J B Vuillaume ViolinInstruments: HOw to verify authenticity
From Charlie Boyd
Help! haha..I played on a Vuillaume violin yesterday..and it was OUTSTANDING! The sound and ease of playing was incredible..at least to me. Anyway, my question is this. Is ther a way to authenticate that a violin is actually a JBV? I had never heard the name before and it took a while to even find out how to spell it! I did alot of research on him, but would like to know if ther are alot of copies of his work. The vioin had the usuall tag on the inside with all the righrt stuff printed on it, and the signature etc, but it is so easy to replicate that stuff now a days. How can an amateur decide whheter or not it is a real JBV without taking it to an expert, which are fewe and far between down here in the sticks. The violin isn't mine and likely wont be anytime soon. However there are a couple on Ebay, and if they play and sound as good as the one I played yesterday, I might purchase one of them. Any suggestions would be appreciated from you guys with the knowledge!
From Michael Darnton
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 03:37 PM
An amateur cannot. If you are going to spend $150,000+ on a violin, which is what one should cost, then you can afford a trip to the Big City to see what you're buying. If it doesn't cost somewhere in that neighborhood that you can't afford to cheerfully lose what you'll be paying for it, it pretty much isn't going to be real, OR the owner is an idiot (bearing in mind that if it's real, the owner could walk into a good violin shop anywhere and get at least $50,000+ for it on the spot). You choose.
If this one sounds like the ones on Ebay, that's a good sign it's not real, because those aren't, either. And I say that without even going to see what you've found there :-)
From Charlie Boyd
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Thanks for your input. I don't really care what 'brand' of violin I play, I look for the sound. The one I played last night had that sound..whether or not it is real I do not know. I know the man that had it, had had it for 30-40 years. If I run accross one, I would like to be able to tell if it is real or a repro, keeping in mind, if it is a repro and sounds good..I am OK with that! I certainly wont be paying anywhere near $150,000 for one..of any brand!
From steven su
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 04:27 AM
I think the point here is to make sure u don't get ripped off because there are a lotta people out there so yea. If it's a couple hundred, I think it's okay. but if it's more, you should reconsider because you may not be able to resell at the same price or the violin simply won't last that long. and you don't have a 50 year warranty to find out so yea. I recently came across a magnificent violin that I liked a lot but I didn't buy it because 1. it didn't have a label n it costs thousands 2. owner didn't keep good care of it so it was dying. Just be careful with your selection!
From Corwin Slack
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 12:04 PM
I hate to be conspiratorial but in today's violin world it is quite likely that if a cheap instrument purported to be a JBV showed up at a dealer (and it really was a JBV) the dealer would say that it wasn't really a JBV but would make an offer to buy it. He wouldn't sell it himself but would pass it on to another dealer who would "authenticate" it as a real JBV and sell it for a lot of money and split the profits with the first dealer.Show it to a few dealers and if they all repudiate the label and then offer to buy it from you then start being suspicious.
From al ku
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 01:03 PM
"However there are a couple on Ebay, and if they play and sound as good as the one I played yesterday, I might purchase one of them."
the only way to find out is the buy all those ebay ones and find out, which is not practical.
it is probably safe to say that of all such labelled violins, authentic violin or not, authentic label or not, they all will sound different. in other words, to expect similar make/look-let alone labelled-sound similar is too much to ask, so to pursue this sound that you like through other "similar" ones out there, particularly on ebay, is most likely to be unproductive.
from my own limited experiences, because i did not play the better sounding violins initially, i always thought that any violin that my kid was playing on sounded really really good, until she got a bigger one that proved me wrong. so the definition of a great sounding violin, to many people, is very relative, to many things and circumstances. but i don't want to rob you of this wonderful feeling that you once played a great sounding violin, just that when you turn a corner, may be there is something else...
From Michael Darnton
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Corwin, call me conspiratorial, but if a violinist walked into an antique store and saw a violin he was sure was much more valuable than the shop was calling it, I bet he'd buy it, himself, not bothering to tell the shop owner. I suspect most violinists have wet dreams about this kind of situation. "Morally corrupt" violinists, as another post would have put it? You decide.
Take this advice, because it covers the situation you're worried about: if you come to a violin shop and ask for an appraisal, for which you offer to pay, you will probably, at most shops, get an honest appraisal. If you walk in and ask what they'll pay you for your violin, without the appraisal, you'll probably get a different answer, and if you don't like that, it's up to you to suggest something different. This is called a negotiation, and that's how the real world is: the seller of an object is always expected to know what he's selling; if he doesn't know, he should get advice from someone who does know, paying for it, if necessary. If he's not willing to do that, what happens, happens. It's not the dealer's job, as buyer, to do your job for you as seller. As a previous boss of mine used to say "Am I the buyer on this one or the seller, because I can't be both."
From Charlie Boyd
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Thanks guys for the input! I guess I'll just keep looking..ahhhhhh. A friend loaned me a Maggini copy, that I still have, and said keep it as long as you like, it needs to be played. The sound of this instrument is exactly what I am looking for..sort of 'woody' if that's a term...a really warm sound. So being the amateur I am after playing it for several months, bought one just like it on ebay. Although the one I bought is very nice, it isn't the same. I set it up exactly like the one loaned to me, same strings, sound post placement etc...but it doesn't have that great sound. SO I should have learned by now! But I keep searching...
From Michael Darnton
Posted on October 1, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I never understand why players have to keep looking after they've found something they like. It seems like really all there is to do at this point is to establish a fair price that you both agree on for whatever the violin is. If the owner thinks it's a Vuillaume, and that it's worth, for instance, $700, and you think it isn't and it's worth $700, where's the problem?
I have a friend who's a realtor and I watch his deals. Neither of us understand how two people can get so invested in beating each other up so that they get to the point where one wants $500,000 for a piece of property and the other won't pay more than $495,000, and so they get stuck over what is, in context, pocket change. Neither gets anything they want, they both lose, but neither will budge because the other one might, god help us all, WIN. It just seems totally silly, the reasons people find for not doing things they want to do.
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles went to Austin, Texas to cover the Menuhin Competition 2014, watching some of the world's top young violinists. Read her ongoing coverage.
Please consider supporting Violinist.com by becoming a sponsor, and reaching our dedicated community of violin professionals, students and fans!