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1902 Ladislaw Kaplan back in service after a long rest


Gary M
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2 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

And besides Kaplan was not from Markneukirchen so why would he be so familiar with that form of construction, its not like it was used where he came from

Because he owned a violin shop in New York in 1902. By your own analysis what do you think he saw in his shop day in and day out? Unicorns?  If you want to make a nice sounding violin are you going to guess at a design? That's not how I made my first Uke. I got a plan and copied it as best I could. He was a measurement freak. He designed measurement tools.  He cracked a Markneukirchen violin open (or more likely saw many broken ones in his shop) and measured everything he could about it then copied it as best he could.

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16 minutes ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

I don't have an opinion on the violin beyond whom I choose to believe in this thread.  But the case being made for a markneukirchen origin is reasonable and thorough.  It is always better to form conclusions based on evidence, than to speculate to serve a preferred conclusion (yours or someone else's).  

They have NO evidence whatsoever besides what it looks like in some crummy pictures I took and some "Impressions". Their words. I have newspaper articles about the man and a fantastic career of 70 years violin making and in the industry and I have the damn instrument! Worked on by a reputable luthier who says it is what it says it is.

 

1 hour ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

pure fantasy

Pure Fantasy to believe as you do that nobody else is capable of cloning a violin.

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6 hours ago, Gary M said:

They have NO evidence whatsoever besides what it looks like in some crummy pictures I took and some "Impressions". Their words. I have newspaper articles about the man and a fantastic career of 70 years violin making and in the industry and I have the damn instrument! Worked on by a reputable luthier who says it is what it says it is.

OK Gary.  Let's try to dial this back a bit. I'm happy you enjoy your fiddle, but I don't see as you can really claim to possess a higher level of evidence than what your "crummy pictures" provide.  :)  They show what they show.

I apologize if anyone on the board has made you feel uncomfortable or harassed. Sometimes things can get "short" when a thread surpasses a few pages.

I have read the entire thread as carefully as I could stand to. Leaving Kaplan out of the equation, I found little to argue with concerning what was posted by Jacob, Blank Face and a few others. With some exceptions the violin trade surrounding the year 1902 was Euro-centric.  Most notable makers working in the US prior to  that time were European trained (George Gemunder, Miremont, etc., etc. etc.), and the training/experience/previous employment of those makers weren't all that difficult to discern.

What I did argue with was the notion that the use of American wood necessarily indicates an American violin. It doesn't.

Based on observation, I do suspect many of those with active shops were supplied with instruments in the white, or complete, by European makers or firms.  August Gemünder & Sons was well known for reworking and varnishing white German violins, for example. Variations of this practice was not limited to NY and the US in general. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mermilot and other Parisian makers supplied the late members of the Guadagnini family with fiddles in the white made to their specifications, there is some evidence that Postiglione in Naples purchased white bodies from Germany at a certain point, the cross traffic involved with Mirecourt firms was dizzying,  as it was in Markneukirchen. Commerce. 

So, what denotes that an instrument is by "John Smith"? A label inserted and the fiddle sold by by "John Smith"? A white fiddle made to spec and varnished by "John Smith"?  Parts assembled by "John Smith"? Made under the direct supervision of "John Smith"? Made without any assistance at all by "John Smith"? If only the last in the list qualifies, we've just eliminated a huge number of fiddles as "by" a maker. So where's the truth? Separating romance from commerce, sorting out what's known and unknown, separating archival evidence from lore,and making an effort to accurately describe object accurately takes some vigilance... but I think the more rewarding challenges exist there.

Now to Kaplan. If he was trained, it's not clear by whom or when. Could he have been trained in Moravia before immigrating?  Don't know. Did he import or hire an experienced maker to help him?  Don't know. Did he import his fiddles? Don't know. Did he adopt a specific making style simply by observation without training?  I doubt it. The relatively few I've noticed over the years (I don't tend to work with that kind of fiddle much) were pretty straight ahead decently built instruments with a varnish that was pretty consistent to the Kaplan brand (a bit of a departure to what I was used to seeing on a Markie), but the workmanship (build) did look Markneukirchen-esc to me. That, in great part, was why I didn't have a comment concerning origin when I was previously asked on this thread.  The most I could have said was it looked similar to others I'd seen with the Kaplan label.

I attended the exhibition and conference that was held prior to the release of the American Violin book, and know Phil Kass, Christopher Germain and David Bromberg well... I attended violinmaking school with Chris and David and Phil and I are members of the same appraisers association.. Glad you're happy with Rob Wilson's analysis, but If I was interested enough to attempt to sort Kaplan's business/making practices out, or determine if business records still exist, I'd probably call David at his shop in Wilmington.  He amassed the largest collection of American instruments made before 1950 that is known to exist, and has a good number of bits and pieces of information, some documented, others confirmed or unconfirmed verbal stories about the makers.

Good luck.

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27 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I attended the conference that held prior to the release of the American Violin book, and know Phil Kass, Christopher Germain and David Bromberg well... and I attended violinmaking school with Chris and David. Glad you're happy with Rob Wilson's analysis, but If I was interested enough to attempt to sort Kaplan's business/making practices out, or determine if business records still exist, I'd probably call David at his shop in Wilmington.  He amassed the largest collection of American instruments made before 1950 that is known to exist, and has a good number of bits and pieces of information, some documented, others confirmed or unconfirmed verbal stories about the makers.

 

Jeffery: Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. This is exactly what I was hoping someone would contribute here, real Information and a possible way forward.

I am not sure why Mr. Ladislaw Kaplan has peaked my interest but he has. I see his story clearly in my mind. Maybe he reminds me of a lot of the "makers" I hang around with or my Dad who was a talented maker of wood carving knives and exceptional amateur woodcarver. People like this have to make things. It's in their DNA.

So, if you think David Bromberg, or anyone else, might be interested in helping by pointing me in the right direction I will certainly reach out to them.

As for you personally. My Mom lives 15 minutes north of A2 and I visit her often. I would be happy to let you take a look at the instrument and certainly do not expect you to comment publicly and I absolutely wouldn't comment on your observations without your expressed permission. Just for your own information. According to Rob it has some "interesting construction features." Even I see stuff that I don't see on other violins. This goes for any of the SE Michigan luthiers on the board as well. There seem to be a number of you. The more real observational analysis the better. Just contact me offline.

Thank you again.

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5 hours ago, Gary M said:

 

As for you personally. My Mom lives 15 minutes north of A2 and I visit her often. I would be happy to let you take a look at the instrument and certainly do not expect you to comment publicly and I absolutely wouldn't comment on your observations without your expressed permission. Just for your own information. According to Rob it has some "interesting construction features." Even I see stuff that I don't see on other violins. This goes for any of the SE Michigan luthiers on the board as well. There seem to be a number of you. The more real observational analysis the better. Just contact me offline

Ha ha ha, you would like someone to visit, and you would “let them look” at your violin

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On 11/23/2021 at 7:02 PM, jacobsaunders said:

Furthermore, one can recognise Markneukirchen work by opening ones eye and switching ones brain on.

The  OP pictures are blurry and not detailed enough to make at the usual basic markie standout features for me, so I am guessing you are using another part of your brain to ID this particular one. Over the years you have generously shared the basic stuff, but it appears that there is ever yet more to learn. Judging by the rolled edges and undercut f-holes, what grade of markie are we looking at here ?

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42 minutes ago, Delabo said:

The  OP pictures are blurry and not detailed enough to make at the usual basic markie standout features for me, so I am guessing you are using another part of your brain to ID this particular one. Over the years you have generously shared the basic stuff, but it appears that there is ever yet more to learn. Judging by the rolled edges and undercut f-holes, what grade of markie are we looking at here ?

I think this was clarified excessively, also by me or Martin.

To put something more into perspective in regards of books: The second volume of Zoebisch about Vogtland makers features also a lot of instruments which look like rather crappy Dutzendware, but just for the purpose to show something typical of a "maker". There's not much to complain if authors restrict themself to this without going into deeper anylysis of everyone who's name appears occasionally in a violin (less if it's the founder of a remarkable, still existing string firm).

So if somebody will come to me with a, let's say, Herrmann Petzold i would also tell her or him "Looks like pictured in the book", and if I want to be polite to a paying customer "It has some interesting constructional features."

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11 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I don't find it unreasonable that one who has been mostly exposed to "German" factory instruments, would emulate that in their own personal making, to a greater or lesser degree.

Kaplan's fiddles might have looked a little different, had he worked in a shop with Strads coming and going regularly.

Have you perfected your new making to look like “Dutzendarbeit” yet?:D

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4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I don't find it unreasonable that one who has been mostly exposed to "German" factory instruments, would emulate that in their own personal making, to a greater or lesser degree.

Kaplan's fiddles might have looked a little different, had he worked in a shop with Strads coming and going regularly.

I wholeheartedly agree, it's what's kept me from solidly committing either way on this, without a good look at the individual fiddles, including the insides.  I noticed the same thing about rural British from the late 1800's.  IMHO, Markies had sufficient influence on the less expensive end of the trade, to cause many copies of them to be made, out of inexperience with other types.  When that was done, you can't reliably spot it from a photograph unless really major liberties were taken.  Even when it's obvious that the wood is wrong, or the varnish isn't typical Vogtland, somebody will maintain that it's just a Markie somebody messed with. 

For me, I feel that the OP is unquestionably from the Kaplan shop, but to decide whether he scratch-built it or not, I want to see more evidence. :)

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25 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Personally I just can't see anything, I mean anything, other than the label which would lead me in that direction. What are you seeing?

 The scroll eyes are more deeply cut, the flutes sharper and more regular, than I would expect for a 1900's Markie.  Less surely, due to the photo quality, the rib corners seem sharper, and the flutes cut farther into the throat than usual, and my best Photoshopping won't bring out a lower rib seam.  I want more and better detail photographs, and some of the inside through the end peg hole, as well as the f-holes, before pronouncing on this.  :)

Unrelated, the Euro peanut gallery is being too darned smug about the whole thing.  One might say (with inspiration from James Joyce), that they are "smugging".  :P :lol:

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2 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

You “pronounced” already, and weren't taken seriously

I told the OP I feel his Kaplan is authentic, which isn't the same as saying it's completely bespoke.  I've decided that I'm not dropping this without proof one way or the other, not just, "Awww, it looks like a Markie.", which is the sum of your position at the moment.  :P

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