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Mirecourt innner moulds - a myth?


Brumcello
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In looking into 20th C Mirecourt manufacturing methods I am slightly puzzled by the prevailing view on inner vs outer moulds. The catalogue page here shows an inner mould yet I have been told this is just advertising and Mirecourt makers only used outer moulds. The reason for the catalogue showing inner moulds is to pretend Cremonese methods were used when they actually weren't. I find this odd because, having played string instruments for a few decades and talking to other string players, the issue of types of mould never came up. Did this really matter to the average French buyer?

After looking into the subject further I found a few pictures of early 20th C Mirecourt makers with inner moulds on the wall (as well as outer forms).

So, my hypothesis is this; the vast majority of inter-war Mirecourt instruments were made using outer moulds but some (perhaps those sold as "copy of" an instrument by a Cremonese maker) were constructed using inner moulds. What do the experts think?

 

 

Inner mould.JPG

1920 MIRECOURT.JPG

gettyimages-838851040-2048x2048.jpg

Capture.JPG

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Not a myth. The outer mould possibly came about in the late 18th century when copying Stradivari instruments, and later Guarneri del Gesu, became fashionable. There was apparently quite a lot of innovation in French violin making around that time.

Edit. I don't know what was going on in Mirecourt at the time that you're asking about.

From Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Printed in 1751.

image.thumb.png.0b5dcf60f0fc0f19cc2bf1138571cb24.png

Edited by Torbjörn Zethelius
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9 minutes ago, Torbjörn Zethelius said:

Not a myth. The outer mould possibly came about in the late 18th century when copying Stradivari instruments, and later Guarneri del Gesu, became fashionable. There was apparently quite a lot of innovation in French violin making around that time.

From Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Printed in 1751.

image.thumb.png.0b5dcf60f0fc0f19cc2bf1138571cb24.png

Your encyclopedia page from 1751 shows no oustside moulds (as far as I can see). The earliest outside moulds I have seen were the half outside moulds (one made first the left side, then the right side) used by Thomas Zach in the mid 19th C

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9 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Your encyclopedia page from 1751 shows no oustside moulds (as far as I can see). The earliest outside moulds I have seen were the half outside moulds (one made first the left side, then the right side) used by Thomas Zach in the mid 19th C

Yes. That's what I wanted to point out.

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I don't see any outside forms hanging on the wall, or sitting on the benches of the shop. I do see numerous inside forms. The pictures weren't done as "publicity shots". They are more like something that you would find on postcards.

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4 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

I don't see any outside forms hanging on the wall, or sitting on the benches of the shop. I do see numerous inside forms. The pictures weren't done as "publicity shots". They are more like something that you would find on postcards.

The second photo shows two ...

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5 hours ago, Brumcello said:

In looking into 20th C Mirecourt manufacturing methods I am slightly puzzled by the prevailing view on inner vs outer moulds. The catalogue page here shows an inner mould yet I have been told this is just advertising and Mirecourt makers only used outer moulds. The reason for the catalogue showing inner moulds is to pretend Cremonese methods were used when they actually weren't. I find this odd because, having played string instruments for a few decades and talking to other string players, the issue of types of mould never came up. Did this really matter to the average French buyer?

After looking into the subject further I found a few pictures of early 20th C Mirecourt makers with inner moulds on the wall (as well as outer forms).

So, my hypothesis is this; the vast majority of inter-war Mirecourt instruments were made using outer moulds but some (perhaps those sold as "copy of" an instrument by a Cremonese maker) were constructed using inner moulds. What do the experts think?

 

 

Inner mould.JPG

1920 MIRECOURT.JPG

gettyimages-838851040-2048x2048.jpg

Capture.JPG

In the second picture from the bottom the external molds are clearly visible at the top of the photo, only one full inside mold pictured, again at the top of the photo.

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The preface to the Laberte catalogue is very much an idealized account of how a violin is made.

Similarly these photos are very definitely posed and considered - just think about the exposure speed required in an old plate camera.

The Mirecourt workshop system (indeed the French workshop system) was entirely built around the efficiencies allowed by the use of an outside mold. I imagine that as soon as a photographer was sniffed on the breeze the inside molds came out and the outside molds were put on the top shelf :lol:

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

Similarly these photos are very definitely posed and considered - just think about the exposure speed required in an old plate camera.

120 film was introduced in 1901. I doubt location shots were done with a plate camera in 1920-1930. 

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11 minutes ago, Brumcello said:

120 film was introduced in 1901. I doubt location shots were done with a plate camera in 1920-1930. 

It would be nice if you knew as exactly when they started routinely using the outer moulds as precisely as you know about film, because I don’t. I think it fair to say that the outside mould lend itself better to mass production

One of the reasons why people think they always used outside form, was because that is how Chanot taught Herron-Allen, who wrote about it in detail

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8 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It would be nice if you knew as exactly when they started routinely using the outer moulds as precisely as you know about film, because I don’t.

Unfortunately I know far less about violin making than I do about the history of photography. But I'm hoping to learn a bit more.

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Up to even the 1940s or 50s those shots would certainly have been made on very large film or plate in the general range of 8x10 inches, depending on local standards. Roll film would have been an insult to a customer.

If they were intended for post cards that size of plate would have been used, but not for daily commercial work. In the 40s LIFE magazine was firing photographers who wouldn't use 4x5. When I started as a photographer there were still many publications that would not accept 35mm.

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37 minutes ago, Michael Darnton said:

Up to even the 1940s or 50s those shots would certainly have been made on very large film or plate in the general range of 8x10 inches, depending on local standards. Roll film would have been an insult to a customer.

If they were intended for post cards that size of plate would have been used, but not for daily commercial work. In the 40s LIFE magazine was firing photographers who wouldn't use 4x5. When I started as a photographer there were still many publications that would not accept 35mm.

I dont think this should become a photography thread but W Eugene Smith was fired from Newsweek for refusing to use a medium format (4×5) camera in 1939 and moved to LIFE where he used 35mm. To lug a 8x10 plate camera to a factory in the 1930s sounds unlikely to me.

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11 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

Pretty sure Michael was a professional photographer for a number of years.

Yes, I'm aware of that, press photographer for a few years and then a string instrument photographer as I understand. 

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The photos in this thread are early 20th century. Maybe the first photo is a bit later, but that looks like a single maker's studio rather than a workshop ...

But that's all a bit beside the point - I don't believe the Mirecourt trade used inside molds except in advertising material.

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Supposedly it's still about the OP's cello.:rolleyes:

The prove of the pudding would be to show a bona fide Mirecourt Laberte (or JTL etc.) made instrument constructed using an inside mould. There might exist some, but I simply never found nor heard about one. So in case somebody around here does know, now it would be the time to tell.

The same applies to Vogtland making as I pointed out in the other thread. There are numerous photos showing Vogtland makers with inside moulds at work, also hanging as decorations at the walls, but for me it was impossible to find any instrument from this origin being made this way. One explanation might be that they simply don't exist, but that all this photos just were taken for misleading advertisement only.

marknkn 003.jpg

marknkn 002.jpg

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17 minutes ago, David Beard said:

And, is there any evidence of using outside molds before Vuillaume's friend Chanot who wrote some sort of treatise about modernizing French making?

I know of no evidence before mid 19th C, but would be interested to learn if there is

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My suspicion is that Vuillaume, under Chanot's influence, might have introduced or at least made popular the outside mold.  

Examples of both inside and outside Vuillaume molds exist.  But both use the very similar centered on the  corner blocks.

Is it not possible that both sorts of molds played a role in later Mirecourt making?

If you're aim is to produce squared up factory style work, can't either mold type give that sort of result?  Is it neccesarily so clear which was used when very squared up work is the aim?

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