments became worn and smooth over time, later makers copying them rounded their corners.

sounds like BS to me

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

To resurrect a serious discussion about violin corners; I post pictures of the 8 corners on an 1815 Widhalm violin as an example.

Of course there is some (little) “wear”. All 8 corners are however eminently similar, and I would contend originally conceived so by Mr. Widhalm himself.

By the time Wihalm came around, there would have been many many worn violins to stylistically emulate in an imprecise sort of way.

1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

I was told by an expert that the French sharply squared their corners because they were essentially the first Europeans outside of Italy to study unworn Cremonese instruments, and they were trying to copy these instruments.

As the sharp square corners of these instruments became worn and smooth over time, later makers copying them rounded their corners.

Sounds quite plausible to me.

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

 

Widhalm_1815_back_II.jpg

Widhalm 1815 belly.jpg

 

33 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

By the time Wihalm came around, there would have been many many worn violins to stylistically emulate in an imprecise sort of way.

 

One can see (on the Widhalm example), since all 8 corners are of the same character, that they were created so, and they are not the result of 200 years of “wear”. If they were all the result of “wear” they would all be different. Otherwise it is tantamount to believing you can get two separate accidental dents in your car, exactly symmetrically, one on each side. One is tempted to ask if you believe in fairies.

I think one should bear in mind that the Cremonese violins with the ugly sharp square corners are the exception rather than the rule.

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20 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

One can see (on the Widhalm example), since all 8 corners are of the same character, that they were created so, and they are not the result of 200 years of “wear”. If they were all the result of “wear” they would all be different.

Right. That's why I chose the wording,  "stylistically emulate (wear) in an imprecise sort of way".

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