Ref :   0698

A fine old German violin, probably by
Johann Gottlöb Pfretzschner
(1753 - 1823)
Markneukirchen, circa 1820

At first glance this violin appears to be older than it really is and much of it resembles German work from around 1750 or before. However, closer scrutiny reveals characteristics that are not in keeping with such old instruments: there is almost no sweatpatch discernable on the top, which would normally be expected in an 18th century violin. Furthermore, there is hardly any wear in the top under the bridge feet, whereas really old violins have clear hollows worn out by centuries of bridges. What's more, the violin has no neck graft. A normal explanation for this would be that the neck and scroll may be later, by another maker, but there really is no solid evidence to support that idea and it appears that the neck is very probably the original. All the above situate the violin in the early to mid-19th century.

An indication of the violin's origin is the label, which in German reads: 'AUS PFRETZSCHNERR, Musical. Instrument Handlung in Neukirchen bei Adorf' (undated). This roughly translates to 'FROM PFRETZSCHNERR, Musical Instrument Shop in Neukirchen at Adorf'. (Note the two Rs in Pfretzschnerr which is normally spelt with one R.) This at least indicates that the violin was sold from the Pfretzschnerr Shop (which normally also doubled as a maker's studio and repair workshop).

There is only one Pfretzschner listed who was active over the first part of the 19th century, and that was Johann Gottlöb Pfretzschner (1753 -1823). What's more, this label's wording very closely resembles the wording of his labels from the final period of his life. He was based in 'Neukirchen bei Adorf", as shown on this label.

But as all violin connoisseurs know, labels are quite deceptive and usually mostly meaningless. Much of this violin resembles the characteristics of J. G. Pfretzschner's work. Since history was assigned him the first place among his many namesakes, a lot is known about his work. Firstly, his violins often had quite a full arching, but never quite Tyrolean - at times resembling Austrian-Viennese style. The edge is almost always narrow, but with impeccable purfling, as is the case in this violin. Particular mention is always made of his ponderous f-holes with the straight stems and somewhat rough workmanship, certainly the case with this violin. Furthermore, this maker was highly prolific, but was criticized for hasty and at times untidy work - in this case reflected in a lack of attention the detail in the scroll. Henley further describes his scrolls as 'insignificantly small and not sweepingly curved.', and that perfectly describes this violin's scroll. Furthermore, the choice of belly wood of medium grain and only slightly flamed is evident in this violin. All of the above would lead one to believe that this is Johann G. Pfretzschner's work from the last period of his life, around 1820.

The back and ribs are in good condition. The top has seen some repairs, mainly to cracks which appear to have been the consequence of an accident - all work has been professionally carried out and is stable. Two small cracks in the peg box have been repaired. It appears furthermore that, even though much of the original varnish remains, the violin has received at least one coat of clear varnish over the original, probably to seal bare patches. Evidence would suggest that the back has been stripped and revarnished, but long ago.

The violin is nicely toned and has been in professional use by an important violinist. If you like old instruments with the characteristic Baroque or Classical sound, this is where you'll find one.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 35.7 cm

Condition :
  Structurally sound. This violin has seen repairs done to cracks in the top - all professionally done and secure. Varnish has been touched up in the past. Two small cracks in the peg box have been repaired.

Provenance :
  Withheld. Owned by an important professional musician.

Price : Withheld


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