Your concern seems to really be about sensing correct pitch.
That isn't a specific violin problem, but it happens to be the case you are learning to play violin.
...before electronics, say, in the 1800s? ...not in the presence of their instructor ...check your intonation
I think it's very good to look into historical sources, but you may be conflating before electronics and without instructor in a way that isn't helpful.
I did a very cursory review of some violin treatises - including Leopold Mozart's - and they don't seem to address intonation. I found these passages that touch on in briefly...
...the author's are Mozart 1700's, Auer 1921, and Eichberg 1879 respectively. The point is that none of them actually explain how to hear if intonation is good. You can compare your pitch to a monochord ...but how will you know it's right? Nevertheless, there are some tips: compare pitch to some other instrument, don't avoid problems with vibrato, use good finger position.
If the historic research doesn't provide more than that, you might just switch to looking for ways to improve intonation as a self-taught student.
Two suggestions from a non-violinist who owns and occasionally abuses the instrument :-)
- Do simple singing exercises with a fixed pitch instrument, sing up and down the scale and basic triads, the point isn't to become a singer, but it trains your ear
- Play intervals against the open strings, something like an
A fingered on the
D string forming a unison with the open
A string, play down the scale on the
D string while playing open
A simultaneously, the open string can help guide your intonation of the other intervals played on the
D string. Reverse the direction and play up on the
D string until you get the unison against the open