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Is Heron-Allen a good book?


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I have a great fondness for old books, especially those with beautifully embossed covers that are in good shape.

This is a famous book, but I actually know nothing about it, and I’m interested in knowing whether the information in it is still valid or is it completely obsolete? I’m inclined to buy it anyway because it’s beautiful, but I’d love to know what the crowd has to say.

 

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Edward Heron-Allen is the definition of the autodidact.  His book reflects the knowledge of violin makers of this age.  If you read the book, you will realize that Heron-Allen is detailed and through.

You will find the book interesting, and wow, look at the comments throughout the book--what a breathe of knowledge.  By today's level of violin knowledge, the book is dated.

Mike D

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I love that book. It's what got me interested in how a violin is made and how it functions.

But..."real" violin-makers seem to scoff at it. ^_^  Since I'm unlikely to ever make a violin, this book may happily remain my pinnacle for information.

BTW...the copy pictured has an awesome cover. My copy is just a characterless reprint. <_<

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

But..."real" violin-makers seem to scoff at it. 

A professional maker I know referred to it as, "Violinmaking as it Wasn't and Isn't".  It was the first book I read on the subject, long before I really got into messing with violins, and it was years before I understood what that maker meant.

If you like reading old-style prose, read it.  If you are looking for directions on making a violin, there are better sources.

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8 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

A professional maker I know referred to it as, "Violinmaking as it Wasn't and Isn't".  It was the first book I read on the subject, long before I really got into messing with violins, and it was years before I understood what that maker meant.

If you like reading old-style prose, read it.  If you are looking for directions on making a violin, there are better sources.

I have twenty thumbs. Good for hitchhiking but not violin making. I just want to expand my understanding, and yes I do love old writing styles. I’ve read The Reverend Morris a dozen times.

but you’re saying he’s actually incorrect? What he says isn’t valid?

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

...but you’re saying he’s actually incorrect? What he says isn’t valid?

It has been decades since I looked in there, so I can't recall much specific other than the somewhat strange back graduations.  My general recollection is that it's not a how-to book, but more of an exercise in prose of the time.

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31 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

It has been decades since I looked in there, so I can't recall much specific other than the somewhat strange back graduations.  My general recollection is that it's not a how-to book, but more of an exercise in prose of the time.

All right, thanks. It sounds like it would either benefit me, or be an enjoyable read, or possibly both. Works for me.

Edited by PhilipKT
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7 hours ago, Three13 said:

Another entertaining read from the era is Gemunder's book - the man exuded humility on every page...

I read that one too.  At least that one was short-ish, and by someone who actually made violins.  Yeah, humility, right.  It's kinda funny to read all that "humility".  (silly English... "read" can be past, present, or future tense verb or a noun depending on how you pronounce it and what words are around it.)

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The book was originally a series of articles in a Victorian magazine that was full of articles on practical things such as building a bookcase, cleaning a clock, making a stone wall, casting brass at home and so on.  After the Heron Allen articles appeared there were a number of letters to the Editor from people who claimed that they made some excellent violins from his instructions.  There were a few complaints about the issue of making varnish however.  Here is a link:

https://archive.org/details/amateurworkillus41886lond/page/n7/mode/2up

Ed

 

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58 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

I read that one too.  At least that one was short-ish, and by someone who actually made violins.  Yeah, humility, right.  It's kinda funny to read all that "humility".  (silly English... "read" can be past, present, or future tense verb or a noun depending on how you pronounce it and what words are around it.)

In the Midwest, we say "rid" or "readed" for past-tense clarity. ;)

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40 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Reeded. "Reddid" is when you've painted something red which was previously a different color, as in "I done reddid it".

Ok thanks, this Mid West American English lesson might be useful one day and could help prevent some misunderstanding.

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For the time, it was probably the most exhaustive work of it's kind. If a person has enough drive and enthusiasm, a working instrument could be completed using the book.

By today's standards, there are many better books with much more detail, but none will have the quaint literary flair of Heron Allen.

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10 minutes ago, Mark Norfleet said:

He wrote a few other books as well, including one on Palmistry.  That one might be more useful.

I did read that he was fascinated with the occult.

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4 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I read that one too.  At least that one was short-ish, and by someone who actually made violins.  Yeah, humility, right.  It's kinda funny to read all that "humility".  (silly English... "read" can be past, present, or future tense verb or a noun depending on how you pronounce it and what words are around it.)

Oops - I meant to say "excluded" humility...

;)

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16 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I have a great fondness for old books, especially those with beautifully embossed covers that are in good shape.

This is a famous book, but I actually know nothing about it, and I’m interested in knowing whether the information in it is still valid or is it completely obsolete? I’m inclined to buy it anyway because it’s beautiful, but I’d love to know what the crowd has to say.

 

18B985A1-3399-41AF-A5D6-D07EBE5B5B28.jpeg

It was and remains a perfectly good romanticized picture of violins from the view of an enthusiastic amateur looking from the outside via a 19th century English trade perspective.

Not to be taken seriously as a guide to either good making, modern making, or historical making.

But is a good book to spark or fuel budding interest.

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Just now, David Beard said:

It was and remains a perfectly good romanticized picture of violins from the view of an enthusiastic amateur looking from the outside via a 19th century English trade perspective.

Not to be taken seriously as a guide to either good making, modern making, or historical making.

But is a good book to spark or fuel budding interest.

Thank you, it sounds like I will enjoy it a lot, and maybe learn a little.

(now watch the bidding take off and end up in the hundreds...)

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43 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

One might question the utility of a book-review thread consisting of contributions from those who haven’t read it

You must not be following politics, where people constantly make comments about stuff about which they know nothing.

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