If the one I have apart now is any indication, these were hastily slapped together. No linings on this one, and huge gaps between the ribs and the corner blocks, gaps that look like they were there from day one. Can't say anything about the original neck joint fit, since this one got worked on before it came apart again, but it is easy to believe that it wasn't that great from the beginning.
Best guess is that once it goes back together, it will be an OK fiddle. We will see.
I must say I am learning a lot and discovering the world of violins. I just bought a Jackson Guldan It looks for sure hand made very crud to say the least it has the trademark not the name. I was told by the owner it was 1915 it looks older. I know there is a new serge in American made violins so I will hang on to it. It has a nice fiddle sound and this one was played a lot. I love the discovering of everyone I have purhased and now I have the bug....this makes my 7th strad copy. I love this forum and all I am learning. Thanks for the good words.
I just ran across this old thread and after reading I found the old fiddle and with a light, looked inside, and it is a Guldan. It is not ugly or poorly made. It has some beautiful curly maple sides,back and neck and has real purfling installed. The top is a very nice spruce..So I suppose this to be one of the early ones..I build banjos, guitars, and dobros and it appears the workmanship is first class.. I have a fiddle about half finished, but its been that way for about 10 yrs, but I have to finish the mandolin I started a year or so before that first..
I own a couple Jackson-Guldan's now and have taken an interest in finding out more about them. I have a copy of Jackson-Guldan's 1920 catalog and from what I can gather from that (and from what I see in my two instruments) their instruments can be grouped into 2 groups. The first group I would simply call the Jackson-Guldan which carried the label Antonius Stradivarius Cremonenfis Ano 17 or some variation. These appear to be their lower end instrument and in 1920 they had 10 models in this group that ran from $7.50 to $48.00. The other group carried a label that said The Guldan and in 1920 there were 4 models running in price from $30 to $100. I have one from each group but can't really identify them any further to actual model numbers.
They also list the E.M Fitzwater in their catalog and it cost $250. George J. Guldan ran the plant and Fitzwater was a luthier and based on photographs Guldan may have owned the company prior to the Jacksons incorporating in 1915. I have seen where violins made by Fitzwater have brought up to $1,200. If I recall correctly, Fitzwater left the firm and went with Scherl & Roth which had moved from New York to Cleveland OH in 1938. They imported unfinished violins from Germany and then installed the pegs and put a finish on the violins.
The company was in business from 1915 to 1971. The headline of a newspaper clipping in 1971 states that the Jackson-Guldan Co. was going out of business for the 5th and final time. In their heyday, they were churning out 2500 violins a month. Guldan left them in 1925 to start a company making Ukuleles (400 a month). The corporation dissolved in 1952 and what was left of the company was bought by a Sears and Roebuck executive in 1956. The company did well during WWI and WWII since German trade fiddles could not be imported then but could not compete with them during peace time. They asked the Eisenhower administration to put a tariff on the violins coming from Europe but the music teachers raised such an uproar that it was denied.