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How to recognize a Stradivarius

Instruments: How to recognize a Stradivarius, not for the sound, but for other factors.

From Diego Coelho
Posted April 28, 2006 at 05:35 AM

Dear readers and musicians,
This is my first post and I just discovered this beatiful site.
The thing is:
I am from Brazil and since I was a kid (I´m 23 years old today) I have this violin that I never played, that belonged to my grandfather. It is really old, and a little spoiled by the time.
One day I decided that I would like to know the "brand" of the violin. Then I looked inside and there is some kind of label inside, also really old and I couldn´t read. Once I got a flashlight and lighted this label I saw the writings:

"Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonenlis (or Cremonenfis, I can´t tell)"
in the line below:
"Faciebat Ann 1714"
beside this line there is some kind of logo, containing the letters ATS (I think) rounded by two thin lines with a little dot above the letter "T".
Below everything there is the writing:
"Made in Germany"
Now, I need to know, if is it a sign or something that this one is a Stradivarius, or it is just some kind of joke or a fake one, because I can´t tell like you guys can, from the sound of it, since I don´t have that kind of specializaed hearing.
So please, I ask all of you that could help me in any way, to do so.

I´m terribly sorry for bothering you and I thank you all for the attention.
Best wishes,
Diego Bellini.

From Nick W.
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:04 AM
A Strad made in Germany. Hmmmmmm.
From Sarah Wallin
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:04 AM
Hello, and welcome! I don't profess to know a lot about these things (the authenticity of instruments and labels, etc.) but I'm almost positive Stradivari didn't make violins in Germany.

German violins are nice, though! :) (Mine is German...)

From Sarah Wallin
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:06 AM
(Ooooh, Nick! Quick on the draw!...)
From Emily Wing
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:11 AM
Strad was definitely an Italian maker. :) Cheers, and welcome to the site!

Btw...mine's German too and has a fake Strad label on it.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:07 AM
It's not one, unless some German put a phony label in it. It's probably technically a student violin. The description of the label though is like the one in a violin used by one of the most famous, wealthiest American fiddlers. I went up on stage to look at it myself. I don't know why security didn't put me in a choke hold.
From Clare Chu
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:14 AM
It's a violin made for export from Germany, and is later than 1900, when America started requiring "Made In Germany" labels.

Here's a similar one on Ebay

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 06:58 AM
If I had a dollar for every story I've read about "the Strad I found at a yard sale," I could buy a pretty good violin.

BTW, Diego, what kind of wood is the bow made of?

From Tony Stradivarius
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 03:52 PM
My Grandfather, Juergen Stradivarius was a violinmaker who came to Amerika from Mecklenburg in 1936. He produced many fine instruments after the style of his ancestor Antonius.

Our family was originally from Cremona, Italy, but my great-great-great Grandfather settled in West Pomerania after being injured as a soldier while fighting in Prussia.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on April 28, 2006 at 11:39 PM
Nice bio photo, bi-- I mean, Tony.
From Elizabeth Chavez
Posted on April 29, 2006 at 04:31 AM
From Clare Chu
Posted on April 29, 2006 at 05:41 AM
I found some more information:



Made in Germany (or Hungary, Italy, Czechoslovakia, etc.)

The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 required that items imported to the U.S. be marked with their country of origin. In 1914 the act was revised to require the words "Made in" to also be used. Finally, in 1921 the act was revised yet again to require that all country names occurred in English. Thus an object labeled simply "Bavaria" of "Nippon" would likely (but not absolutely) be from some time between 1891 and 1914. "Made in Italia" might be before 1921.

It seems likely that any item marked "Made in Japan" was probably made or imported after 1921. Prior to 1921, they might have been labeled "Made in Nippon." We also know that after WWII and during the US occupation of Japan, items that were made for export were marked "Made in Occupied Japan" or perhaps "Occupied Japan."

Similarly, items labeled "Made in Germany" are likely manufactured between 1921 and WWII. After partition the designations became "Made in West (or East) Germany" and remained so until the reunification in the 1990's.

The essential point of all this is that such designations on a violin label, for example, clearly indicate an instrument manufactured for export to the U.S. If you have a violin with a label nearly identical to the Stradivari or other labels shown above, but it says "Made in Germany," it is de facto NOT an authentic Stradivari, but a factory made copy. You don't need an appraiser to tell you this.

From Jesse Irons
Posted on April 29, 2006 at 01:09 PM
Actually, it is de facto not an authentic Stradivari label...

I don't pretend to know much about instrument IDing, but I do know that the label is the last thing a reputable appraiser will look at.

From Guido Cruz
Posted on April 6, 2008 at 02:46 AM
Out of curiosity, I read about Antonio and his craft. My reading revealed that Antonio used to sign by hand. It does not mention of print, stickers or labels. My two cents.
Helmet Vanga
From Marc Bettis
Posted on April 6, 2008 at 04:28 AM
I always just check the barcode sticker....
From Albert Wrigglesworth
Posted on July 2, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Hi Diego;
[Quote from fiddleheads.ca ]
Antonio Stradivari was a violin, viola, cello, harp and guitar maker in Cremona, Italy. He was born in 1644 and died in 1737 and made over 1,100 instruments during his lifetime. He is renowned for his superb violins and his “violin formula” has become the ideal design model for violin makers for more than 250 years. All 650 of the surviving Stradivarius instruments have been accounted for. Discovering “The Red Violin” of Stradivarius is pretty much impossible.[end quote]

Also, after a lot of research on my part and after seeing the ones in museums, the labels were hand written, not printed.

Does not mean that you do not have a good violin, and the ones made in Germany are quite good. Go for the sound of the instrument to decide whether you like it or not.

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