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Treatment FOCUS: A Violin-Maker's Workbook

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Several waves of German-speaking immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 19th century. This included the Martins, founders of C.F. Martin & Co., a world-renowned company that has made instruments in the Nazareth area of eastern Pennsylvania for almost 200 years.

One of the members of the Martin family was Christian Frederick Hartmann, cousin of C.F. Martin Sr., and prominent figure in the family business. Hartmann also made violins.

The Moravian Historical Society recently brought a workbook belonging to Hartmann to CCAHA for treatment. The workbook, dating from the mid-19th century, gives an intimate look at a craftsman's personal notes, from drawings of decorative violin elements to his own translation of an Italian treatise on violin-making. The book measures roughly 10 x 8 inches, but several of the final leaves fold out to twice that size, allowing for scale drawings of violins. 

"It looks like these larger leaves were cut and taped together with strips of textile and adhesive, perhaps by Hartmann himself," says CCAHA Book Conservator Amber Hares, "He may have traced the violins with pencil and a series of pinpricks." Many of the illustrations include bits of wood glued where the violin’s tailpiece appears. There are also sections of violin string taped to some pages. 

The Moravian Historical Society received a grant from the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation to fund the conservation, digitization, and copying of the workbook. Hares cleaned the leaves, documented the sewing structure, mended vulnerable tears, and reattached the detached leaves. The volume’s pages were digitized and a facsimile copy of the volume was created to allow greater access to the material.

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