V.com weekend vote: Does the word 'Stradivarius' appear on the label in (one of) your violin(s)?
Written by The Weekend Vote
Published: September 25, 2015 at 3:48 AM [UTC]
Sadly, most violins that say "Stradivarius" on the inside label are not actually the work of the 17-18th-century master violin maker, Antonio Stradivari, and are thus not worth millions of dollars.
Because if they were -- how many of us would be millionaires? A great many of us, including me! "Stradivarius" labels abound, yet few "real" Stradivari violins exist in the world: of the 1,000 some violins Stradivari made, an estimated 600 remain today, according to Toby Faber, who wrote the book, Stradivari's Genius.
Many violins acknowledge on the label that they are a "copy of" a Stradivarius, but many don't. For example, my obviously-German 19th c. violin, a family violin that I grew up playing, simply calls itself "Stradivarius."
Some violins with the label actually ARE Strads, but you would probably know if you had one, as they tend to carry their own historical documents. An entire website is devoted to archiving the provenance of the finest stringed instruments, including Stradivaris, and there are books that detail their measurements, down to a fraction of a millimeter.
I'm curious about how many of us have stringed instruments that say "Stradivarius" or "Stradivari" anywhere on the inside. How common is it? Please choose an answer below, and then tell us about your "Stradivarius" instrument or story!
You might also like:
We inherited my husband's grandmother's "Strad" violin after she died--I'm the only violinist in the family. She got it as a child during the Great Depression when unemployed musicians were hired as elementary strings teachers in her rural Southern Idaho hometown. It's not a real Strad, of course, and it isn't worth the many repairs needed to make it playable again, so it's hanging on the wall as decoration in my teaching studio.
From Gene Huang
Posted on September 25, 2015 at 6:05 AM
My very first post here on v.com (exactly 4 years ago today) was to ask about the label in the violin I acquired in high school. See my post here:
The label in my violin reads "Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonenfis; Faciebat Anno 1721", which is just like the one in your picture, Laurie!
My first violin, a 3/4 that had earlier belonged to my uncle when he was a boy, read "Stradivarius" etc. and at the bottom "made in Czechoslovakia".
Which reminds me of a story: a dealer was so often approached by people far and wide who were convinced they had found treasures in their attics, that he had a form letter to dissuade folks from coming out to him - especially from a long distance. One lady insisted so he said "OK, come on down". She had a violin very similar to mine. He pointed out the same "made in Czechoslovakia" to her and said "I tried to tell you not to come but even you should have realized that this can't be a genuine Strad." Unfazed, she said "So what? Couldn't Strad have traveled?"
It's not only Strad. Probably 99% of labels are fake.
From John Rokos
Posted on September 25, 2015 at 12:46 PM
Laurie, before I vote, could you please confirm that by "violin" you mean only "violin"? My viola is a French "Strad".
From Kate Little
Posted on September 25, 2015 at 1:35 PM
The story of my "Stradavarius" is here:
The Story of My 100-Year-Old Violin
Mine is one of 1000s of "Stradivarius" violins imported to the United States prior to the 1940s, all made in Germany and brought here by Sears-Roebuck catalog and the Wells-Fargo wagon.
Click on the links in the essay for more information about these violins.
A viola, cello or bass qualifies for the vote!
My #1 violin, which has been in my family since 1850, is almost certainly a German copy dating from most probably the late 18th century. The Strad label looks old and convincing to the non-expert eye but has the revealing date "1738" (S. died in 1737); oddly, however, the "8" looks blurred, as if it may have been altered from something else.
The violin, which came down to me in the late 1990s after 60 years of complete non-use and being stuck in cupboards - but never in the traditional attic, so it clearly isn't the real thing:) - needed a complete refurbishment by a luthier, which included taking the top off. A few years later it needed a repair, by another luthier, to a split that appeared in the table leading from the button area towards the bridge (not unusual in old violins, so I've been told). Neither of these experienced luthiers suggested it was anything other than a late 18th or early 19th century Strad copy, most probably German. A distinctive identifying feature is the fine water marks in the maple of the back.
Anyway, it is light in weight, slightly oversize with deep ribs, and plays and sounds best when fitted with plain gut E,A and D, and a copper-wound gut G (which sounds like the satisfied purr of a big cat). The projection is fine for all my orchestral playing, and it has what some have described as a fine tone for chamber music, which unfortunately I don't get to play much of.
This premise is an oximoron of course: «If only all those violins with a "Stradivarius" label were actually Strads -- a lot of us would be very wealthy!»
If there were that many genuine Strads around, they would not command anywhere near the prices the few genuine Strads do now. None of us would be any wealthier now.
BTW, for this poll ("vote") strictly to be accurate, one of the choices would have to be phrased «'ONE OF my violinS' is labeled (in some language) "copy of "Stradivarius»
If we assume that people are not joking with your vote, there is 5% of members who are the proud Strad owners. That itself is incredible!
Actually, it would just be 4-5 percent of those who voted so far, which is actually only a handful of people That's not all that unlikely, as we have quite a few readers who play or own Strads. I know who you are! ;) Keep in mind, our audience is mostly violinists!
And true, if there were many thousands more real Strads in the world, they would probably not command the same "rare antiquity" kind of price.
One of my fiddles has this label inside:
Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis
Faciebat Anno 1714.
From John Rokos
Posted on September 25, 2015 at 11:33 PM
ONE IN TWENTY OF US on this site HAS A REAL STRAD!!!(?????)
Posted on September 26, 2015 at 1:58 AM
One of the very early 20th-century "conservatory" violins made in Germany. with a label saying "Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonenfis, Faciebat Anne 1725 @". The @ is a symbol of a cross with A and S under it and circled. It has very nice resonance and is on loan to me for my lifetime. I enjoy and appreciate it very much.
John Rokos DON'T FREAK OUT!
It's not that crazy, in an audience with many professional violinists and not a few collectors. So far it comes out to about 11 people and I can certainly name that many V.com members/readers who have Strads. When I posted the vote on Twitter this morning, David Garrett posted back jokingly within the hour, "I think so..." So yes, there are violinists who live and breathe today and actually play Strads!
I, on the other had, have a "Strad," not the real thing! ;)
Sounds like my #1 violin that I described in my first post, and my reaction is similar to yours, except that I "own" it for my lifetime in the sense that it will eventually be passed on down through the family.
What I find telling is that, despite how many Strad copies there are out there, the majority of us report that we do not own one (me included). I would think a larger proportion of us would have at least one Strad copy.
We're at 5% of respondents with genuine strads - that's over 60 Real Deals. Since there are something like 244 known https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Stradivarius_instruments#Violins
but some have disappeared it means we have the owners of about 1/4 or all the strads in the world on V.C AND they all responded to this poll.
[Oops, screwed up my calculation in a hurry - thanks for the correction - but either way its an awful lot of owneres on here.]
There are 314 responses with 5% being the real deal. That's 15.7 real deals.
A modern instrument may not have have within it any indication that it is a copy of a Stradivari, but it could nevertheless still be a reasonably accurate copy of one.
Trevor, that is a good point. Many modern violins are based on Strad models, and it can be very specific.
Posted on September 26, 2015 at 4:35 PM
Not only do I have a "Strad", but also a "Stainer", a bogus e-bay "Lecchi", which was so obviously an old German factory fiddle, it went for a couple of hundred quid and ditto, a fake "Conia" viola. This was a pretty high-end Chinese instrument, but the necessary set-up work/improvements on it had already been done to a high standard by a competent professional, so I didn't feel as though I had been ripped off. My two main instruments (which I do not lend to pupils) are properly authenticated and Scottish.
From Paul Deck
Posted on September 28, 2015 at 5:55 PM
Didn't you know? Stradivari was reborn ... in Shanghai.
It's got to be a lot easier to fake bows, no?
This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.