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Font in a Fake Stradivarius Label

weather: snowfall warning
outside: 1°C
mood: loopy/excited
I don't doubt for a second that an "Antique German Antonius Stradivarius 4/4 Violin" on eBay going for (USD)$100 [*snickersnicker*] is not a real Strad.

I would expect a brand new German violin to be about (USD)$200/(CAD)$250-300 (possibly more) and that one doesn't look brand new. For those who may not know, stringed instruments should generally appreciate in value as it gets used because playing it will condition the wood and make it sound better over time. All other things being equal, the preference should _always_ be to take the used one over a brand new one. That particular eBay violin is a good value for $100... even if they took a brand new one, threw it down a flight of stairs, worked it back into a playable condition and called it "antique". It's just not a real Strad.

But I immediately thought of Mark Simonson when I looked at the label in the f-hole shots:

So I wrote to him asking about it. =) If you don't know who Mark Simonson is, well... *remove glove* *slap you across the face with it*. You need to read this — Typecasting: The Use (and Misuse) of Period Typography in Movies. The SHEER NIFTINESS of that just blows me away. =)

Antonio Stradivari lived from 1644-1737, which IS after the invention of the metal type printing press. I WAS smart enough to try that first XD I was thinking the printed label looked way too "neat" to be from that time period. I would have expected older printing presses to be messier and more higgledy-piggledy.

Anyway, he wrote back to me saying:

I don't know about the violin, but the label is definitely
a more recent vintage. The face used is Halbfette Lateinisch
(Latin Bold) produced by H. Berthold in Germany starting
around 1903.
In the number "1735" on the label, the 3 and
5 have been written in. It seems a bit odd to me that "Made
in Germany" is in English, but I don't know if it actually is odd
for such things. The label does appear to have been printed
with metal type at any rate, but no earlier than about 1903.

... and I have his permission to post that.

The part about the font was what I wanted to hear =) I think that's so so so cool.

And, of course, it says "Made in Germany" in English (it doesn't say "Deutschland"). After 1891, the United States required all imports to bear a "Made in" designation.

There's a lot of information scattered around the internet about the real instruments that are known to sell for millions. All of them left are accounted for. The fact is, almost all violins today are modelled after The Master's instruments to begin with. Those labels were really meant to indicate which Strad the violin was MODELLED AFTER and not to indicate that it ACTUALLY IS. I guess profiteers capitalize on this kind of misunderstanding... who knew, eh?

Pointing And Laughing At The Bad Latin In The Labels™ seems to also be a favorite pastime with the Strings crowd as well. =)


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC)
Dude. You're a geek.

I admire that in a woman.
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC)
Haha =)
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
I have a few friends in school for violin at various levels; I'd like to see the labels in their instruments. One, in graduate school now, said his was valued at something really high: maybe as high as $10,000.

(Goes to dig up old free violin (local school board never asked for it back))

Jan Kriml, Made in Germany. It's fallen into disrepair. I do have a spare set of strings if you need.

Of course, I could carry around the lowest one and make bad jokes about/with it.
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
Your friends' violins would be interesting to look at. $10K is a really nice instrument. =)
Jan. 8th, 2005 02:57 am (UTC)
Interesting post. And it's neat to me, because one of my "uncles" (family friends) is personal friends with (apparently) one of the world's most renowned violin makers -- a guy from Taiwan who went to study in Germany (I think) some decades ago and then made it big on his own.

Ben (http://concept.blogspot.com)
Jan. 8th, 2005 04:09 am (UTC)
Wow... I think I know who you're talking about. But I can't remember the name =P

*flail* *Google madly*
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:34 am (UTC)
Would it even be Deutschland that it would say on the label? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussia Maybe?
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:39 am (UTC)
Dang. I think you're right too. No one told me about the Geography/History test every 15 years. =P
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC)
No idea if it'd fall in Prussia, etc... that'd require more info on where Strad. did his work, etc, etc. That's a lot like work :)

I notice on the listing on the ebay sitethat there's no place to report a bogus item... I suppose they don't care if it's counterfeit until after the sale is over and they have their cut...
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:52 am (UTC)
Oh wait... "Cremonensis". He was actually in Cremona, Italy. The Italians and the Germans were the old-world musical nations.
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:42 am (UTC)
It's a small world after all - I just heard a Strad last night, and, yes, the sound is break-your-heart beautiful. Check out its story at http://www.joshuabell.com, then "strad" in the menu list.... if you can't fake one, steal a real one!
Jan. 7th, 2005 06:53 am (UTC)

And that's not even live.
Jan. 7th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah. He's that wonderful, and the violin.... you can tell.
Jan. 7th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's really cool. I've been fascinated with fonts/typography for a while, and have been fairly picky about their use when diddling around with graphics and stuff, but hadn't accumulated the expertise and period knowledge to be able to actually spot errors in movies... it sounds like a fun skill to have!
Jan. 7th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC)
It takes an amazing eye to be able to see that level of detail.

I remember the first time I had to learn how to see the difference between Arial, Helvetica and Univers. Adobe Acrobat will be "smart" and do a font substitution if you don't have the font installed. Now, due to font licensing issues, it's rather important that the right font be displayed and/or printed, so you have to be sure of what you have in front of you. =O =O

My head nearly caved in at the temples. But it was a lot of fun XD

The whole history behind Arial/Helvetica is interesting too. Supposedly, Microsnoz didn't want to pay to use Helvetica, so they had a near duplicate font created with all the exact glyph proportions as Helvetica, but different enough to be considered "a different font".
Jan. 7th, 2005 02:23 pm (UTC)
This is incredibly cool!!! This is why you're on my friends list. :D :D I think I've been really naive. I had no idea that you can identify the era of the print by typography. Very interesting. Time to do more googling on this now!
Jan. 7th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC)
*beam* =) And I'm sure you can pinpoint the time even more accurately if you take into account little things that are the results of the developments of the machines, other equipment and processes used in printing as well.
Jan. 7th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
Too cool :) (the typography stuff)

A real Strad resides in our university! Alas, I've never heard one being played live...
Jan. 7th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
Have you seen it? Can you peek at the label? Or will they even let you in that far? =D
Jan. 8th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
People sure do try to capitalize on the lack of education of others.

I certainly do agree with your comments about older instruments. My sister just acquired a cello that was sitting in the back room of a music store because no one wanted it.....it looked banged up. She sat down and started playing it and it had the most mello sound of any cello she has played since she was a kid. She snapped it up for a song! Even my very old flute sounds better tan many of the new ones available today. I guess things were made much better in 1968.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 26th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
my violin
I have a violin that's been in my family at least 100 years. my great great grandfather got it when he was in poland. The inside says Antonius Stradivarius Cremonenfis Faciebat Anno 1728. None of it is handwritten. And no where inside it does it say "made in germany or anyother place". Is it possible mine is the real thing????? I'm dying to know!!
Apr. 27th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
Re: my violin
Hi there! Welcome to my journal =)

The short story is: it would be really cool if it were, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. And you could have a very valuable violin there even if it's not a real Stradivarius.

I'm no expert on real Strads, but I do know that if this violin in your family has been played often and maintained properly in these last 100 years, it would be very very valuable anyway. If not in market value, then at least in sentimental value.

GET IT INSURED ANYWAY!! ... is my point =)

As to whether it is a real Stradivarius, I'm almost certain it is not. Allowing for a little uncertainty, all real ones have been accounted for.

I don't know where you might get a proper appraisal. You might look for a violin repair shop in your area and ask to be referred to an antiques appraiser who specializes in stringed instruments.

You really would want to know the market value for insurance purposes.

Good luck! =)
Jul. 3rd, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)
I am so very happy that someone else finally looked into all this!! While I didn't know who to talk to about the font, I did what research I could.
I also found a violin that looks nearly the same being sold on eBay recently, and just as a note, the picture at a sharper angle shows the word "copy" to printed directly above "Stradiuarius".
-_- While I would love to absent mindedly stumble upon a stradivarius in my surfing of the interwebs, I'm afraid I'll be sticking to the violin I already own. xD
Jul. 3rd, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: yay!
Ohai! Yeah, I looked into this 4 years ago. Mark Simonson is such an amazing guy. He has an eye for detail that I just idolize =)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )


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