admin | April 2, 2013
Here’s a really beautiful violin. I bought it from an antique dealer. He told me it had come from a house clearance. It was in an old case together with a really nice tortoiseshell-mounted bow. The label looks completely original – somebody famous, and it’s dated 1905.
So it has [...]
admin | November 22, 2011
I went to a performance at the English National Opera last weekend. Above the safety curtain, and part of the permanent structure of the place, is a large sign which says COLISEVM. And it set me to thinking about the use of V instead of U.
Stradivari, famously, did it the opposite way round: [...]
admin | September 12, 2011
Little is known about the Tyrolese maker, Mathias Alban of Bozen. That’s Tyrolese, not Italian. It is not known who taught him – there have been several guesses – but sometimes his varnish suggests that he might have been trained in Italy.
Before World War I, the Italian town of Bolzano was [...]
admin | August 16, 2011
This is a high-tech treat.
What you’re looking at is a CT scan of a violin by Nicolo Gagliano, circa 1750. I sold it recently, but not before it had been given the most careful condition report imaginable. There was a little squiggly mark in the lower back, and internally there was a [...]
admin | July 5, 2011
Here are a few quirky things.
The first is a poster for one of Paganini’s concerts in London. It’s fascinating on various levels. Paganini was a superstar by 1832, and his concerts were invariably sold out. Such was his skill that it was said he was in league with the devil – and [...]
admin | May 17, 2011
This violin was catalogued in a specialised violin auction (Gardiner Houlgate, March 2011) as “Late 19th Century . . . ” with no further attempt to narrow down the attribution. It was estimated at £100/150 and was in a very neglected state. I was pleased to get it [...]
admin | March 11, 2011
I spent the first three days of this week in London. There were five violin auctions there within that period, and I managed to view three of them. I suppose I could have managed all five, but it’s quite tiring. I should add that I had visited Sotheby’s and Bonham’s two weeks [...]
admin | February 8, 2011
I’ve just come back from Budapest. There’s an exhibition called Opera and Nation there at the Museum of Music History, which is part of the Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It has lots of stringed instruments in it, and it runs until the end of August 2011. [...]
admin | December 2, 2010
This lovely thing, published by John Preston, was found inside an 18th Century violin case containing a violin labelled Preston and two baroque bows, neither of which was stamped and both of which were broken. That excellent book The British Violin notes that John Barton made instruments for Preston, and indeed the violin [...]
admin | 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 [...]