A Real H. Derazey?

July 29, 2019, 8:03 AM · I am looking for advice. (This was posted in the wrong spot on this board, so reposting here)

Is this a real Honore Derazy? The label seems correct. The violin exhibits similar characteristics to other archived photos of recent auctions of Derazy's. It is available at a local, reputable shop, but the price is about 30-70% less expensive than other recent Derazy auctions online. This instrument does not come with a certificate of origin/authenticity.

My son has trialled over 45 violins across 7 shops and 350 miles. This instrument he considers top 2 of all the instruments so far. He is an accomplished player, 4th in competition state-wide, first regionally, playing at an RCM level 9.

[edit] After a lot of research on Derazey, I feel confident that this violin is probably not an original handcrafted instrument by H.D. himself as we cannot see his personal (H.D. stylized) stamp. It is in the same varnish style as his pieces generally in the latter part of his career, whereas his son Justin and later owners of his trade mark did not produce the same varnish style from what I can tell. I am hoping it 'may' be a workshop violin from 1855-1865, during the period before he officially retired. Any confirmation or input would be appreciated.


Advice from Luthiers or violin brokers would be appreciated.

Replies (12)

July 29, 2019, 8:48 AM · I have no idea if this is a real H. Derazy, but I believe that prices have been all over the map for this maker and most have been low enough that purchase of this violin should be based on its quality and condition in comparison with other violins in the same price range.
Edited: July 29, 2019, 12:17 PM · It looks pretty legit to me. You’re right that a lot of them have a stamp on the inside back. What is the measurement of the back? The Derazays I’ve looked at are on the large side (around 360mm). Between the years 1839 - 1849, he produced around 600 instruments, some were sold by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume as his own work.

His instruments can have both his stamp to the inside back and the label of the master he copied, or the label by itself. Sometimes one can also find the date and signature on the inside. I know the Vuillaume I play on has a label without the date but the inside back has the maker’s pencil signature with the exact date and instrument number.

July 29, 2019, 9:31 AM · Thanks Victor. It's quality of sound is in the top echelon of what we have tried in the past month in our price range, over 40+ violins all told. It's condition could be better, it is a bit beat up, but I know some just consider that character. It has been set up properly by the current shop.

Right now we are comparing it to a modern maker's 100% handcrafted violin that has a soundpost patch (done by the original maker) as it was damaged in transit. Because of the patch it is selling at a discount.

Both these violins are comparable in price.

Again thanks for your response.

July 29, 2019, 9:39 AM · Thanks Nate. The stamp is included in the Imagur link, it's the standard 1855 stamp that all Derazey workshop violins had after that date. It's measurement is 361 mm, so it is in range for his work as well. We could not see other markings on the inside top board, although I am not sure besides taking it apart, how we would see those markings without specialized tools. Most describe an H.D. stamp on the inside top board, but that would not typically be visible correct?

My understanding is, that in those years, he produced 5-600 per year? Maybe I misunderstood that on the Tarisio site. At this point, to verify it, I think I'd need an appraisal expert, as Paul Mangeno?t and Laberte violins can all carry this same stamp and 1855 to 1930 is quite a large range.

Thank you for your response, much appreciated.

July 29, 2019, 10:20 AM · Patrick,
Here's my suggestion: since (I assume) you're not an expert on identifying violins, and since there are no papers with this violin, and because anyone can stick a label into anything, I think the best one can do in this situation is to only look at condition, playability and sound, and compare it to whatever else is available in that price range.

Buying something that "maybe" attributed to a maker can be a trap. I was once approached by a former Atlanta Symphony concertmaster and offered a well-known old Italian. He had no papers, and so "only" wanted $70,000. It would easily have been worth 10x that at the time if it had papers. But even at a huge discount, without papers it was just an old violin. Period. And so overpriced by many times.

The trap is that, when papers are lacking, the seller feels they can price on a gradient on the logic that it looks like, smells like, and plays like X violin. But the reality is that without papers, an old French violin is simply that: and old French violin. Forget the suggestion (and conformation bias that can accompany it) that it may be this or that. Even if the violin is discounted, you're still paying a premium, just like that violin I was offered. I would be very careful about verbal opinion, even from experts. If they are not willing to put it in writing as genuine...it's just an old French violin. Period.

July 29, 2019, 11:00 AM · No idea - but I suggest you go over to Maestronet where there are umpteen experts willing to give you an opinion. Go to 'Discussion boards' and then 'Peg box'. They love this sort of thing!!
July 29, 2019, 1:24 PM · Thank you Elise and Scott for your replies.

We have done an extensive blind testing, including these two violins. We start every trial by asking for violins in a certain price range and play, video, take pictures and rate them all before learning 'what' they are or how much they are. I did enough research to help cut down on the purchase/confirmation bias.

The 'old french violin' you are correct, could be just that. The modern violin, we would be buying direct from the luthier. It was provided by our teacher in a blind trial at a lesson. At the end of the day, it'll be my son's decision, based on what he thinks is the best for him (in concert with his two teachers). I was just interested in knowing if there was 'extra' value in the Derazey, should that be the one he picked.

Thanks Elise, I have been offer on that forum, just haven't created an account to post yet.

July 29, 2019, 11:07 PM · From the pictures I would think it is a Mirecourt trade violin from the early 20st century. Of a reasonable quality. But I don't know much and could easily be wrong.
The size at 361 mm is not a problem when you buy it, but could get thrown in as a bit of an oversize issue when you would want to sell it to a dealer.
Martin Swan at Maestronet can give you all the ins and outs on this. You can pm him as well.
July 29, 2019, 11:39 PM · If neither of these violins is ideal, consider extending your search. 40 violins isn't that many; it can take a lot more to find something that suits. (Remember that many of the violins that are in shops available for purchase are mostly the ones that someone gave up in order to purchase something better, or the ones that have been sitting in inventory because the great ones are getting snatched up quickly.)
July 30, 2019, 4:40 AM · As with most big name French makers, after they died their brand was sold and continued to be mass produced for years to come, presumably it is in this category that your violin would fall, so comparing prices of genuine Derazeys is a bit ridiculous.
July 30, 2019, 10:51 AM · How does one person make 500 violins a year?
Edited: July 30, 2019, 12:01 PM · That would be consistent with a 10 or more employee workshop, hardly any of these French makers were one man shops.

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