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Possible Sam Zygmuntowicz Violin?


Nat N
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Doesn’t look Chinese to me. The scroll is nice, it looks like nice work Overall. The back either suffers from bad lighting in the photo or some odd lacquer application.

Nice violin though. Hope you didn’t pay a Ziggy price.

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14 hours ago, Nat N said:

Maybe this isn't as strange as I think, but it continues to puzzle me that the violin is very well made, was very well set up, but then the act of "forging" was fairly half hearted. My suspicion is that the person who built the violin, and the person who inserted the label are two different people, but that remains speculation.

Aren't most cases of "forgery" just people substituting fake labels for real ones on lesser fiddles? Why bother making a copy when you can fool lots of people with just a fake label? No real skill required to fool non-experts.

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Hello all! This is the wife, who has zero regrets about spending a $1,200 on this instrument because it has provided rich entertainment. Nate went ahead and removed all labels this morning, and I began a conversation with the seller....

 

From the Moderator

Kirbeelee: I have edited this post and deleted the interactive chat as I feel it is inappropriate on this board (which is publicly accessible). I'm confident we are all pleased that the situation has been clarified here (and by Sam) and that you are satisfied with the instrument for what it is.  I'm sure we all applaud the removal of the facsimile labels that were installed previously.

 

 

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17 hours ago, jezzupe said:

not unless someone chopped off the neck and slapped on a hatchet job scroll 

no chance of the back and ribs being original?  Replacement neck and belly?  I guess look for signs of the brick repair - which I can't see from here.

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1 hour ago, kirbeelee said:

Hello all! This is the wife, who has zero regrets about spending a $1,200 on this instrument because it has provided rich entertainment. Nate went ahead and removed all labels this morning, and I began a conversation with the seller....

From the Moderator

Kirbeelee: I have edited this post and deleted the interactive chat as I feel it is inappropriate on this board (which is publicly accessible). I'm confident we are all pleased that the situation has been clarified here (and by Sam) and that you are satisfied with the instrument for what it is.  I'm sure we all applaud the removal of the facsimile labels that were installed previously.

Hello Kirbeelee

I also applaud the removal of the label, my sincere compliments for your correctness.

I have had five or six cases of faked violins over the years, and my response has always been similar to Sam's, but then suddenly the owners of those violins stopped talking and I doubt they removed the fake labels, so the fake violins may still be around with my name inside. An advantage of buying violins from living luthiers is that you can verify the authenticity before buying them, even if in your case the low price was already enough to understand that it was not a Zygmuntowicz. Which does you even more honor to have taken care to notify the author and to remove the label.

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Thanks to the moderator for removing the private chat screenshots I had attached to my post - which yes, I should have recognized is a no-no on a public forum. I don't have a desire to call out the "dealer" I bought this from, because he did appear to have originally purchased this instrument in good faith that it was genuine. I believe he sold it to me knowing full well the label was counterfeit.

Now, however, I would like to dig a bit deeper now to figure out who was responsible for putting this label inside. Nick, the "dealer" tells me that he bought it in Louisiana from a maker/shop owner who was quite elderly at the time. He believes the man's name was Charles, and when he was at the shop, it was a dusty cluttered place. "He had Bergonzi's Vuillumes, and even what he claimed was a Gaurneri. He showed me a Fagnola a Poggy and other famous instruments I assume he made himself and about 2 without labels he claimed he didn't finish. But they looked like they were meant to pass off as original along with a drawer of Hill certificates. He didn't give a last name, but had more Hill certificates than Hill probably had."

Nick is apparently cranky now, because he said he traded a documented Klotz from Benning for this instrument. Anyway, whatever he says, I take with a generous suspicion, but I would like to do diligence if possible on tracking down two things - who made this and who put the label on (which Nick seems to believe was the same person). If the maker was an honest person, I would like to help attribute it correctly. It the maker wasn't - well - then we have a whole other kettle of fish. Nick says he bought this violin 13 years ago - so I would doubt the man he bought from is yet living.

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4 minutes ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

As I said. "Chinese" and "nice" aren't mutually exclusive adjectives...:P

 

Oh, no disagreement at all. I played on some very nice Chinese instruments, I just don’t think this looks Chinese. I am almost certainly wrong, but it doesn’t look like the Chinese instruments I’m used to seeing

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54 minutes ago, kirbeelee said:

Thanks to the moderator for removing the private chat screenshots I had attached to my post - which yes, I should have recognized is a no-no on a public forum. I don't have a desire to call out the "dealer" I bought this from, because he did appear to have originally purchased this instrument in good faith that it was genuine. I believe he sold it to me knowing full well the label was counterfeit.

Now, however, I would like to dig a bit deeper now to figure out who was responsible for putting this label inside. Nick, the "dealer" tells me that he bought it in Louisiana from a maker/shop owner who was quite elderly at the time. He believes the man's name was Charles, and when he was at the shop, it was a dusty cluttered place. "He had Bergonzi's Vuillumes, and even what he claimed was a Gaurneri. He showed me a Fagnola a Poggy and other famous instruments I assume he made himself and about 2 without labels he claimed he didn't finish. But they looked like they were meant to pass off as original along with a drawer of Hill certificates. He didn't give a last name, but had more Hill certificates than Hill probably had."

Nick is apparently cranky now, because he said he traded a documented Klotz from Benning for this instrument. Anyway, whatever he says, I take with a generous suspicion, but I would like to do diligence if possible on tracking down two things - who made this and who put the label on (which Nick seems to believe was the same person). If the maker was an honest person, I would like to help attribute it correctly. It the maker wasn't - well - then we have a whole other kettle of fish. Nick says he bought this violin 13 years ago - so I would doubt the man he bought from is yet living.

I have mentioned before a dealer and maker in Dallas Who had himself made a beautiful Albert Nurnberger stamp, so he could create as many authentic Albert Nurnberger bows as he wished.

I have also mentioned before, the recently deceased father of a friend who ran a violin shop in Central Texas and spent more time faking instruments then he spent selling legitimate ones.

Included in his estate was a box containing a quantity of labels so that he could choose which instrument he wanted to fake on that particular day.

I am reasonably confident that your elderly Charles was a kindred spirit of the two that I mention.

44EEB242-CDE3-432A-A135-09C53DEFFEF4.jpeg

Edited by PhilipKT
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20 hours ago, Shelbow said:

From what I have observed with a zyg violin in person and also having looked at the Tarisio database it seems that he usually leaves some light gouge marks on the turns of the scroll. I do not see these on the OP violin.

I have only seen photos, but he has superb carving skills in imitating the famous makers in many details.

7 hours ago, Shelbow said:

I'm curious to what people make of the OP violin. I wonder if this could be early to mid 20th century American?

It's very nice. But if it was American it would have had a label. For a faker, wouldn't an unlabelled instrument  be used, i.e. Chinese or Eastern European?

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1 minute ago, sospiri said:

I have only seen photos, but he has superb carving skills in imitating the famous makers in many details.

It's very nice. But if it was American it would have had a label. For a faker, wouldn't an unlabelled instrument  be used, i.e. Chinese or Eastern European?

Yes you would think eastern european or Chinese, but I have seen some similar supposedly American violins (20th century) sold at auction for fairly cheap prices so I just wonder if someone has just attemted to re label one to pass it off as something more than it is. The last Skinners auction has some great American violins from obscure makers with really striking woods / backs etc.

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Kirbeelee, if you go back to the original online ad you will see that the seller didn't even try to spell Zygmuntowicz correctly in the fine print.  And to me it appears that the Guarneri label and the Sam Zig label are completely different, perhaps done years apart, hard to tell.  But anyhow, it's a nice looking fiddle, and may have decent sound. And you didn't over-pay; if I was in the market for that type of instrument I might have dropped for it myself.

Funny that the seller would say that he swapped a documented Klotz for this, and then list it in some obscure site for $1,200!  Stranger than fiction...

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38 minutes ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

As I said. "Chinese" and "nice" aren't mutually exclusive adjectives...:P

 

Oh, no disagreement at all. I played on some very nice Chinese instruments, I just don’t think this looks Chinese. I am almost certainly wrong, but it doesn’t look like the Chinese instruments I’m used to seeing

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To me this seems to be a very ordinary trade fiddle made in the last 20-30 years. The varnish treatment is pretty nasty ...

I don't see anything distinctive or special about it, given the very high quality of work coming out of Reghin and China. The rejects or knock-offs you can buy by the bagful from the back door of the Hora factory are as good as this if not better. And there's no surprise in the fact that many sound very good ... why wouldn't they? 

All of the stories attached to this violin seem to me to be worth ignoring completely. There is no attempt to fake anything here, just a spurious label intended to sucker a naive buyer into paying more for a fiddle than it would be worth with an accurate description. After all, without a prestigious name inside it, this violin would have attracted no attention and would have struggled to sell for $1200.

There are plenty of dodgy characters who buy cheap trade violins and put labels in them ...

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

I'm always a bit confused by people telling someone they've done OK, despite having bought something which isn't what they thought it was.

If this violin was retailing at $1200 in a store, would everyone think it was so great?

I wouldn't really object to it hanging in a shop with a $1200 price tag (as long as it was set up for playing and had some kind of follow-up service), but this smacks of an Ebay sale or similar, and without its imaginative labels it wouldn't have made $300 ...

The more I look at the violin the more it bothers me - not just the freshly drilled pegholes but also the white wood visible just above the nut. The sooty antiqueing alone would exclude any non-industrial origin.

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One thing to consider (recent experience). A fiddler/player does not even bother to look at the violin => straight to tuning and try out.

This is why fraud is so easy and tempting, players are biased too and a known maker (fake) label might be the preferred choice 

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Of course I always worry about fakers data mining experienced people in order to perfect their sleaze with "advanced"  and "sophisticated" knowledge. There always seems to be some "tell" in the story somewhere, usually when the entire/or parts of the story seem "preposterous" , I think I've read enough.

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On 7/16/2021 at 10:37 AM, uncle duke said:

no chance of the back and ribs being original?  Replacement neck and belly?  I guess look for signs of the brick repair - which I can't see from here.

I suppose there's a chance , just like there's a chance monkeys would fly out of my butt someday, a chance, but not likely.

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Thanks all again for lots of help and a good amount of LOL in the course of our investigation. The labels are out, and the "seller" is mad and blocked me because I emailed Sam screenshots of this whole story. Apparently wannabe dealer has been on a waitlist for one of Sam's students' instruments (??) and is all angry at me for "ruining a five year friendship." That is thankfully not my problem.

Nate pulled the top off, having seen a loose lining, and tweaked the fit. We also found some numbers written on the back (290-326).

I think we'll have a calligrapher friend of mine write us up our own label, so we can give this guy a record to begin with. We have also nicknamed the violin Samwise, because he has indeed taught us a lot. Let's hope it can live an honest life as a pretty, nice sounding guy from now on.

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Edited by kirbeelee
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