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Nice old viola, but definitely made north of the alps. (if you ever had the dream of owning an Italian instrument, just forget it.) 
 

Looks as if it needs some overhaul. I am especially concerned about the long line in the middle of the back which might be a sound post crack. (Not really evident from the picture) 

A better examination of the interior work might give more clues. Block materials, lining materials and dimensions and if and how c linings go or don’t go into the blocks, shape of the lower block, rib height and if or if not rib height at the top block is lower. Can you also make a picture showing the end pin area? 

(However there is a chance that the entire inside is an afterward renewal done together with the doubling in the back)
 

I am wondering why the back edge is entirely doubled. It’s a procedure done more often on  the top. Sometimes it is done on instruments where ribs have  been inserted into the back. This would exclude for example Mittenwald for its origin. 
 

My understanding of south German and/or Mittenwald instruments is that most violas are rather on the smaller side and 41.7cm would be rather an exception. (?)


i was also wondering if not only  on the scroll the varnish was stripped to match it the rest where I can’t really detect something. This would then make the scroll a later replacement. 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

 

My understanding of south German and/or Mittenwald instruments is that most violas are rather on the smaller side and 41.7cm would be rather an exception. (?)

In my experience, 18th C South German/Austrian violas come in three sizes, 38cm ish, 39,4cm (fairly exactly) and 42cm ish

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44 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

In my experience, 18th C South German/Austrian violas come in three sizes, 38cm ish, 39,4cm (fairly exactly) and 42cm ish

I see. Were there makers who would prefer one size? (Assuming that he would use always the same mould.) 

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23 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I see. Were there makers who would prefer one size? (Assuming that he would use always the same mould.) 

Evidently they must have had 3 moulds. If I’m feeling mischievous, I say across the room “oh, you have a thirty nine and a half viola, do you?” and watch them wonder how the hell I knew that:)

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1 hour 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. 

What he said ... once you've taken something apart for significant repairs it rarely goes back without some tweaking.

Many old instruments have water damage or have been melted in attics.

Then there are instruments that were made with wild-grained or improperly seasoned wood.

 

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

What he said ... once you've taken something apart for significant repairs it rarely goes back without some tweaking.

Depends largely on how audaciously the instrument was taken apart. For the pictured viola I’d say someone took off the back and left the ribs on the top side to do the edge doubling on the back. In that case there wouldn’t be much risk in such a huge deformation. Otherwise it is strange that the ribs on the treble side look well enough aligned. 

if you look closely at the outline of the top the upper bass side corner looks ‘misplaced’ in the sense that it is not the mirror image of the upper treble side corner. This results in a difference in the length of the c bouts of approximately 3-4mm the bass side being longer. (You can measure it yourself) And on the back there is basically no significant difference in the length of the c bouts, if any the bass side seems to be a pinch shorter than the treble side adding to this effect. This explains in my view that the distortion of the ribs must have been there from the beginning and wasn’t caused by shrinkage or warping. 

Usually you get only in trouble when you literally take everything apart, meaning that you disassemble the ribs from the blocks to replace in the rebuilding all blocks and linings. And here again, looking at the curved corner joint lines, I don’t think anyone has the idea to do it like this when reassembling an instrument. 
 

 

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On 4/17/2022 at 4:20 PM, martin swan said:

What he said ... once you've taken something apart for significant repairs it rarely goes back without some tweaking.

Many old instruments have water damage or have been melted in attics.

Then there are instruments that were made with wild-grained or improperly seasoned wood.

 

One has to wonder why LOB of fiddles get measured and remains stable over time.

The 0.01% longitudinal movement coefficient figure given earlier is for "green" wood.  In contrast, the radial (cross grain) movement coefficient of seasoned maple is around 4.5%.

There's no way the corners would have moved lengthwise in such a significant manner, even if the fiddle took an extended swim in the ocean like the Red Diamond.

And since no wood was added or subtracted that would have resulted in a length change in the plates, the "taken to bits" argument holds no water either.

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7 minutes ago, Hempel said:

One has to wonder why LOB of fiddles get measured and remains stable over time.

The 0.01% longitudinal movement coefficient figure given earlier is for "green" wood.  In contrast, the radial (cross grain) movement coefficient of seasoned maple is around 4.5%.

There's no way the corners would have moved lengthwise in such a significant manner, even if the fiddle took an extended swim in the ocean like the Red Diamond.

And since no wood was added or subtracted that would have resulted in a length change in the plates, the "taken to bits" argument holds no water either.

I spent much of last week dreading having to glue the belly back onto my Leydolff (Leidolff) cello, where I have, over several months, repaired dozens of cracks, removed inserted strips in buggered cracks, shortened the ribs (but retained original Top/bottom blocks) etc. Glueing belly's back on after long repairs can be (particularly with Celli) a nightmare of pushing & shoving. I am slightly reminded of a(n amended) Mark Twain quote, if you don’t repair violins, you shouldn’t open your mouth and confirm the fact

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13 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I spent much of last week dreading having to glue the belly back onto my Leydolff (Leidolff) cello, where I have, over several months, repaired dozens of cracks, removed inserted strips in buggered cracks, shortened the ribs (but retained original Top/bottom blocks) etc. Glueing belly's back on after long repairs can be (particularly with Celli) a nightmare of pushing & shoving. I am slightly reminded of a(n amended) Mark Twain quote, if you don’t repair violins, you shouldn’t open your mouth and confirm the fact

Any "pushing and shoving" on an old repair is due to width shrinkage, not length is the point.  And celli are significantly longer than violas.

On the OP's viola there's no evidence transverse compromise in the rib garland either, something you'd expect to see if there was differential shrinkage between the plates.

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9 minutes ago, Hempel said:

Any "pushing and shoving" on an old repair is due to width shrinkage, not length is the point.  And celli are significantly longer than violas.

On the OP's viola there's no evidence transverse compromise in the rib garland either, something you'd expect to see if there was differential shrinkage between the plates.

I’ll ask your advice next time:)

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Wow! I didn’t expect such a big discussion. I‘m impressed. 
I‘m adding some pictures for Hempel (I hope they are helpful).

I‘m wondering if there are any similarities in between the Leidolff Cello and this viola? Somebody has already mentioned this name in a conversation about this instrument. Specifically Nikolaus Leidolff.

Just for information. It looks like the top is also double at the lower bouts so it’s quit sure that not only the back has been opened. 

568AA577-8293-49E5-8701-395D4560C1C8.jpeg

98784EE7-BEA2-462E-9D87-485AF1E678C3.jpeg

2806E5A3-3426-45B5-9AF1-9349D4B404B5.jpeg

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I had and have a lot of Mittenwalds, especially 19th century Neuner & Hornsteiner and similar with rib corners being not exactly parallel and always perpendicular to the plates, though they were built without any doubt with an inside mould.

Using this method the exact position of the rib joints depends how precise the corner block was cut before the ribs were clamped and glued, in opposite to a construction in an outside mould. There’s in my eyes nothing with the corners here excluding an inside mould construction.

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

The ribs are also not necessarily the same length they were originally, never mind the height.

Hempel - you are teaching your granny to suck eggs <_<

In case you still don't get the point regarding LOB, any lengthwise changes in the plates will be negligible, not to mention any lengthwise changes should be equal on both bass and treble sides. 

Rib lengths changes are also negligible, because otherwise ribs on fiddles will tear themselves apart from shear.  Put simply, and length changes (if any), plates and ribs, on the fiddle are uniform.

The story is completely different when it comes to width.  Those shrinkages will be significant.

Fundamental wood properties and engineering principles which you have no understanding. 

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10 hours ago, Hempel said:

 

Fundamental wood properties and engineering principles which you have no understanding. 

Sorry but you are being a troll.

I would assume that everyone involved in making or restoring violins knows all there is to know about differential shrinkage. I certainly do - you can probably work this out using the search function. We have discussed aspects of shrinkage many times, and I would like to think that my past life as a cabinet-maker, timber framer and sawmill owner have helped me to make a valid contribution.

You might also take a look at the photo of the bottom rib and note that it has an insert "The ribs are not necessarily the same length they were originally".

It's also important to factor in the fact that rib wood chosen for aesthetic reasons isn't always straight-grained or even laid with the grain direction parallel to the plates. If you look at rib checks on very old instruments you often find that the grain runs at anything up to 30 degrees off straight, then there are defects of wild grain (branchwood etc). It's quite common for the grain to go off quite alarmingly over the corner blocks.

The properties of wood are the properties of wood, that nobody can deny ... but every restorer has to deal with shrinking rib syndrome and bulging rib syndrome, and sometimes the correction gets nudged along to the corner block. 

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Re. wood movement

It should also be noted that the old Mittenwald makers had a penchant for using slab cut wood, which creates more movement/shrinkage problems than quarter cut wood. I can’t quite make out from the photos if the OP viola is slab cut, but it sure isn’t quarter cut

Violapower: you can exclude Nikolas Leidolff with confidence from your speculations, since the viola is old, but not that old

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On 4/17/2022 at 9:11 PM, Hempel said:

The lines aren't anywhere close to parallel:

viola.thumb.jpg.ca0248422f9ea1089bb0391bc8420a1f.jpg

This picture is so heavily distorted by inadequate photographic technique (taken by phone from very close distance) that any musing about distortion of wood based upon this picture is completely futile. The back in this picture looks like it is a cm or so shorter than top which I gues it isn't in reality....

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After having taken apart some old (200 years or more) instruments one will find out that both plates are always distorted. When storing them separate a longer time for restoration it‘s recommended to keep them clamped or even glued to a frame or plate or they won’t fit together again without problems due to continuing distortion.

That‘s what Jacob tried to explain, too.

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

Sorry but you are being a troll.

I would assume that everyone involved in making or restoring violins knows all there is to know about differential shrinkage. I certainly do - you can probably work this out using the search function. We have discussed aspects of shrinkage many times, and I would like to think that my past life as a cabinet-maker, timber framer and sawmill owner have helped me to make a valid contribution.

You might also take a look at the photo of the bottom rib and note that it has an insert "The ribs are not necessarily the same length they were originally".

It's also important to factor in the fact that rib wood chosen for aesthetic reasons isn't always straight-grained or even laid with the grain direction parallel to the plates. If you look at rib checks on very old instruments you often find that the grain runs at anything up to 30 degrees off straight, then there are defects of wild grain (branchwood etc). It's quite common for the grain to go off quite alarmingly over the corner blocks.

The properties of wood are the properties of wood, that nobody can deny ... but every restorer has to deal with shrinking rib syndrome and bulging rib syndrome, and sometimes the correction gets nudged along to the corner block. 

Any rib inserts, bulges etc. are due to width, not length changes in the plates.

As for slab cut, you can look up the wood movement coefficients yourself.  Length changes are still neglible compared to width.

On fiddles with slab cut backs even heavily distorted ones, you don't see ribs splitting apart any more compared to quarter cut back fiddles.

You're the one resorting to ad hominem like "suck eggs" and I'm the troll?

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39 minutes ago, Hempel said:

Any rib inserts, bulges etc. are due to width, not length changes in the plates.

As for slab cut, you can look up the wood movement coefficients yourself.  Length changes are still neglible compared to width.

On fiddles with slab cut backs even heavily distorted ones, you don't see ribs splitting apart any more compared to quarter cut back fiddles.

You're the one resorting to ad hominem like "suck eggs" and I'm the troll?

You might like to move to the “drilling butt holes” thread, and disseminate your wisdom there

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