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"Made in Germany"


Brian Snider
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Should one read the Newspaper excerpt, one can only marvel at how many businesses, schools and hospitals the king visited for what one nowadays would call a photo-op on a single day. If he had to drink the obligatory “Begrüssungs Schnapsat each address (probable), he would have been pretty groggy by the time he got home in the evening. The reporter was however sober enough to record a “Blas-Instrument fabrik” (wind instrument factory) rather than a violin factory with a 50 foot high stars & stripes on the roof

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1 minute ago, Blank face said:

I hope you don't expect an answer for this subterranean logic, which could also prove the existence of reptiloids?:wacko:

How?  That would be an interesting derivation.  Why don't you detail it for us?  :ph34r:

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30 minutes ago, Delabo said:

This paper seems to be quite authoritative, and mentions the violin factory of Stratton, although the illustration is taken from the engraving we already have. Scroll to the bottom........................

https://www.citedelamusique.fr/pdf/insti/recherche/vernis/meyer-english.pdf

Thank you!!!  The caption identifies the periodical it's from as "Illustrierte Zeitung Leipzig 1873, No. 1556".     :)

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More from Amati.com, the translation is from Google translate......................

 

Johann Glass

Pupil of his father Joh. Traugott Gl. From 1866 to 1870 he worked for Ludwig Otto in Cologne and then became manager of the Straton violin factory in Gohlis. In 1878 he started his own business in Gohlis and later moved to Leipzig; In 1897 he received a silver medal in Leipzig and in 1901 he was appointed court violin maker to the Duke of Anhalt. He builds according to Stradivari and uses an oil varnish of his own composition; He also invented new violin pegs and a bow to string yourself.

 

https://amati.com/en/maker/glass-johann

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One should perhaps note that neither Zöbisch’s authoritative 2 volume publication on Vogtländische violins nor the almost contemporary Lütgendorff in his essay on Leipzig (p. 272 – 275, volume I) mention any large violin production by any “Stratton”. Lüttgendorf in his dictionary (Volume II p.497) does mention Stratton: “Eine längt eingeganene Geigenfabrik, die erst an Erlich, dann an die Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke überging, und deren räume 1888 von einem Stickereifabriksbesitzer gekauft wurden” (engl: a long since defunct violin factory, that was then bought by Erlich, then further on to the factory Leipziger Musikwerke, whose premises were taken over 1888 by a lace manufacturer). Also I have never seen (just as Blank Face) a single instrument purporting to have been manufactured there. Also one should remember how shamelessly particularly Americans lied in the wake of the Viennese “Weltausstellung”, Gemünder being a particularly crass example

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17 minutes ago, Delabo said:

More from Amati.com, the translation is from Google translate......................

 

Johann Glass

Pupil of his father Joh. Traugott Gl. From 1866 to 1870 he worked for Ludwig Otto in Cologne and then became manager of the Straton violin factory in Gohlis. In 1878 he started his own business in Gohlis and later moved to Leipzig; In 1897 he received a silver medal in Leipzig and in 1901 he was appointed court violin maker to the Duke of Anhalt. He builds according to Stradivari and uses an oil varnish of his own composition; He also invented new violin pegs and a bow to string yourself.

 

https://amati.com/en/maker/glass-johann

Maybe that's the third or fourth time that it's necessary to point out that the Leipzig Johann Glass (and there were father, son and grandson of the same name) was a dealer in the usual and the Amati which is copied from Henley which is copied from Lüttgendorf who copied the advertisements, including the blurb about fancy inventions or special varnish, what every of this illustrous business people of the period had the one or other way, can't be taken literally.

Nor any other copies of the notorious factory picture elsewhere nor reports in newspapers about glorious American enterprises nor anything else without  clear, undisputable references of what they produced there. 

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11 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

One should perhaps note that neither Zöbisch’s authoritative 2 volume publication on Vogtländische violins nor the almost contemporary Lütgendorff in his essay on Leipzig (p. 272 – 275, volume I) mention any large violin production by any “Stratton”. Lüttgendorf in his dictionary (Volume II p.497) does mention Stratton: “Eine längt eingeganene Geigenfabrik, die erst an Erlich, dann an die Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke überging, und deren räume 1888 von einem Stickereifabriksbesitzer gekauft wurden” (engl: a long since defunct violin factory, that was then bought by Erlich, then further on to the factory Leipziger Musikwerke, whose premises were taken over 1888 by a lace manufacturer). Also I have never seen (just as Blank Face) a single instrument purporting to have been manufactured there. Also one should remember how shamelessly particularly Americans lied in the wake of the Viennese “Weltausstellung”, Gemünder being a particularly crass example

I hate to break it to you, Lütgendorff and Zöbisch are incomplete.  In any case you'd hardly expect Lutgendorff and Zöbisch to be the least bit familiar with German-made fiddles exclusively for the US market. 

Here's an article from the "Leipziger Tageblatt" that describes John Stratton's factory (Column 3, "Die Geigenfabrik John F. Stratton, Gohlis-New-York."):

https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansicht/dlf/287849/5

Here's what Adorf/Neukirchen verlegern expressed regarding Stratton in 1872.  The verlegern acknowledged his factory: 1) employed low waged women (compared with professional instrument workers) and 2) Made both stringed and brass instruments.  Starting from the last paragraph of the second column:

https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansicht/dlf/272344/1

In case you're wondering what Stratton originally proposed to the Neukirchen verlegern, here's the relevant article (Last full paragraph in column 1):

http://digital.slub-dresden.de/id453042023-18720821/1

It's funny that Lütgendorff acknowledges "Eine längt eingeganene Geigenfabrik..." existed but you and Blankface keep moving the goalposts despite all contemporaneous documentary evidence.  And the King stayed in Leipzig for 8 days on that trip, making the rounds. 

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If one is able to read and decipher all the German reports and remarks about said factory, it's inevitable to notice that they all are telling they "can" or "shall" be able to produce a number of 20-30 K violins there, not only one is stating that they in fact made only a single instrument there. The pictured paper above seems to be a sort of paid advertisement magazine, what can be deduced by the enormous flower pot advertisement which is covering the biggest part of the page "after a design by Professor Valentin Teirich".

The idea to exploit completely untrained women, the most rightless of the poorest, for producing violins with machines and paying them a minimum wage to make all as cheap as possible appeared perhaps tempting in theory but would have not worked in the real world, at least not in the pre-Fordism period when a minimum of woodworking craft was necessary to smooth, assemble and varnish the prefabricated parts.

In comparism, the Vogtland cottage industry could rely on thousands of workers being trained in a centuries old craft from childhood on, both boys and girls (the last probably more in work like varnishing, glueing, attaching hair to bows etc.) and getting wages very close to nothing either, what was the foundation of the economical success of the Verleger firms. This applied not only for musical instruments but for all other sorts of woodwork like combs or figural carving what are still today the traditonal products of this region.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

If one is able to read and decipher all the German reports and remarks about said factory, it's inevitable to notice that they all are telling they "can" or "shall" be able to produce a number of 20-30 K violins there, not only one is stating that they in fact made only a single instrument there. The pictured paper above seems to be a sort of paid advertisement magazine, what can be deduced by the enormous flower pot advertisement which is covering the biggest part of the page "after a design by Professor Valentin Teirich".

The idea to exploit completely untrained women, the most rightless of the poorest, for producing violins with machines and paying them a minimum wage to make all as cheap as possible appeared perhaps tempting in theory but would have not worked in the real world, at least not in the pre-Fordism period when a minimum of woodworking craft was necessary to smooth, assemble and varnish the prefabricated parts.

In comparism, the Vogtland cottage industry could rely on thousands of workers being trained in a centuries old craft from childhood on, both boys and girls (the last probably more in work like varnishing, glueing, attaching hair to bows etc.) and getting wages very close to nothing either, what was the foundation of the economical success of the Verleger firms. This applied not only for musical instruments but for all other sorts of woodwork like combs or figural carving what are still today the traditonal products of this region.

Whatever the truth is about this factory, I find it interesting. At the very least, Stratton must have paid a very good engraver to make a mock up of an idealized factory. Anyway, I managed to download a PDF of the page which is high resolution and in colour and allows to zoom in on the factory machinery and has clear readable text in a gothic German font.  I am not sure how to upload PDFs or whether it will work  but I have given it a go.......................

1113868891_PDFofstrattonfactory.pdf

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4 hours ago, Delabo said:

Whatever the truth is about this factory, I find it interesting. At the very least, Stratton must have paid a very good engraver to make a mock up of an idealized factory. Anyway, I managed to download a PDF of the page which is high resolution and in colour and allows to zoom in on the factory machinery and has clear readable text in a gothic German font.  I am not sure how to upload PDFs or whether it will work  but I have given it a go.......................

1113868891_PDFofstrattonfactory.pdf 6.12 MB · 8 downloads

Bravo!!!  Superb find!!!  It downloads just fine, too.  Whatever the truth is about this factory, as you say, given the timelines from the brass instrument research sites, it operated for over ten years.  That suggests that Stratton's ideas must have worked to some degree.

16 hours ago, Hempel said:

I hate to break it to you, Lütgendorff and Zöbisch are incomplete.  In any case you'd hardly expect Lutgendorff and Zöbisch to be the least bit familiar with German-made fiddles exclusively for the US market. 

Here's an article from the "Leipziger Tageblatt" that describes John Stratton's factory (Column 3, "Die Geigenfabrik John F. Stratton, Gohlis-New-York."):

https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansicht/dlf/287849/5

Here's what Adorf/Neukirchen verlegern expressed regarding Stratton in 1872.  The verlegern acknowledged his factory: 1) employed low waged women (compared with professional instrument workers) and 2) Made both stringed and brass instruments.  Starting from the last paragraph of the second column:

https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansicht/dlf/272344/1

In case you're wondering what Stratton originally proposed to the Neukirchen verlegern, here's the relevant article (Last full paragraph in column 1):

http://digital.slub-dresden.de/id453042023-18720821/1

It's funny that Lütgendorff acknowledges "Eine längt eingeganene Geigenfabrik..." existed but you and Blankface keep moving the goalposts despite all contemporaneous documentary evidence.  And the King stayed in Leipzig for 8 days on that trip, making the rounds. 

Thank you!!! All very valuable finds.  Violin making scholarship continues to advance.  :)

5 hours ago, Blank face said:

If one is able to read and decipher all the German reports and remarks about said factory, it's inevitable to notice that they all are telling they "can" or "shall" be able to produce a number of 20-30 K violins there, not only one is stating that they in fact made only a single instrument there. The pictured paper above seems to be a sort of paid advertisement magazine, what can be deduced by the enormous flower pot advertisement which is covering the biggest part of the page "after a design by Professor Valentin Teirich".

The idea to exploit completely untrained women, the most rightless of the poorest, for producing violins with machines and paying them a minimum wage to make all as cheap as possible appeared perhaps tempting in theory but would have not worked in the real world, at least not in the pre-Fordism period when a minimum of woodworking craft was necessary to smooth, assemble and varnish the prefabricated parts.

In comparism, the Vogtland cottage industry could rely on thousands of workers being trained in a centuries old craft from childhood on, both boys and girls (the last probably more in work like varnishing, glueing, attaching hair to bows etc.) and getting wages very close to nothing either, what was the foundation of the economical success of the Verleger firms. This applied not only for musical instruments but for all other sorts of woodwork like combs or figural carving what are still today the traditonal products of this region.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  :P  It doesn't matter that Stratton's attempt wasn't an absolute howling success, or that it was as Dickensian as most Victorian-era business ventures.  Just that it can be proved to have happened at all, when the "conventional wisdom" has been that such things didn't occur until decades later, is historically important in itself.  ^_^

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17 hours ago, Hempel said:

you and Blankface keep moving the goalposts 

I don’t know about moving any goalposts. Where are the tens of thousands of these violins, and why did the Thau machine make such an impact at the beginning of the 20th C , if untrained girls could successfully make violins on machines 30 years before?

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48 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I don’t know about moving any goalposts. Where are the tens of thousands of these violins, and why did the Thau machine make such an impact at the beginning of the 20th C , if untrained girls could successfully make violins on machines 30 years before?

1.  "Seek and ye shall find."  Surviving examples will be mostly in the US, probably all later misattributed as I said before, and before @Michael Richwinemade his comment (only 5 days ago), none of us were looking for them.  Stratton also hid his light under a bushel by wholesaling only, instead of direct sales.  Compared to Shar, for instance, how many players ever heard of Howard Core? 

2.  What I expect made the difference was the cheaper, simpler, portable, and more robust nature of the Thau, because it was electric.

3.  Untrained at hire, perhaps, but so are line workers in many modern industries.  It would be interesting to know why Stratton's attempt eventually foundered.  I strongly suspect that it had more to do with "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" social pressure, than with issues of training or pay.  :)

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24 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

1.  "Seek and ye shall find."  Surviving examples will be mostly in the US, probably all later misattributed as I said before, and before @Michael Richwinemade his comment (only 5 days ago), none of us were looking for them.

2.  What I expect made the difference was the cheaper, simpler, portable, and more robust nature of the Thau, because it was electric.

3.  Untrained at hire, perhaps, but so are line workers in many modern industries.  It would be interesting to know why Stratton's attempt eventually foundered.  I strongly suspect that it had more to do with "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" social pressure, than with issues of training or pay.  :)

That the thought of an American factory in Saxon with a fifty foot tall stars and stripes flag on the roof brings tears to the eyes of all Yanks is inevitable. On the other hand I for one have never seen a single instrument purported to be from there, and it hasn’t found it’s way into the German violin literature, except that it was long since defunct, and now (i.e. ca. 1900) is a lace factory. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m certainly not looking for any

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3 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

That the thought of an American factory in Saxon with a fifty foot tall stars and stripes flag on the roof brings tears to the eyes of all Yanks is inevitable.............

As, no doubt, is the reaction it is evoking from some of the European posters.  :lol:

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

I don’t know about moving any goalposts. Where are the tens of thousands of these violins, and why did the Thau machine make such an impact at the beginning of the 20th C , if untrained girls could successfully make violins on machines 30 years before?

The first picture is the woodcut image from the Stratton factory.  The last two pictures are from the Thau Aktiengesellschaft (cribbed from "The Strad").

The Strad article states: "The (Aktiengesellschaft) factory’s machines were not the first designed to carve violins, but they were the quickest at the time."  The article also mentioned "The question remained as to whether the conservative Markneukirchen trade would accept the newfangled machine-made violins."

The similarities of the floor plans, machinery, and ceiling-mounted belt-drive mechanisms between the Stratton factory picture (no "Stars and Stripes" hoisted on top of the building!) and the Aktiengesellschaft pictures would be evident to a blind man.  Given the other documentary evidence I've already provided, there can be little doubt that Markneukirchen Verlegern recognized that Stratton's factory in Gohlis produced fiddles as well as brass instruments.  And there can be no doubt which came first.

The problem with "What fool would carry coals to Newcastle?" heuristic is Stratton could just as easily imported brass instruments from Vogtland, producers there just as prolific with brass as string instruments.  Yet Stratton's (marked) brass instruments had unique mechanisms and valves made by no other German manufacturers (when Stratton's Gohlis factory was operational).  (Look up Timothy Dexter re "coals to Newcastle.")

It should be evident from the sources I cited that Stratton's relationship with Markneukirchen verlegern were fraught.  The verlegern (and cottage industry workers) had no interest in seeing their own skilled labor undercut by unskilled labor.  

stratton_woodcut.thumb.png.a19250a4466c7c9da3460a8f4c74e80d.pngthau1.thumb.png.65972a7601d49bbc7b648f6953044461.png

thau2.thumb.png.5090b86a374cf83f6ff3111b0dbc75a3.png

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7 hours ago, Blank face said:

The idea to exploit completely untrained women, the most rightless of the poorest, for producing violins with machines and paying them a minimum wage to make all as cheap as possible appeared perhaps tempting in theory but would have not worked in the real world, at least not in the pre-Fordism period when a minimum of woodworking craft was necessary to smooth, assemble and varnish the prefabricated parts.

If German employers were paying better wages than Stratton, then surely these women would have gone there, no one would have forced them to work for him. And we have all seen the video of the Chinese workshop of Stentor which employs a lot of females who are highly proficient in there work. At the very least the engravings could have been used as propaganda  to show that what Mirecourt in France could do with its factory system , the Germans could rival.

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There are several points worth to clarify, but they all are coming at least down to one.

1) There is reported evidence for this factory, as far as I can see, only for the years 1872 and 1873, which are falling exactly, as I explained before, in the "Gründerzeit" and "Gründerkrach", when lots of factories and other enterprises were founded but also sudden went bankrupt.

2) Excited reports in paid newspapers, which were dependend of commercials, about "wonderful carving machines" should be taken with an exteremely big spoon full of salt; at least their purpose was to advertise for their paying clients. Otherwise there's no evidence that they successfully produced and sold any significant numbers of instruments.

3) The affair in regard of the correspondence with the Markneukirchen Verleger is bizarr. If one would bother to translate all (what I'm lacking the time to do in detail) it's obvious that he asked them three things: First to pay higher wages for their workers, the second to work more or less exclusively for him personally, so that he could sell all these production to America; the third that they should also raise the prices for their products, what he would do alike (a sort of illegal cartell).

The Verleger disregarded both in outrage, answering that Stratton himself was paying just what was the lowest Vogtland wage anyway, and this when the costs of living in the city were even much higher than in their region; furthermore that they weren't willing to sell exclusively to one customer, becoming dependend of the American market, while they had enough customers elsewhere.

So this looks like an evidence that Stratton wasn't able to compete with the Markneukirchen trade, neither in numbers nor probably in quality, and that he tried to solve this problem with an attempt to monopolize it, without success. It's obvious who survived this competition and who didn't.

4.) Also in the German urban centers of the 19th century women did regulary work, when they belonged to the working class, and they worked from the beginning of the industrialization in factories.. The Kinder, Küche, Kirche propaganda applied always to the upper classes, like almost everywhere. How many female workers Stratton was able to employ is unknown, or if there were alternatives for them at the period. If they were effective workers in violin production without training or experience is hard to prove, too.

Like I wrote above, they were part of the Vogtland production and had the necessary experience (not a formal apprenticeshop, but as helping hands in the small family shops and cottages), what's proved by documents and later photographies (f.e. in the Kauert book). That makes a huge difference for workers of both genders.

5.) At least the most important point is that there just are no examples of Stratton's machine made violins to find yet. Like I pointed out before, they necessarily should look different from the contemporary Vogtland (also Mittenwald or Mirecourt) products. Mind that we're talking about a period between 1872 and a few years later, when every local origin had it's clearly to identify features. A typical Vogtland would have a carved bar, a throughneck, a Mittenwald inside mould, a Mirecourt outside mould construction. These were impossible to reproduce by machines and untrained workers, no matter of which gender.

 

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