Nathan’s Fiddle

Enough of the bad news and health care stuff. Now for something that you only hear about happening in years gone by, to someone you never knew, and maybe only a story that never really happened. This time it is a true story that happened a week and a half ago to our son Nathan. Nathan had been thinking that he should get another fiddle that had a better sound to it.

He went to an auction at the fairgrounds in Frederick and bought this old fiddle. The case is old and dilapidated. The bow did not have any hair on it and the fiddle did not have all of its strings. I (Myron) looked at it and did not think it was worth much. The auctioneer didn’t see much value in it either. Nathan started the bid at $10 and bought it for $40.

This is a picture of the old fiddle.  There is no date inside the fiddle. There is a paper glued inside, hand written in French stating that it was reconstructed by Arthur Vernier, a violin maker – luthier. In researching on the internet and examining the fiddle, we found some interesting things.

A new neck had been added and the old scroll peg box was grafted onto the new neck. In this picture you can see a small diagonal line on the top edge of the left side of the violin where the neck is grafted into the scroll peg box.

In this picture you can see the splice where the new neck was grafted in. The significance of that graft is that it dates the fiddle as most likely being pre-1760, before the US became a nation! In the Baroque period before 1760, the neck of a violin was shorter and the angle of the peg box was different than on violins after the Baroque period. This fiddle was reconstructed with a longer neck.

Both the top and the bottom of the fiddle are domed up higher, and at a steeper angle from the edges than on a modern violin, giving the body of the fiddle more volume. It has a beautiful sound.

The old fiddle looked like it was of little value to the auctioneer and to the crowd of about 200 people that day. It was God’s blessing to Nathan and an object lesson that, just like the old violin a person’s value is more than what their appearance may indicate. It reminded me of the poem and song, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. Check out this reciting of the poem. I think you will enjoy it: