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Tens of millions of dollars worth of violins once owned by a "fiddler"


Gary M
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I've been thinking about my next project, and I think that I want to do something along the lines of Bergonzi. I like the "sweeter" sounding instruments. My teacher seems rather taken by them too, so he's already given it some thought as well.

I've been collecting patterns, Strad posters and tone wood but it would be nice to get a look at one to help my visualization process. Luckily for me the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan is nearby, and I know that they have one on display. They also have a nice collection of other classic violins as Mr. Ford fancied himself a "fiddler." So, what does a 1920s Industrialist, who fancies himself a fiddler, do but buy himself some violins.

They include a 1740 Carlo Bergonzi, a 1780 Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, a 1735 Nicola Gagliano, a 1744 Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu "The Doyen,", a 1647 Nicolo Amati and two golden era Strads, the 1703 "Rougemont", and the 1709 "Siberian." Oh, and let's not forget a Francois Xavier Tourte bow.

Today I took a ride over there and here are some pictures of the exhibit. Got to say, I was impressed.
 

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While Mr. Ford Sr. was certainly anti-Semitic and the quality of the automobiles made by the company he founded is a matter of personal opinion. This is a forum about violins and other stringed instruments.

No comments about the fact that there is a glass case with 8 violins worth tens of millions of dollars/euros/pounds sitting in a museum in Dearborn Michigan? Should somebody be playing them? (Actually, the Strads go out on loan to the Sphinx Organization on a regular basis.) What about the quality and history of these particular violins?

I was amazed that looking at them again, after many years, and with now a tiny bit more knowledge about building them how these instruments looked. Asymmetrical F holes. Plain backs. Uneven purfling. Wow, these are the great masters? Bet they sound good though.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

Glad they have them out in a case again.  After the last curator retired they spent many years in storage.  I especially like the Doyen and the Bergonzi.

Gosh Jeffery, I was hoping either you or Burgess or Wilson or somebody local who knows something was looking after these instruments on behalf of the museum. 

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2 hours ago, Gary M said:

Gosh Jeffery, I was hoping either you or Burgess or Wilson or somebody local who knows something was looking after these instruments on behalf of the museum. 

When I worked with David many years ago (in the '80s) we'd (us shop rats) visit the Ford and the curator would occasionally visit us (with some interesting stuff, not just fiddles). David was "their guy". Things changed with the new administration.  The instruments were not displayed and kept in "locker like" storage cabinets. After the Begonzi exhibition in Cremona (the Begonzi was taken out, flown over, and exhibited there) finally things started to "open up" again. For the past several years, I believe Sharon Que has been looking after the collection.

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32 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Here is a good story by Joseph Curtin about Maude Powell's "Guadagnini" violin, another violin in the Henry Ford collection. (Spoiler alert: It was actually a George Gemünder violin.)

https://josephcurtinstudios.com/maud-powells-violin/

Yup... I believe it was the Warrens that straightened that out a long time ago (the article may mention that.. I didn't read it).  I always knew it as a Gemünder, and that has been over 40 years.  That violin was also included in the Library of Congress for the American Violin exhibition.

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30 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Here is a good story by Joseph Curtin about Maude Powell's "Guadagnini" violin, another violin in the Henry Ford collection. (Spoiler alert: It was actually a George Gemünder violin.)

https://josephcurtinstudios.com/maud-powells-violin/

Thanks George & Jeffery. That is fascinating! Assuming they still have it, they chose not to display it.

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