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The fiddle market in the USA in the 1920s and 1930s
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 
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Gordon Shumway
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February 17, 2021 - 4:30 am
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Whenever I listen to fiddle music or read a book on the subject, I wonder what their advice is on buying an instrument. Then I realise the answer is predictable - they go to Fiddlershop or buy a Jay Haide or so on. So I wondered what answers I'd get if I go back to a time long ago.

I'm guessing that, apart from expensive imports such as the likes of Yehudi Menuhin had, you had a lot of immigrants brought Bohemian violins into the country, and a lot of luthiers immigrated and set up violin workshops in the USA, but did any of their names survive?

How much money would a fiddler have spent? Did most of them inherit talent and instrument from family? I'm talking about someone in the backwoods of Arkansas. Do they get their fiddle from the local general store, or do they save for years then go to the big town (Pine Bluff)?

Maybe a modern fiddler would hunt down an antique home-grown instrument?

Is it interesting to discuss, or am I missing something obvious? I joined a fiddle forum a few months ago but found myself responding to 8-year-old threads and quit.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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@Gordon Shumway - 

https://img1.etsystatic.com/172/0/6686845/il_340x270.1230457903_j09t.jpg

 

 

Oh, you wouldn't know! 

Back then, you ordered everything from the Sears Roebuck catalog! 

...and when the catalog was out of date it got used in the outhouse. (lol) 

 

https://www.printablee.com/postpic/2009/08/country-outhouse-prints_142415.jpg

 

- Emily

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stringy
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I saw a really good tv program only a couple of months ago cant for the life of me think what it was called but it was about modern day farmers in the states who play fiddle, and they all made their own. It followed one particular old fellow who was entering the annual fiddle competition and was making a new fiddle just for it. The fiddle itself once made was really beautiful to look at and sounded amazing, as well as his playing of it. would imagine they did the same way back then, as I would have thought money would have  been very tight in those days.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Mouse
February 17, 2021 - 7:20 am
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I susoect Stringy is correct, if you go back before the Sears Catalog. I think once the Sears Catalog comes out, those who can afford one through that would get it there. I also think they were handed down through generations. 

Sounds like I am straddling all the saddles, but I think it depended on your situation. I bet during the depression and other individual financial hardships, they used used ones handed down, or made their own. I would suspect that music, fiddling, would have played a part in their entertainment or just surviving mentally back during those times. 

I wonder how many people took up an instrument during COVID, just to maintain their “sanity”. That is why I think during the financial hardship times back then, they made them, or had used ones handed down.

This is an interesting topic.

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Gordon Shumway
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Here's an example of the 1922 Sears catalogue violin section.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/c.....38;seq=524

Andrew

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AndrewH
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I notice that the Sears catalog includes violins, cellos, and basses... and no violas.

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Gordon Shumway
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Yes, sad, but true. I'm not sure why yet, but the index begins on about page 507 half way through the catalogue. Unless the catalogue has many sections and there's an index for each.

Andrew

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ELCBK
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@Gordon Shumway - 

Thanks for finding that page!

A whole violin outfit... for $4.95 - bow, case, rosin, extra strings, fingerboard chart and instruction book!

There ya go... Sears, Roebuck & Co. 

Pretty amazing for the Roaring Twenties. 

"Music history in America also credits Sears catalog with changing American life style because of the inexpensive but quality musical instruments offered through mail order." (Ancestory.ca) 

The company stayed strong during the Great Depression, too.

 

Rolling Along Emoticons- Emily

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Ilona
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Gordon Shumway said
Here's an example of the 1922 Sears catalogue violin section.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/c.....38;seq=524

  

OMG, this is so cool! This catalogue is from year 1922? Very nice part of history! 

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Mouse
February 17, 2021 - 10:51 am
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I miss my Sears Catalogs. 😞 I worked at our local Sears for a little while. Had a lot of fun there.

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Gordon Shumway
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I like this violin case. Solid leather and only 89 cents!

Andrew

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Mouse
February 17, 2021 - 11:53 am
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That 89 cents was a fortune then. 

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GregW
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Sears also sold kit houses.  I have a coworker that got into identifying ones that are still standing in a town close by.  Several still occupied in good shape.  

Someone told me once montgomery ward also sold violins through catalog order.  Not sure what years that wouldve been.  

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February 17, 2021 - 2:32 pm
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Some of those Sears houses were nice. Amazon is selling little houses now. I saw an ad for them. Not sure if it is one of those sold by and shipped by Amazon, or someone else through Amazon. Maybe get a little studio to play in? Yeah, right. 😂

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stringy
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this is the video I mentioned on tou tube about a farmer who is a fiddle maker, its very interesting

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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Gordon Shumway
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Mouse said
That 89 cents was a fortune then. 

You're probably joking, but it's an interesting question.

https://www.in2013dollars.com/.....mount=0.89

https://www.brighthub.com/mone.....s-for-less

https://makechange.aspiration......years-ago/

Someone on vcom asked how much strads originally cost. The thread is probably dead now, but last night I found a little bit of information and added it.

Strad left unsold violins in his will in lots of 6 worth 1000 Cremonese lire per lot, valuing his violins at 166 lire each, about a thousand dollars in modern money (with a caveat that accurate calculations are impossible).

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway
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This video is not irrelevant, nor is mention of all those Hohner instruments imported from Germany into the USA.

Andrew

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April 16, 2021 - 8:05 am
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@Gordon Shumway, that was very interesting and informative. Thank you.

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