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Nice Mirecourt shop violin; any further comment as to origin?


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I picked up this violin at a fiddler's convention over the weekend. Only took a quick look as to origin and condition (no time to quibble, and the price was right). Now that I have time to really look at it, it's pretty nice! There's no label, nor sign of there ever having been one. The inside wood is still pretty bright, but the top and back are starting to show some corduroy.  All I can say for sure is that it's Mirecourt, 20th Century. No real idea what shop, or even what quarter of the century. Very little playing wear, but it has pretty strong impressions from chinrest clamps and Carpenter jack. Very little playing wear on ribs or fingerboard; all it would need is sanding, no planing to refresh the fingerboard. All in all my impression is that it is a very nice shop violin. Response and power are very good in comparison to the dozen fiddles that just got critiqued for a day by some pretty good session musicians as well as stage players at the convention.

I would appreciate any comments anyone would care to contribute as to age and possible shop origin. Sorry about the photos, cell phone, hand held, so framing and focus not good.

MirecourtFrt.jpg

MirecourtBack.jpg

MirecourtSide.jpg

MirecourtScrollSide.jpg

MirecourtScrollBk.jpg

MirecourtScrollFrt.jpg

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13 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

And what makes you "sure" of that?

I'm sure it's Mirecourt because of the long square corners, typical edges, flat scroll eyes, c bout linings mortised into the corner blocks, and general workmanship, and having worked with "better" Chinese instruments since 2006, the Chinese haven't come anywhere close to this varnish.  I'm very sure it's not 19th century, although I've seen a few that were almost this "fresh", but the internal wood oxidizes and ages, even if a violin lives in a box under a bed. I'm pretty sure it's older than 20 years because it has developed enough corduroy in the top to distinctly feel under the fingers, and clearly discernible corduroy in the back as well. It had a center mount chin rest and a Carpenter jack long enough to make some deep impressions into the varnish, and the bridge feet on the former bridges (at least two) have worn deeply into the varnish. I worked with new violins by the container load, including rental instruments out of a fleet of about 1000, and I have a fair idea how they age, and IME, this one is at least 20 years old, but could be a lot older, depending on the life it's had. I recently sold an Aschauer viola that was owned by a contemporary of mine since 1962, carried her through college on a music scholarship, played in a community orchestra for decades after, and it still looked nearly as fresh as this violin.

LOB is 355 (calipered) BTW. The reason I started this post is, I don't know enough about recent Mirecourt history to be confident about anything more than what I have just written, and I'll admit to the possibility that I may even be wrong about some of that. I've got a thick skin, and am generally willing to learn, so if there is something I'm missing in my reasoning, or if someone can add to it, I'll be pleased to see further comments.

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What is a carpenter jack please?

As to the violin, I don’t think this is from mirecourt at all, and I suspect it’s rather later than you think.
I don’t think mortised c bout linings is a mirecourt feature. The drop from the nut, to the top of the pegbox would give one pause for thought. Even the wood choice would be unusual.
The way the end of the pegbox is finished, and the closeness of the A peg to the end would be rather unusual for there too, as is the heavy scribe line around the scroll etc etc etc…

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1 minute ago, deans said:

I think you have to consider that the varnish might be recent, and the possibility that it was a white box imported and varnished in the US. 

This I think it quite possible. I have had a few that were very similar but finished in Italy with decent varnish, but they were heavy and not so refined when you looked close. I suspect Chinese or eastern Europe.

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32 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

What is a carpenter jack please?

As to the violin, I don’t think this is from mirecourt at all, and I suspect it’s rather later than you think. The drop from the nut, to the top of the pegbox would give one pause for thought.
The way the end of the pegbox is finished, and the closeness of the A peg to the end would be rather unusual for there too, as is the heavy scribe line around the scroll etc etc etc…

I just pulled five "for sure"  older Mirecourt violins out of boxes to compare. I do see  differences from the older Mirecourt violins (JTL), LeBlaye, "Henry Farny" from Wurlitzer, and a couple of really low end. The drop at the nut, for sure, and the button on this one is notably bigger and rounder. The overall shapes, and edge and corner treatments are all very close, but none crowd the A peg. All have scribing around the scroll and pegbox, some bolder than others.

A carpenter jack is a jack you attach to a fiddle when you have a bridge pickup, so you can plug in. My clientele is primarily fiddlers. 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

This I think it quite possible. I have had a few that were very similar but finished in Italy with decent varnish, but they were heavy and not so refined when you looked close. I suspect Chinese or eastern Europe.

Possibly eastern Europe. The button and the drop at the nut are things that don't change much. The overall shape, edges and corners, plus the mortised linings  and the fact that it plays really well had me not looking much further. I have good violins that we used to buy from Gliga, and they don't come close to this. I haven't seen the Polish violins that have been coming in the past decade or so. This  one is light, around 380 gr stripped.

So, to add to the list of possibilities, if it's not French: Who makes decent violins and mortises the c-bout linings into the corner blocks nowadays? Bulgaria? Poland? who else? I'm perfectly happy, whatever the result. At any rate, it turned out to be a better instrument than I expected, and I'd just like to know what it is.

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What do you mean with morticed linings? Morticed deeply into corner blocks which are 1/4 in the C-bouts and 3/4 in the outer, or just 1 mm or so cut into symmetrical blocks? This would make a huge difference in the way it was build.

Maybe I'm not very experienced with contemporary trade violins, but there's nothing what looks French to me, but a lot (edges, purfling joints, scroll chamfers, wood, treatment of the spruce top and so on) what looks Chinese.

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4 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Maybe I'm not very experienced with contemporary trade violins, but there's nothing what looks French to me, but a lot (edges, purfling joints, scroll chamfers, wood, treatment of the spruce top and so on) what looks Chinese.

I agree that to me also, there is nothing French here, and I think it is not very old.

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I also can't see this resemble anything French, but I could well imagine it would be 20-50 years old and predate anything decent from China.

If the linings are let into the corner blocks proper (maybe we can see a photo?), that would pretty much exclude those two origins anyways. And it would pretty much also exclude a production/ trade violin.

But before we go any further we should probably establish the situation with corner blocks/ construction method.

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1 hour ago, Schwartzinc said:

Definitely Chinese

Why is it “definitely Chinese”?

I find people who say it is definitely Chinese because my xxxx is ten feet long and Basta, just as tiresome as people who say that they are sure it’s French.

I would add, that I can’t recognise what it is

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I would guess East European too.

I have one made in Romania - and I have a fractional Gliga.  I have a couple others from China.

But...how does it smell?  Chinese instruments (in my experience) have a distinct (unpleasant) smell.  The odour does dissipate, but it takes a while. ^_^

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19 minutes ago, Rue said:

I would guess East European too.

I have one made in Romania - and I have a fractional Gliga.  I have a couple others from China.

But...how does it smell?  Chinese instruments (in my experience) have a distinct (unpleasant) smell.  The odour does dissipate, but it takes a while. ^_^

In modern making, the techniques overlap.  There are makers around the world using methods that mimic all approaches.  

 

As to the smell matching a country, I can't imagine that all workshops/factories in China using the same varnish, etc.  It's as nebulous as saying violins from country X have a "country X sound".

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10 minutes ago, dpappas said:

...

As to the smell matching a country, I can't imagine that all workshops/factories in China using the same varnish, etc.  It's as nebulous as saying violins from country X have a "country X sound".

It's more a process of elimination.

If it has that distinct 'Chinese varnish' smell...I'd say it's from China.

If it doesn't have that distinct 'Chinese varnish' smell...it could still be from China...^_^

 

p.s.  If I were an Eastern European maker of decent violins, I might be a tad irritated to have my work summarily dismissed as being Chinese...given that it's still being used as a pejorative. :ph34r:

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