Monday, April 12, 2010

I Offended Someone Today

Yes, it's true.  I told a customer that he did not have a genuine Stradivarius violin.  I tried to be nice.  I tried to explain how it can still be old, can still sound good, can still be valuable, etc.  All to no avail.  He had his mind made up before he came into the shop.  I wasn't trying to buy it from him.  He just wanted his bow rehaired.  I must admit I felt bad for him, but short of telling him his delusion was true, what else is there? 

So how would one know if they had a geniune Stradivarius?  If you are wondering, you don't!  They are all accounted for and well documented.  But the label says "Antonius Stradivarius" and doesn't say "Copy of"!  That's all fine and dandy, you just have a copy of one anyway.  Violins are made in many different patterns, just like pants.  Pants come in carpenter style, jeans, capris, baggy, tight, flare bottom, button fly, parachute, etc.  Violins come in patterns that are named after the maker:  Stradivarius ("strad"), Maggini, Stainer, Amati, etc.  Each of these patterns has certain things that make it stand out from the rest.  Maggini pattern has two lines of purfling around the top and back, and many times an extra turn in the scroll.  Strad copies are generally flatter.  Stainer and Amati copies are arched more ("puffy").  There's more to it than that, but hopefully you get the idea.  Original labels are not meant to deceive.  They are there to honor the maker after which the violin was made.

That's another problem in and of itself.  The ORIGINAL labels are not meant to deceive; however, labels are the least reliable way to find out what kind of violin you have.  You can go on Ebay or even the International Violin Company and purchase old looking labels.  You can actually buy old original labels that someone has removed from old violins.  (Now there's a way to make your violin look older or more valuable!)  Any good violin shop will know the difference, though.  We don't look at the labels.  We look at the varnish, the scroll, the shape of the violin, the purfling (or lack thereof), the length of the neck and length of the body, and many other little things.

I tried to tell the man that we have hundreds of Strad copies.  In fact, we have more than 100 hanging on the wall in the main showroom right now. 

I've never even seen an original Stradivarius...unless you count the one that came in today...

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