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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. =)


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! =)


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