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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: