From Susan Young
Posted November 30, 2010 at 09:22 PM
A client of mine showed me a violin that has been in her family for many generations. Both her grandfather and great-grandfather played it. The label on the inside says
Giovanni Paolo Maggini
brescia 1613 (the 13 is written in)
There is a second label, next to this that says Germany.
After searching the internet I see that there were many Maggini copies made in Germany around 1880-1900. So even I can guess this is probably one of these copies. Also, his labels normally did not carry his full name. Another clue this is a copy. But just because it's a copy, does it mean it has no value? Where any of the copies something of value? What would you look for to determine value? It's in excellent condition excepting one spot where the back plate is pulling away from the side. I've never worked on a violin but this doesn't seem like it would be a deal breaker of a repair.
Something else interesting that begs the question - do luthiers typically stick with the same stile scroll and f hole? I found a picture of a Maggini and the scroll on my clients violin is much tighter and has many more turns. Also, the little mark on either side of the f hole are offset on this violin but with the one in the picture the "marks" are across from each other.
The owner will actually be relieved to hear it's a copy and not 400 years old. She has three kids and would be torn what to do in her will if she actually had something of high value. Actually, I would love to have that problem!
I thought Maggini never dated his labels?
Maggini never made scrolls with more turns... as a matter of fact he made some scrolls with less turns. It the your friend's violin has more turns it is not a Maggini, neither a good copy of it, since a good copyst would not copy something that does not exists in the original.
But I may be wrong.
Considering the violin has a label inside that says "Germany", I am pretty sure it's a copy. But Manfio, you did answer my question I think - a luthier does not waver from his design? He always makes the same type of scrolls or f holes as sort of his "signature". This one has a very pretty scroll but it's not what I have seen in the photos of Miggini violins.
Susan, your client's instrument is most likely a German factory violin. As pointed out by others, the tell-tale sign is the extra turn in the scroll, and the fake label. A genuine Maggini doesn't have the extra turn, and an original label usually reads "Gio Paulo Maggini in Brescia" without a date. That doesn't mean it is worthless. A good German factory violin c.1900 can be worth $2000 or more, depending on condition, material, workmanship, playability, tone, etc.
"A good German factory violin c.1900 can be worth $2000 or more, depending on condition, material, workmanship, playability, tone, etc."
That's the other thing I was wondering. It doesn't look like they were trying to hide the fact that it's a copy and with the scroll....it's more than one extra turn. It's really quite nice. The owner plans to put it in a display box and hang it on her wall. My hope is that one of her many, many grandkids will decide to play and inherit it someday. Violins should be played, not looked at.
I also play a Maggini copy with the extra turn on the scroll. I bought it from my teacher in 1973. He said that it was a German copy made from 1890-1900. It is a concert quality instrument with a fine, even tone. I have played it professionally since 1974 and now consider it a member of the family! I have read that Maggini's scrolls were often a bit rough. Mine is finely carved and quite pretty. It had some rough treatment at one time, because it has a number of long, jagged cracks that were professionally repaired long ago. If it were a real Maggini, I'd have to sell it. since it's not, I'll play it until I get too old and turn it over to someone who will care for it for another lifetime!
Maggini copies were also built in France. N.F.Vuilleaume made a lot of violins after Maggini. Heck, A.Stradivari was influenced by Maggini building his long pattern Strads.
Some Maggini models are over size and that affects the value negatively. Mind you they often have a very nice dark sound. Nevertheless you have to pay more for the standard size violins.
BTW a German workshop violin is called a workshop violin when it's being sold , and a factory violin when bought . Just to avoid confusion.
I'm interested in the comments about the extra turn in the scrolls NOT being a Maggini feature. An acquaintance has a beautiful J. B. Vuillaume copy of a Maggini, with the double purfling, slightly larger size and the extra turns in the scroll. Stunning instrument which sounds amazing. So the extra turns in the scroll are not really features of Maggini after all? If this is the case why have we built up the assumption that they are? (I'm no expert on identifying violins but this was one feature I've kind of remembered - along with del Gesu f-holes etc.)
While I don't know the answer to Rosalind's question, my guess is that enough Maggini copies were (unfaithfully) made with an extra turn in the scroll to lead people to form a wrong impression that Maggini's actual scrolls had an extra turn.
Rosalind, I didn't know there was an assumption that Magginis are supposed to have an extra turn at the scroll. An (attributed ) N.F.Vuillaume Maggini copy I once owned was made around 1830 or so and did not have the extra turn. It had a beautiful elaborate decorative purfling all over the lower back.
The shop of J.B.Vuillaume had probably more real Magginis come through than any other shop in history except maybe the Hill`s. Not likely they started the extra turn thing so i think Claudio is right. He knows way more about violins than I do anyway.
As far as Del Gesu f- holes, other than the earlier ones I sure can`t tell what is typical about them.
I'm probably wrong, as usual, but my theory has long been that many or most "copyists" of the past intentionally incorporated errors in either the instrument or the label to fend off fraud charges. The defense would be that anybody who knew anything about the real makers would recognize the problems and know that they were dealing with copies. The obvious problem is that you have to know quite a bit to sort them out.
Found a J.B.Vuileaume Maggini copy on the web:
"The owner plans to put it in a display box and hang it on her wall. "
Ugh. That's the end. Too bad.
My son's violin is of this vintage, and has the extra turn. No label. Cost considerably more than 2 grand but the sound and playability are worth it. See if you can encourage your client to either sell it, or get it into the hands of someone actually playing...otherwise, I suppose that hanging it on the wall as if it were a decoupage project might give it a suspended animation, provided it is looked over once a year. If the seams open up, the table warps etc, it will end up not worth repairing. These fiddles, in good condition, are excellent values and deserve to give the cheap chinese crap a run--showing how it is done, rather than hanging on a wall...
100 years ago the favourite models of violi were Amati, Stradivari, Guarnerius (del Gesù) and MAGGINI.
For some reason poor old Maggini pretty much fell off the radar, except for violas. I remember a local concertmaster being quite deadly on a "Vuillaume Maggini". Does anyone make Maggini model violins now ? Properly constructed, a "Maggini" model violin should outperform a "Strad" pattern for power and brilliancy. What a shame !
"Google" came up with this source which explains the attraction of the Maggini model.
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