Update: This historic instrument has been just been loaned out to Jim Morris, a master at old time music and a fine instrument builder. Morris was able to restring it and make it playable again. Here is his first demo video of the Old Peach:
This cigar box violin is probably over 100 years old, and it's still playable! It was discovered in Toledo, OH.
Old Peach Stogies were made in Ohio at the turn of the last century and this 3/4 violin was crafted from an Old Peach cigar box. Newspaper clippings show the cigars advertised between 1894-1917, which gives us clues to the age of this magnificent cigar box violin.
Above: Newspaper clipping with Old Peach Stogies advertised in the Fort Wayne (IN) Sentinal, 1894. Three for five cents!
The first thing you notice with this instrument is the wooden chin rest and upper body block that approximates the shape of a violin. There was serious care taken in the creation of this fiddle. In fact, it is still very much playable.
This instrument will eventually get a proper luthier setup and it's my hopes to have an accomplished violinist perform on it for a concert and recording.
Discovered in Toledo by an antiques dealer, it is only fitting that it was crafted from an Ohio cigar box. The box is deeper, which was common for cigar boxes from this era. Its dimensions are 8.625 x 6 x 3.75 inches.
The neck is hand carved and the black painted fingerboard is attached with nails. Because fine violins use ebony for fingerboards, the builder probably chose black paint to approximate the look. Note the wear marks from years of use.
The tuners are expertly made and still hold tension!
A chin rest is cut from wood and an additional strip of leather is nailed to the butt. The entire chin rest is attached to the cigar box with metal strips and brad nails.
The traditional violin tailpiece looks out of place and might have been added at a later date.
The curious body block flanks the neck as it attaches to the box. The instrument suffered paint damage at some point, with off-white paint dripping down the back and appearing on the body block and chin rest.
Another shot of the back shows the hand whittled headstock, body block attachment and more of the paint damage.
The builder chose to use primitive C soundholes, giving the instrument a perfect look. The original Florentine art of the Old Peach box graces the top. Note: The chin rest is held in place by tin strips and nails. The two supports seen between the chin rest and box in the above picture are actually part of a guitar stand that was used for photography.
Here are the specs for the Antique "Old Peach" Cigar Box Violin from Toledo OH:
Scale length: 12"
Materials used in construction:
Old Peach wood cigar box (8.625 x 6 x 3.75")
Factory made violin tailpiece
Hand carved wooden neck and tuners
Wood chin rest with leather strip
Body block held on with metal strips and brad nails
Conventional violin strings
Dimensions: 23 x 6 x 3.75" (59 x 15 x 8.5cm)
Cigar Box Guitar Museum Catalog # ACB.2021.002
Currently in curation and slated to be shown at the Cigar Box Guitar Museum in New Alexandria PA at a future date.