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Functionality vs. Originality

I'm new to this list (and almost as new to the Internet).  I have been in the
business of repairing and restoring bowed string instruments, antiques and
pianos (casework and finish restoration) for the past 25 years.  I know the
strict definition of "original" is that the only changes allowed are
peripherals (i.e. in the case of the violin, items such as pegs, strings,
tailpiece ,tailgut ,chinrest and sometimes the stringnut and fingerboard
(but, the older, the better!)) and normal wear and tear to the instrument
(worn areas).  This, to me is the ideal, and as with most ideals is rarely
if ever encountered.

My problem arises in the dividing line between "original" and functionaly
"restored".  I have seen many pieces (important and otherwise) where the
provenance ( if genuine!) states "original in all parts" only to find, upon
examination, more new wood ( or veneer, or whatever) than old . In the case
of a commonplace piece I feel I have the freedom to restore its
functionality or looks, but what about an important piece?

My philosophy about conservation and restoration is quite simple--
"Remove everybody else's mistakes (except, perhaps, the maker's) and make
your own" (they are easier to correct! <G>), but what about an owner who
demands modern functionality of a relatively important instrument?
Opinions, please!

The commercial world is a far different environment than the museums or
academica!  We (the repairpeople and restorers) are not (at least for the
most part) the butchers and rapists that you ( the conservationists) imagine
us to be.  We are trying to subscribe to a set of guidelines at least as
valid as the one you try to subscribe to. Opinions please!

Gabriel Zwierski <75120.1363@Compuserve.com>

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