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Help Id’ing Violin


AnthonyC
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Hi all,

I have recently acquired an old violin with a rather complex history. The sound of the violin was what attracted me to it in the first place but after doing some research, it seemingly might be more interesting. 

It seems to have an old Wurtlitzer label and in his 1931 catalogue, he seemed to have listed it as a Joseph Guadagnini. 

I’m wondering if anyone can help shed some light on the maker of this rather remarkable but unusual instrument. 

Thanks,
Anthony

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At least the violin looks well made and shows Guadagnini features. This forum might not be the right place to confirm the authenticity. You need to ask a respected expert like Blot, Biddulph, Carlson  etc.

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On 5/13/2022 at 11:23 AM, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Nice violin, not "the usual"

Definitely not!  It's so nice to see pretty things like this occasionally.  And lucky OP! :D 

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For me this looks very odd.

The label is definitely not an original Giuseppe Guadagnini label, the scroll is rather squat and lumpy, and the f-holes are strange to say the least.

All of which is not to say that it’s isn’t the violin that was sold by Wurlitzer, but I don’t believe it’s authentic.

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

For me this looks very odd.

The label is definitely not an original Giuseppe Guadagnini label, the scroll is rather squat and lumpy, and the f-holes are strange to say the least.

All of which is not to say that it’s isn’t the violin that was sold by Wurlitzer, but I don’t believe it’s authentic.

Hmm, makes you want to wonder how he made an incorrect attribution. I guess with today’s methods (eg. Dendro, the cataloging of makers’ instruments, etc.) such mistakes aren’t as common. 

Do you have any idea what this could be from your experience, Martin?

 

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Despite its Guadagninish features definitely not authentic.

G.B. Guadagnini became at the beginning of the 19th century an often copied maker. The (incomplete) list I was able to compile includes  over 50 names of German, English, Hungarian, French, and Italian makers. Even some Factories started to label instruments with the name of G.B. Guadagnini which shows somehow the popularity of his name.
 

It seems that Italian makers during the Great Depression often copied works of their predecessors which could be sold to American dealing companies. Unobserved by their peers in Europe they would pass them off for profit by making some ambiguous attributions to the instrument in question. So if a copy failed to have enough resemblance to G.B. Guadagnini it would be ‘downgraded’ to the name of a son or grandson, knowing that buyers wouldn’t be able to detect the fraud.

Famous for this practice became the so called ‘English workshop’ in Hungary which produced on this scheme instruments for the American trade (possibly exclusively for one company) and apparently with the intention of fraudulent selling.

Sometimes we find behind those instruments well known names like Celeste Farotti who made efforts to do authentic looking antiquing. Many other makers would simply make instruments loosely based on some typical features of G.B. Guadagnini with no special efforts of antiquing. I would see your instrument in the latter category and would think the wear was added at a later stage. This explains also the fake Josef Guadagnini label which was presumably added by the seller and not by the maker.

Concerning the Wurlitzer company there was apparently a clear change between dealings of Rudolph Wurlitzer and his son Rembert. During the reign of Rudolph, business was governed by selling instruments no matter how. (1) (Maybe it was anyway only a sort of side business to the selling of Wurlitzer jukeboxes) One of the major salespersons in the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company was Jay Freeman who would sell anything to cover his gambling debts, so making solid authentifications for instruments was certainly not his major concern. It was only Rembert who seriously started serious dealing in high class instruments. He had trained his expertise in the then most famous dealing company in England, W.E. hill and Sons, and his knowledge propelled the business to the level of a world class violin business. I don’t have any record when the takeover was taking place, but in 1931 he was still a young man of 27 and had most likely not the lead in the company when his father was only 58. (Supposedly your catalogue bears the name of Rudolph Wurlitzer)

So in summary the Wurlitzer catalogue label and the faked instrument together might be correct.

It’s close to impossible to determine the maker of your copy, because there is probably no comparable instrument with an authentic label of the same maker anywhere. Dendrochnology isn’t very helpful either because those makers didn’t work from the same tree during their working lives. However for historic records it is advisable to touch neither of the two labels.

(1) There is a very similar instrument selling company working in Tokyo today which started their main dealings in guitars long ago. While it is, with the background of the Internet, impossible to sell obvious fakes to customers, profit can be maximized with making high grade factory instruments made 100 years ago look like the work of a master. 

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The rather complex history includes at least that it was once sold as "possibly by Giuseppe Gudagnini" at Christie's. Whatever this means. Before saying that it's not possible to identify it's origin I would want to see and know more about details, construction etc., but I'm still thinking that here's not the right place to come to a definite conclusion.

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-possibly-by-giuseppe-guadagnini-5185608/

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48 minutes ago, Blank face said:

The rather complex history includes at least that it was once sold as "possibly by Giuseppe Gudagnini" at Christie's. Whatever this means. Before saying that it's not possible to identify it's origin I would want to see and know more about details, construction etc., but I'm still thinking that here's not the right place to come to a definite conclusion.

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-possibly-by-giuseppe-guadagnini-5185608/

Nice detective work :wub:

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8 hours ago, Blank face said:

The rather complex history includes at least that it was once sold as "possibly by Giuseppe Gudagnini" at Christie's. Whatever this means. Before saying that it's not possible to identify it's origin I would want to see and know more about details, construction etc., but I'm still thinking that here's not the right place to come to a definite conclusion.

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-possibly-by-giuseppe-guadagnini-5185608/

Oh that's very informative, thank you!

Hmm... Could it be that the original seller was adamant that it was a Giuseppe and as a result, the auctioneers at Christie's were forced reluctantly to list it with the term, 'possibly'? :P

Otherwise, it would seem that their expert was not convinced one way or the other but as other posters have commented on the forum, it seems more likely to be the former. 

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1 hour ago, AnthonyC said:

Oh that's very informative, thank you!

Hmm... Could it be that the original seller was adamant that it was a Giuseppe and as a result, the auctioneers at Christie's were forced reluctantly to list it with the term, 'possibly'? :P

Otherwise, it would seem that their expert was not convinced one way or the other but as other posters have commented on the forum, it seems more likely to be the former. 

That's all very speculative, also much of what other posters have written. Of course it appears likely that somebody who bought this violin from Christies for a 37.5 K Dollar sum would have done some research on it afterwards. I'm also wondering why the "complex history" you mentioned didn't include the auction, and what else you have been told about it.

What I'm seeing is a violin with interesting details like the tiny impressions of a template at the scroll eye, which would point at least to an informed copyist, and OTOH the formerly mentioned over-stiff shaped ff and maybe exeggerated bold scroll and have no idea what to think of it. The label is clearly a much later addition and an inside covered in "dirt" as black as coal would also be a red flag. Some of the wear and scratches could be artificially made, but I'm not really sure of it by the photos. So my advice would be to show it someone knowledgeable in person.

9 hours ago, Shelbow said:

Nice detective work :wub:

A simple Google picture search did it.B)

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« possibly by » is about as negative as an auction listing can be!

I suspect this is something reasonably decent which has been enhanced, maybe in the Bisiach back shop or English Workshop as Andreas suggests . The edgework looks a bit Florentine to me - de Zorzi or Paoletti but I think it’s just because of the rather extreme varnish wipe.

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