Ref :   0817

A very good French violin labelled
Justin Derazey
Probably his work
Mirecourt, circa 1880

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The normal reaction to any violin labelled Justin Derazey is that it was probably made by the firms of either Laberte-Humbert Frères, or Laberte-Magnié or (after 1925) by Fourier-Magnié. All those firms were highly reputable and used the Derazey name under licence. This violin has only half of its label left, which bears the name, Justin Derazey.

However, close scrutiny of this violin reveals exceptionally refined workmanship which by far supersedes even the best achievements of the high-end trade fare produced by the companies mentioned above. It is apparent that this instrument was the product of an individual process which had as objective excellence in all respects - from the choice of materials to the light amber oil-based varnish. What impresses very much is the quality of the purfling, its tracing, the mitres and the impeccable cornerwork. Here is none of the characteristics of good French trade workmanship and everything about this violin speaks of fine master lutherie.

Furthermore, a comparison to at least two violins known to be by Justin Derazey, show similarities beyond coincidence or bland copying of his work: this violin is virtually identical to a certified J. Derazey from around 1870, notably in overall shape and modelling and particularly in the shape and position of the Fs (see photos), which imply that this violin was built on the same mould and pattern, almost certainly by the same maker. Most noticeable though is the characteristic colour and shading in the ground and varnish in two of J. Derazey's violins - virtually identical to colour and shading in this violin (see photos). Such is the quality of workmanship in this violin and its similarities to instruments known to be by this maker, that one could quite safely say that this violin is probably, beyond reasonable doubt, by Justin Derazey, made around 1880.

Justin Derazey (1839 - 1890) was son of the celebrated French violin maker, Honoré Derazey. He worked in Mirecourt from 1850 (aged 11) until his somewhat premature death at 50. In 1864 he purchased the business of Nicolas fils and in 1879 took over his father's business. Although a prolific maker himself, he was taken up largely by commercialism and much of his time was devoted to managing the large firms he was directing. However, his own work is greatly respected as he acquired his skills from his father who was a really important French luthier. Many commercial instruments by the firms mentioned above bear his name, but coming across his personal work affords the opportunity to examine his fine workmanship closely.

This violin's one-piece back, ribs, neck and scroll are of excellent high-end Transylvanian maple, nicely flamed with an even medium curl. The top is of choice Swiss spruce - interestingly it is carved from once single piece of spruce without a central seam, with the narrow growth on the treble side, opening to the g-string side. Varnish is a warm amber oil-based varnish, somewhat thickly applied but of high transparency allowing the clear observation of the beauty of the wood.

Workmanship on the inside of this violin is outstanding and here, more than anywhere, one sees the conscientious hand of a master taking no shortcuts, with linings imbedded into rebates in the corner blocks - and a level of attention to detail certainly not associated with even the best trade work. (Photos can be supplied on request.)

The only distracter in an otherwise impeccable instrument is a repaired crack in the table's lower quadrant on the g-string side. The cause was almost certainly an impact resulting in a crack about 7 cm long, of which (fortunately) neither end reaches the edge of the violin. This has been repaired and cleated on the inside and is perfectly stable and secure, but could have been undertaken with more tidiness. (Photos of this repair inside can be supplied on request).


Dimensions :
  Length of back: 36.0 cm

Condition :
  Excellent condition overall.
An impact crack on the lower left quadrant of the table has been repaired and cleated and is secure and stable. This fracture was certainly the result of an impact and not a consequence of weakness in the wood. (Photos of the inside of the repair, showing the cleats, can be supplied on request.)

Provenance :
  This violin was discovered in a state of abandon and neglect on a farm in the Free State and had not been used for the past 60 years. It was still fitted with gut strings. It now belongs to Johan Grobbelaar.

Price : P.O.A,


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