Beautiful Lightweight Gem, German Violin, Late 18th Century
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This is a violin which has resisted many hours if not days at identification. My first thoughts had me going to John Johnson, London maker of the mid 1700’s. English or thereabouts. The instrument has that sort of copy style, but nothing totally could give me a definitive yes. To be fair and safe I’m sticking for now to a beautiful old German violin with tremendous age and wood choice.
This gorgeous instrument is outstanding, healthy, and full of character. It was made by a maker with skilled workmanship as shown in the arching, bee stings, scroll, and lining to block work. The varnish is a simple golden brown coloring on a yellow ground. The natural playing wear on this instrument helps set this violin apart. The patina sheen is the result of two plus centuries of playing and the numerous times the violin went in and out of its case. The instrument is light in weight, with the spruce top plate of fine to medium width straight grain. The maple back, ribs, neck, and scroll are highly flamed and well above the norm. A well carved neck graft is another one of the highlights found on this violin. Years ago, someone carved the date “1784” into the scroll above the inlaid pieces found on both cheeks of the scroll. The instrument is in good condition, with no major issues. We meticulously went over the violin inside and out and I cautiously attribute the violin to a German workshop. We did some small cleating on the ribs inside to stabilize, and since it was so nice, we decided to go the extra mile and bushed all eight peg holes. This violin has had three bushings in its history. The violin is what I call a sleeper. A fantastic instrument with no label.
• Corpus – 357.0 mm.,
• Major Width 202.0 mm.,
• Minor Width 159.0 mm.,
• Rib Height 29.0 mm.
The sound is full of character, different enough to make this violin stand out. The tone is clear, almost silvery in the upper strings and a buttery, mature, warm middle and lower range. The G and D strings have rich overtones and darker colors that will make the player smile when they begin to play. The bottom is gorgeous and the treble side oh so nice too. The treble sound compliments the low end and as a player the instrument just lays wells and is easy to play. The violin responded to aggressive playing, handling it well, and had great response even with very little pressure from the bow. The instrument produces a tremendous sound and is a resounding match for the orchestral and/or chamber player looking for a sweet sound. A German violin, good condition, over the top age, and ready for another generation of playing.