Irish Heritage

admin | 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 [...]

Surprising Wood

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 [...]

Carlo Antonio Taneggia

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: [...]

How the violin trade works.

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 [...]

CT Scan

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 [...]

Curiosities

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 [...]

C.F.Vuillaume

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 [...]

London Sales Spring 2011

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 [...]

Budapest

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. [...]

The Entire New and Compleat Tutor for the Violin

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 [...]