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To start with the end of the story, this is the label...
... which Pierre had the awesome idea of adding to a new, off brand sample which I bought yesterday for my adult son in London. It's now all wrapped up for shippment to London (at Fiddlershop's astoundingly preferential rates!)
The beginning of the story is long, bittersweet and goes back nearly 20 years. More to follow.
The story starts back in the early 1900s when my Polish born grandmother was a child in Brooklyn. The family scraped together enough to buy her a decent German violin. My mother remembers "Nana" still playing it when she, herself, was a kid.
The violin itch then skipped two generations.
Fast forward to 1994, Cologne.
Six year old Ben had just finished three years of typically German early music classes and needed to choose an instrument to enter 1st grade. Since he had a big time crush on his kiddy-music-teacher and since she also gave private violin lessons, choosing the violin was a no brainer for him. Lots of squeaking ensued. But as we're all experiencing, practice makes better (not perfect) and that's what happened.
By about 1990 Ben was was ready for a 4/4. I think Nana's violin was still with my mother in New York so we went on the hunt in and around Cologne. No well made, affordable Chinese instruments in sight yet. The numerous local string instrument shops were all pretty posh... their prices too. We finally found a French violin from the late 1800s from a hobby luthier who would buy old instruments in Poland and fix them up himself. Because of the odd source (and the lovely, relatively quiet, mellow sound) we thought we had found a great buy. What did we know... It certainly looked the part:
The violin did indeed serve Ben well through his school years... and then the instrument was retired to the back of a closet as so often happens.
About 2010, the French-Polish violin made its was back to Florida with me. I stayed in Florida while the instrument was soon sent as a loaner to friends in Canada for one of their talented daughters.
Moving forward to this Spring, Ben was in Boca for a quick visit and saw Nana's violin, without a case, up on... you guessed it... a shelf at the back of yet another closet. "Oh, cool" he said, "There's stuff you can't play on a guitar, I think I'll take it back with me".
Unfortunately, no case, no shops open to buy one on Sunday and his return ticket to London that night.
Cliff hanger, ha, ha...
Some of you can figure out at least part of the rest of the story. I wound up using Nana's violin for starters and here I am on the forum.
But back to Ben. For anyone who's counting, he just had a big birthday (30) and a new violin was his wish. Buy in London at their steep prices or buy in the USA and incur shipping and customs costs, that was the question.
But as luck had it, the Canadian friend's daughters were done with the French-Polish relic and it was looking like Ben was going to be reunited with his childhood instrument. NOT. After a back-and-forth Montreal-Fiddlershop (where the instrument was to be put back in shape), the real item finally arrived. But yikes, the old (oversized and over thick) patch on the back, covering what was now a 5 inch sound post crack, had given way. As they say in the real estate business, this violin was seriously "under water." A professional repair would have cost triple what it was worth!