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1902 Ladislaw Kaplan back in service after a long rest


Gary M
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18 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

the workmanship (build) did look Markneukirchen-esc to me.

 

58 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Unrelated, the Euro peanut gallery is being too darned smug about the whole thing.

Thanks for the brilliant analysis, VdA. Our moderator is always welcome to the gallery.^_^

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If someone had read Kaplans 1962 Times obituary without reference to this thread what conclusion would they likely reach ?

Its very likely that the family gave the Times the details for the obituary and that they are accurate. It says that when he arrived in New York he set up a violin string making company, even designing the machinery himself, so he was gifted. He retired in 1946 from the string business and then started making violins. the obituary says..........................

"In recent years he had concentrated on making violins, violas and cellos,a skill he began to cultivate early in the century"

I did find an article somewhere from a newspaper that I have now lost that says he charged $450 in the 1940s for his violins which adjusted for inflation is around $7000 today. It might explain why Tarisio has a violin by him that made $2860 in 1991.

So on balance the evidence suggest that the very early Kaplan violins were imported and maybe finished and setup in New York  and then had his labels inserted. But if you find a post 1946 violin it may be by his hand.

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Hello again... The OP here. By the way my name is Gary. I decided to take Thanksgiving (yesterday) off and be with family and friends. Unfortunately this has now become a bit of a quest for this particular "Knight of the woeful continence" so I have continued to think about this quite a bit even when I should be practicing John Ryan's Polka.

This is a fascinating discussion but in the end I have the violin and I created the post and therefore I have the responsibility to clear this up once and for all if I can.

Jeffery's post encouraged me to come up with a plan of attack. Thank you Jeffery... I think.  I am posting this only to solicit input to make sure there are not things I could do that I may have forgotten. It is not a request for snark. At this point that is a waste of electrons.

So here goes.

1. Document everything I can about the physical instrument.

  •  Photograph the outside with good lighting and a better camera.
  •  Photograph the inside. I think I still have a Raspberry Pi camera in my pile of electronic gizmos. It is 12 megapixels with a short focal distance and should fit through an f-hole. If not the local computer store carries them.
  •  Make some measurements. There are things about the instrument that are significantly different from my Markie. I will document those things more carefully.

2. Go look at more Markies and more individually crafted instruments I just have the one of each. I am fortunate to live within driving distance of 3 good shops, Wilson's, Psaranos, and this is a good excuse to run out to Shar's which I have not been to yet and have been itching to get to. One or more of them might have a few good example instruments they will let me look at. Also I have Jonathon Price nearby and he has let me look at some of his instruments before. I just wasn't looking with an analytical eye. Just at at his beautiful work.

3. Talk to some experts. Jeffery gave me some suggestions. I will try to contact others. I have already reached out to a friend who is an administrator at The Henry Ford Museum. They have a small collection (including an Amati. a Gagliano, a Guarneri del Gesu and 2 Strads plus the old man's original instrument which I am looking at with new eyes. Dig that scroll carving. https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/expert-sets/10258/ ). His folks might have a contact or 2, (It might be some of you :P ).

4. Finally I will put together a case and present it here.

This is going to take some time and I am about to do some extended holiday travel that will take me to sunny Southwest Florida and meeting with my friend Jamie Reutz, who some of you may know from his cool VVCB bridge setup aids. He may have some ideas too. There are also a few shops down there. If there is anybody out there who wants to help in any way, hit me up offline.

This leads me to a last practical question. Do you all want interim posts or just the final result? Otherwise I'm off to tilt at some windmills.

Edited by Gary M
almost forgot the Amati
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17 hours ago, Violadamore said:

 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 can't see what you're seeing, but if such traits exist they surely don't preclude this being made from a white MK violin any more than all the other Großstadtgeigen. 

In which category you'd have to include quite a few John Friedrichs and Gemunders.

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20 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I can't see what you're seeing, but if such traits exist they surely don't preclude this being made from a white MK violin any more than all the other Großstadtgeigen. 

In which category you'd have to include quite a few John Friedrichs and Gemunders.

Ok.  Thanks.  :)

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On 11/22/2021 at 12:36 PM, jacobsaunders said:

You can deceive yourself until you are blue in the face, it won’t make any difference. As BF pointed out, many, if not most “makers” here also bought Markneukirchener Ware, which they either just labelled, or at the most part tickled up a little. People like Heidegger in Linz “produced” thousands of instruments, although he never actually made one in his life. Also in smaller towns, for instance Wauschek in Krems (father & son, both called Karl) even won masses of medals, as you can see here from his label, although his production is entirely Markneukirchener Dutzendarbeit. I’m certainly glad I didn’t waste my money on George’s book, a whole volume of Dutzendarbeit with American labels and a superficial Readers Digest like text for each one:)

Wauschek Label II.jpg

Now I feel as though I own the one and only decent all American violin ever actually made in America :lol: 

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

In which category you'd have to include quite a few John Friedrichs and Gemunders.

Friedrich sold German imports under his "John Friedrich & Bro" label. He had a rating system on his labels for the quality of the imported instruments, and some of the higher-rated instrument are quite good MK instruments.

His original works are distinguished and quite different from MK instruments (inside mold construction, for one), and are labeled with his personal label and often a number and brand.

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1 minute ago, GeorgeH said:

Friedrich sold German imports under his "John Friedrich & Bro" label. He had a rating system on his labels for the quality of the imported instruments, and some of the higher-rated instrument are quite good MK instruments.

His original works are distinguished and quite different from MK instruments (inside mold construction, for one), and are labeled with his personal label and often a number and brand.

Yes I'm aware of this - we had a very nice John Friedrich viola a while back and I've seen a fair number of Gemunders. 

I'm trying to point out that if you want to show that Kaplan was a maker, you would need to find more evidence than simply a few violins that look very like MK violins. Everyone was selling tarted up MK imports - the sort of evidence that would convince me would be a violin that didn't look precisely like an MK trade violin. With Friedrich or Gemunder this is pretty straightforward ergo they were makers.

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8 hours ago, Gary M said:

Jeffery's post encouraged me to come up with a plan of attack.

Maybe I missed it, but the ONE obvious thing you (or someone competent) should establish FIRST, is whether your violin is built-on-the-back or not. A Markie in 1902 (minus the time at sea :-) would still most certainly be built-on-the-back. If your violin is not built-on-the-back you can be fairly sure that it isn't a Markie.

If it is built-on-the-back, however, you are unlikely to be able to progress this argument any further than where it currently stands.

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On 11/26/2021 at 10:31 AM, Gary M said:

1. Document everything I can about the physical instrument.

Thanks, Gary. I'd be very interested in seeing this. If your violin is indeed by Mr. Kaplan, clear pictures of the salient parts would be useful for future documentation and historical reference. If, as @Guido mentions, it is BoB, then it could be impossible to understand what role Mr. Kaplan had in it besides adding his label.

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37 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Thanks, Gary. I'd be very interested in seeing this. If your violin is indeed by Mr. Kaplan, clear pictures of the salient parts would be useful for future documentation and historical reference. If, as @Guido mentions, it is BoB, then it could be impossible to understand what role Mr. Kaplan had in it besides adding his label.

Thanks George. I am already off on my windmill tilting expedition. Given my inspection of the interior it looks just like I would expect it to for a handmade instrument but it sounds like these things are all over the place so that is certainly not conclusive. I did use a checklist that it looks like Jacob endorsed to help. My Raspberry Pi based inspection camera module arrives Monday. I have also found another 1904 Kaplan in the hands of professional musician and have reached out to that person for more information. I don't want to waste a bunch of electrons so I am going to probably keep my posts occasional unless I find something conclusive, like build records or old photographs. Thanks for your participation in this thread. I really appreciate it.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

Er...the old violins are still "handmade".

Not exactly. If an old early 20th century Saxon has a more or less "roughed out" or beeverteeth inside belly with an integral, carved out bar you can besure that it was handmade. If it's smooth with a glued in bar it was probably made using a Thau milling machine. The Mirecourts were often made with a pressed top.

 

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/326095-seeking-infomation-on-old-violin/page/2/#comment-542919

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/346941-lucky-buy/page/5/

 

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Visual inspection as well as business documents will be required to reliably sort the whole thing out I expect. The obituary seems to suggest what was produced bearing Kaplan's label in 1902 just may have varied in "authorship" or effort from what was produced later on in the 40s. To help further add to the mental picture of that time, the Rudolph Wurlitzer company was importing instruments from Europe pretty heavily and hiring makers (like Robert Glier from Markneukirchen) to work in the Cincinnati and New York shops (they also hired Giulio Degani from Venice). The fiddles I used to see with Glier's labels in them varied (several grades were produced; from memory there were at 5 or 6 in the Wurlitzer catalog at different price points back then) so I'd suspect he was also tapping into his old neighborhood's supply chains for at least some of the models.

Not a quest I'd want to pursue for this maker, but I wish Gary luck. He has a vested interest. He'll probably get farther faster if he limits his queries to those that have really spent time interested in/working with/researching the turn of the 20th century American violin industry.

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27 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Visual inspection as well as business documents will be required to reliably sort the whole thing out I expect. The obituary seems to suggest what was produced bearing Kaplan's label in 1902 just may have varied in "authorship" or effort from what was produced later on in the 40s. To help further add to the mental picture of that time, the Rudolph Wurlitzer company was importing instruments from Europe pretty heavily and hiring makers (like Robert Glier from Markneukirchen) to work in the Cincinnati and New York shops (they also hired Giulio Degani from Venice). The fiddles I used to see with Glier's labels in them varied (several grades were produced; from memory there were at 5 or 6 in the Wurlitzer catalog at different price points back then) so I'd suspect he was also tapping into his old neighborhood's supply chains for at least some of the models.

Not a quest I'd want to pursue for this maker, but I wish Gary luck. He has a vested interest. He'll probably get farther faster if he limits his queries to those that have really spent time interested in/working with/researching the turn of the 20th century American violin industry.

He should buy himself a Gebruder Placht, Wien (or a Lutz for that matter) while he is at it, and tell me if they were made in Vienna:)

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