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Bela Szepessy Violin


TRK

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1886 London. Here are some pictures for your viewing entertainment. My late father played this violin, and he loved it. A commanding powerful virtuoso soloist tone. A breathtakingly beautiful and sounding instrument. IMG_7708.thumb.jpeg.fada48d93faa597f2c35d1a6fe7dcf71.jpegIMG_7709.thumb.jpeg.99f27818d4406a2aa71e949161938520.jpegIMG_7710.thumb.jpeg.51b96b38e79c8e364d0238fb55cb314c.jpegIMG_7711.thumb.jpeg.de051313bfa67333f3807526d2459517.jpegIMG_7712.thumb.jpeg.80ada39cfa22c9a40d9303e484323b9c.jpegIMG_7713.thumb.jpeg.9eabf80bafdbf7f7a57bc4deabfdd802.jpegIMG_7714.thumb.jpeg.a7c0781ffbb4d492a67f9090b53459f6.jpegIMG_7715.thumb.jpeg.b9c526ade5efdd5574212eab26c3f1e9.jpeg

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Edited by TRK
Grammar
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Color is reddish orange. #23 or #33. It’s hard to read the first digit.

 

I have a very interesting story about this violin and it’s provenance:

 

 

This violin was acquired from a highly regarded Luthier in the Macon Georgia area about 30 years ago by my father. This violin came over to United States from Europe around the turn of the century. I am not sure of when this violin skidded the ocean but we know it was owned by a young lady music student who attended Wesleyan college in Macon, Georgia. She played this instrument  at her graduation recital on May 04, 1903 at Wesleyan College in Macon.  I will attach a copy of the Recital Programme. After her graduation we are not sure where the violin went.

 

According to our sources, this violin sat in a closet for 70 years or more until my dad’s violin maker friend acquired it in Macon, Georgia. According to the violin maker, this violin had an Antonio Stradivari label in it. He discovered upon examining the instrument that the label appeared to be placed over another label so he carefully removed the Stradivari label to reveal the Bela label. Removing the label may have kind of obscured the first digit on the serial number, but it looks like it’s either a 23 or a 33. 

 

He speculated that when instruments were brought to the US from overseas around the turn of the century, newer items were charged a higher import duty fee than antique items so that’s the thinking as to why the Antonio Stradivari label was placed over the Bela label.

 

My father pursued the purchase of this instrument during the 1980’s - early 90’s and finally acquired it since the violin maker in Macon was starting to get elderly and was interested in selling his instruments. Quite an interesting story.

 

I’ve attached some pictures of the violin in full sunlight, and also the Recital Programme.IMG_7968.thumb.jpeg.311cfc614043d03646e830f314a7004b.jpegIMG_7969.thumb.jpeg.2233eb43e79bac9972ed4eb8f70e2816.jpegIMG_7976.thumb.jpeg.6748ef649b90587958c92ca3faf6c052.jpegIMG_7975.thumb.jpeg.be34f1a9685e3516b6c1210c2f5618d1.jpegIMG_7977.thumb.jpeg.cd54db68fadbc58db0674c34c7068bf7.jpeg

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Edited by TRK
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15 hours ago, Hetland said:

Is the bridge on backwards?

No.

Back is 360. I measured the LB / UB at 207 / 166 but that is my nonprofessional measurement. Description from Skinner attached. 

13 hours ago, Hetland said:

What is the condition like? Is the back length 356mm or 359.5. The lower bout is probably 209mm but is the upper bout 166mm or 169mm?

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Thanks I'm travelling and can only view on my i-phone mini. The G string side of the bridge looked much lower than the E string side and the fingerboard side of the bridge looked flat (I guess it has warped). Must be an artifact of the photos. Are the linings Cedar? They would appear darker brown compared to the rest of the interior. Is it signed and dated (handwritten) on the inside upper back (usually bass side not always)? You should be able to see it by shining a light in one f-hole and looking at the inside upper bout through the other. You say this is the original label? Can you get a better more complete photo of it? Again small phone(and blurry) but it doesn't look quite right in your last photo. The proportions on the crown and the way the N is written are atypical; perhaps it has been damaged.

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Regarding the label please read my 2nd post on the thread. Lining is darker than the the surrounding wood. Not sure if that confirms it is cedar though. I know Bela signed some of his instruments.  I did not discern any signature. My flashlight through the F-hole just doesn’t show enough or maybe I need a scope. More pictures of the bridge and label are attached. I assume the bridge is on correct since before my father died he had a master luthier go over the violin and check it out. He made sure everything was fine. He played it quite often along with his Leandro Bisiach & Stefano Scarampella and the Bela was every bit as playable and powerful sounding as the other instruments. 

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It really is a shame that the label got so mangled.  it's almost impossible to believe that a "Strad" label over such a badly mangled label could possibly have fooled customs agents to the age of the instrument, or at the very least, not arouse suspicion.

FWIW I think it was subsequently mangled.  Szepessy was very detail-oriented and he wouldn't have left in such a badly mangled label.  And it's more likely the serial is 23 rather than 33.

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14 hours ago, Hempel said:

It really is a shame that the label got so mangled.  it's almost impossible to believe that a "Strad" label over such a badly mangled label could possibly have fooled customs agents to the age of the instrument, or at the very least, not arouse suspicion.

FWIW I think it was subsequently mangled.  Szepessy was very detail-oriented and he wouldn't have left in such a badly mangled label.  And it's more likely the serial is 23 rather than 33.

I assume the Szepessy label got « mangled » in the process of removing the Strad label. It looks like water damage.

TRK : nice violin! What is the origin of the Skinner catalogue listing ? Was the violin sold at auction? Or unsold …

I take it you’re looking for a buyer …?

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

I take it you’re looking for a buyer …?

I'd guess you may be correct, though I don't know the seller's frame.  

I'd request all stays as non-commercial on the board as possible, however. 

Thanks to the OP for sharing. Szepessy instruments can be very nice.

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29 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I'd request all stays as non-commercial on the board as possible, however. 

 

Indeed, that’s why I was asking. The only explanation I can think of for the way this violin has been presented is that it’s for sale.

in which case it shouldn’t be on Maestronet.

I’m certainly not in the market for a Szepessy - we’ve had three through our hands and they all got put into auction in the end  - i guess none of them had a commanding powerful soloist tone …

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

I assume the Szepessy label got « mangled » in the process of removing the Strad label. It looks like water damage.

TRK : nice violin! What is the origin of the Skinner catalogue listing ? Was the violin sold at auction? Or unsold …

I take it you’re looking for a buyer …?

Thanks! Yes, the label got nicked on the side probably from removing the Strad label.

Skinner description was from an appraisal done by K. Keane & F. Oster in Atlanta when they were at the Antique Roadshow years ago.

I have no interest in selling. I just wanted to share a nice London made violin by a Hungarian born maker for everyone that has quite a story / provenance behind it.

I appreciate all the positive comments.

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16 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Indeed, that’s why I was asking. The only explanation I can think of for the way this violin has been presented is that it’s for sale.

in which case it shouldn’t be on Maestronet.

I’m certainly not in the market for a Szepessy - we’ve had three through our hands and they all got put into auction in the end  - i guess none of them had a commanding powerful soloist tone …

I just wanted to share a nice story on a beautiful London made violin by a Hungarian born maker.

Violin is not for sale. Sorry for any confusion.

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42 minutes ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

I'd guess you may be correct, though I don't know the seller's frame.  

I'd request all stays as non-commercial on the board as possible, however. 

Thanks to the OP for sharing. Szepessy instruments can be very nice.

Thanks Jeffrey. Violin is Not for sale. 

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5 hours ago, martin swan said:

Indeed, that’s why I was asking. The only explanation I can think of for the way this violin has been presented is that it’s for sale.

in which case it shouldn’t be on Maestronet.

I’m certainly not in the market for a Szepessy - we’ve had three through our hands and they all got put into auction in the end  - i guess none of them had a commanding powerful soloist tone …

OP already stated elsewhere that his deceased father's violins aren't for sale.  As far as I'm concerned there's nothing commercial or crass about the OPs postings.

Once in a blue moon nice specimens get posted on the Pegbox.  

Most of the time eyebleeds ("What is this violin?") get posted here by turnaround artists or fleabay lifers.  

Unless you want to persist the fine tradition of eyebleeds on the Pegbox, posts like the OP should be encouraged, not discouraged.

A bit ironic that you in your marketing blurbs "If you want a Strad without a lifetime of slavery this would foot the bill" would be questioning other people's motives for posting.

 

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17 hours ago, Hempel said:

OP already stated elsewhere that his deceased father's violins aren't for sale.  As far as I'm concerned there's nothing commercial or crass about the OPs postings.

Once in a blue moon nice specimens get posted on the Pegbox.  

Most of the time eyebleeds ("What is this violin?") get posted here by turnaround artists or fleabay lifers.  

Unless you want to persist the tradition of eyebleeds on the Pegbox, posts like the OP should be encouraged, not discouraged.

A bit ironic that you in your marketing blurbs "If you want a Strad without a lifetime of slavery this would foot the bill" would be questions other people's motives for posting.

 

Hempel;

I was aware of this fact, Martin probably was not...  That's why I took a slightly more diplomatic approach. It seemed to have worked.

You are correct. I thinks it's much more fun to see interesting, rare, or just beautiful stuff and that should be encouraged. However, I certainly understand Martin's concern.  I've deleted many commercial and market leaning posts before most/all see them over the years... and some others that sneak by or that I'm alerted to that I miss at first..  

I appreciate (especially) those in the trade that resist the temptation to self-promote.

In a public forum, I expect to see plenty of the usual and some of the sublime... but I don't think it's really necessary to berate those innocents who are curious about what they have, even when we're tired of seeing a particular category.  Really not too difficult to avoid those threads.

BTW: To those not familiar with this maker, I've handled a few fiddles by  Szepessy... One I recall very fondly that I thought sounded extremely well and had plenty of volume.

Best,

Jeffrey

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Can now view your photos on a large screen. Lovely instrument, absolutely correct and typical of his large Strad model from the period. Thanks for the new photos. I would have a new bridge cut, but that's just me:). Coincidentally my host is a player/collector with a very large collection of fine Hungarian violins: Nemessanyi, Szepessy, Spiegel etc. He has the goal of acquiring 1 Szepessy from each year the maker was active in London! :wub:Some are in his private collection others are loaned out to young players. Don't worry Mr. Holmes he already owns an even nicer 1886 szepessy. I Asked if I could upload a photo of some of Szepessy's violins. He pulled out these 3 as they represent 3 different models after Nemessanyi, Strad, and Del Gesu and their photo have already been in the public domain. The one in the middle is unique in that it has a top made from red Cedar probably from Canada and is the only one like this I am aware of.Szepessytimes3A.thumb.JPG.10fd819472b701dbfe3f69bf3b45ff28.JPG

7 hours ago, martin swan said:

I’m certainly not in the market for a Szepessy - we’ve had three through our hands and they all got put into auction in the end  - i guess none of them had a commanding powerful soloist tone …

My host has probably played more Szepessys than most so I asked him how he would characterize the Szepessy sound. His reply "Deep always, powerful, even, rich and nuanced. Every note rings making them really easy to play in tune, that's something Staryk commented on. Except if they have been re-thicknessed then all bets are off"  Mr. Swan I would Imagine this is why they have such a cult following in the UKB)

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I’m not aware of the cult following in the UK. Because Szepessy worked in London most of his violins are in the UK but I’ve never found them easy to sell. I think they are more popular with dealers than with players.

OP sorry for my scepticism about your motives but i was confused by the Skinner appraisal, and by the similarity of your post to the covert selling posts that pop up on Maestronet from time to time.

 

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

I’m not aware of the cult following in the UK. Because Szepessy worked in London most of his violins are in the UK but I’ve never found them easy to sell. I think they are more popular with dealers than with players.

OP sorry for my scepticism about your motives but i was confused by the Skinner appraisal, and by the similarity of your post to the covert selling posts that pop up on Maestronet from time to time.

 

I was actually quoting Mr Hebbert

Bela Szepessy

His violins have something of a cult following amongst English musicians. 
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