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Question
Hi Jim

I recently purchased a Lyon & Healy model 1028 violin made in 1912. I read on a forum that most L&H violins were made by JTL. I'm not sure that is true. There seems to be some question as to the quality of JTL violins. The one I have has a very nice two piece cleated back that has original antique finish. The belly had minor cracks that are being repaired. Also with the outfit was a 57 gram bow which is slender, straight with no warping. The windings are gone. The word Germany is stamped on one side and Lafleur stamped on other side. The fonts of the two words are not the same. I have searched and searched and not found another to compare it to. I'm assuming it is a copy, but a very good one. Any ideas who made it or factory it came from ?

Thank you so much for your time !
John

Answer
Hi John,

Thanks for your question.  I'm afraid I can't tell you much that you don't already know.  Lyon & Healy was a mammoth instrument distributor in its day.  They carried instruments in a wide range of qualities from all over Europe.  They certainly could have sold instruments from the Lamy shop.  The JTL shop itself was quite successful, partnering with Mirocourt and other large French companies and producing a wide range of instruments that were exported and very likely sold through suppliers like L&H, often without the JTL label.  Keep in mind that most of the instruments made by the JTL shop were not made by Jerome himself, nor even by an apprentice, but in a more assembly line fashion.

So, I'm afraid it's a bit of a muddle.  It could be a JTL, but that doesn't really tell us anything about the quality.  It could also be from Italy or Germany or any number of other places.

The lightness of the bow suggests that it could be an actual copy of a Lafleur, rather than just a bow with Lafleur printed on it, or the work of an apprentice.  There were two generations of bow makers in the Lafleur shop, and a few other makers known to have used the label.  But, the fact that it is also stamped "Germany" would lead me to believe that the bow is a german-made bow made in the style of Lafleur's bows.

Not to ramble on forever . . . It sounds like you have a nice old violin and bow.  It's certainly worth getting it checked out by a pro.  I'd take it to New York or another big town where you can find a high-quality shop with a good reputation for valuing and appraising older instruments.  An auction house like Tarisio might also be able to give you some good information.  Some of the older master violin makers can tell you a lot about an instrument, even without knowing where you got it.  But, they would need to hold it in their hands.  So, my advice it to make an appointment with a good maker/appraiser.  You'll want to get the instrument and bow appraised for insurance purposes in any case.

For the bow, you might call Lynn Hannings in Maine (lahbows.com).  She has a good reputation for bow restoration and I know she was trained in France.  So, she might be a good person to ask about a french bow (or a bow that is a copy of a French bow).

Best of luck with it!

Regards,
Jim Fisher  

Violin

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James S. Fisher

Expertise

Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.

Experience

I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins, www.fisherviolins.com.

Organizations
NAAM, ASTA

Education/Credentials
I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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