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Mirecourt with bought in parts?


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Hi Jacob,

Varnish, rib ends, FFs, edgework and (sigh) label. But this scroll seems unlikely to be French and yet a decent faker could have spent a few minutes and avoided this red flag. I have once seen a very old but unused beginner outfit which was obviously Schonbach made yet the violin, the rosin and the case all had labels of Gand and Bernardel. I have also heard (unfortunately I don't remember where) of various parts and pieces being sent to France as part of reperations after WW1 which would be about right for this instruments' labeled date of 1920. I'm just wondering if people know the extent of any cross border relationships in commercial violin making.

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I’m afraid that I have no such information. However the Mark/Schön violin industry was pretty destitute after WWI, which only got worse in the depression of the end of the 20’s, so I’m pretty sure they would have done anything for money. On the other hand, I don’t believe the Mirecourt trade had it much better, and surely had crowds of people who would carve a scroll for almost nothing. Have you been able to exclude the possibility, that some repairman put a replacement scroll on the fiddle at some stage?

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4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

I’m afraid that I have no such information. However the Mark/Schön violin industry was pretty destitute after WWI, which only got worse in the depression of the end of the 20’s, so I’m pretty sure they would have done anything for money. On the other hand, I don’t believe the Mirecourt trade had it much better, and surely had crowds of people who would carve a scroll for almost nothing. Have you been able to exclude the possibility, that some repairman put a replacement scroll on the fiddle at some stage?

Varnish seems the same and no evidence of grafting or resetting of the neck. I just looked at a couple of French fiddles I have here one a cheap JTL and the other supposedly Caussin school and neither actually have fluting which goes all the way to the throat. The JTL ends crudely at about 7 o’clock and the other goes almost to the throat but is not really finished underneath. As I have mentioned my business is shifting away from making toward retail sales and service and I will definitely be looking harder at these kind of violins.

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Nathan, not really directly relevant to your question, but we do see a good few Mirecourt fiddles with stopped fluting ...

It's obviously a crucial style point when trying to distinguish Mittenwald from Mk/Sch, but it's also just a quick way of finishing a scroll. I suppose any rapidly made violin might have this feature.

The scroll on your violin looks a bit un-French in other details too, but it depends what the rest of the violin looks like - if it was some kind of Caussin shop instrument it could belong.  From what you say it sounds like the violin is later than that ie. post WWI?

Some Laberte Stainer models have very Germanic looking scrolls.

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7 hours ago, martin swan said:

Nathan, not really directly relevant to your question, but we do see a good few Mirecourt fiddles with stopped fluting ...

It's obviously a crucial style point when trying to distinguish Mittenwald from Mk/Sch, but it's also just a quick way of finishing a scroll. I suppose any rapidly made violin might have this feature.

The scroll on your violin looks a bit un-French in other details too, but it depends what the rest of the violin looks like - if it was some kind of Caussin shop instrument it could belong.  From what you say it sounds like the violin is later than that ie. post WWI?

Some Laberte Stainer models have very Germanic looking scrolls.

Thanks Martin.  Out of respect for the owners privacy I can't identify this one further but date on label is 1920s

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14 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

I have also heard (unfortunately I don't remember where) of various parts and pieces being sent to France as part of reperations after WW1 which would be about right for this instruments' labeled date of 1920.

The "reparations" with fiddle parts theory was first promulgated here in early 2015 by Blankface. 

As far as I know he has produced no documentary evidence that violin parts were part of war reparations.

Put yourself in the shoes of desperate Mirecourt factory workers after WWI.  Why would you consent to cratering your own industry?  If there's anything the French laborers are known for, it's for well-organized strikes.

Idle speculation like "those parts look German (and consequently were war reparations)" doesn't constitute proof.  There are so many leaps of logic.  The parts could have been indigenous, legally bought it (cause they were cheap), and even indeed reparations.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

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It seems we will not be able to see pictures of the body, which I'm sure would clear things up, especially if looking at the internal work.

There are plenty of German violins out there which have much cleaner purfling, sharp edges, different varnish strategy etc. So if there are no signs of the neck being disturbed, I'd wager it all belongs together, and the fiddle is not French at all.

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9 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

It seems we will not be able to see pictures of the body, which I'm sure would clear things up, especially if looking at the internal work.

There are plenty of German violins out there which have much cleaner purfling, sharp edges, different varnish strategy etc. So if there are no signs of the neck being disturbed, I'd wager it all belongs together, and the fiddle is not French at all.

Certainly one possibility. I gather most people agree this scroll does not look French.

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Sometimes it can't be but it must be ...

If the violin is correctly labelled from the 1920s then I don't see any possibility that the scroll is French, unless of course the rest of the violin is French, and the scroll belongs, in which case the scroll is French even if it's German. :lol:

For me the acid test would be what it looks like under UV.

 

 

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18 hours ago, Hempel said:

 

Idle speculation like "those parts look German (and consequently were war reparations)" doesn't constitute proof.  There are so many leaps of logic.  The parts could have been indigenous, legally bought it (cause they were cheap), and even indeed reparations.

 

Indigenous no - either they fall outside the Mirecourt vernacular or they don't.

So, legally bought in or war reparations - either way we are considering German parts that were suddenly available to Mirecourt factories.

Very interesting speculation I would say, and not idle at all ...:D

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18 hours ago, Hempel said:

The "reparations" with fiddle parts theory was first promulgated here in early 2015 by Blankface. 

 

18 hours ago, Hempel said:

As far as I know he has produced no documentary evidence that violin parts were part of war reparations.

etc.etc.

As far as I'm concerned I stated in the linked post

"But this are only rumours I've heard, I'm still looking for hard evidences.

The OP violin as pre-war won't be also regarded."

Therefore it was clearly flagged as a sort of reported interesting speculation, not as a claim. Especially the existence of pre WW1 instruments of this mixed style appearance (what I explicitly noted in the old thread) seems to prove that there might be more than one explanation. For example Kurt Kauert wrote in his book about the Vogtländisch-Westböhmisch making about trade relationshs between Schönbach/Luby and French firms, which might have included parts as well as complete instruments, possibly in the white.

I can't comment about the OP question, because the only part we are allowed to see is the scroll,and for me personally that's too less to express any qualified opinion about the instrument (sorry Nathan). OTOH there are instruments with a certain French look and also genuine French (factory) labels being constructionwise of a Markneukirchen/Bohemian origin.

As example here is a sort of "Caussin school" with an original label maybe from the Thibouville Lamy firm, maybe from another (I think Martin once had a similar, even with a certificate); the period of making I'm seeing in the late 19th century or around 1900. The construction - built on the back - is pointing clearly to a sort of Schönbach origin, the scroll might also show this influence. The bassbar glued, not integral. I'm still not sure about where to put this exactly. Could this be similar to the unknown rest belonging to the OP scroll?

 

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19 hours ago, martin swan said:

Indigenous no - either they fall outside the Mirecourt vernacular or they don't.

So, legally bought in or war reparations - either way we are considering German parts that were suddenly available to Mirecourt factories.

Very interesting speculation I would say, and not idle at all ...:D

I suppose the fact that there was extremely strong anti-German sentiment in the US during and post WWI, which cratered the US market for anything even carrying the slightest whiff of "kraut" didn't play a significant role.  Google "anti-German hysteria."  "Classical music" (i.e. strongly associated with "German") declined enormously right after WWI in the US.  Musicians with German surnames were literally run out of towns and orchestras.

The goods were German, just with (perhaps false) "French" labels and brands.  Whether they were placed on goods by German manufacturers or unscrupulous importers still require some determination, but you might find Gennady Filimonov's "Phoney War" article in "The Strad" instructive on this point.

It's amusing you're still placing more value on labels and brands rather that what the instruments are.

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  • Shelbow changed the title to Mirecourt with bought in parts?
3 hours ago, Hempel said:

I suppose the fact that there was extremely strong anti-German sentiment in the US during and post WWI, which cratered the US market for anything even carrying the slightest whiff of "kraut" didn't play a significant role.  Google "anti-German hysteria."  "Classical music" (i.e. strongly associated with "German") declined enormously right after WWI in the US.  Musicians with German surnames were literally run out of towns and orchestras.

The goods were German, just with (perhaps false) "French" labels and brands.  Whether they were placed on goods by German manufacturers or unscrupulous importers still require some determination, but you might find Gennady Filimonov's "Phoney War" article in "The Strad" instructive on this point.

It's amusing you're still placing more value on labels and brands rather that what the instruments are.

This sounds like a convincing argument, but it ignores some facts.

1) Many of the "mixed style" instruments in question were produced and sold long before 1914, especially many of the alleged "Caussin school" violins showing often Markneukirchen/Schönbach features.

2) This type of instrument bearing the same French and styles signatures are also present everywhere in Europe.

3) There was obviously no difficulty importing and selling big lots of Roths, Heberleins and other "Made in Germany" signed instruments, including even made up trade brands of German makers who never even existed.

4) Schönbach/Luby never was in Germany (though most of the makers were ethnical Germany) and everthing from there was after WW 1 signed "Made in Czechoslowakia". This won't ever violated any "strong anti-German sentiment", and obviously it would have been much more easy even for the Markneukirchner to bring their goods the few meters over this border than to deliver them to the French "Erzfeind (Arch-Enemy)".

I will read Filomonov's article.

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3 hours ago, Hempel said:

 

It's amusing you're still placing more value on labels and brands rather that what the instruments are.

Pretty much all of the extensive discussion we've had on this topic over the last 10 years or so would lead you to the opposite conclusion.

 

 

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Nathan,

FWIW, I did happen to post a fiddle here for ID about 5-ish weeks or more ago that seemed very clearly French in many respects. Your scroll flutes next to the pegbox reminded me of mine to some degree. Perhaps Blankface will remember it as he seemed to have the best handle on it. I had the top plate off, so everyone could see the corner blocks, cleats, etc. The body was reasonably well done, yet to me the neck and scroll seemed rather crude in comparision. In fact, the scroll was fluted much like yours in that it seemed to be hastily finished. It too had a French label (which seemed to have been replaced at some point, actually). At the time Blankface speculated that it might be Grandjon "school" in nature. Attached is a picture of the scroll fluting. I can provide much better pictures later if you like.

 

Kev

IMG_6425.JPG

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34 minutes ago, Kev N said:

Perhaps Blankface will remember it as he seemed to have the best handle on it.

I found the thread, but your's is an outside mould made instrument and the scroll is very French in all aspects, as there are flat eyes, short and narrow throad, broad chamfers in the transition to the volute and last but not least not blackened inside the pegbox. Also it's probably much older.

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1 hour ago, Kev N said:

Nathan,

FWIW, I did happen to post a fiddle here for ID about 5-ish weeks or more ago that seemed very clearly French in many respects. Your scroll flutes next to the pegbox reminded me of mine to some degree. Perhaps Blankface will remember it as he seemed to have the best handle on it. I had the top plate off, so everyone could see the corner blocks, cleats, etc. The body was reasonably well done, yet to me the neck and scroll seemed rather crude in comparision. In fact, the scroll was fluted much like yours in that it seemed to be hastily finished. It too had a French label (which seemed to have been replaced at some point, actually). At the time Blankface speculated that it might be Grandjon "school" in nature. Attached is a picture of the scroll fluting. I can provide much better pictures later if you like.

 

Kev

IMG_6425.JPG

That fluting does indeed look similar to the one I was asking about.

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Yes, my apologies if I seemed to infer that the rest of the pegbox and scroll were also similar... twas not my intention. Like my absolute favorite philosopher Clint Eastwood once said, "A man has to know his limitations.", and this is not my area of expertise. 

 

By the way, Blankface, thanks for the incidental extra "identfication" indicators concerning French pegboxes and scrollwork. Some of them I had never really noticed before. Learning much here...:-)

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23 hours ago, Blank face said:

This sounds like a convincing argument, but it ignores some facts.

1) Many of the "mixed style" instruments in question were produced and sold long before 1914, especially many of the alleged "Caussin school" violins showing often Markneukirchen/Schönbach features.

2) This type of instrument bearing the same French and styles signatures are also present everywhere in Europe.

3) There was obviously no difficulty importing and selling big lots of Roths, Heberleins and other "Made in Germany" signed instruments, including even made up trade brands of German makers who never even existed.

4) Schönbach/Luby never was in Germany (though most of the makers were ethnical Germany) and everthing from there was after WW 1 signed "Made in Czechoslowakia". This won't ever violated any "strong anti-German sentiment", and obviously it would have been much more easy even for the Markneukirchner to bring their goods the few meters over this border than to deliver them to the French "Erzfeind (Arch-Enemy)".

I will read Filomonov's article.

None of what you state above buttresses your "speculation" violins (whole or in parts) were German "reparations."  No doubt most of the anti-German sentiment was directed towards Kaiser Wilhelm II, but also towards Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary (where Schönbach was located), which along with the Second German Reich formed the backbone of the Central Powers during WW I.  There was plenty of animosity towards "Austrians" too as part of anti-German hysteria.

If there was "no difficulty in the importing and selling big lots of Roths/Heberleins," why was EH Roth II dispatched to the US in 1921?  The US distribution network broke down and the Roths had to personally step in to take care of business, no longer could they rely on agents.

Anti-German sentiment were already simmering since the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War (1871).  Kaiser Wilhelm II made matters worse in the Daily Telegraph Affair (1908).  By 1917 even the "English" Royal Family had to change their name to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

France, after suffering through the Franco-Prussian War, and WW I were so magnanimous to concede their violin industry to the "Germans,"  to give those ethnic German violin makers full employment.  That comports with everything we know about the punishment meted out in the Treaty of Versailles, and protectionist trade policies around the turn of the century.  I'd like to know what you're smoking.

You might want to check out why the British instituted the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887.  There was a time when German goods were renowned for being "cheap and nasty" (just like Japan) and all sorts of outrageous trademark infringement (read fake labels, stamps, etc.).

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1 hour ago, Hempel said:

None of what you state above buttresses your "speculation" violins (whole or in parts) were German "reparations."  No doubt most of the anti-German sentiment was directed towards Kaiser Wilhelm II, but also towards Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary (where Schönbach was located), which along with the Second German Reich formed the backbone of the Central Powers during WW I.  There was plenty of animosity towards "Austrians" too as part of anti-German hysteria.

If there was "no difficulty in the importing and selling big lots of Roths/Heberleins," why was EH Roth II dispatched to the US in 1921?  The US distribution network broke down and the Roths had to personally step in to take care of business, no longer could they rely on agents.

Anti-German sentiment were already simmering since the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War (1871).  Kaiser Wilhelm II made matters worse in the Daily Telegraph Affair (1908).  By 1917 even the "English" Royal Family had to change their name to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

France, after suffering through the Franco-Prussian War, and WW I were so magnanimous to concede their violin industry to the "Germans,"  to give those ethnic German violin makers full employment.  That comports with everything we know about the punishment meted out in the Treaty of Versailles, and protectionist trade policies around the turn of the century.  I'd like to know what you're smoking.

You might want to check out why the British instituted the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887.  There was a time when German goods were renowned for being "cheap and nasty" (just like Japan) and all sorts of outrageous trademark infringement (read fake labels, stamps, etc.).

Dude chill!

Read and digest Blank's original post and read and digest the actual words in Blank's posts here.

There are stylistic reasons to think that some Mirecourt shops may have been trading with Saxon wholesalers from the late 19th Century onwards. Blank mentioned that they had heard unsubstantiated speculation that post war that might have continued as part of reparations. Nowhere is Blank promoting a view that this is a fact nor are they renowned here as a conspiracy theorist. You have been here for seven years and are getting bent out of shape about this?

Now I am going to speculate. Fat cats trying to make the most money, will buy the cheapest components. They care little for geopolitics unless it affects profts. If it was cheaper to import scrolls or garlands than to pay workers to make them then that's what they would do. An early 20th Century capitalist would care no more for their domestic workers than a late 20th Century capitalist who out sourced domestic jobs to China or Vietnam. 

 

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2 hours ago, Hempel said:

I'd like to know what you're smoking.

It's really hard to get what's your agenda; coming up with a 6 years old post, which you misquoted and deliberately misinterpretated? The USA is full with plenty of "Made in Germany" marked violins, which mustn't exist following your theory, which doesn't hold any water. So do a reality check; obviously you don't even remotely understand what we're talking about here. I can't be bothered to discuss on this level anymore, please look for someone else.

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