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Will A.
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Hi there, never posted before, nor am I going to pretend I know what questions to ask. Or pretend I know what I'm talking about. I got this violin for peanuts. I dont know the age, or maker this is absolutely No maker mark's on the inside or outside and I've been over it with a fine comb..  I know the back has a very define "mother of pearl" pattern. As well as the front.. will please someone help!?!?! Thnx

 

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You have an example of a decorated, mass-produced "cottage" instrument. They were made in Germany, circa 1900, and sold world-over. Think Sears catalogue in North America.

They have little market value, but make for a lovely antique.  If they are in good shape, they may play well, but many just don't sound good. 

They appealed primarily to beginners, or to the parents of beginners.

Yours would need some work/new set-up done before you could even determine if it has value as a player.

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Welcome! 

I agree with Rue, this would be one of the decorated trade violins mass-produced in Markneukichen/Schoenbach from the late 19th century. The Americans were really digging these decorated ones. Lyon Healy (Chicago based musical instrument company) had catalogues filled with these inlaid and painted violins.

1642972911_lyonhealy.jpg.6b6806a0fe1c07607cb0887f81a74ea5.jpg

Though the commercial value may be limited, still a cool piece to look at. Yours also appears to be in fair condition.

Violins similar to yours were discussed in a previous post, linked below:

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/333373-help-identifying-old-violin-with-inlays/

https://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/45802

Hope this helps,

 

Wilano

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Sooner or later people will get sick of me saying this, but the best sounding violin I've ever heard was one of these.  It just blows everything else out of the water, including some excellent violins by famous makers.  No idea why.  I believe this to be an anomaly, but I will always recommend setting these up and playing them if it's not too much effort.  Like Rue stated, there is no guarantee it will sound good.  

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46 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

 I will always recommend setting these up and playing them if it's not too much effort.  Like Rue stated, there is no guarantee it will sound good.  

I second on the set up. You won’t know until you know. I have a “fancy”, my profile pic is the scroll. When I inherited it, my trusted go-to guy told me not to expect much out of it. But it was in my grandfathers keeping (a man left it in his care, I think during the war and never returned) so it was an affair of the heart. It astounded him when the repairs were completed.  Not a masterpiece but a very full voiced, intermediate level violin. 

You wont know until you do.

Best of luck to you!

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30 minutes ago, Mystic said:

I second on the set up. You won’t know until you know. I have a “fancy”, my profile pic is the scroll. When I inherited it, my trusted go-to guy told me not to expect much out of it. But it was in my grandfathers keeping (a man left it in his care, I think during the war and never returned) so it was an affair of the heart. It astounded him when the repairs were completed.  Not a masterpiece but a very full voiced, intermediate level violin. 

Certainly the set up is key to the sound. But frankly speaking a decent setup costs money and time, and usually if you were to take these to luthiers asking for restoration, they will likely suggest/imply that it is not worth it, unless if there is certain sentimental value. Most of the time, people would just walk away, disappointed.

If @Will A. is simply looking to sell this violin after the restoration and gain a profit, I'd say it may not worth the investment, as they usually don't go higher than a few hundred bucks (Tarisio has a similar example included in the T-2 auction right now, with a starting price of $275, and no bids yet), and the restoration/setup would likely cost $500+ (can't say for sure since I can't really determine the condition from these photos alone), depending on where you go to. You can probably get better profit simply listing this thing on eBay, raw, unrestored, since you mentioned you got it for cheap.

Also, if you are simply looking for a good value violin, I'd also say check one out from a reliable source (reputable violin shops, not eBay!). 

If this violin holds sentimental value, which I don't think would be the case here for Will, it might be worth the effort to have it worked on by an expert and put up some decent setups. There is another option called a "decorative setup", in which we would simply find an old bridge, some old fittings and roughly fit them on for cheap, making the violin look like it has been completely restored, but in fact not. The later is usually a way cheaper option and was practiced by many.

Above all, @MysticI am glad that yours sound good, and was able to get a quality hand working on it. And in fact these carved heads were way rarer, and no matter if it is by a famous maker, it still requires a great deal of work and skill.

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It looks like there is a set of strings with it, is there a bridge? Is there a soundpost inside? If everything is "there" is there any reason not to string this thing up? Jumping to a $500 setup seems like a pretty big jump from where the OP seems to be, and if it really doesn't have any value then what's to lose?

 

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6 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

Sooner or later people will get sick of me saying this, but the best sounding violin I've ever heard was one of these.  It just blows everything else out of the water, including some excellent violins by famous makers. 

These sort of tales are fairly common, but as always it is a question of taste, context and how well one can play.
When I've had the misfortune to hear some of these inlaid instruments, they had a strange boxy sound, which lacked any real core, the lower strings being especially bad.

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24 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

These sort of tales are fairly common, but as always it is a question of taste, context and how well one can play.

And also what one has to compare it with :ph34r:.

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1 minute ago, Wood Butcher said:

To an extent, yes. However it depends more on the player, if you can’t play well enough to exploit the potential of a fine instrument, it will never sound fine.

For sure. I have revisited that video made by Ray Chen comparing a strad with a $69 violin so many times, just to admire the fact that how good that $69 violin sounded... in his hands. 

Although I also have an unspeakable talent that allows me to make a strad sound like a $69 violin.

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8 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

These sort of tales are fairly common, but as always it is a question of taste, context and how well one can play.
When I've had the misfortune to hear some of these inlaid instruments, they had a strange boxy sound, which lacked any real core, the lower strings being especially bad.

Obviously my experience with "my" inlaid fiddle is a fluke.  I'm not a professional violinist; however, the local professionals who have played it are in agreement with me.  These are symphony musicians.  Just because it shouldn't sound good doesn't mean that it won't.  And just because one sounds good doesn't mean the rest of them will.  

Disclaimer: the thing was pulverized when I got it.  I pieced it back together, fit a bass bar, and did some minor regraduations.  All the setup work is mine.  To my knowledge, it is currently being played with PI strings.  I don't think anything I did would "make" or "break" the sound, but I'd doubt that any of these fiddles would sound so good fresh from the factory (or ebay).  

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1 hour ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

Just because it shouldn't sound good doesn't mean that it won't.  And just because one sounds good doesn't mean the rest of them will.  

In mass-production manufacturing processes there will likely be a normally-distributed range of quality outcomes. Most of the production will be in the average range of quality, but a few will be much much better than average and few will be much much worse than average. 

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I don't know if these "fancy" violins would fit a bell curve, I think the curve is skewed.  These were never 'high quality' instruments to begin with, so the chances of finding a better than average sample is even lower than 'normal'.

Something like this?:

 

Curve Fancy Violin Quality.jpg

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35 minutes ago, Rue said:

I don't know if these "fancy" violins would fit a bell curve, I think the curve is skewed.  These were never 'high quality' instruments to begin with, so the chances of finding a better than average sample is even lower than 'normal'.

Something like this?:

 

Curve Fancy Violin Quality.jpg

IMHO, the curve looks more like this due to the violins being supplied in distinct grades of quality (multiple peaks due to superposition), and without a complete zero at either end because of "beaver-chewed" tops at the low end, as well as the accidental "Strads" that sneak through at the high end.  :)

Rubbishqual.thumb.jpg.6eb6e32e623b429997e7bada54411df9.jpg

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I'm also starting to try to unravel the effects of differing practices among the various wholesalers, which has an effect as well.  I'm beginning to see that all rubbish is most certainly not created equal, which is how postings on MN have generally seemed to treat it.  Trade violins are a diverse population, and characteristics changed over time, as well.  :)

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I don't know if these "fancy" violins would fit a bell curve, I think the curve is skewed.  These were never 'high quality' instruments to begin with, so the chances of finding a better than average sample is even lower than 'normal'.

It could be.

I was thinking that "High quality" and "Low Quality" are not based on a comparison to a gold standard outside the population (like good Strad). In this case, I am referring to the "usual rubbish" mass produced by the cottage industry, not workshops building to a standard nor a population of instruments skewed by culling. 

And because I don't believe that this curve has ever been measured unless @Violadamore is working on it (:lol:), the "Highest quality" and "Lowest Quality" violins might be 6 sigmas away from the mean. 

Of course, tone is subjective anyway, so I am just gazing at my belly button.

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1 minute ago, GeorgeH said:

It could be.

I was thinking that "High quality" and "Low Quality" are not based on a comparison to a gold standard outside the population (like good Strad). In this case, I am referring to the "usual rubbish" mass produced by the cottage industry, not workshops building to a standard nor a population of instruments skewed by culling. 

And because I don't believe that this curve has ever been measured unless @Violadamore is working on it (:lol:), the "Highest quality" and "Lowest Quality" violins might be 6 sigmas away from the mean. 

Of course, tone is subjective anyway, so I am just gazing at my belly button.

It so happens that I am studying these questions.  "Bugger off".  :P  :lol:

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8 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Exactly. And the population gets skewed as the unusually bad rubbish get discarded.

As I'm busy explaining in another thread, that's as true of Cremona as it is of Markneukirchen.  Prior to modern transportation, a lot of rubbish was produced for local consumption by the same people who made the masterpieces.  :)

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30 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

IMHO, the curve looks more like this due to the violins being supplied in distinct grades of quality (multiple peaks due to superposition), and without a complete zero at either end because of "beaver-chewed" tops at the low end, as well as the accidental "Strads" that sneak through at the high end.  :)

Rubbishqual.thumb.jpg.6eb6e32e623b429997e7bada54411df9.jpg

I suspect this is closer to the truth, though I'm really not qualified to talk about any more than anecdotal experience.  The one I worked on has a lion's head scroll and very nicely done sinking around the edge.  Overall, the workmanship is very good.  I imagine that whatever shop it came from did quality work on all their fiddles, since it wouldn't make much sense for this to be a one-off.  

I would think that the "poor" peak is much higher than the "average" peak is much higher than the "exceptional" peak.  But what do I know?  

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4 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I suspect this is closer to the truth, though I'm really not qualified to talk about any more than anecdotal experience.  The one I worked on has a lion's head scroll and very nicely done sinking around the edge.  Overall, the workmanship is very good.  I imagine that whatever shop it came from did quality work on all their fiddles, since it wouldn't make much sense for this to be a one-off.  

I would think that the "poor" peak is much higher than the "average" peak is much higher than the "exceptional" peak.  But what do I know?  

In practice, they are, and you are right, largely because bottom-end production is so much higher overall.  I was drawing an example by hand, and a data-generated curve would be more detailed and accurate.  That brings us back to a major problem of quantification, however.  Define "good".  :).

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

In mass-production manufacturing processes there will likely be a normally-distributed range of quality outcomes. Most of the production will be in the average range of quality, but a few will be much much better than average and few will be much much worse than average. 

Yes, and some will be very good because they made so many, that they could do very neat work very quickly. 

And if it had that something else...?

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