Fillion

| March 12, 2017

This violin was made in 1899 in Strasbourg, but in some ways it could be considered English. The maker, Georges Fillion, was born in France (in 1869) and was initially trained in Mirecourt. He then worked briefly in Switzerland and Paris, but most importantly London, for the firm of W.E. Hill & Sons. The beautiful […]

Irish / French Violin

| February 12, 2017

This violin is unmistakably Irish. It’s very like an instrument by Thomas Perry of Dublin, or of his cousin James Perry of Kilkenny. It’s unpurfled, and broadly similar to much English work of the late 18th century, except internally it has the tiny corner blocks usual in Irish violins, and externally the soundholes are very […]

Irish Heritage

| July 2, 2013

Sometimes life throws up weird coincidences. Having only ever seen one instrument by James Perry of Kilkenny before (a viola, back in 1986), two turn up at the same time. James Perry was probably the younger brother of the better-known Thomas Perry in Dublin. Thomas died in 1818. I don’t think it’s known when James […]

Surprising Wood

| 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 all the ingredients of a […]

Carlo Antonio Taneggia

| 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: the […]

How the violin trade works.

| 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 part of the […]

CT Scan

| 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 large patch […]

Curiosities

| 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 some of […]

C.F.Vuillaume

| 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 for £448.40p. It ‘s much earlier than […]

London Sales Spring 2011

| 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 earlier to examine […]