Roman Teller viola, 1981

August 31, 2006 at 12:08 AM · I'm looking at a viola for a student, and I have in hand a Roman Teller, year 1981. Thoughts?

Replies (8)

August 31, 2006 at 01:29 AM · Hi Laurie;

Roman Teller was pretty much a "shop" name... by the 80s the company was being run by Roman Teller's son-in-law; Rudolf Buchner. Later on, the company was handed to Buchner's son-in-law; Binner. I seem to recall that some of the workmen who produced for the company spanned all three generations of the Teller shop.

The instruments are of the decent Erlangen shop variety. Robust build... a little heavy (especially noticeable in the necks). Usually shaded varnish. Useful for students. They produced a few different models (usually noted on the label). The less expensive types were a model number (I believe starting with a "2", like "model 260" or "model 275"). They also produced slightly more expensive instruments with the designation "MA" or "MA-1A".

Jeffrey

J. S. Holmes Fine Violins, LLC

August 31, 2006 at 02:07 AM · One well-known Chicago shop supposedly took (maybe still does, even) Tellers, regraduated and rebarred them, fixing other small problems, and selling them. In order to make this worthwhile, the underlying object has to be sound and well designed. I don't have the familiarity with Tellers that Jeffrey does, but the ones I've seen have been basically competent instruments. Really, though, the issue is how is the ONE you have, not the ones you don't, right?

August 31, 2006 at 05:39 AM · It appears this is one of the less expensive variety...a 255 model. It sounds nice, but hmmmm. Heavy. Hard for me to tell because I don't play the viola really!

August 31, 2006 at 01:43 PM · ...I think it depends on the student a lot...if they're slight of build, they might not want a heavy instrument...

...if they're large of build it might suit them better to play something more substantial...I've met a couple of men violists who've mentioned that...

August 31, 2006 at 03:35 PM · I have a Roman Teller MA violin, made in 1978. When I bought it, I was under the impression that it was one of the last violins that he hand made before dying, but since then I have read (on the Internet, so it *can't* be wrong) that he actually died in 1974, so it is likely a workshop violin. I can't actually confirm this through my own research. I had it appraised for around $4K a few years ago, but the appraisal only said "bears the label Roman Teller MA" (which anyone can see by looking inside!) and didn't offer an opinion about whether it was made by Mr. Teller or not.

My violin was described as being incredibly heavy by a well-known violin teacher I had a lesson with this last year. Using a not-terribly-finely-calibrated kitchen scale, I determined that it weighs about an ounce more than most violins, and about two ounces more than the lightest violins. That didn't seem to be a big deal to me. What is true though, is that it has a very thick neck, which normally doesn't bother me, but on some pieces with awkward fingering, causes/exaggerates pain in my hand and fingers. I have only recently found out that I can have the neck of my Roman Teller made smaller, and have been assured that this won't be detrimental to the value of the violin! So I am looking into doing that.

I'm interested in this thread because I've not found a lot of information on Roman Teller instruments on my own.

September 1, 2006 at 09:45 PM · "I have a Roman Teller MA violin, made in 1978. When I bought it, I was under the impression that it was one of the last violins that he hand made before dying, but since then I have read (on the Internet, so it *can't* be wrong) that he actually died in 1974, so it is likely a workshop violin"

Like Roth instruments, or Collin-Mezin, if the instrument was made while Teller was alive, or not, it would still be a "workshop violin". It's how many of these businesses were set up... and still are, for that matter. The master ran the shop and was responsible for the quality control of the product, but may not have had much (if anything) to do with the actual labor. When Teller died, the name was passed along to the new owner, in this case a relative (just as the Roth business was passed along to relatives). As I mentioned above, it is my understanding that some of the makers (laborers) who worked for the shop spanned all three generations of the Teller business.

Jeffrey

J. S. Holmes Fine Violins, LLC (Ann Arbor)

September 1, 2006 at 09:39 PM · I remember the name from catalogs in the late 70s or early 80s, probably either Shar or Weinkrantz. They seemed to be portrayed as a step up from the really cheap bad ones that were the other mail order alternative. It wasn't like today where every possible niche is filled to capacity. There were two kinds of shoe strings in those days, the flat limp kind and the round stiff kind. Brown or black. White for nurses.

September 1, 2006 at 09:56 PM · "I remember the name from catalogs in the late 70s or early 80s, probably either Shar or Weinkrantz."

Yes, Jim.

In the US (mailorder), Phil W. carried them as did Shar (still did for a while when I was there... which is why I know about the Teller business history) and a music supplier by the name of Ideal. They were kind of the "Chevy" of student fiddles at the time. Reliable.

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