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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. =)


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)


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