Anciaume le Jeune

| August 7, 2010

This violin is branded in two places, at the top of the back and inside, and both brands are as new-looking as the rest of it: Anciaume le Jeune. The neck (and indeed the fingerboard) are original. It’s a transitional-period instrument, the neck being less angled than that of a modern violin and very short […]

Cahusac Violin

| July 14, 2010

Cahusac violin Violin label Here is an interesting and inexpensive violin by Cahusac of London, dating from 1786. A label inside says so, but I can’t believe that the label is genuine. It’s not printed, but inscribed Cahusac, Strand, London, 1786, in an antique hand – but whether the handwriting is 18th of early 19th […]

Strings on Screen

| June 9, 2010

I was once involved in a television advertisement for some kind of beer. I had to handle a genuine Stradivari and a fake – the advertising strapline was “For those that can tell the difference.” I didn’t have to say anything at all. I just had to swirl the violins around in a safe-but-yet-with-bravado sort […]


| April 15, 2010

Shortly after we moved into the old church we were approached with a request to host a Bach harpsichord recital here. The acoustics are excellent and we have plenty of space. The event was attended by sixty-one people, and on the whole was a success. Immediately afterwards a local choir asked to do a concert […]

Death of a Violin

| March 8, 2010

The old certificate for this violin, which has a fake Joseph Hill label, described it as “Kloz School” without bothering with a date. I suppose it was made in the late 18th Century, and probably in Mittenwald, which indeed does make it of that school. The extended Kloz family produced large numbers of instruments in […]

Saxon Cello

| February 17, 2010

  This cello dates from the late 18th Century. It is truly eccentric. How unusual it is to see an old instrument that most emphatically is not modelled after Stradivari, Amati, Stainer or Guarneri. In my view, it’s rather refreshing, too. It is what’s called a lady’s size (I dislike the expression), being larger than […]

J. & H. Banks viola

| February 2, 2010

I have a very original viola made by James & Henry Banks of Salisbury, made in 1808. It’s of the small-but-sounds-good model, having a back length of 15 3/8 in (384mm). An almost identical one (but dated 1803) is illustrated in Albert Cooper’s well-known book Benjamin Banks. It is a shock to realise that it […]

More on decorated instruments

| December 31, 2009

Photo courtesy Sotheby’s, (thanks Tim) A friend read my last entry and mentioned another painted instrument, the famous “Royal George” cello by William Forster. The cello is certainly magnificent, and it maddens me that it is not in the V & A museum. I first saw this wonderful instrument in the summer of 1986, when […]

Decorated Instruments

| December 17, 2009

Violins are handsome objects, no question about it. Lots of writers have gone into ecstasies about the outline, the varnish and the subtle arching and so on. Most of a violin’s form is necessary. Its general shape and size are defined by what is practical and what makes the best sound – it must have […]

Soundpost cracks – should they matter?

| December 7, 2009

I have just been shown a very beautiful smallish Italian violin, dating from around the middle of the 17th century and attributed to Andrea Guarneri.  It has an old and slightly ambiguous certificate and a recent unambiguous dendrochronology report.  The table can be definitely dated to 1630, and the report adds that, as the edges […]