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Anonymous violin

 
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Canuck
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Joined: 15 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Anonymous violin Reply with quote

I own three violins. My first violin has nothing marked inside to give any clue as the origin, maker, date, style, or whatever. I have been told independently by two appraisers that they believe it to be German or Austrian, and to date from the last quarter of the 19th century.

The second violin I acquired is marked "Stradiuvarius (sic) Cremonentjis (sic)" with no date. Like I believed that the day I bought it? Not really. Several months after I bought it, the fellow I bought it from found the receipt from when he bought it. The receipt stated it was Yamaha, and was circa 1920. Perhaps somewhat closer to the truth.

My most recent acquisition (as mentioned elsewhere on this message board) is clearly marked "Joseph Collingwood, Philadelphia, 1928", and with a serial number.

My purpose for bringing this up is that I find it difficult to believe that a maker of a violin (be it an individual maker or mass producer) would make the instrument, and a./ not identify it, or b./ falsify its provenance. Rather than to mark it the way my Collingwood is marked. Anyone shed any light on this conundrum?
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Michael Darnton
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By number, the vast majority of violins were made as cheap things that sold for a dollar or two, so there wasn't any maker's pride involved in them. Many of them were made for retailers who might put their own shop label in so that they could claim to have an exclusive product.

A modern version of this is brake fluid. Remember how it used to come in cone-topped metal cans, ALL brands on the market? That wasn't so you could identify brake fluid by the can--it was because they all came from the same machine at the same factory--only the printing on the can was different. (I worked in a factory that canned brake fluid when I was in college. There were a lot of other similar products that came from that one factory--charcoal starter was another: kerosene with perfume, if I remember correctly).

On the ones that got "false" labels, the companies didn't feel like they were falsifying anything--they were making violins to those models, and the idea was both to complete the concept of copying right down to the label and to identify the model being used.
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Canuck
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply. It would seem that no thought was given by these makers that their instrument(s) would survive them and fall into the hands of collectors and musicians who wonder of the provenance of these instruments. But considering the low prices I see advertised for some new violins today, I guess I can understand. I know three luthiers, all of whom mark their instruments.
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the older German violins you see, and the new Chinese, too, are not made by one person, anyway. Someone might make the ribs, another person do the outline on the plates, someone else finish them, another assemble, a different person carving necks, and so on. This is how Henry Ford would make violins, for the same reason. This is real mass production:
http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/2050828

Here's the Bazin bow shop from 100 year or so ago. You can see that those older French bows that now cost a lot of money weren't being made one at a time by artistic old men with white hair and beards:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atelier_Bazin.jpg
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Canuck
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I collect watches, and the production system you describe regarding violins was also used in many European watches, likely up until the early 20th century. So anonymity is a major problem with such watches as well.
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polkat
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Joined: 16 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Literally thousands of those things were sold from around 1880 to 1920 or so by Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward. A friends repo Wards catalog shows the High Quality model going for $12.95

Surprisingly, I've seen a few of those factory fiddles that actually sounded quite good. A thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters and all that![/i]
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