The provenance of trade violins

Edited: September 9, 2022, 6:07 AM · There was the Steiner/Stainer thread a day or two ago.
Often origins are impossible.
If it's French everyone assumes JTL automatically, prolly because JTL were the biggest company, but I've always been suspicious of this. JTL stamped stars into the wood of their instruments, and my Breton has none. My label doesn't feature in Henley.
But the other day I discovered this Laberte-Humbert catalogue. Page 10 has a label that is visually close to mine. Mine says Breton breveté de SARMe. I'd always been assuming Me was an abbreviation of Madame. But technically it isn't - it's an abbreviation of Maitre. I'm reading Proust at the moment and Mme occurs so often that it put me in mind of all this again. But then we see "Me" in the Laberte-Humbert catalogue, and I'm confused. I'd be surprised if maitresse referred to a duchess!
SAR means Son Altesse Royale. SMG seems to have dropped out of use completely (I've searched for a while, but have to go away soon for the weekend, so feel free to have a go). Even the French think it means Sarah Michelle Gellar!
Maestronet is useless.
Incidentally, the JTL factory site (demolished in the 1960s) is still recognisably defined by a housing estate at 48°18'5.04"N, 6° 7'36.55"E. GoogleEarth it.

The history of the trade violin trade is probably worth writing up. Sometimes one wonders how poor people in the Southern States of America could have afforded to import German fiddles via Sears Roebuck (or Hohner accordions and harmonicas). You need to bear in mind that before WWII the German and Bohemian economies were always very weak.

Replies (4)

September 9, 2022, 6:16 AM · Although you say Maestronet is useless, some of the experts there are probably as authoritative as you'll find anywhere on Saxon and French trade violins. I get the feeling it isn't possible to identify the origin of a lot of these instruments with certainty.
September 9, 2022, 7:59 AM · Having access to Martin Swan, Jeffrey Holmes, Jacob Saunders, etc. useless?
September 9, 2022, 8:12 AM · maybe worrying about the origins of trade violins is useless? Play 'em and love 'em, but you're not going to find pedigrees or provenance.
Edited: September 9, 2022, 10:21 AM · Jacob's great. Always gets straight back with a PM. And what a violin brain!

Saying that there is a book about the German (was it Germany then?) Cottage violin industry. There's a picture in it of an old villager walking up a mountain with a couple of dozen (or more) completed back and sides on his back. Don't know where you get it.

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