Another auction terminology question


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Lately I have been casually scrolling through listings for sale at some of the auction houses (specifically Brompton's and T2), and have found some listings being advertised with a geographic location.

I.E. "Lot 341: An Interesting Italian Violin, second half of the eighteenth century"

Since Brompton's only provides buyers with 3 photos: front, back, and the scroll, I find it quite convenient if they can identify the origin if I were to bid.

However, I also wonder to what extent is this accurate? And yet if the reverse is true: If a violin is only advertised as "An Interesting Violin" as opposed to "An interesting Italian Violin", do we automatically assume that it is NOT Italian? Or it is simply unidentified?

I think I am going to limit my question to "Italian" here, since almost everyone wanted their violin to be Italian. Thanks~

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To me, when I see instruments at auction described as "interesting", that means, to me: 1-we don't know what it is. Do you? 2-"Possibly" Italian, but we aren't willing to stick our neck out. It might cost us money when your "expert" says it isn't.

 

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Thanks all for the input! Though I am sure "interesting" is nothing but a buzz word they use. 

My main question would be on the word "Italian". 

8 minutes ago, duane88 said:

"Possibly" Italian

When an auction house claims a violin "Italian", (not "possibly Italian", but rather straight forward "Italian". i.e. An Italian violin), 

Does that usually mean the identification has been more or less confirmed? Or there is still a relatively open possibility for the instrument to be from other places? As Jacob suggests, "Continental European"?

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56 minutes ago, W.C. said:

Thanks all for the input! Though I am sure "interesting" is nothing but a buzz word they use. 

My main question would be on the word "Italian". 

When an auction house claims a violin "Italian", (not "possibly Italian", but rather straight forward "Italian". i.e. An Italian violin), 

Does that usually mean the identification has been more or less confirmed? Or there is still a relatively open possibility for the instrument to be from other places? As Jacob suggests, "Continental European"?

You would have to read the auction house's rules and descriptions. 

There are lots of people out there who claim knowledge and expertise. Some of them, if they told me that a violin was probably Italian, would cause me to consider bidding. Others, I wouldn't trust their opinion.

Not every instruments can be attributed to a particular maker. That is just reallity. Auction houses are there to market instruments. As Jacob says, look at the pictures, decide what it is, or in this particular case, what it is not, and go forward. The descriptions are marketing and are designed to draw you in.

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24 minutes ago, duane88 said:

You would have to read the auction house's rules and descriptions. 

There are lots of people out there who claim knowledge and expertise. Some of them, if they told me that a violin was probably Italian, would cause me to consider bidding. Others, I wouldn't trust their opinion.

Not every instruments can be attributed to a particular maker. That is just reallity. Auction houses are there to market instruments. As Jacob says, look at the pictures, decide what it is, or in this particular case, what it is not, and go forward. The descriptions are marketing and are designed to draw you in.

Thanks to both Duane and Jacob. I think I now have a much better understanding of the general auction titling and terming now :)

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41 minutes ago, rudall said:

Why not simply ask Brompton’s? You would have had a definitive answer by now. I really can’t understand why people keep asking such questions here. 

I have emailed Brompton's already. Though the greater part of this post is to learn from the experience of the community, but not solely learning about what Brompton's has to offer specifically. I am hoping to find people with more auction experiences to share their insights on these auction languages, or even the vision behind these auction houses. Duane and Jacob has put together a great response, Kudos to them :D. Though I do see where you are going for.

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4 hours ago, rudall said:

Why not simply ask Brompton’s? You would have had a definitive answer by now. I really can’t understand why people keep asking such questions here. 

On another thread @Rudall doesn't want us to post pictures and on this one we are not to ask questions. Good job  @Rudall isn't in charge here or we wouldn't be able to post at all. :wacko:

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I thought I might as well post this here while the topic is still hot. To be clear I have absolutely no intention on bidding on this violin (that HUGE back post crack is endgame for me). 

This is what got me into doubting how accurate Brompton's attribution to the region of origin is, as discussed above. The back looks fine, but the front is giving me some Dutch implications, or something else pretending to be Italian (though I am not an expert in this). The F holes look somewhat of a crude quality? (I understand that many late 18th century Italian instruments are of a relatively rougher quality). If it is indeed Italian, Is this F hole associated to any particular school?

Any opinions or thoughts? :)

Lot 341 - An Interesting Italian Violin, second half of the eighteenth century - 1st - 11th December 2020 Auction - Brompton's Auctioneers

bromptons.thumb.png.f14392900c6cfb2b3efd5a0c463c5276.png

104.thumb.jpg.a80e0ea01a68db2768911ff26f888829.jpg105.thumb.jpg.bddd6e5e2d3dafa44378512fac576983.jpg106.thumb.jpg.612ccb375e817ca538cc1f027b288e37.jpg

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22 hours ago, W.C. said:

Thanks all for the input! Though I am sure "interesting" is nothing but a buzz word they use. 

My main question would be on the word "Italian". 

When an auction house claims a violin "Italian", (not "possibly Italian", but rather straight forward "Italian". i.e. An Italian violin), 

Does that usually mean the identification has been more or less confirmed? Or there is still a relatively open possibility for the instrument to be from other places? As Jacob suggests, "Continental European"?

From Tarisio (not Bromptons): 

In our catalog 'good' means we find the instrument or bow shows good quality materials and workmanship. We use 'fine' to describe those with exceptional materials and/or workmanship. 'Interesting' denotes a work that invites speculation but lacks a definite attribution.

If the listing says it is Italian (and not just 'probably' or 'likely' Italian), I assume that means they are willing to guarantee that claim. But you'd have to ask them for clarity on exactly what that guarantee gets you. If you can somehow prove that it is Chinese made I suspect you can return it. No idea how someone would go about making that proof...

 

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9 hours ago, _Alex said:

From Tarisio (not Bromptons): 

In our catalog 'good' means we find the instrument or bow shows good quality materials and workmanship. We use 'fine' to describe those with exceptional materials and/or workmanship. 'Interesting' denotes a work that invites speculation but lacks a definite attribution.

If the listing says it is Italian (and not just 'probably' or 'likely' Italian), I assume that means they are willing to guarantee that claim. But you'd have to ask them for clarity on exactly what that guarantee gets you. If you can somehow prove that it is Chinese made I suspect you can return it. No idea how someone would go about making that proof...

 

Thanks Alex! I think you are quite right on this. Though this is not my problem, but I suppose if I can get a consensus on a few well-respected makers proving that it is "not Italian", Brompton's or Tarisio or those auction houses that made that claim should probably reconsider its origin :ph34r:.

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I know it's hopelessly naive of me to ask, but can anyone tell me what are the features of an anonymous violin that would identify it as Italian, definitely Italian, not from anywhere else on the globe for sure. If the answer is "there aren't any specific features - it's all down to the eye of the expert" I'll wonder if that expert has gone through a rigorous course of instruction in the violins of all nations and sat the exams.

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6 hours ago, W.C. said:

Thanks Alex! I think you are quite right on this. Though this is not my problem, but I suppose if I can get a consensus on a few well-respected makers proving that it is "not Italian", Brompton's or Tarisio or those auction houses that made that claim should probably reconsider its origin :ph34r:.

If you bought a violin in the auction which had been catalogued as French, and it turned out to be Italian and would have sold for much more had it been catalogued correctly, would you still complain?

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1 hour ago, plasterercaster said:

If you bought a violin in the auction which had been catalogued as French, and it turned out to be Italian and would have sold for much more had it been catalogued correctly, would you still complain?

In my interest, why in the world would I? But if later the violin I purchased is confirmed to be Chinese instead of the catalogued Italian, why in the world wouldn't I :D?

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5 hours ago, matesic said:

I know it's hopelessly naive of me to ask, but can anyone tell me what are the features of an anonymous violin that would identify it as Italian, definitely Italian, not from anywhere else on the globe for sure. If the answer is "there aren't any specific features - it's all down to the eye of the expert" I'll wonder if that expert has gone through a rigorous course of instruction in the violins of all nations and sat the exams.

Bump. I want to ask the same question, but I'll post my wild guess before the experts kick in. For anything anonymous, whey would look at the style, craftsmanship, varnish, etc. If a good amount of these traits match Italian, or would be "good enough" or "close enough" to be an Italian, they would list it as Italian (because why not?). Whenever they do that, they should be pretty sure that there is No way to Confirm the violin's true identity, whether Italian or not.

Sorry for pinning @martin swan out of nowhere, but mind sharing your insight on this? I have read through your "Violin Auctions: A Beginner’s Guide" on your website, and find it truly inspirational and helpful. :P

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6 minutes ago, W.C. said:

 

Sorry for pinning @martin swan out of nowhere, but mind sharing your insight on this? :P

My reserves of cynicism on this subject are boundless ... I suspect many instruments are "Italian" because the consignor believes their instrument is Italian and won't consign it unless the auction house pretends to believe it too.

 

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