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1902 Ladislaw Kaplan back in service after a long rest


Gary M
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On 11/24/2021 at 11:24 PM, Jeffrey Holmes said:

ult to discern.

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

It doesn’t?

I’m not disagreeing, but does it make sense to harvest wood in the United States and send it to Europe for manufacturer and then return to the United States?

I’m not really participating in the rest of the discussion, but I would really like you to expand on your comment?

 

edit: Having read more comments from other folks, I withdraw my question as having been adequately answered. Please return to your normal activity.

Edited by PhilipKT
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On 11/22/2021 at 3:42 PM, Blank face said:

A few things to notice about the pictured Kaplan instruments, there's the Komma of the scroll eye pointing clearly to a commercial product  - not neatly enough for a pro single maker, to clean for an amateur

I found your comment extremely interesting. I actually thought the scroll was very nicely cut. The edges are sharp and even, the contours are nice and round. Can you go into a little bit of detail about the comma of the eye? It looks fine to me and I’ve seen lots of violins by established makers that had scrolls that did not look as nice.

Make no mistake, I am quite happy and willing to defer to your opinion, I’m just asking for a little bit of clarification if you don’t mind?

And why couldn’t that be the hand of a good maker working by himself, Especially if he’s already made a bunch of violins? He wasn’t an amateur, he had been in the business long enough to have learned some thing, certainly, but again I’m happy to defer to you

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On 11/22/2021 at 3:51 PM, jacobsaunders said:

These people didn’t make any more violins than Dietmar Machold, who in my estimation would have had difficulty getting a nail into a wall

I swear, someone needs to follow you around with pen and paper and write all this down. I certainly hope it happens between now and the time you go to your reward, or many a bon mot( Or whatever they call them in German…or English) will be wasted

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 Jeffrey please don’t lock this. I’m coming late to the party, but I’m enjoying reading this. It’s a rainy Saturday and I hate college football and don’t want to practice, so don’t spoil my fun please.

Meanwhile, I used to own two or three William Conant violins, At least one of which was really his, but the other one or two were reworked imports. But of course he could make and of course he did make, And of course he also reworked imports. So did Gemunder, Friedrich, Everyone except the White Brothers. 
I’m not commenting on the origin of this particular Violin, But just because some violins with a given label or imports doesn’t mean that others are not.

edit: My memory has failed me again, the white brothers did indeed sell imports. Shame on me… Shame on them too…

Edited by PhilipKT
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21 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

 Jeffrey please don’t lock this. I’m coming late to the party, but I’m enjoying reading this. It’s a rainy Saturday and I hate college football and don’t want to practice, so don’t spoil my fun please.

Wasn't planning to. Seems things have stayed relatively cool for the last couple pages.

Wood: You can find my slightly more detailed comments on the North American lumber industry and who/what I was responding to on page 4.... and some quick internet searches will supply you with more information if you're interested, I'm sure.

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On 11/26/2021 at 12:38 PM, martin swan said:

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 don’t know how many original instruments make it back across to Europe, I’m very interested in details about what you thought of your Friedrich violin. Do you know whether it was imported from the United States or brought back by somebody who bought it? When you saw it did it bring to mind this or that maker in terms of varnish, sound quality or workmanship?

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2 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I found your comment extremely interesting. I actually thought the scroll was very nicely cut. The edges are sharp and even, the contours are nice and round. Can you go into a little bit of detail about the comma of the eye? It looks fine to me and I’ve seen lots of violins by established makers that had scrolls that did not look as nice.

Make no mistake, I am quite happy and willing to defer to your opinion, I’m just asking for a little bit of clarification if you don’t mind?

And why couldn’t that be the hand of a good maker working by himself, Especially if he’s already made a bunch of violins? He wasn’t an amateur, he had been in the business long enough to have learned some thing, certainly, but again I’m happy to defer to you

But Kaplan was none of those things when the OPs violin was made

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10 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I found your comment extremely interesting. I actually thought the scroll was very nicely cut. The edges are sharp and even, the contours are nice and round. Can you go into a little bit of detail about the comma of the eye? It looks fine to me and I’ve seen lots of violins by established makers that had scrolls that did not look as nice.

When you'll take another look you might notice that the lower eye contour (the "Komma") isn't round but has an irregular sort of triangular shape. Typical for trade is that somebody being able to form such nicely rounded outer windings suddenly got into a hurry and finished the volute with some quick and uneven cuts.

Comparing the two scrolls of the book (Matesic put thm together) you might notice, too, tht they are looking quite different: The example fromthe book, being earlier, is much more even, but has an oval shape, while the later of Gary's violin is very round; the rear side of the left is symmetrical, but has a triangle (dog's nose) at the lower end, which the right one hasn't, but an assymetrical shape. The button of one violin has deep notches at the transition to the bottom, the other hasn't. Those are also differences implying that both violins might follow a similar model, but are executed by different persons. I could go on and on, but the summary is, that one or two of such irregularities can be an accident by a single maker, but the sum of all is pointing to what's called trade instruments.

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5 hours ago, Blank face said:

Those are also differences implying that both violins might follow a similar model, but are executed by different persons.

Importing pre-carved manufactured necks to put on bench-made bodies was not an unheard of practice in the U.S. I think we need to see the whole violin in clear detailed pictures. 

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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Importing pre-carved manufactured necks to put on bench-made bodies was not an unheard of practice in the U.S. I think we need to see the whole violin in clear detailed pictures. 

I think we're probably left, for now, with what the existing photos are capable of illustrating. They aren't great, but if you enlarge them and adjust exposure and sharpness in a photo program some detail can be improved. They are what they are.

I don't see the supposition presented here as an attack on the fiddle. It's an observation based on what is available to us. As I mentioned earlier, obtaining some sort of documentation (if it exists) by speaking to those who have studied the American violin industry in the early 20th century and first hand examination by someone qualified to do so is probably the next step for Gary. From the description of his game plan, I suspect he'll be taking some side trips that won't provide clear answers (and possibly more confusion), but if he seeks out the right people he just might get somewhere.  As I said, my first call would probably be to David Bromberg, then to Bruce Babbit (who I didn't mention before).

I think it's healthy to make the effort to separate the romance from the commerce. The fiddle itself won't care.

 

2 hours ago, Shelbow said:

Bit of a tangent, but I heard that at one point some of the Neapolitan makers were importing and using American wood. Does anyone have any references for this?

I've certainly seen some wood that looked like it might have come from the colonies used in Neapolitan makers, but am not aware of documentation that would support this.  Maybe Florian knows more (he put some serious study time into Naples makers some years back).

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14 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I think we're probably left, for now, with what the existing photos are capable of illustrating. They aren't great, but if you enlarge them and adjust exposure and sharpness in a photo program some detail can be improved. They are what they are.

I don't see the supposition presented here as an attack on the fiddle. It's an observation based on what is available to us. As I mentioned earlier, obtaining some sort of documentation (if it exists) by speaking to those who have studied the American violin industry in the early 20th century and first hand examination by someone qualified to do so is probably the next step for Gary. From the description of his game plan, I suspect he'll be taking some side trips that won't provide clear answers (and possibly more confusion), but if he seeks out the right people he just might get somewhere.  As I said, my first call would probably be to David Bromberg, then to Bruce Babbit (who I didn't mention before).

I think it's healthy to make the effort to separate the romance from the commerce. The fiddle itself won't care.

 

You are right on Jeffery. The fiddle doesn't care and will likely be around a lot longer than any of us. Already had a zig or two in just a short time. And a zag or two as well. I have also reached out to John Dilworth who penned this bio. in his book which may or may not have been posted on one of these threads.

"KAPLAN, Ladislav Born 1874 Czech Republic, Worked South Norwalk, Connecticut USA. Emigrated to New York 1893 and made first violin 1895. In business as Muller & Kaplan 1922. Established independently in South Norwalk, Connecticut 1929, where he founded the Kaplan Musical String Co. which continues to make strings successfully. Produced more than 100 instruments on a Stradivari model. Also several large (17”/43.2cm) violas and two cellos. Fine golden-yellow or orange oil varnish of his own; sometimes a hard spirit varnish of dark red colour. Ladislav Kaplan / South Norwalk / Conn. U S A"

Others have also mentioned the sequential numbering and I have no reference for that either.

There must be more information someplace.

Thanks for the Bruce Babbit suggestion.

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On 11/26/2021 at 10:14 AM, Delabo said:

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.

I'm a bit late to the party and missed all the fun, but this post helps make sense of it all. Thanks Delabo.

The OP violin is obviously built on back construction but made with very nice wood. Yes It's obviously an imported instrument. 

 

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