Ref :   0826

A good violin of Unknown Origin
With a replica 'Peter Wamsley' label
Possibly French, circa 1890

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Very often the most beautifully focussed, mature and noble tone emerges from the most unpretentious and nondescript instruments. This usually comes as a great surprise. This violin, more than any other I have played, left me utterly astonished that such excellent tone could come from a violin most people wouldn't look at twice. And this is where this instrument's charm lies - in that a close examination of the workmanship and choice of materials reveals the hand of an astute maker which is not apparent at a first casual glance.

I immediately adopted this violin as my personal instrument over many other superb violins that I own or have access to. It allows performance with ease of just about anything you ask of it - and the tone is always rich and focussed, throughout the register.

It is fitted with an exceptionally good and convincing replica of a Peter Wamsley label. But this violin is not so old as to be the work of Wamsley, neither does it resemble his workmanship. At a guess this label was not fitted by the maker, but possibly later on by a dealer who handled and sold the violin. However, arching suggests French work and combined with the spirit-based varnish and typical f-shape and positioning, a strong case could be made for the instrument being of French origin. But at this time strictly speaking the violin remains of unknown authorship, made probably toward the end of the 19th century.

The choice of materials is very good - a mildly flamed maple back and ribs are combined with tone spruce top of attractive wood. Purfling and cornerwork is good. The neck and scroll are of more plain wood. A repair to a crack in the top from the lower curl of the bass F, running down to edge could have been tidier, but the crack is very nicely cleated on the inside. A minor repair was done to the scroll volute, treble side where a small piece of the edge had been broken off.

Varnish on the back and front differ considerably in appearance, but there is no evidence to support an idea that any part of the violin was revarnished. It can be said that this violin is in very good condition and structurally secure.

This is a really nice and satisfying violin to play on, and I would sell it with great reluctance.


Dimensions :
  Length of back: 35.7 cm

Condition :
  Good structural condition. A crack in the top from the lower edge of the bass F down to the edge has been cleated and clamped correctly, as has been a short crack running from the top of the same F upward for about 4 cm. (NOT a bass bar crack!) A small wood insert was make in the scroll volute treble side. All repairs are secure.

Provenance :
  This violin was part of the personal collection of the Chelsey-based maker, Ralph Palmer. After his death it became the property of his family from where it was acquired by Johan Grobbelaar.

Price : Withheld


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