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Old 01-26-2007, 10:19 PM
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Lightbulb Recap on the Hart/Fendt mystery

On 10/13/06 I started a Thread over on Talkbass on one of my Basses concerning an empty hole in the upper back where some sort of emblem was once housed. Since the Thread started, the Bass once strongly believed to be a Fendt was now being considered a Bass by John Hart of London c.1830. Since I am no longer on TB I would like to bring over some of what I personally authored over there so we can discuss it here if so desired by anyone. The original question was what to do with that empty space seen here;



I will try to keep it short but it was a 5 page thread before.
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(TB, 10/13/06) I am taking a casual poll and I welcome all suggestions regardless of your experience with old Basses or restorations.

I have a beautiful old English Bass currently in restoration attributed to Bernhard Fendt Sr. (by Oscar Zimmerman) or maybe Bernhard Simon Fendt II (by Thomas Martin but only from description of a Maggini modeled Fendt and has not seen this Bass as far as I know).

The upper Back has a circular hole that does not go thru and is Purfled around it with a half diamond seen here .

At first we thought this may be a scar from an old Neck Repair but when the Back came off for restoration there was no hole on the inside. With the Half Diamond Purfling around the empty 27mm opening we can only imagine there was some sort of Jewel, Coat of Arms or Insignia inlaid there originally as all the Purfling matches up.

My question is what should I do with this missing inlay opening?

I have several thoughts as did Arnold from a plain matching wood disc, ebony disk, an inlay of B.F. the maker, K.S.B. for me owning it, my "S" logo in Abalone in an ebony disc.. Etc..

So, if this were yours and you knew the history of this Bass, the maker and/or London at it's time of making, what would you do with that missing gap?

A brief history of Bernard Fendt Sr. for those of you with questions about him; Born on 9th May 1756 in the Bavarian town of Füssen (Innsbruck, Tyrol) and his mother Anna was related to the Klotz family. At age 7 he was sent to Paris to work with his uncle François Fent (French for Fendt, who was well established in Paris at that time as a great maker) and learn violin making. Vincent Panormo was also in Paris during Fendts stay. In 1798, 2 years after his uncles death, he moved to London and worked for Thomas Dodd. Panormo left Paris and went to Dublin (Thomas Perry shop) and later to London and worked for John Betts. After 11 years in 1809, Fendt left Dodd and went to work for John Betts as the head of the shop. Fendt's first son Bernhard Simon (b.1801, d.1852) was also brought into the Betts shop to work and learn from his father. They both worked in the shop until 1823 and then Fendt joined Bett’s nephew Vernon in a new shop. Fendt Sr. died in London on 15th November 1832. Around the time of his fathers death, Bernhard Simon Jr. went into partnership with Charles Joseph Farn, (an ex-employee of Vernon’s). Only one known violin bears his name as Fendt Sr. spent most of his life working for others.

Now, after reading a little about his life, it is evident that if this is his Bass it may have been ordered by someone of wealth as the wood on the back is about the best you will find especially for that period in London. I assume that whomever this was made for, an inlay was placed within that Purfled Diamond under the Neck Button. I don't want to leave an empty hole or over decorate it unjustly but rather add to the already existing charm of the Bass and show respect where it is due.

Your suggestions please??
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(10/14/06) Leave it alone? There is an open hole in the back under the neck. It is not deep but it is open where something fell out. Also, I doubt it was added as the half Diamond of purfling around it looks totally original as is to surround or protect the inlay.

Historical? We will never know what was in there. Finding the 'J.Hart' stamps in the back was historical in itself but discovering that the hole was NOT from a neck repair puts me back in the 'twilight zone' once again. From what I have read, seen and learned from others, this Bass is 99% a Fendt and more chance it is Fendt Sr. than Jr. Both father and son were B.S. Fendts but for the father they usually leave out the middle name. See here as this is maybe his only known label;



Also read here for more on Fendt Sr.

If I do my 'S' logo in part in the ebony disc, I might also put a smaller 'B' and 'F' on either side of it in a similar lettering to his Label. That Disc would fill the existing hold and can be remove if one wanted to do so.

This Excerpt from 'The British Violin Making Association', Sept, 2000.
The most influential craftsmen to work for Betts were
Bernhard Simon Fendt and Vincenzo Panormo. Fendt was born in
the south German town of Fussen but moved to Paris in his youth
and there learnt violin making from his uncle, Francois. Panormo
worked in Rome and Naples before joining Fendt in Paris, but left
at the outbreak of the French Revolution to work in Dublin.
However both men were soon to arrive in England and became
hugely influential in the London trade.

Believe me, I have the highest respect for this maker and all makers for that matter. Doing an inlay would highlight the 'S' which could point to either me the owner or Arnold 'S'chnitzer the restorer and both father and son whos middle names were 'S'imon.
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Fendt and Panormo? Did Panormo actually join Fendt or just worked in Paris around the same time? This is not clear to me but looks as if his time in Paris was with Fendt and after only 2 years with Dodd, he also worked for Betts in 1800 before leaving Dodd completely 9 years later in 1809 when he began running the Betts shop.

This puts interesting information together and a possibility how Panormo may have influenced Fendt Sr. directly in his Bass and Violin making to rise to the level he attained.
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:20 PM
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Lightbulb Fendt/Hart pg.2

(10/15/06) 'History this side of the Pond'

Jacques Gagnon brought this Bass over from Europe as he did with many other Basses and sold it Michael Leiter, Principal of the Montreal Symphony who then played it as-is off the boat without restoration. Then he sold it to either Bob or Oscar Zimmerman. I have to see if I can figure that out. Bob did play it as Principal but Oscar may have as well before him. It was Oscar that mentioned it was a Fendt Sr. Bass and not BSF II. It was then sold to another member and pupil of Oscar named William Eckfeld (co-author of 'My First Simandl'). Eckfeld then went on to play with the Dallas Symphony and then retired from full time Orchestra playing.

This Bass has been out of commission for about 2 decades. It was in use for only about 10 years between the 3 owners. Now it needs to be fixed finally as the last restoration seems to be from 1944 which is dated inside the Bass. The open circle on the Back is just a finishing touch that is needed. The 'Rose' type of carving on a disc sounds interesting.
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English decorations, from 10/15/06.

My Gilkes from 1814 has an old Tail Piece with an Inlay and they both might be original. It has Pearl and Silver with a Star in the middle of a circle.

It also has this simple Diamond design under the Button. The Purfling though is actually 7 layers (4 black and 3 white lines). Not really simple when you look with a magnifier glass.

What's with these 'Diamonds' in the Backs here. The Fendt with a large Purfled half Diamond and the Gilkes with a smaller full Diamond. Are we on to something here? Is this yet another mystery that should be explored? The spooky part if these 'Diamonds' have any relation to each other is that Gilkes' pupil J.Hart's name is stamped inside the Fendt as well..

The inlay that was in there could have easily been something personal to the owner when it was made. Possibly even a family 'coat of arms'. The Back of this Bass is made from about the best wood I have ever seen on a Bass and according to Arnold Schnitzer, the hardest he recalls working on. When he worked on my Morelli he commented on how hard the wood was in the Back. Then came my Prescott in New England Curly (Tiger) Rock Maple. Next it was my Gilkes as he claimed the hardest yet until he got inside the Fendt to clean up the Back and said THIS is the hardest Back to date.

All those who have seen the Back have been shocked at its condition with only a slight fracture up at the treble side bend. The rest is crack-free! My Dodd was close in condition but not as nice. My Mystery Bass is also in great condition with just a few cracks and the Prescott had just a couple in its Flat Back as well. This Fendt was built with some graduation as it's thicker across the Lower Bout than the Upper Bout in some sort of proportion of width-to-thickness ratio. Too bad Fendt isn't here to see this Back still in near perfect condition after about 200 years.
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(10/16/06) Photo shopped sample..

This was the work of my Son Mike putting the bSf in the Button area, totally photo shopped;



Using the B and F from this label;



P.S. Also, I took a pixel from the darker area of varnish and colored the letters as I might do when I fill in the engraving. With white letters, you can see the 'B' and 'F' easier but I want to make the whole thing on the subtle side. Maybe the 'S' should be in Black or unfilled and just fill in the 'B' and 'F' with the dark red varnish color..?

NOTE: If you 'right click' the Pic you can blow it up by; select 'save image as', then left click 'save', then left click 'open', the left click the '+' to blow it up and you can see it much much better.
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(10/29/06) Possible conclusion...

The Bass believed to be a Fendt may very well be a Bass made by John Thomas Hart, London c.1830. Since the Bass is stamped "J.HART" inside the Back and Rosengard believes this very well may be a 'lost' Hart instrument I have updated my web page attributing it to Hart with great confidence. A lot has gone into this thought and we are still digging for more information on Hart here and in London but for now and maybe forever, this Bass is the work of John Hart.
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(Today, 1/26/07) As you can see, I've had quite a run-a-round with this Bass as far as the origin goes. During this saga, someone sent pics from my website to Tom Martin in London who had only previously heard about the Bass. He again said it was from the shop of Bernhard Simon Fendt as he did the first time several months before.

John Hart was a maker, restorer and later a Dealer. Not just a Dealer but the biggest Dealer in Italian Violins London had ever seen. Hart was also a pupil of Samuel Gilkes who was trained by Charles Harris Sr. and William Forster III as well. Of all the confirmed B.S. Fendt Basses I have seen as well as a few unconfirmed ones, not a single Bass looked anything like this. The only feature that is Fendt-like at all is the Double Purfling and even this is not done in the same manner as Fendt. Fendt by the way was not the only British maker to use Double Purfling so calling it a Fendt or Fendt Shop Bass is a lazy call at best.

Regardless of who made this beautiful Bass, it was made with great thought and style. It is of Italian modeling but not without English flair. It's a humble looking Bass with fantastic wood as seen on the inside by the Hart stamps. So if it'd be Fendt, Hart or another Londoner, the maker of this Bass was top class all the way. William Gilkes, son of Samuel who also learned along side John Hart was known to have made Basses with Double Purfling as well. A William Gilkes Bass I have seen with regular purfling has a similar shape and look to this Bass of mine.

Now, what do I do with that darn hole in the Back, huh?

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Old 07-21-2007, 12:42 PM
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Thumbs up bumping.. (just a little..)

I visited my Hart/Fendt Bass yesterday up at Arnold's. The Top is mostly done. The Back mainly done. The Ribs about a week from completion and then it's assembly time. With what I see left to do including some Scroll/Peg Box repairs, Neck-set, FB, Br., Ext.. etc etc etc... I expect to have this Bass sometime this Fall.

Still, I can't say for sure if it is a J.Hart or B.Fendt Sr. Bass but with the Stamps inside from Hart, we are leaning in that direction. Either way, it's the same Bass sound wise, pedigree value, playability and condition. In addition, this Bass is the most complete Bass I have had to date as far as all the parts and conditions being 100% original from the Shoulders to the Scroll to the Varnish. It has some major Rib and Top repairs but other that that, it's the 'real 'McCoy!

PS: I have the original Corner Block (other 3 still in the Bass) and the Tailblock that was replaced as well. The matching Neck Block is still in use.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:08 PM
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Lightbulb Mssrs Bird & Sons

This is the same Card I spoke of from the English DB Thread I made here and at TB on the English School makers. Unfortunately, The Varnish over the Card has fused with the Ink lettering on the Card as well and a restoration of the Card itself is nearly impossible. Removing the Varnish also removes the Ink. I cleaned it up slightly myself but stopped when I saw some of the lettering starting to fade. I was actually able to read more than before but some of the letters are just not there at all from before. The best thing to do at this point is make a replica of the card and put both of them in the Bass. One being the original and one legible that can be seen easily. I might omit the lines that cannot be read and just put what is most important from the complete lines.
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Laminated to the bottom Rib at the tail-block is a business card/label under the Varnish. This is actually a separate piece grafted/spliced wood to the bottom Ribs at the Block and looks to be a very old repair. The business card is under some very dark varnish and hard to read but seems to say;
__________________________________________________ ______

MESSRS. BIRD & SONS
GF - H - - - - - - - - - - - - dios, (?)
56 Berwick St. 1 Door from Oxford St.

for instructions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - (?)
G - - n - -THE Dou- - - (?)

50 Double Basses on Sale from 8 to 100 guineas
The Double Bass and 40 Music Stands can be had on hire
Professional Gentlemen have a double bass at a moderate price


(Partial Reproduction from Original Card attached by TailBlock, c.1890)

__________________________________________________ ______

I was telling this to Duane Rosengard and just as he responded to the news of the "J.HART" stamps he told me how rare a find this was. 'Olde' Bird as he was known had personally introduced Samuel Allen (19th century English Bow maker) to W.E. Hill himself! Allen became one of Hill's top Bow makers. Bird was a 19th century dealer and connoisseur of fine Double Basses in the 19th century.

This Bass was apparently at one time in the hands of 'Bird & Sons' as the outer laminated label/card suggests.
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Old 07-30-2007, 10:53 PM
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Arrow Olde English Lettering...

When we thought the Hart was a Fendt Bass we were trying to come up with some lettering to make a disc to replace whatever it was that fell out of the Bass originally. In Talking today with Duane Rosengard he agreed that a Disc with Olde English Lettering should go in that space. Either J.T.H. (John Thomas Hart), J.H. (John Hart) or J.Hart (as he marked his work.) This super fine Bass may have been specially made for an individual that had his name in that Space which is equally possible or even some type of emblem. Since we don't really know and the Space is already there, we need to put something in there if not just a plain Ebony Disc.

This is the space;


This is what we came up with when we thought it was a Fendt;


I am taking suggestions once again concerning what should go in the Space as well as Letter styles.
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Old 07-31-2007, 06:36 PM
Charles Federle Charles Federle is offline
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I was thinking on a few ideas for your bass.

The first that came to mind was some sort of nice mother of pearl or abalone inlay, or a nice light colored wood carving of a flower, or perhaps a cameo.

Granted I think the hope diamond might be a nice choice as well, but there are some issues with that idea
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:19 PM
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Cool Final leg...

The Hart Bass is on its final leg of the restoration process. A few Purfling repairs and it goes into the 'Varnish Rack' For touch up. Arnold will rough out the new Chromatic Extension first and then start the Varnish process. There are a few new Edges, half-edged all around inside the Top, Tuner hole inlay pieces and new Scroll Cheeks to repair the damage from the ill-fitted brass plates.

I was at Arnold's shop today and much to my surprise, he had the Bass temporarily strung up for me to play. It looked like it was delicate with all the repair work exposed on the Top, Back, Ribs and Scroll but the Bass is strong as a Tank.

Even in its rough state, she sounded beautiful with sweetness on the G and D string and smooth low end spread on the A and E. The Bass was even sounding from top to bottom.

For the empty hole/missing emblem in the upper Back, I had a brass coin made to fit in the existing empty circle. The letters go around the edge and say "J.HART" (at the top as it was originally stamped inside the Bass 4x) and "LONDON" (at the bottom where it was made). The letters were engraved in the Brass and then the Coin was put in an ultra sonic machine to pre-oxidize it to match the aged look of the brass Baker gears. The letters were filled in with black ink as well to stand out.

The Hart coin looks nearly identical in color and age as do the original Baker Gears which by the way are fantastic. Today is the first time I have seen them mounted directly to the Scroll cheeks without the brass plates. What an improvement!

By the way, this is my personal Bass and not one I am trying to sell.
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Old 09-23-2007, 02:20 PM
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ken, great to hear from the restauration progression.
i´m looking forward to new pictures

two months ago i was in england and visited turner violins, thomas martin, thwaites and peter georgiades and played MANY old english basses.
i envy you for the hart...
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Old 09-23-2007, 05:55 PM
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Wink Envy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anselm Hauke View Post
ken, great to hear from the restauration progression.
i´m looking forward to new pictures

two months ago i was in england and visited turner violins, thomas martin, thwaites and peter georgiades and played MANY old english basses.
"I envy you for the Hart"...
Ok, thanks. How do you feel then about the Gilkes? .. Just checking..lol

By the way, when you get the chance go over to the English Bass Thread and tell you about your English Bass visit and trials. Please describe each Bass as best as you can including condition, playability and sound. Price would be ok to mention as well. All nice Chaps there you mentioned..
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Old 09-24-2007, 05:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
By the way, when you get the chance go over to the English Bass Thread and tell you about your English Bass visit and trials. Please describe each Bass as best as you can including condition, playability and sound. Price would be ok to mention as well. All nice Chaps there you mentioned..
ken, i would have asked the same, but thats too much. then i also had to describe anything i´ve seen on my last visits to the dutch and parisian shops...

but let my tell you one thing: one of the best basses i played in england was a guitarshaped lott. absolutly beautiful but not for sale.
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:09 AM
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Question Cornerless?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anselm Hauke View Post
ken, i would have asked the same, but thats too much. then i also had to describe anything i´ve seen on my last visits to the dutch and parisian shops...

but let my tell you one thing: one of the best basses i played in england was a guitarshaped lott. absolutly beautiful but not for sale.
Guitar shaped Lott? Where did you see that? How certain are they that it is a Lott or even English? If this is true, it really upsets the apple cart..lol
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:15 AM
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because its in privat posession i won´t talk about this in public, but i can ask the owner if he wants you to know and then i can send you a pm
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Old 09-24-2007, 10:30 AM
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Thumbs up yesss...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anselm Hauke View Post
because its in privat posession i won´t talk about this in public, but i can ask the owner if he wants you to know and then i can send you a pm
Yes, please tell me/us in any way you can more about this possible Lott Cornerless Bass. I say possible because I have never even dreamed of this possibility that the English might have made a Guitar shaped DB.
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Old 09-26-2007, 06:03 AM
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Smile

you got pm...
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Old 09-26-2007, 09:48 AM
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Smile and...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anselm Hauke View Post
you got pm...
So do you..
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:13 PM
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Thumbs up Hart Coin

Here is an emailed Pic fresh from Arnold. It just went in the Back today. I will take more and better pics in about a month or so when the Bass is done. maybe if we get lucky, Arnold will send some more pics when he has the time.
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Last edited by Ken Smith; 09-29-2007 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Second pic added
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Old 10-20-2007, 12:29 PM
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Thumbs up Almost...

I spoke with Arnold yesterday and was asked which Adjusters do I want in the Bridge. I chose the Ebony like I have in my Gilkes over the aluminum ones.

The Hart Bass restoration will be done in less than two weeks. I already have an invitation with a Chamber group to play the Trout next month. I have 2 other concerts in November and plan on taking the Hart out for a few spins..
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:40 AM
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Thumbs up Done!

The Hart is done, home and sitting in the rack next to the Gilkes...

I will post photos as soon as I can..
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:38 PM
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Thumbs up as promised...

'The Coin' in a Bass by John Hart, London c.1830;
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:50 PM
Mike Smith Mike Smith is offline
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hmm not bad, not bad at all
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