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Hi all,

I‘m wondering if you have any ideas about the origin of this viola. Most violinmakers have different opinions about it. I‘m interested if anyone knows something similar?

The length of the back is 41,7cm. Very high arching. Clear, transparent, honey colored, amber varnish. Covered hole in the back of the peg box. 
Please tell me if you need more information.

Some dealers really fall in love with it and some are definitely not impressed…

Musicians and the audience love it!

Thanks for your help!

 

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Good size for an instrument of this type, usuaally they are around 15.5..

Dont worry about dealers comments. Some are conditioned to dislike German instruments, some think high arching is a terrible flaw. And some just poo-poo anything that isnt for sale in their shop.

The hole in the pegbox is sometimes associated with prague, but could be on any instrument.

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Thank you for your comments! 
 

Regarding the hole in the pegbox. Do you think the viola could be from Prague then? Or is it too different in style? I don’t know anything about the makers there.
 

I think the scroll with the strongly curved pegbox is very significant. Could you think of any specific maker with this style? 
 

Some people are also guessing it could be by an Italien maker who built after the Stainer model. (for example Florence). Would you strongly disagree? 
 

Would be great to know if a luthier here has seen a similar instrument.

Thank you! 

 

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I would imagine that it is either early Mittenwald or Austrian. Also it has some signs of originally having been of a dark red colour. I wonder why the back has been entirely half edged or “doubled” as the americans say (appropriatly in this case)

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I agree that it looks like something from Mittenwald (or maybe Austrian, what I don’t know that detailed), before 1800, and that the varnish looks so pale as if it was stripped at some point. Rests of the original color are visible especially at the pegbox rear, front scroll windings and the C bout ribs.

There seems to be a very long repaired bottom post crack.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for your comments!

I was told it’s quite sure that it was built before 1750.                                    I looked through many pictures of instruments by the old Mittenwald makers. I can’t find any instrument with such a high arching (you can almost see through the instrument from one ff to the other)…

Also the strongly s-shaped pegbox of the viola is rarely found.

To my eyes the scroll and the ff‘s look the closest to that of an Sebastian Klotz. Is there a chance of it being something like an early revarnished Sebastian Klotz Viola? 
 

I also went through a couple of Viennese makers and I find some similarities… 

Any ideas? 
 

And happy Easter by the way! 

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3 hours ago, Violapower said:

Thanks for your comments!

I was told it’s quite sure that it was built before 1750.                                    I looked through many pictures of instruments by the old Mittenwald makers. I can’t find any instrument with such a high arching (you can almost see through the instrument from one ff to the other)…

Also the strongly s-shaped pegbox of the viola is rarely found.

To my eyes the scroll and the ff‘s look the closest to that of an Sebastian Klotz. Is there a chance of it being something like an early revarnished Sebastian Klotz Viola? 
 

I also went through a couple of Viennese makers and I find some similarities… 

Any ideas? 
 

And happy Easter by the way! 

A happy Easter to you too

The web site of the Mittenwald violin making museum, in their photo archive, displays several Sebastian Klotz instruments here Instrumentenphotoarchiv – Geigenbaumuseum Mittenwald (geigenbaumuseum-mittenwald.de) so that it isn‘t difficult to exclude your viola being one. If I knew what your viola was, I would tell you straight away. The problem is that many instruments of this epoch started life with apocryphal Stainer or Amati labels, and others had their labels removed in the hope that some dope would think it’s a Gabrielli or similar, Thus there is a dearth of instruments with correct original labels and therefore it is practically impossible to reliably name any of them due to the lack of reference examples

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If one reads through the several essays by W.Zunterer at the Mittenwald museum‘s website (available in English) one will realize that there wasn’t much making during the first half of the 18th century. This alone makes a pre 1750 date very unprovable.

Furthermore were nearly all makers trained by the sons of Mathias Kloz Sebastian and Georg so that it’s no wonder to find always similarities to instruments made by them, while the originals are rare.

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19 minutes ago, deans said:

The Mwald museum has a similar size viola by JC Klotz. More similarities than Sebastion. I have to think yours is later 18th century. 

Interesting! I just tried to compare all the instruments by Sebastian and Johann Carol Klotz with the viola. As far as I can tell there are more similarities in between the Sebastian Klotz violins and my viola then in between the J C Klotz Viola and mine. The shape of the sound holes, the purfling (especially on the edges of top and back) and the pegbox are very similar to the four early Sebastian Klotz instruments on the Website. The ones from the twenties are very close.

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On 4/6/2022 at 3:49 PM, jacobsaunders said:

I would imagine that it is either early Mittenwald or Austrian. 

I'm confused.  The out of square corners, especially noticable from the bass side view, indicates built on the back construction.

Excluding Füssen and perhaps "rural," doesn't this indicate the viola would not have originated from South Germany or Austria?

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41 minutes ago, Hempel said:

I'm confused.  The out of square corners, especially noticable from the bass side view, indicates built on the back construction.

Excluding Füssen and perhaps "rural," doesn't this indicate the viola would not have originated from South Germany or Austria?

I'm not sure what you're looking at

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15 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

You have a crooked old viola, but I see no reason to suppose it was “built on the back” at all

Perhaps the OP can furnish us with a photo sighting straight down the bass side, from the endpin to the scroll.  I'm reasonably certain that such a view will show wonky alignment between the upper and lower bouts.

I have difficulty thinking the use of an internal mold would have resulted in such wonky rib alignment. 

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7 minutes ago, Hempel said:

Perhaps the OP can furnish us with a photo sighting straight down the bass side, from the endpin to the scroll.  I'm reasonably certain that such a view will show wonky alignment between the upper and lower bouts.

I have difficulty thinking the use of an internal mold would have resulted in such wonky rib alignment. 

It is true that wonky alignment of the rib ends, is a hint that one should check if is a built-on-back rib cage or not, but not evidence that it must be. In this case I would say that it certainly isn’t and that you’re barking up the wrong tree this evening

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2 hours ago, Hempel said:

I'm confused.  The out of square corners, especially noticable from the bass side view, indicates built on the back construction.

Excluding Füssen and perhaps "rural," doesn't this indicate the viola would not have originated from South Germany or Austria?

Things also get wonky because of shrinkage issues, particularly when the top's been off, or because the top and back don't belong.

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28 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Things also get wonky because of shrinkage issues, particularly when the top's been off, or because the top and back don't belong.

Even a woodworking acolyte can tell you that wood shrinkage is minimal longitudinally (0.01%!) along the grain vs across the grain.  So you better explain how the top corner got longitudinally displaced so much from the lower corner due to "shrinkage."

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44 minutes ago, Hempel said:

Even a woodworking acolyte can tell you that wood shrinkage is minimal longitudinally (0.01%!) along the grain vs across the grain.  So you better explain how the top corner got longitudinally displaced so much from the lower corner due to "shrinkage."

Were you talking of a new instrument, made around a mould, one would expect the rib ends to be 90° to the back. Here we have a 250 year old instrument that has been fairly extensively repaired & taken to bits, for instance with a pretty ham fisted half edging. The bloke who struggled with that will surely also have struggled to get the top to fit back onto the ribs as well. A “built-on-back” construction would also normally see a rib joint in the middle of the rib end, slightly pinched rib ends and longer corners on the back/belly outline (i.e. it isn’t)

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14 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Were you talking of a new instrument, made around a mould, one would expect the rib ends to be 90° to the back. Here we have a 250 year old instrument that has been fairly extensively repaired & taken to bits, for instance with a pretty ham fisted half edging. The bloke who struggled with that will surely also have struggled to get the top to fit back onto the ribs as well. A “built-on-back” construction would also normally see a rib joint in the middle of the rib end, slightly pinched rib ends and longer corners on the back/belly outline (i.e. it isn’t)

The "shrinkage/taken to bits argument" is bullshit, because there would be (mostly) uniform shrinkage on both the bass and treble sides (across the grain).  If "shrinkage/taken to bits" was the proper explanation you'd expect the bass and treble sides to exhibit similar corner displacement, but they do not.

That said, I do agree with you that BOB ribs would be mitered differently at the corner.

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