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Dec 4, 2023 - 4:10:56 AM
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238 posts since 4/5/2008

I found this fiddle over the weekend (link below goes to photos on Facebook). It's made by Henry A. Bonnet of Brookville, PA in 1888. I did a little research on Bonnet and found that he may have been acquainted with my all-time favorite PA violin-maker, Sol Roach, of Windber, PA. Bonnet was older than Roach but, in addition to being very competent violin-makers, they were both gunsmiths, cabinet-makers and outdoorsmen. (I have a lead on a turkey call that may have been made by Roach). It appears that the fiddle was repaired by J. A. McLaughlin in 1923.

Lon Roach has set up a website about his great-grandfather, Sol Roach (solroachviolinhistory.com/) He has done some research on Roach's possible interaction with Bonnet. If anyone has information on Roach or Bonnet (or on the repair person, McLaughlin), it would be much appreciated ! ! Thanks in advance for comments.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=100037660393340&set=a.1113042713294398

Photos of Bonnet's label and Bonnet at his bench.




Edited by - Mark Ralston on 12/04/2023 04:12:56

Dec 4, 2023 - 7:19:13 AM
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RobBob

USA

2973 posts since 6/26/2007

Pennsylvania is and was full of violin makers and violinists and fiddlers. I learned quite a bit of fiddle from Harold Carney, who died in 1983. He fiddled, farmed and dug coal near Apollo, PA. Before he passed he gave me a fiddle made by his Uncle Rob in 1929. The top keeps popping off. I've got it with a fellow in East Flat Rock, NC right now who is working on it again. Paul Olphin, late of Red Lion, PA, fixed it once about 1981 or 82. Paul could make any piece of wood sound like the best thing you had ever heard. He'd sell it to someone and they'd wonder how he got that tone out of it. I'd go over to his house for a bow rehair, and he'd pull 40 fiddles out to try from every nook and cranny of that house. The places fiddling takes you to.

Dec 4, 2023 - 7:35:54 AM

Erockin

USA

839 posts since 9/3/2022

Thanks for sharing, Mark. I too own a fiddle made in PA and I think we're pretty lucky to call PA home. Cool website too...Cheers!

Dec 6, 2023 - 7:10:27 AM
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238 posts since 4/5/2008

Another picture of Bonnet with his newspaper ad......

Linda warned me not to try growing a moustache like Bonnet's.


 

Dec 6, 2023 - 8:27:53 AM
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DougD

USA

11716 posts since 12/2/2007

Interesting fiddle and photos, Mark. Samuel Bayard's books show how much fiddling there was in Pennsylvania, and there's a film on Youtube (I think titled "People Just Don't Whistle Anymore") that documents a later time. youtu.be/7chdbQXUR2Y
I bought my first fiddle, which I still have, from an old fellow in Williamsport. I think his shop had once been a bank, and he kept his better instruments in the vault, but the shop was crowded with dressers with their drawers full of fiddles. I wish I could remember his name and more about him. Walt Koken bought the violin he played in Highwoods and beyond on that same trip. I don't think either were made in PA though.

Edited by - DougD on 12/06/2023 08:36:42

Dec 6, 2023 - 8:31:36 AM

Erockin

USA

839 posts since 9/3/2022

Mark, the Stache will grow on them!! lol.

Centre Hall. I think I mentioned that I know some folks in your area. Are there any jams in that area? I am friends with Tussey Mountain Moonshiners. Love that region of PA

Dec 6, 2023 - 8:45:31 AM

238 posts since 4/5/2008

Hey Doug - in 2014 I bought a car-full (approx 32) fiddles from a family in nearby Millheim. They had belonged to Elmer Shaffer, who was a notable local fiddler and (like me) fiddle tinkerer. Some of the fiddles were by PA makers / small shops, and I got my first Roach fiddle in this collection. I'm told that he was a traveling salesman between central PA and Pittsburgh, and he picked up fiddles on his road trips. I've still got a few PA-made fiddles from that collection, which I will probably keep until I sell all of the remaining "German workshop" instruments. I met Sam Bayard when he was still at Penn State, and one of his graduate students (Bob Doyle) did booking for our string band (1970's - 80's). Sam Bayard did a lot of collecting in the SW PA area that Elmer Shaffer searched for fiddles.  A friend has quite a few tapes of Elmer's playing, which I've been asked to digitize, have contacted FRC to explore interest in getting the tunes published.

Photo below is of the fiddles I bought from Elmer Shaffer's family (they were carefully wrapped in a quilt & driven only about 10 miles). Facebook link goes to a display of PA fiddles that I did one year at Clifftop, vimeo link foes to a film that Craig Evans did of 3 of my display fiddles.

facebook.com/media/set/?vanity...320889499

vimeo.com/361433639?fbclid=IwA...hrhzT_QTM


 

Edited by - Mark Ralston on 12/06/2023 08:51:12

Dec 6, 2023 - 8:47:15 AM
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238 posts since 4/5/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin

Mark, the Stache will grow on them!! lol.

Centre Hall. I think I mentioned that I know some folks in your area. Are there any jams in that area? I am friends with Tussey Mountain Moonshiners. Love that region of PA


Erockin -  yes, there is regular OT music locally.  Send me a PM and I'll fill you in.  

Dec 6, 2023 - 1:18:51 PM
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wilford

USA

497 posts since 6/26/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Mark Ralston

Hey Doug - in 2014 I bought a car-full (approx 32) fiddles from a family in nearby Millheim. They had belonged to Elmer Shaffer, who was a notable local fiddler and (like me) fiddle tinkerer. Some of the fiddles were by PA makers / small shops, and I got my first Roach fiddle in this collection. I'm told that he was a traveling salesman between central PA and Pittsburgh, and he picked up fiddles on his road trips. I've still got a few PA-made fiddles from that collection, which I will probably keep until I sell all of the remaining "German workshop" instruments. I met Sam Bayard when he was still at Penn State, and one of his graduate students (Bob Doyle) did booking for our string band (1970's - 80's). Sam Bayard did a lot of collecting in the SW PA area that Elmer Shaffer searched for fiddles.  A friend has quite a few tapes of Elmer's playing, which I've been asked to digitize, have contacted FRC to explore interest in getting the tunes published.

Photo below is of the fiddles I bought from Elmer Shaffer's family (they were carefully wrapped in a quilt & driven only about 10 miles). Facebook link goes to a display of PA fiddles that I did one year at Clifftop, vimeo link foes to a film that Craig Evans did of 3 of my display fiddles.

facebook.com/media/set/?vanity...320889499

vimeo.com/361433639?fbclid=IwA...hrhzT_QTM


Wow! That photo got me drooling. What a blast to fiddle every one of them. And what fun to fix those that would need some tlc. 

Dec 25, 2023 - 3:33:31 PM

2 posts since 2/15/2017

I have a PA fiddle as well. Made by William DeVeaux Foulke in Philadelphia in 1912. I’ve been looking for more on him and have found a few others he’s made. I have a facebook page looking for more info.

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