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Mysterious old violin
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
Stockholm, Sweden
Honorary advisor

October 2, 2012 - 10:23 am
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 302
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Last night as I was biking home from my parents, I saw what I was decently certain was a violin case in a second hand furniture shop. Today I swung by to check it out, and look what I found!

oldviolin1.jpgImage Enlarger

Terribly dilapidated to be sure, but cool as! It has cracks here and there and the varnish is very worn. No strings, no bridge (I checked under the little flap too), broken string holder. And the neck has come off. The bow is in no better condition, with its broken screw and loose hairs. It's not octagonal but round, I don't know how common that is. But it seemed balanced enough, and not warped or anything. Lighter than my bow, I think, although that could have been due to the lack of hair...

oldviolin2.jpgImage Enlarger

The wood seems to be high quality, flamed maple back and tightly grained spruce. The soundpost is in place (a bit odd considering the general condition...!) No purfling, though. I don't even know if that means anything.

The belly and the back have an interesting shape, too. Okay, I'm no expert or anything, far from it, but it's not shaped like my violin. Much more steeply curved, both more convex at the middle (under the would-be strings) and more concave as you near the sides.

There's no text or note inside it, so I couldn't make out where it's from or how old it is. But it lives in a wonderful wooden case!

oldviolincase.jpgImage Enlarger

I think it's home built. The only marking I could find in the case was an imprint that seems to say "Göteborg" (Gothenburg). Someone has written things underneath the little flap of the small compartment, but the paper it was on is too torn to make anything out. The red stickers on the case say "Three parts" and "1890". I thought the number might be the price and said that seemed far too high ($290), but the bloke in the store said it might be the year it's from.

So, all you awesomely cool people who repair old fiddles, what do you make of it?

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~ Once you've ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. ~

Fort Lauderdale
October 2, 2012 - 1:22 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 13968

IMAO, it would be a mistake to get this fiddle. If they could sell it for $20 you could turn it into a project for learning but it could cost you many hundreds of dollars to get it in playable condition. Even if you did, there is no guarantee you would even appreciate the sound that came out of it when all is said and done.
As an ornament for your wall, $20 would be a good price.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

King for a Day, Peasant for many

October 2, 2012 - 3:46 pm
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1814
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WOW, even I wouldn't touch that one! facepalm

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Stockholm, Sweden
Honorary advisor

October 3, 2012 - 3:41 am
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 302
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Thank you for the discouragement! I was thinking those things too, but I wanted the experts' opinion so I wouldn't go around thinking maybe I should have gone for it... hats_off

~ Once you've ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. ~

NW Atlanta
Regular advisor

October 3, 2012 - 10:06 am
Member Since: August 22, 2012
Forum Posts: 100
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The fiddle I was given came in a similar case and was, from my perspective, in poor condition.  However, there was no damage to the fiddle itself other than some varnish issues, old strings, and mismatched strings.  My bow and case, like this one, was almost completely trashed.  It too was made back in the 1800's and had no internal markings.  As in good of shape as it is, it still cost me $150 just to get it back into working condition.  Were it not that the sound was amazing even with the worn out strings on it, I wouldn't have gone through the initial effort/cost as Pierre mentioned.

It's still a great piece of history and were it not to so pricey, I'd buy it myself just for historical reasons.  $300 is a good bit to pay for an unknown as even minor repair add up quickly if done right.

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa

October 3, 2012 - 10:39 am
Member Since: September 10, 2011
Forum Posts: 1969
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This would be a violin I would buy for $20.00.  The case is worth that much. The violin I would take apart and use as parts but you would never get a good violin from this that is worth what you would have to pay even if you did the work yourself.  Think of all the things you would need, New pegs strings, tailpiece, bridge, chin rest, end pin, tail gut, bow hair, frog and then fixing the cracks and refinishing. For the price you would spend you could buy a good violin.


If you want to buy it to learn to repair violins and can get it for $20.00 then go for it and I and others here will help you but keep in mind this will not be a great violin when done.

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