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Most expensive eBay violin in current results - what is it?


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1 hour ago, PaganiniGuitar said:

...until the real experts and authenticity certifiers...

Although moderated, open forums are just that... which often means taking the good with the bad (to a point). There are a number of members who "know their stuff" here and have reputations that reflect that.  Some are happy to post opinions on a public forum, some are rather selective. While I enjoy reading opinions from some of the more vocal members, I find selective understandable.  More than one member here has found innocent comments used on eBay listings or misquoted verbally.

As far as behavior goes, this thread has wandered very close to the abyss a few times. Thankfully I now have a a very trustworthy moderation partner, so I was able to take the time to limit the damage.

For those who need a review, the auction scroll rules (highlight link on the first page) are as follows (and most that follows applies to the other forums on MN as well):

"The Auction Scroll is for sharing opinions on instruments listed and offered for sale online on this site or any other. It is for the civil exchange of ideas and opinions about the instruments themselves. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the poster, and do not represent the opinion of Maestronet or its forum moderators.

Personal attacks on individuals will not be tolerated and will result in banning from participation in the forums. For example you are free to state that in your opinion a certain instrument labelled such and such is or is not authentic. You can also support your opinion with facts as you see them, as long as you make no reference to the individual or company listing the instrument or use hearsay in your argument. You cannot say for example that such and such an instrument is not authentic because you know the individual listing the instrument is not trustworthy or you believe the company routinely uses false descriptions of its instruments. That will get you banned. 

Similarly, you can defend the authenticity of an instrument with the facts as you see them, as long as personal attacks and hearsay are not used. For example, you could refer to the shape of the f holes in support of a certain origin, but what you cannot do is attack any individuals that may hold a different opinion.  

This is a unique forum, so please abide by these rules to ensure it continues in its current form
."

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Before the thread now will be closed (and it seems to be close, pi), I should add that I do respect and appreciate GeorgeH's very honest approach to be fair to everyone and give them the benefit of doubt. My wording might have been a bit more direct (vocal?) than I would do with a bit more of consideration, but OTOH I don't see no reason to edit anything.

As disclaimer and clarification: I think that I've expressed my opinion mostly because I was asked directly, especially by the esteemed BassClef;), and only based on "facts as I see them" in the photos, though I freely admit that my experience is also limited as anybody else's, so this might not be the last words. Especially I won't never claim to be an expert on 18th century Italian violins, like the OP violin is described in the discussed listing, so if anybody being more qualified will contradict I'll listen. My words about the seller and alleged buyer (who are completely unknown to me) are simply based on the formerly quoted rule "extraordinary claim needs extraordinary proof".

 

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Well it seems a good idea to apologize for accusing the seller of using shill bidding without hard evidence, what I can say is shill bidding is always a possibility on ebay, and over the years, ebay has introduced more and more privacy features that make shill bidding easier and harder to expose (whether or not that was their intention). Whenever I see a violin go for way more than it logically should I think it is fair to be at least suspicious that shill bidding might be involved. In this case we know the buyer at least said he was happy with the violin but due to ebay's hiding of bidders names we have no idea who the bidder below them was that drove the price up to such a high level (we also have no way of tracing the buyers feedback to try to determine if he is legitimate, either). SO legally there is no way of proving anything, but when you are bidding on an item, and you keep getting outbid by someone, don't have any confidence that that is a real bidder that has any better idea about the value of the item than you might.

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9 hours ago, PaganiniGuitar said:

This reminds me of the guitar forum where the authenticity of an Antonio De Torres guitar is scrutinized by the so called experts even though the guitar has been owned by the revered Andres Segovia. The guitar passed on to the widow of Segovia and has high promenance but still they try to debunk it more or less 

 

If I'm not mistaken you have your example guitars confused some what.  My understanding is that the example of the widow hasn't or wasn't even considered to be let be evaluated/inspected for authenticity.

The other example under discussion had an issue with greens being to new looking or not faded enough - some thought Ramirez?, not sure whom, had a hand in the construction of it or the guitar went through at least a rosette replacement.  

Now I may not be right about that either - I only read through one time and didn't go to the other website where such guitar was at.

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Wow this violin and this thread... I was told years ago by Rene Morel that the further apart the sound holes from the standard measurement the worse the sound of the instruments will be. If he were right I can only imagine what this thing sounds like 

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2 hours ago, germain said:

Wow this violin and this thread... I was told years ago by Rene Morel that the further apart the sound holes from the standard measurement the worse the sound of the instruments will be. If he were right I can only imagine what this thing sounds like 

In no way am I comparing my knowledge to Morel's.  I've only built 6.  But I would think that moving them closer together would be no good as well.  Or making them smaller, or bigger, or twisting them, or translating them up or down.  Standards are standards for good reason.  Furthermore, I recently built a Maggini model viola with quite widely spaced f holes (as per the original, and not as wide as the fiddle being discussed here).  It turned out to be the best sounding viola I've ever played.  Excellent under the ear and across the room.  But one instrument is a very small sample size.  

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I'm flattered to be described as any kind of expert - I wish I was.

However, this violin does seem completely obvious and I agree 100% with Blank face and Jacob.

Pinched together rib joints off square with the plates, a rather crappy scroll with an open final turn into the eye, slight delta to the back of the pegbox and a crude narrowing to the sides of the pegbox as they reach the volute, very gammy f-holes, and above all the purfling sitting slightly onto a raised edge" - early 19th century MK/Klingenthal/Schoenbach etc, maybe even a bit later.

The wood is nice and the varnish is particularly nice, but still I don't see how such a violin could be worth more than $3-4000 without a nice name and a reliable certificate, and the work simply isn't good enough for that.

With regard to the f-holes, it doesn't make much sense to talk about placement without considering the width of the table at this point. It seems to me that these awful f-holes are the right distance from the strings, but rendered even more comical by the extreme narrowness of the violin's waist.

I cant see anything at all which would point in an Italian origin. 

Whether the seller is within his rights to profit from the toxic combination of avarice and naivety displayed by Ebay buyers is a different question. It would be quite interesting to discuss that question in the abstract ie. not in the context of a particular seller or instrument.

 

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7 hours ago, martin swan said:

I'm flattered to be described as any kind of expert - I wish I was.

With regard to the f-holes, it doesn't make much sense to talk about placement without considering the width of the table at this point. It seems to me that these awful f-holes are the right distance from the strings, but rendered even more comical by the extreme narrowness of the violin's waist.

I cant see anything at all which would point in an Italian origin. 

 

 

Martin, great write up and I wish you could examine this Italian instrument. If you notice the f-holes aren’t even symmetrical and they too are very close to the edge of the ribs similar to the OP photos. How do you account for the similarity? I have no stake whatsover to the OP violin but learning alot to get an idea of my instruments I own that are similar and of similar vintage.
Also I have NOT attacked anyone here on this forum and tried to be as polite without flaming anyone! If anyone felt I have I apologize. Auctions also have the same ‘shill’ bidding to bring up the price of the item so let’s not be so naive about it… how do I know… well let’s just leave it there.

https://www.metzlerviolins.com/vincenzo-carcassi-1760-violin-florence-italy-wurli.html?source=googlebase&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=&scid=scplp21720994&sc_intid=21720994&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgJrGso-V8QIVDa-GCh31sA7-EAQYDiABEgJcjvD_BwE

 

Edited by PaganiniGuitar
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On 6/12/2021 at 5:06 PM, PaganiniGuitar said:

 

No one here knows what the violin is in question until it is in ones hands and simply calling it a Markie or whatever one wishes does not convey the true nature or origin of this instrument! I dare never to post my intruments here for ridicule by the so called ‘experts’. Some here give worthy assessments while others some give pure fantasy and outrageous descriptions and these should be silent until the real experts and authenticity certifiers chime in. 

 

I can agree: there is a possibility for that violin as beeing italian. Same kind a theoretical possibility as you to win a  millions of powerball. 

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2 hours ago, mathieu valde said:

I can agree: there is a possibility for that violin as beeing italian. Same kind a theoretical possibility as you to win a  millions of powerball. 

At least it has the Italian sound ...! I would defy anyone to identify that with a blindfold on.

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7 hours ago, PaganiniGuitar said:

 If you notice the f-holes aren’t even symmetrical and they too are very close to the edge of the ribs similar to the OP photos. How do you account for the similarity? I have no stake whatsover to the OP violin but learning alot to get an idea of my instruments I own that are similar and of similar vintage.

For what it's worth, I am personally not seeing much of a similarity between the violin that is the subject of this thread and any Carcassi I've seen, including the one at Tom's shop. (Just so you understand that I'm not talking through my hat, I presently service 3 very nice ones, have appraised decent number of them, have restored and/or sold a good number of others over the years... and have one in inventory presently).

I believe Martin already mentioned the placement (of what I think are rather crude ffs) has much to do with the lack of room on the table due to the wasp-waisted outline. Bassclef's question about the outline being altered at some point is interesting, but I'm not seeing obvious signs of that in the photos.

 

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19 hours ago, PaganiniGuitar said:

How do you account for the similarity? I have no stake whatsover to the OP violin but learning alot to get an idea of my instruments I own that are similar and of similar vintage.

It's important to realize that similarity of violons can't be taken by isolating a single feature, but by a bundle of them (sort of "checklist") only. There isn't just the shape of f holes, but also the rib construction, the scroll, purfling, the arching etc. etc. should be taken into account, if one doesn't want to come to some very misleading conclusions. 

On 6/13/2021 at 6:04 AM, martin swan said:

 the varnish is particularly nice

IMO the very glossy and at some points rather chippy varnish looks like the shellac/colophony composition which is also typical for a mid 19th or later Vogtland.

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14 hours ago, Blank face said:

 

IMO the very glossy and at some points rather chippy varnish looks like the shellac/colophony composition which is also typical for a mid 19th or later Vogtland.

I don't disagree - but it looks a lot prettier than much of what you see on this kind of violin.

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6 hours ago, martin swan said:

I don't disagree - but it looks a lot prettier than much of what you see on this kind of violin.

IMHO, it's rubbish, unless, of course, it's Italian, in which case it's expensive rubbish.  ;)  :lol:

The bidding on some of these things flabbergasts me.  :huh:

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9 hours ago, martin swan said:

I don't disagree - but it looks a lot prettier than much of what you see on this kind of violin.

Only to clarify that it's not some magical Italian stuff made of Pixie dust or the like.:rolleyes:

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On 6/13/2021 at 11:04 AM, martin swan said:

Whether the seller is within his rights to profit from the toxic combination of avarice and naivety displayed by Ebay buyers is a different question. It would be quite interesting to discuss that question in the abstract ie. not in the context of a particular seller or instrument.

EBay has given rise to sellers who can easily exploit this, opening up an international arena of people who should know better.

There is a big difference between someone not knowing much about violins, and being overly optimistic when selling, compared to those who know a lot, and pretend they don’t.

The latter seem to be very clever in providing enough to hook people in, while at the same time, distancing themselves just enough to avoid any come back.
There seems to be a type of addict who just trawls through eBay with every spare minute, hoping to buy the sleeper of a lifetime. These people really need help, and just to visit a shop, but they never will.

Although wrong, the faux naïf dealer has become accepted, yet people still buy, knowing they are probably about to be shafted.
The world doesn’t make a lot of sense sometimes.

The reality is that anything stellar, which did come up on eBay, would be snapped up by those with professional expert knowledge, not a hopeful dabbler. 

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5 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

If Dave doesn’t mind me summarising him, the message from this thread is that people who cannot recognise an old mid-19th C. Saxon fiddle, should abstain from buying anything on Ebay, particularly anything claiming to be Italian

[Applause]  Yup.  :)

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On 6/14/2021 at 2:40 AM, Blank face said:

It's important to realize that similarity of violons can't be taken by isolating a single feature, but by a bundle of them (sort of "checklist") only. There isn't just the shape of f holes, but also the rib construction, the scroll, purfling, the arching etc. etc. should be taken into account, if one doesn't want to come to some very misleading conclusions. 

I totally agree with this regarding checklists, but these are also subject to cognitive biases and mis-use.

(Note: I am not saying or implying that is the case in this thread.)

There have been thousands of Italian makers from all over Italy making violins over the centuries. Some used built-on-the-back construction (or appears that way), many had sloppy scrolls with deltas, and even used imported parts. Many cannot be associated with a particular Italian school or region. Commercial Italian trade violins were also a thing prior to WWII.

Cognitive bias comes in when we use incomplete information or fit known facts to arrive at a pre-determined (usually optimistic) conclusion. In the violin world, the pre-determined conclusion or assumption is usually "not Italian."

Obviously, probability alone suggests that any random pre-21st century violin pulled from a case is going to be something other than Italian, so this assumption isn't necessarily wrong. But it can create a "checklist" in our minds that forces the instrument into a category to which it does not belong. 

Sometimes I wonder how many Italian violins have been mis-attributed to other origins.

I once asked a respected appraiser if he assumed "German" when he was opening a case of a customer, and he replied, "I assume nothing. I let the violin tell me what it is." 

I think that is the right approach.

In regards to auctions: Auctions are always gambles. Buyers and sellers are trading on incomplete and often wrong information (honestly or dishonestly). There is little wonder why purchasing something at auction is called "winning." Studies have also shown that "winners" usually pay too much (see "the Winner's Curse"). This includes knowledgable "winners," for example, people who can "recognize an old mid-19th C. Saxon fiddle."

2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

If Dave doesn’t mind me summarising him, the message from this thread is that people who cannot recognise an old mid-19th C. Saxon fiddle, should abstain from buying anything on Ebay, particularly anything claiming to be Italian

But should such people also abstain from selling on eBay?

If a naive seller puts a genuine Italian violin on eBay thinking it is German for a buy-it-now of $100, does a potential buyer who can (or thinks that they can) recognize this have any responsibility to tell the seller?

Or is it only sellers who can take advantage of naive buyers?

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4 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

If Dave doesn’t mind me summarising him, the message from this thread is that people who cannot recognise an old mid-19th C. Saxon fiddle, should abstain from buying anything on Ebay, particularly anything claiming to be Italian

Is it really that easy to differentiate between a BOB construction German and a BOB construction Italian ?

I sent very good photos of an unidentified violin to a London dealer and two auction houses. All were very interested in it and asked me to bring it to London. The dealer was sure  it was 18th century  Northern Italian. I was told to send photos to Charles Beare.

Meanwhile I took it to my local luthier who puzzled over it for quite a while, including examining it internally with an endoscope, and said it was late 18th century and maybe English. I then took it to an Amati roadshow that travels the country, and the expert thought it was early 19th century German. In the end I got an email from Charles Beare that was non committal about country of origin but said it was circa 1820. 

I think the only thing they all agreed on about the violin is that it is BOB construction !

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31 minutes ago, Delabo said:

Is it really that easy to differentiate between a BOB construction German and a BOB construction Italian ?

I sent very good photos of an unidentified violin to a London dealer and two auction houses. All were very interested in it and asked me to bring it to London. The dealer was sure  it was 18th century  Northern Italian. I was told to send photos to Charles Beare.

Meanwhile I took it to my local luthier who puzzled over it for quite a while, including examining it internally with an endoscope, and said it was late 18th century and maybe English. I then took it to an Amati roadshow that travels the country, and the expert thought it was early 19th century German. In the end I got an email from Charles Beare that was non committal about country of origin but said it was circa 1820. 

I think the only thing they all agreed on about the violin is that it is BOB construction !

Usual practice in the trade, would be to sell it to the dealer who thinks it’s Italian;)

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