Complete Description of Fields in
the Online Database of Historical Viols

Field NameComments
Size For the complete database, choices include Pardessus, Quinton, Treble, Tenor, Bass, and Violone, though not all sizes are found in each country of origin. In general, pardessus normally have a body length of less than 34 cm, trebles less than 44 cm, tenors less than 60 cm, and basses less than 80 cm.
Maker Name Separate fields for surname and given name; the spelling of both may be standardized
Place Made Listed with the country first (using internationally-recognized abbreviations; England is represented by "GB") followed by the city (or, for most American private owners, the state)
Date A capital letter C for "circa" may follow the date; periods may replace the final two digits if these are illegible or estimated/unknown (e.g., "16.." means some time during the 17th century).
Label Transcribes the text of any interior label (or exterior brand stamp) not obviously associated with a repair, using the exact spelling and punctuation found there but with no attempt to accurately reproduce typography. However, diagonal slashes indicate line breaks when these are known, and printed labels are distinguished from handwritten ones whenever possible.
Location Current location of instrument, using same system as Place Made
Collection Current owner, whether an institution or a private individual; in the latter case names are here replaced with "Private Collection" (whether or not the owner has requested anonymity), except for a few well-known performer/collectors who have themselves publicized the instruments they own
Catalog Number Generally applies only to institutionally-owned viols
Previous Owner Listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first), with dates if possible
Body Shape Choices include Viol, Violin/Cello (i.e., with pointed corners and square shoulders), Guitar (cornerless), and Festoon (highly variable, but usually having both exterior and interior corners)
Sound Hole Shape Most often C, followed by F and Flame (the latter covering many variations)
Number of strings Describes the instrument's current state, even if obviously modified from the original; 6+6 means 6 bowed plus 6 sympathetic (the latter almost always being later additions), while (4) usually indicates an unreversed cello or viola conversion
[Dimensions] Given in centimeters (to the nearest millimeter), with length and widths usually taken on the front, over the arching; rib depths personally measured by the present compiler do not include the thickness of the table and back, but often it is uncertain which method has been used by other researchers
Total length Retained for some instruments listed by Tourin but not used for those seen or otherwise updated by MacCracken, since length of the neck is often not original
Body length Measured from the joint between neck and nody to the bottom block
Width, upper Maximum width of upper bouts
Width, middle Minimum width of center bouts
Width, lower Maximum width of lower bouts
Rib depth Taken at bottom block, or maximum if greater elsewhere
String length From the top nut to the fingerboard side of the bridge (whose position may of course vary depending on the setup)
Head Decoration at the top of the pegbox, which may be a Scroll, Open scroll, or a carved Head of some type: Male/Female, Lion, Cupid, etc.; "Head" means unclear but not a scroll
Tourin ID Identifying siglum used in Peter Tourin's Viollist (1979); if blank, instrument is an addition since 1991 by MacCracken
Info. Source Source(s) on which the data record is based, which may be a first-hand visit (by Peter Tourin = PT, or Thomas MacCracken = TGM, with a month/year date) or a publication (here identified by author's surname plus date of publication, with full details in the accompanying bibliography), or information provided privately
Literature Important published descriptions of, or references to, this instrument, cited as above
Photos Published photographs, cited as above (for books) or as below (for recordings), plus unpublished photos taken by Tourin or MacCracken, or obtained from other sources. In each case, the view of instrument is indicated as front, back, side (often abbreviated F, B, S), head, label, etc.; color photos are so marked, while others may be assumed to be black-and-white.
Recordings Cited by the performer's surname and date, with fuller details in the bibliography (where manufacturer's catalog numbers are generally those of the initial release only and are often now out of print, especially for vinyl LPs). This list is not comprehensive, favoring solo recordings when known, though continuo and consort use is also noted as possible.
Comments Contains various additional information as available, including (but not systematically):
  • further description of structure (e.g. arched or striped back, overhanging edges) or decoration (e.g. purfling, other decorative inlay work, rosette), and current condition
  • types of wood used, if known to be unusual (i.e., not spruce and maple), and number of pieces in the table and back, if known to be other than two
  • known non-original parts of the instrument, as well as restoration or repair work, including labels or inscriptions associated with the latter
  • dimensions from other sources, if different from main "Info. source" (may begin with total length before body length; dashes indicate missing data)
  • opinions of various people or publications, with attributions (sometimes direct quotes)
Private Owner Choices are either "Yes" or blank
Auction For instruments that have been offered for sale at auctions, especially by Sotheby's and Christie's, gives the firm's name, date (in the format YYYY/MM/DD), and lot number
DHV No. A unique identifier, initially applied to the records taken over from Tourin in 1991 as sorted by his identifying sigla, and subsequently to those added by MacCracken in the order added; some numbers no longer exist because the associated instruments have been deleted (or at least provisionally omitted) due to not meeting the criteria for inclusion