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"W. C. Stenger Chicago" bow. Crack repair still holding.


khunsakee
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At $33 (plus shipping,) I was the high bidder, back in 2012, for this cracked W.C. Stenger bow.

StengerBow_2.thumb.JPG.e45ed36edc586c4de4d403c3741749fa.JPG

I liked its looks and, since the crack was on its side and, (because of the grain) would never traverse the centerline, I decided to get it glued and have it rehaired; a wall hanger. As it turned out, my son loved it. For almost 10 years, until recently, he has used it as his primary bow.

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1913177083_StengerBow_01.thumb.jpg.b39b5ca7357f56a2a74d75d52057bd1d.jpg801587198_StengerBow_06.thumb.jpg.b4ab054b4456fe199359e532ba3f9dad.jpg268099122_StengerBow_05.thumb.jpg.db7a8c69bb4f0f3642f165c7c7e295a9.jpg

It has held up extremely well and, unless somebody uses it for a lever again, I expect it will continue to perform. I can see where the crack begins but, even using 10x magnification, can't find the seam; 1913177083_StengerBow_01.thumb.jpg.b39b5ca7357f56a2a74d75d52057bd1d.jpgtop or bottom. 

271125236_StengerBow_02.thumb.jpg.b3c64b7baa18265c0a9d6c8257093576.jpg

Easily worth 10 times, or more, what I paid.

 

StengerBow_1.JPG

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Nice!

I learned in HS Wood Shop that a properly glued joint could be stronger than the wood itself.

However, in a case like this, could one, should one make use of a decorative wrap to cover and reinforce the area? 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgvJT-U8NIA

 

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I purchased this in the hopes that, the black and the silver parts could be used on another bow. When they didn't fit, I decided to use it as a display piece and opted for glue only; esthetics, esthetics, esthetics. The luthier and the bow repairman where, both, skeptical about how well the glue would hold and offered no guarantee. 

I have my son play-in every instrument I get, he keeps the best for his own use. There were many times, in middle and high school where, when it was time to change strings or rehair a bow, he would change instruments, instead. 

As a result, he's had the use of the best of my low-end collection, even as I became more adept at choosing better instruments and more willing to pay more, for them.

Had I purchased a fine modern Italian violin and a French bow, years ago, I'd have saved some money. Then I remember, the broken tip on a two week old $400 bow and the hole in rib of his (formerly)$8,000 Jose Ramirez guitar and think, yeah, I did okay.

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

I like the octanglular ring around the eye.

I'm afraid that the octogonal inlay is a later and rather crude alteration, while the original was the usual round. The idiosyncratic adjuster cap could be an addition by W.C. Stenger, too. Maybe it's getting boring, but the stick looks like a nice product of the usual origin.;)

mn bow eye.jpg

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2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

If you think it's worth anything, I have sad news

Based on my son’s opinion, I stand by my assessment of this, as a players’ bow, it is worth much more than 10 x $33, paid. As a product, to sale, I doubt that I could recover my costs. So, although to me it's sad, it is not news.

What I worry about is that somebody, in the future, would sell it without disclosing the damage, to an unsuspecting buyer. Any suggestions (other than breaking it,), as to, how I can prevent that from happening? I am dead set against passing-on any tools of fraud but, I'm not willing to absorb the cost of a having a branding stamp made.

In 2012, an eBay seller offered a 13-string guitar with a signed label by the famous lute maker, David Van Edwards.  I contacted Mr. Van Edwards, who assured me that, he had never made anything close to a guitar. I informed the seller of this and then, offered him a fair price for, what I assumed was, a “Chinese-made,” solid wood 13-string guitar; he accepted. I continued communicating with D.V.E. and we came up with a plan: I would stamp the label and then, create a certificate, send it to him for signature. and issue back to me. He loved the idea. I bought a "FRAUD" stamp and started the document but, unfortunately, personal issues prevented the finalization of our plan.

463664574_ScreenShot2022-04-24at7_35_47PM.thumb.png.063ac63907f3861da45b290e6452a5b3.png

 

page2.thumb.jpg.ef71da718b2281c878d42b43d140c47b.jpg

He also, asked for my permission to tell this story for his lute society's newsletter. He said that years prior to this, representatives from a Chinese instrument factory approached him with licensing deal which, he roundly rejected. Apparently, his consent was only a formality; easily tossed aside.

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5 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

I like the octanglular ring around the eye. I think you should invest in a nice mother-of-pearl slide in celebration of its 10th anniversary.

I think that the rough, irregular, "father-of-pearl" slide may be something that's best seen in person, in order to appreciate its true beauty.

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3 hours ago, Blank face said:

I'm afraid that the octogonal inlay is a later and rather crude alteration, while the original was the usual round. The idiosyncratic adjuster cap could be an addition by W.C. Stenger, too. Maybe it's getting boring, but the stick looks like a nice product of the usual origin.;)

mn bow eye.jpg

Having never seen another "Stenger" bow, much less, another octagonal ring, I just assumed he didn't have a drill bit that cut octagonal ring grooves and, instead used a bit that cut round ones; feels right, to the touch. It seems like a lot of work to copy a, virtually, unknown American maker. 

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4 hours ago, Blank face said:

I'm afraid that the octogonal inlay is a later and rather crude alteration, while the original was the usual round. The idiosyncratic adjuster cap could be an addition by W.C. Stenger, too. Maybe it's getting boring, but the stick looks like a nice product of the usual origin.;)

mn bow eye.jpg

BTW- What is the idiosyncrasy with the adjuster cap?

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7 hours ago, khunsakee said:

Having never seen another "Stenger" bow, much less, another octagonal ring, I just assumed he didn't have a drill bit that cut octagonal ring grooves and, instead used a bit that cut round ones; feels right, to the touch. It seems like a lot of work to copy a, virtually, unknown American maker. 

 

7 hours ago, khunsakee said:

BTW- What is the idiosyncrasy with the adjuster cap?

Without having another original stamped bow by Stenger it is not possible to tell if your bow is a copy or not, but that wasn't my point. This is a very clean and professional made frog, and it's very unlikely to assume that whoever produced it had no round drill bit at hand. Just the opposite, the enlargement shows clearly that the inner ebony has a round outline, while the outer octogonal edge is split and therefore most probably done by a different hand. This gives the impression that a bought in frog was altered to make it look more "personal".

Adjuster collars are usually milled with two rings (the inner wider than the outer) or a rounded channel, not with several thin grooves like here: that's what makes it different.

Given that this is a bow "by" Stenger it looks as if he altered bought in  stuff from the trade a bit (the ring and the adjuster) and branded it as his own product. That was a common practice during this period at both sides of the ocean, with violins as well as with bows. Notes in dictionaries or other sources telling somebody "made" something should be very often read as "bought it from elsewhere and sold it with their brand or label".

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18 hours ago, Blank face said:

 

Without having another original stamped bow by Stenger it is not possible to tell if your bow is a copy or not, but that wasn't my point. This is a very clean and professional made frog, and it's very unlikely to assume that whoever produced it had no round drill bit at hand. Just the opposite, the enlargement shows clearly that the inner ebony has a round outline, while the outer octogonal edge is split and therefore most probably done by a different hand. This gives the impression that a bought in frog was altered to make it look more "personal".

Adjuster collars are usually milled with two rings (the inner wider than the outer) or a rounded channel, not with several thin grooves like here: that's what makes it different.

Given that this is a bow "by" Stenger it looks as if he altered bought in  stuff from the trade a bit (the ring and the adjuster) and branded it as his own product. That was a common practice during this period at both sides of the ocean, with violins as well as with bows. Notes in dictionaries or other sources telling somebody "made" something should be very often read as "bought it from elsewhere and sold it with their brand or label".

The photo, from which, you based your “crude alteration” hypothesis, is a lower resolution than necessary for me to convince you otherwise. They were taken through the eyepiece of a microscope, utilizing the 4X magnification lens. 

Top facet, of the ring seen in my first post. The 1st photo highlights the smooth inner edge of the groove, the 2nd one, the outer edge:

IMG_2601.thumb.jpg.4cd5238470bb8988111010e27782ee72.jpgIMG_2602.thumb.jpg.0574236e5120c7975dfd9bf526933cc4.jpg

These are photos are of three successive facets of the ring, on the opposite side of the frog. 

IMG_2596.thumb.jpg.0fd1a70985699b785e41efc31b5cc683.jpgIMG_2597.thumb.jpg.823fbae8bd9fe4128a8947d976605434.jpgIMG_2599.thumb.jpg.311cb65e9067c437195b9cde80063d61.jpg

 

I see clean, smooth, inner and outer edges of a single groove, cut with a single round bit. 

 

I’m not sure that I understand the jargon, you used in describing the adjuster, are you referring this:

 IMG_2584.jpg.1ceff6954dd007f6c9db9964b83c7657.jpg

 

These may look different but, only one of them is idiosyncratic???

IMG_2585.thumb.jpg.1b474d4adde6f41c5d50ec1d7a4bc861.jpg 

BTW - You misread my previous (tongue in cheek) comment that, “I just assumed he didn't have a drill bit that cut octagonal ring grooves.” 555, just kidding.

IMG_2453.jpg

IMG_2467.jpg

IMG_2583.jpg

IMG_2585.jpg

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16 hours ago, khunsakee said:

Top facet, of the ring seen in my first post. The 1st photo highlights the smooth inner edge of the groove, the 2nd one, the outer edge

These ring pearl eyes were made in two ways. First was to inlay a pearl eye and use a circular drill for the ring groove, the otherto drill a circle into the wood and fit a separate plate of ebony with eye and metal ring into it. The different grain of ebony at your frog, at least it appears to be like that in the photo, seems to indicate that the second method was used here. Anyway, it was probably meant to be made with a usual circular ring, not an octogonal, that was my main point.

16 hours ago, khunsakee said:

IMG_2585.jpg

Three of the adjuster buttons you are showing are just as usual, the outer right "fancy", meaning mass produced. I think it's visible that the button in the middle stands out. For which reason it was done this way and by whom is left to speculation.

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59 minutes ago, Blank face said:

…it was probably meant to be made with a usual circular ring, not an octogonal [ring]…

If that were the case, wouldn’t the width of the circular channel have resulted in an unusually wide circular ring?

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9 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

If that were the case, wouldn’t the width of the circular channel have resulted in an unusually wide circular ring?

Agree. Therefore was my suspicion that it was made wider. OTOH there are also rings of that width. As I said, all a matter of a certain speculation without having other bows with this brand to compare.

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On 4/26/2022 at 3:49 PM, Blank face said:

These ring pearl eyes were made in two ways. First was to inlay a pearl eye and use a circular drill for the ring groove, the otherto drill a circle into the wood and fit a separate plate of ebony with eye and metal ring into it. The different grain of ebony at your frog, at least it appears to be like that in the photo, seems to indicate that the second method was used here. Anyway, it was probably meant to be made with a usual circular ring, not an octogonal, that was my main point.

Three of the adjuster buttons you are showing are just as usual, the outer right "fancy", meaning mass produced. I think it's visible that the button in the middle stands out. For which reason it was done this way and by whom is left to speculation.

 

On 4/26/2022 at 4:32 PM, Brad Dorsey said:

If that were the case, wouldn’t the width of the circular channel have resulted in an unusually wide circular ring?

I measured (as best I could, holding a magnifying glass in one hand and hold the bow and measure, with the other) the inside and outside diameters of the circular channel and, the points and flats of the octagon ring. Each set of measurements were, 7mm I.D and 9(.1)mm O.D., making the circular channel 1mm wide. I have a couple of bows with +/- 1mm wide x 7.5mm O.D ring. Is a 9mm O.D. ring is common? I have no idea.

As, to the the graining, I submit the following photo:

IMG_2657.jpg.47eff2492a8668d9ee1aac281da4ee7d.jpg

 

There are 9 points, of alignment, in the section of the frog shown here. It is easier to see, them all, in person.

 

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Thanks for the efforts.;) Of course the grain orientation shows that a ring drill was used to cut the groove, other than I assumed in the first moment.

During the 20th century there were ring width used with diameters all over the place, so this would be rather wide but not uncommon IMO. Unfortunately this doesn't tell us when, by whom and why the octogonal inlay was inserted. The only thing I can tell is that both stick and frog appear to me like something what could be bought easily from the trade.

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13 hours ago, fiddlecollector said:

The button silver appears to have been added later , you dont usually put what looks like pre made octagonal tube onto a round ebony core.

The outer ring of the eye on the frog is not concentric with the inner circle and visa versa.

Who can you tell that the core is round? Is there something that I'm missing?

IMG_2660.jpg

IMG_2668.jpg

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14 hours ago, Blank face said:

Thanks for the efforts.;) Of course the grain orientation shows that a ring drill was used to cut the groove, other than I assumed in the first moment.

During the 20th century there were ring width used with diameters all over the place, so this would be rather wide but not uncommon IMO. Unfortunately this doesn't tell us when, by whom and why the octogonal inlay was inserted. The only thing I can tell is that both stick and frog appear to me like something what could be bought easily from the trade.

In June 2019 a Stenger violin and bow sold (wish it had been me) for $492. We can, always, hope that the buyer finds their way to this post and, solves the mystery.

https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/3260B/lots/274

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14 hours ago, fiddlecollector said:

The button silver appears to have been added later , you dont usually put what looks like pre made octagonal tube onto a round ebony core.

The outer ring of the eye on the frog is not concentric with the inner circle and visa versa.

After modifying the deck on my microscope, I can now take a closer look at the button; both ends. And so, I concede that, what appeared to be ebony in the facet corners is, in fact, hide glue.

Thinking about it, isn't that how they're all made? I've got a few, and have seen several, adj. buttons with, one or more, sections twisted or missing. 

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3 hours ago, khunsakee said:

...isn't that how they're all made?...

No.  Usually when the rings are octagonal on the inside the ebony core has octagonal ring seats.

The filler looked like hide glue to me, and it made me wonder if the outer ring was a replacement.  Outer rings often fall off, get lost and get replaced.  If the inner ring is also mounted on a round seat, it is much more likely that the rings are original, because the inner ring rarely fall off.

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I thought i would just add this Fairfield write up to add some context for the casual reader. I have a stenger fiddle in the herd.  It’s actually a really well made fiddle. Ive never seen a bow that was supposedly made by him so have nothing more to add

37E53FC8-2B8C-487D-9CFE-005EF79E909A.jpeg

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