Circa 1790 Voigtland Violin.
There are subtle details which hint at and inform differences of age in early violins from the Voigtland region of greater Saxony, with a great number of ateliers and artisans ranging from the complete gamut of commercial production to artisan creations of triumphant craftsmanship celebrated still today. These traditions can be traced through the years to the formation of Upper Voigtland first violin making guild, established in 1669 by expatriates of Graslitz who had begun to settle in Klingenthal not even two decades prior, and followed by the Markneukirchen guild in 1677. Early violins from Klingenthal often took a more boxy, squared appearance as a function of both their construction methods and forebears, namely but by no means limited to Caspar Hopf, a founding member of the guild there whose surname had hitherto been Hobe.
Apparent immediately, the outline of this violin is more rounded, far more than one would accept from an attribution to the Hopf school, but not yet following the more classically Amatese pattern that proliferated from as early as 1800 - not Hopf family, yet teasing their visible influence. Turning to the F holes, they are immediately more reminiscent of several violin making dynasties at the tail end of the eighteenth century, bringing to mind Meisel, Hoyer, and Glass as possibilities to consider more closely. A second thought rules out the Hoyer family, though a few members had moved to Klingenthal, they represent one of two highly influential dynasties in Neukirchen, some 500 miles North West of Markneukirchen; their instruments are often darker in ground and finished with an opaque brown varnish, with wider f holes featuring larger eyes, and softer wings more commonly at the time. Turning my attention to the scroll, I can rule out Neukirchen entirely with three points of reference stylistically.
Though they may number many, these details are mulled over to arrive again at my original attribution of Klingenthal, circa 1790, with the stipulation that the violin may hail from a member of the Meisel or Glass family. Though Meisel came to mind first, several members of the Glass family had worked in the Hopf family workshop.