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Testore Violin Identity


Andrew Koufalas
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I have a Violin which my father owned and he was told it was a Testore but the label is ineligible. Hoping that someone can identify it if they have something familiar.

It has no purfling and has a neck graft! I want to sell it but don’t know what to ask until I got some idea of its maker!

Thanks in advance.

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32 minutes ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

I've often wondered how one can determine the origin of an instrument by looking at the exterior of the body. What features, for example, make it obvious that this instrument was made by an amateur?

It helps, of course, if you know what a real Testore looks like:), then you have to check all the methods used and details and stylistic points by way of comparison. Some years ago I had to do an expertise for the court about a (fake) Testore. I told them, that the Testore were basically 5 blokes from 3 generations, 2 of which hardly made much at all, so that there weren’t really that many. The lawyer of the people who had sold the fake Testore, threw his arms up, and said “oh no” and submitted thousands and thousands of “Auction records”, where supposedly a “Testore” had been on the market. At times like that you want to be swallowed up by some hole in the floor

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7 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It helps, of course, if you know what a real Testore looks like:), then you have to check all the methods used and details and stylistic points by way of comparison. Some years ago I had to do an expertise for the court about a (fake) Testore. I told them, that the Testore were basically 5 blokes from 3 generations, 2 of which hardly made much at all, so that there weren’t really that many. The lawyer of the people who had sold the fake Testore, threw his arms up, and said “oh no” and submitted thousands and thousands of “Auction records”, where supposedly a “Testore” had been on the market. At times like that you want to be swallowed up by some hole in the floor

Remember you don’t have to be right if you scream loud enough.

Edited by PhilipKT
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2 hours ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

What features, for example, make it obvious that this instrument was made by an amateur?

How about the abysmal scroll and the treble side corners, which are three inches longer than those on the bass side?

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Good observation on your part but looking at other Testores the scolls are quite rough and differ widely.

The treble side corners were damaged and the repairer added wood and reshaped the corners albeit not symmetrical!

It has no inlaid purfling although it appears in the photo that there is purfling

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9 hours ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

I've often wondered how one can determine the origin of an instrument by looking at the exterior of the body. What features, for example, make it obvious that this instrument was made by an amateur?

Very good questions!

With Testores of all the family makers they worked pretty rough and unlike other makers their violins differed from instrument to instrument.

I personally think thst a lot of mistakes have been made over many years about identification especially by so called “Experts”who some have more confidence than knowledge which is a very dangerous thing.

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Wondering “how one can determine the origin of an instrument by looking at the exterior”, isn’t a very good question, rather a profoundly ignorant one, after all, how else should one make that determination. The myth that the Testore family were “pretty rough” and “differed from instrument to instrument” is wrong, and what conclusions would you draw from that anyway, is any rough instrument a “Testore”? The fact is (to simplify) these instruments were made quickly, without a chisel cut more then absolutely necessary, but by someone who knew what he was doing which makes the adjective “rough” inappropriate. One would expect a rib cage built on the back, the faux purfling scratched (N.B. not painted) on the back, but inlayed purfling on the belly. I always think of the scrolls, should one look at the scroll/peg box profile, as if it were a human bust, as having it’s chin up, certainly not looking higgledy-piggledy, as if someone had caved it with a knife and fork. All these (and many other) featrures aren’t even secret. Roger Hargrave went through them in some detail in an old Strad article https://fliphtml5.com/xtdr/lspn/basic there is a Strad poster too https://www.thestradshop.com/store/thestrad/carlo-giuseppe-testore-violin-c-1703-poster/

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Unfortunately there is a certain lot of instruments out there being certified as Testore (or school of) from former periods and even by some respected experts which appear to be rather made in the Salzkammergut, in Britain or other places where they built rough,  from plain woods and inked purfling. Very often the simple fact that Testore purfling was rather scratched was ignored, to say the least. So comparing to these might add to confusion.

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A great point. When trying to compare instruments, the quality and authenticity of the reference material is paramount.

Otherwise, you have no hope of identifying anything from unsubstantiated sources, random internet pictures, dubious guesswork, taking constructional points out of context, and so forth.

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23 hours ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

I've often wondered how one can determine the origin of an instrument by looking at the exterior of the body. What features, for example, make it obvious that this instrument was made by an amateur?

Most of these guys who replied here have seen and thousands of violins, if not thousands then hundreds.  I'd bet that even some experts when called upon for services make a quick visit here to Maestronet just to see what they may be getting into - smart thing to do.

As for learning about violin i.d. you could go through what I went through here -  mention your best guess about any particular fiddle at any given time and learn to take your lumps when shot down from others.  It does take some time to learn, just be patient with yourself.

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in response to Jacobsaunders, I don't deny being profoundly ignorant. That's why I asked the question. Others have responded with answers of substance. You are apparently above that. Maybe you should come down from your castle now and then and mix with the proletariat.

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BTW my question had no particular reference to Testore.. It had to do with the criteria one would use to evaluate the source of an instrument. With all due respect to the experts on this panel, I can't believe that they come up with an evaluation from the seat of their pants. I assume that there are objective criteria. Some of those have been mentioned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

btw

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1 hour ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

in response to Jacobsaunders, I don't deny being profoundly ignorant. That's why I asked the question. Others have responded with answers of substance. You are apparently above that. Maybe you should come down from your castle now and then and mix with the proletariat.

I'm an amateur violin ID novice but I personally found the links to the Strad poster and Roger Hargrave's article that Jacob Saunders kindly provided very interesting.

I have also found that spending time, over several years, reading through the many previous posts on this site about how to identify features of violins has been extremely helpful.  I have come to realise that there is no substitute for a lifetime's experience and I am grateful to the experts who are prepared to share their knowledge, even if some of them can appear a little abrasive at times.

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2 hours ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

in response to Jacobsaunders, I don't deny being profoundly ignorant. That's why I asked the question. Others have responded with answers of substance. You are apparently above that. Maybe you should come down from your castle now and then and mix with the proletariat.

You realise that your question is ignorant then? what on earth is one supposed to look at?

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1 hour ago, rudall said:

I assume you could fairly easily tell the difference and identify between a Rembrandt and a Van Gogh?

Can you tell us how to do that?

I really don't want to pursue this any further, but in answer to your question, there are  numerous  people who could provide you with specific distinctions between Rembrandt and Van Gogh and yes, even I, a non-expert could provide several.

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8 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

You realise that your question is ignorant then? what on earth is one supposed to look at?

My question was not ignorant. My knowledge was lacking. That's why one asks questions--to obtain information. What one is supposed to look at is the intent of the question. Given your apparent expertise regarding instruments, your perception otherwise seems --ignorant?

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9 minutes ago, Sheldon Weiner said:

My question was not ignorant.

Quote

"Ignorance is a lack of knowledge and information. The word "ignorant" is an adjective that describes a person in the state of being unaware, or even cognitive dissonance and other cognitive relation, and can describe individuals who are unaware of important information or facts. Ignorance can appear in three different types: factual ignorance (absence of knowledge of some fact), object ignorance (unacquaintance with some object), and technical ignorance (absence of knowledge of how to do something)."

All questions are rooted in ignorance. Nothing wrong with that. My knowledge is minuscule and  my ignorance is infinite.

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