Ferdinand HOMOLKA German/Bohemian Workshop Violin circa 1900 – Beautiful!


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Label reads:

Ferdinandus Aug Homolka
Fecit Prague 1866 ( F.H.) circled

Ferdinand August Homolka studied violin making with his dad – a typical work experience and path for a young man back in the 19th century. He worked in Prague and was born and died in the same city (1818-1890). He would have been considered a Bohemian maker and of considerable note. Bohemia was known for their fantastic artisans and seemingly inexhaustible natural resources. If a maker has great wood at their fingertips, the process was made a lot easier to build great instruments. This violin has medium arching, a great choice of woods, oil varnish in tints of red, orange, yellow and red/brown shading all on a golden ground. The varnish has a beautiful patina and natural wear, very subtle. Our violin was not made by Ferdinand but is a very nice workshop copy of his work, most likely made a few hundred miles away in Bohemia or present-day Germany. Copying fine makers from other cultures and cities was a practice at the time and became an art in itself. This violin is a reproduction of a Homolka violin, and I do not know who exactly made the instrument. The violin stands on its own and is easily an over 100-year-old violin. This was no second or third-year journeyman maker who made this instrument. The violin is way above average in many aspects: scroll work, f holes, lines of the violin, and the arching. The wood choice is wow! and the old varnish look is spot on for the time period, late 1800’s through 1918. The violin has spent some time in a very famous shop in New York City, the workshop of French violin maker René A. Morel on West 54th Street. I found a handwritten receipt in the bottom of the case showing he worked on this instrument in his workshop in 1968. His bridge for this instrument was in the case along with the violin I purchased and a bunch of other older bridges. Truly a find for me as a violin maker who grew up in the New York/New Jersey area in the 60’s and 70’s. The bridge works extremely well on the violin and was cut for the violin in 1968. The bridge is a piece of French maple, a “De Luxe” AUBURT model bridge probably already aged wood of 20-30 years before Rene cut the blank for this instrument. René Morel was the only guy Perlman took his violin to for restorations and adjustments while he was alive. That is a Wow! in my book. We completely went over this violin cutting a new set of ebony pegs, doing a little touch up varnish work, removing the nut, and cambering the fingerboard, adding a new tailpiece, chinrest, and kept the bridge and post already cut for the instrument.

Corpus 357.0 mm., Major Width 202.0 mm., Minor Width 164.0 mm., Rib Height 30.0 mm

The sound is resonant and alive. The violin pumps when you play and has an ample amount of power. The bass end is mature and does not fail even as you move up into higher positions. The violin has clarity and speaks very well. The treble side will not disappoint either. The E & A strings are crisp and lively and produce a sweet sound matched in power by the bass side. The sound and sustain are outstanding and for the price this instrument will not be here long in the showroom. Remember instruments are all about three things: sound, sound, and sound.