When it comes to quality in the manufacture of musical instruments, no name stands out like Antonio Stradivarius. A Stradivarius violin is considered by most to be the peak of musical excellence. Born in 1644, Antonio Stradivarius manufactured violins in his home town of Cremona, Italy, between the late 1600's and early 1700's. In the decades and centuries that followed, his work was often copied, but never duplicated. This fact can make it very difficult at times to determine if you have an original Stradivarius or a later reproduction.
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Examine the inscription first. An original Stradivarious will have the Latin inscription "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno [date]," where the date is the year the violin was manufactured. The problem is that fake Stradivarius violins will also have this inscription, as well as "tribute" reproductions, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
Contact the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers to get a membership list. From this list you will be able to choose an expert to examine your violin with expertise and skill necessary to determine definitively whether it is an original Antonio Stradivarius.
Take the violin in to the expert you chose for examination. The expert will look for details of construction that are not readily apparent, but are crucial in identifying an original Stradivarius. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Stradivarius experimented with various geometries, tone qualities and varnishes, all of which must be examined and authenticated to determine whether your violin is an original.
Take the advice of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. According to their findings, the likelihood of coming across an original Stradivarius is rare. Even if your violin turns out not to be an original Stradivarius, it is still a very beautiful instrument.
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