Information wanted about a Elza E. Tungate Violin

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Laurie Maetche said: Aug 1, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Guitar, Piano, Cello, Viola
10 posts

Hello everyone.
I’m hoping someone may be able to help me. I purchased a 1930 Elza E. Tungate violin through a classified ad in our local paper. The previous owner could not tell me anything about it, except that his Grandfather had played it.
The label inside says Elza E. Tungate Phoenix, Ariz anno1930
I’m very interested in general information because it’s not often that an American made instrument of that age makes it to Canada and then becomes available for purchase. When I googled his name I found out that he was a pastor and violin maker, born 1891 in Louisville, Illinois and died 1931 in Phoenix, Arizona. What I’m interested in is if he made many violins, the one I purchased is very nice quality. I haven’t heard it yet as it needs the fingerboard glued back on. I’m wondering also who he may have trained under, and a rough value of what his instruments may be worth. Any information would be appreciated.
Thank you

Anne said: Nov 24, 2013
Anne SanchezPiano
9 posts

Actually, he was not born in 1891, he was born in 1895 as his gravestone states. I have looked extensively over the past couple of days and found only one small article on him, but it had nothing to do with the violin. I found it at http://www.mocavo.com/Centennial-History-of-the-Southern-Indiana-Christian-Conference-Southern-Wabash-Illinois-Conference-Illinois-Christian-Conference-1817-1920/792698/121. As I was researching this, I also found a very interesting article about how to use the identifying information inside of the violin to verify it’s authenticity. You didn’t post a picture of the violin or the tag, so it was hard to research any further. You can find the article here at http://mewzik.com/resources/violin/index.php. I hope these help you somehow. I also researched his family to see if the violin was made by any of them and found nothing. Elza was married to Jenettie (Jenni) King and they had one son, named George. His mother and father’s names were Carol Hendrix and Charles Tungate. He also had several siblings William, Ethel, Raymond, and Otto. You also could try www.ancestry.com and www.webroot.com where you can post a question or send an email to a family member of his that may know something about this violin. Happy hunting!

Samantha Porter said: Nov 26, 2013
 2 posts

I found this site by accident. Elza E. Tungate is my husband’s great grandfather and he is the violin maker of the violin you have. My family has one of his fiddles. I have the jigs he used to make that and other violins. We thought we had two of his violins but the second one (which was in a state of disrepair) was actually a Francois Guillmont violin. We are trying to see if Elza’s grandfather was a luthier in Germany and could have connections to the Francois Guillmont shop.

I don’t know how many violins Elza made and I don’t know if he kept records. I only recently had the Guillmont restored (thinking it was Elza’s) and have been corresponding with Uncle Don, Elza’s great-grandson (direct descendent of George Elza’s only son).

I have no idea of the value, but we have several letters from people that bought his violins and loved them. I am thrilled you have one. The one that is still in the family sounds amazing. I just started playing seven weeks ago after receiving back the restored Guillmont. Uncle Don is in California and I hope someday to see him and get to play great-grandfather’s fiddle.

If you ever decide to sell this, I’d definitely be interested. If not, please restore it and play it.

Here is a picture of the jig used to make the violin.

Jig

Jig

Image by Samantha Porter

Emily said: Dec 2, 2013
 59 posts

I am glad that you posted on here. Anne (the second poster on here) and I know each other and I know she tried to research this for days and found out a lot of information on the Tungate family, but not too much on Elza and his violin. I know she did mention that some of the Tungate family was from other countries, but I am not sure which ones. Germany may have been one of them. I will ask her and I will definitely tell her you posted, she put in a lot of research for the original poster to find out as much as she did. That is a great picture.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

Laurie Maetche said: Dec 3, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Guitar, Piano, Cello, Viola
10 posts

Thank you everyone for your replies. I have had the fingerboard glued back on.
It looks wonderful and has quite a sweet sound. I’m not sure how to upload pictures here but I will try a later date. My curiosity was just what led me to asking about it. My dad had told me that there were many neighbours that used to play for dances and the such and that there are many violins kicking around that no one knows anything about and I just didn’t want to be one of those people. So thanks again, it’s exiting to meet new people through our music and instruments.

Emily said: Dec 3, 2013
 59 posts

Yes, I’m glad you posted out of curiosity. One of my downfalls is research, I love it, call me crazy, but just like Anne, I had to do some of my own research as well. Very interesting information on Elza Tungate’s family and even more amazing that a family member posted on here. I look forward to seeing the pictures once you upload them.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

Samantha Porter said: Dec 4, 2013
 2 posts

One correction —Uncle Don is the grandson, my husband is the great-grandson. I was never really good at the whole family tree thing. Ha ha..

I have been doing some digging to find out if there is a connection between the Francois Guillmont violin I have and Elza. I had three theories. 1. the violin was a repair that was left in his possession at the time of his death. He died very young at the age of 36 from tuberculosis. 2. Elza’s father or grandfather worked for the Guillmont shop and passed on the trade skills to Elza. 3. Elza used the Guillmont as a template to create his violins.

The Francois Guillmont violin shop made violins between 1900 and 1920. So that rules out Elza’s father or grandfather working/studying there. But Elza served in WWI and his unit served in the Lorraine region. The Francois Guillmont violin label lists Aix-la-Chapelle as the city of origin. Aix-la-Chapelle is in the Lorraine region and the German name for this town is Aachen. The unit Elza served with in WWI was in the Lorraine province from 1918 until 1930 as part of the occupying ally forces. When Elza signed up for the draft in 1917, his occupation was listed as a farm laborer. Although he may have tinkered with making violins, my new theory is that he may have brought home the Guillmont and possibly the jig as a war souvenir and that started his journey.

Here is a picture of the Elza violin that Uncle Don has.

Elza Violin

Elza Violin

Image by Samantha Porter

The information you provided led me to the information I found. Uncle Don had been searching for information on where Elza was buried and couldn’t find it. Thank you.

Barb said: Dec 7, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Loved reading the exchange here and seeing the connections made!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Emily said: Dec 8, 2013
 59 posts

I am so glad that you were able to find some information on your husband’s, and now your, family history. I do have to say that I looked up Anne’s links and discussed some of this with her. Tungate family history is very interesting. I love the picture of the violin, it’s absolutely beautiful.

The history of Elza is somewhat a mystery, but I love hearing all of the new theories and history. It sounds like you could be totally correct in the possibility of Elza bringing home the violin and the jig as a war souvenier. What a great story! Tell your Uncle Don that the violin is absolutely gorgeous and in wonderful condition. I’m happy that it’s getting well taken care of!

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

Anne said: Dec 8, 2013
Anne SanchezPiano
9 posts

Wow! This post has really taken off! Thanks, Emily for messaging me and telling me about this! I am such a history buff and I love doing research on anything, even other people’s family history. Yep, I’m kind of wild and crazy like that!

Like I said before, I looked extensively through your family history, sounds kind of creepy when I say it like that, but I found that your family was quite interesting and it sounds like they started out of Kentucky and then some split off to go to Iowa. I went back pretty far and it’s pretty neat to see how a family comes together. I, myself, am adopted, so it’s hard to know where to even start for me.

The jig and the violin are such wonderful heirlooms. I’m so glad that someone in your family has those things. I posted as many links for you as I thought were relevant and I’m glad that you were able to get some good information from them. A WWII heirlooms are something to treasure. Let me know if I can help you out any further, I love research, so does Emily! Maybe that’s why we’re such great friends!

Thank you, Samantha, for sharing such great history with us!

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