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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. =)


Comments

serennig
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!
bride
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".

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eLouai
bride
The Bride of the First House

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