EARLY MAKERS OF CELLOS

Elizabeth Cowling

This is an excerpt from a book by Elizabeth Cowling, The Cello, published in 1975 by Charles Scribner's Sons, and out of print. We publish this excerpt as a review, and encourage all cellists to find a copy of this wonderful book from a used book seller. Follow the links to find photographs of the cellos in question. The illustration to the left is from "A Choir of Angels," by Guadenzio Ferrari's fresco at Saronno, Italy.

Great instruments of the violin family are works of art as well as musical instruments. To appreciate them fully as works of art, they have to be seen. Some people are as moved by looking at a fine instrument as they are looking at a great painting or piece of sculpture. No descriptions can possibly convey a true impression of any instrument. In this chapter some description of instruments are quoted from the experts to give the reader an idea of how they talk about instruments. When judging an instrument, an expert will examine the quality of the wood, the varnish, and the thickness of the top and back plates, which cannot be done by just looking at pictures. They also study the general model, i.e., the curvature of the upper, middle and lower bouts; the scroll, which has been compared to a signature; the f-holes, their height and width, as well as exact placement; and the purfling, espectially at the corners, all of which the reader may compare among the various cellos pictured. The cello, in other words, appeals to the expert first as a work of art. From a performer's point of view, the tone quality is of first importance.

According to present knowledge, Andrea Amati (c.1511 - shortly before 11 January 1581) of Cremona, Italy, is the first known maker of cellos, but not actually the first maker of them (see p. 52). It is not known how many cellos he made nor how many still exist. In my correspondence with various dealers in violins and with other experts in the field, the highest estimate of extant Andrea Amati cellos is six. I know of only three, two of which are in teh United States.

The Andrea Amati cello, which was formerly in the Snoeck Collection in Ghent, was sold to Mr. M. H. Bakaert of Belgium, who by letter (17 July 1973) informed me that he had sold it to a Belgian artist.

Of the two cellos in the United States, the first is dated c. 1569 and was at the time I saw it (10 September 1971) in the possession of the shop of Rembert Wurlitzer in New York. The neck and scroll are not original; indeed, the scroll is too heavy-looking and so a bit ugly. The sound holes are equal, that is, the top half is the same size as the bottom half, unlike most others in which the lower hole was made larger than the higher one. The body of the instrument has been cut down, as most early cellos have been, and now measures 29 5/8 inches (75.24 cm.). The body is in remarkably good condition, but the original varnish has had some colour added over it. It is an undercorated cello.

The other Andrea Amati cello is in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Laurence C. Witten II. Mr. Witten showed me the cello and explained what the decorations symbolize. This cello, called 'The King' (shown on Plate 2), is historically the most famous of all cellos.

It is briefly described as follows in the brochure Stringed Instruments and related material from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Laurence C. Witten II, and was exhibited at the Rockefeller University for the Conference on Scientific Aspects of Musical Instrments on 20-24 May 1968:

Violoncello, by Andrea Amati, Cremona, not after 1574, body length 75.5 cm. (reduced from larger dimensions). Neck and fittings modern. Painted and gilded with the arms, devices, and mottoes of Charles IX, King of France. label probably a facsimile, dated 1572.

This cello, because of its decorations, is thought to be one of the eight basses [i.e. cellos] included in the 38 instruments ordered by Charles IV of France from Andrea Amati. The paintings are on the back and the sides, and there are decorations on the peg box as well (the peg box and scroll on this cello are original).

On the centre of the back can be seen a crown over the remaining outline of the royal coat of arms, on either side of which is a figure. To the right is a figure of a woman and further to the right, a column, with a crown on top, and still another crown near the bottom of the instrument. On the left side, the figure is no longer visible, and only a portion of the column remains. The figures stand for Piety and Justice. On the sides of the cello were the words 'Pietate' and 'Justicia.' On the bass side only the letters ETA remain visible from the word 'Pietate' (see Plate 2e); 'Justicia' was on the treble side. Above the 'K' which stands for Charles (Karolus) is a crown, surrounded by other decorative figures on the middle bout. In each of the four corners of the back is a fleur-de-lis, the symbol of the royal family of France. There is also a fleur-de-lis at the back of the peg box.

On the peg box is a fifth peg hole that may or may not have been there originally. (There were five-stringed cellos up to the middle of the eighteenth century.)

The instrument has obviously been knocked about a little, but it has been beautifully repaired and is in a healthy condition today. The overall colour is of amber. The voice of this cello is remarkable. It possesses a beautiful, full-throated sound, vigorous enough to be heard in a concerto. By studying the seven different views of this cello, one can observe that it is basically the same as ours today, although it has been cut down. In every other respect than size, Andrea Amati made cellos as they are known today.

For a span of 200 years the makers of this family working in Cremona were among the greatest in the world. The lineage is as follows:

Andrea Amati 1511 to 1581
Antonio 1540 to ? Girolamo (Heironymus) I
1561 to 1630
Nicolo
1596 to 1684
Girolamo (Hieronymus) II
1649 to 1740

The sons of Andrea, Antonio and Girolamo, worked along the model established by their father. Their instruments were usually labelled jointly, possibly even after Antonio's death. Nicolo, son of Girolamo, is the best-known maker of this family (see Plate 3).

He was also a famous teacher of his craft, counting among his students his won son, Girolamo II, a fine maker who was eclipsed by his fellow-student, Antonio Stradivari. Plate 4 pictures a cello by Girolamo II Amati. Nicolo also taught Andrea Guarneri (or Guarnieri), Francesco Ruggeri, G. B. Rogoeri, Gioffredo Cappa, and possibly Paolo Grancino.

For a long time Gasparo Bertolotti (1542-1609), called Gasparo da Salo after his birthplace, was given the credit for making the first instruments of the violin family. He worked in Brescia and is the first known maker of violins in that city. His claim to first place among known violin makers, however, has now given way to that of Andrea Amati, his senior by a generation, and one who was very possibly making three-stringed violins in the 1540s. Da Salo is more famous for his violas and double basses, but he did make a few cellos. The one that Robert Haven Schauffler describes, however, suggests an adaptation of a viola da gamba, and the one mentioned in the article on da Salo in Grove's Dictionary is there suggested as being a cut-down double bass. An instrument labelled as a cello by da Salo cellos. Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580-c. 1630), the most noted of da Salo's students, made a few cellos, of which only two were known in 1892 and these are still extant. After Maggini there was a hiatus in the production of great cellos in Brescia until the rise of the Rogeri family.

Two early families were the Ruggeri (Rugieri, Rugeri, Rugger, Ruger) and Rogeri (Rogero, Roggeri) families. These are sometimes confused and considered as one family. The Ruggeri family worked in Cremona, the Rogeri family in Brescia. Plate 5 pictures a Francesco Ruggeri cello (c. 1663) and Plate 6 a very beautiful Giovanni Battista Rogeri cello of 1706.

Some of Rogeri's cellos, incidentally, have brought higher prices than his violins. G. B. Rogeri (c. 1650-c. 1730), born in Bologna, trained by Nicolo Amati, settled in Brescia only after his training, that is, in 1670. The hiatus in violin making in Brescia, then, lasted from the death of Maggini (c. 1630) to 1670. G. B. Rogeri's son, Pietro Giacomo, although not so great a maker as his father, continued making instruments in Brescia.

In Cremona, unlike Brescia, the production of great cellos was continued throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the founders of both the Guarneri family and the Ruggeri family students under Nicolo Amati. Francesco Ruggeri (1620-c. 1694) was, in fact, according to the Hill brothers, his first student and Andrea Guarnieri his second. The five members of the Guarneri family were

Andrea Guarnieri 1626 to 1698
Pietro I of Mantua
1655 to 1720
Giuseppe, 'filius Andrea'
1666 to 1740
Peitro II of Venice
1695 to 1762
Giuseppe del Gesu
1698 to 1744
(only one cello)

It is unfortunate for cellists that Giuseppe del Gesu, generally acknowledged to be the greatest maker of this family, made no more cellos. Some of his violins are considered on a par with the best violins of Antonio Stradivari. In the handsome volume by the Hill brothers, The Violin Maders of the Guarnieri Family (1931), there are six plates of cellos, one each in photogravure and in colour, of instruments by Andrea, Giuseppe (filius Andrea), and Pietro (of Venice) Guarneri, but not any of Pietro of Mantua, because they did not believe he made any.

Plate 7 pictures a Pietro Guarnieri of Mantua cello, certified by Emil Herrmann. The certificate, dated 23 April 1951, states 'that the Violoncello sold by me to Mr. Luigi Silva of New York City is in my opinion a work of Pietro Guarneri of Mantua and about the period of 1695.

It bears a label of Andrea Guarnieri, Cremona, 1694, ex. Robert Maas'. The description on the certificate reads, 'The back is of two pieces of curly maple cut on the slab [cut along the grain instead of across it] of small figure, the sides also of small curl and the scroll likewise. The top is of two pieces of pine medium wide grain in centre, somewhat broader on flanks. The varnish is of a golden-brown colour. The instrument was originally of larger dimensions and has been reduced in size; it is in a very fine state of preservation'.

A picture of a cello by Giuseppe Guarneri, 'filius Andrea' may be seen in Plate 8. A beautiful coloured picture of this same cello may be found in the Hill brothers' book opposite page 52.

The cello is unusual in that it is made of three kinds of wood; the top, spruce; the back, poplar; and the scroll, beechwood. The top, furthermore, has 'wings' at the lower bouts, that is, pieces of wood spliced on. (If the original top was not quite large enough, or if it were defective, makers sometimes did this.) The certificate for this instrument includes the statement, 'The varnish has a golden orange-red colour. This instrument is an outstanding example of the maker's work'.

The Hill brothers believed that Andrea Guarneri, about 14 of whose cellos they had seen, created the smaller model of cello, and that he did so late in life, between 1690 and 1695. His son, Giuseppe, followed him in this respect as well as his son, Pietro of Venice, for three of his six cellos. The Hill brothers possibly emphasized this point because it has often been thought that Antonio Stradivari created the smaller model, beginning in the year 1707.

Nearly all the early cellos, from Andrea Amati to, I believe, c. 1680, (see p. 59) and some later, were on a large model that is, about 30 inches or more, with some as large as 313/8 inches or even larger. The smaller cello, or the standard as we know it today, has a body length of 75 cm., with a little leeway either way. Stradivari adopted the smaller pattern only in 1707, but not before he had made a number of large-model cellos, all of which have been cut down except a very few, including the one in the Institute Cherubini in Florence (79.9 cm.) and the one given to the Library of Congress. The standardization was not immediately universally adopted, so that a number of cellos made during the first half of the eighteenth century were still made on the large model, but most have been subsequently cut down.

The first demand for the smaller-sized cello does seem to have coincided with the rise of cello virtuosi at the end of the seventeenth century. The smaller-sized cello is easier to play because the distance between the notes is not so great, lessening the tension of the left hand and facilitating greater dexterity. The tone of the two bottom strings is slightly sacrificed, but the virtuosi wanted emphasis on the top string anyway, on which the cello sings best.

Antonio Stradivari (c. 1644-1737) was the greatest maker of cellos as well as violins. Not very much is known about his early life. Although he came from a Cremonese family, there is no record of his birth. It is thought that perhaps the family left Cremona when the plague struck that city in 1630, and that he was born elsewhere. Neither is it known in exactly what year he was born. The knowledge that he was an apprentice to Nicolo Amati comes from only one source, a label in a violin of 1666, where he calls himself a pupil of Amati. When this apprenticeship started or how long it lasted is not known.He was twice married, and the father of 11 children, one not surviving infancy. The two sons who followed in his footsteps as violin craftsmen, Francesco and Omobono, were born of his first marriage. Recently there has been founded 'The Stradivarius Association' in Aubonne, Switzerland, whose first purpose (of 15) stated in its brochure is 'To create an International Centre to promote the studies and research on Stradivarius.'

There are 63 known extant Antonio Stradivari cellos left in the world. The three books giving the best accounts of these cellos are the Hill brothers' Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work, (1644-1737), originally published in 1902, revised in 1909, and republished in 1963 (the 1902 version), Ernest N. Doring, How many Strads?, and Herbert K. Goodkind, Iconography of Antonio Stradivari, 1644-1737. The Doring book is based on the Hill brothers' book, although the accounts do not precisely concur. Stradivari's first cello is dated from the period 1680-84 and his last in the year 1736. Most of the cellos have been given names, mostly after famous performers who owned them at one time. Among his most famous cellos are the 'Duport' (1711), which became one of the chief models on which J. B. Vuiillaume based his work; the 'Batta' (1714); and the 'Piatti' (1720). In the Doring book there are pictures of 12 of the Strad cellos and in the Goodkind book 43.

All Stradivari's early cellos, until 1701, the year he made the famous 'Servais' cello, were on the large model, that is, a body length of approximately 30 inches or somewhat over. (The 'Servais' is 31 1/8 inch.) Then he made no cellos untgil 1707, when he adopted the smaller pattern, that is under 30 inches. The 'Piatti' cello, for instance, is 29 7/8 inches.

The Hill brothers believed that Andrea Guarneri was the first to make the small-model cello, and that besides other members of his family, F. Ruggeri and G.B. Rogeri also made small-model cellos. since they were all in Cremona, Stradivari must have been influenced by these makers to make cellos of a more convenient size. (Click here to see the Paganini Strad cello.)

Plate 9 pictures the 'Castelbarco' cello of 1697, now housed in the Library of Congress, USA. It is an uncut cello, with a body length of 30 7/8 inches. This is one of several Stradivari cellos which has a back, sides, and head of poplar wood, not considered as fine as maple.

The cello is in an excellent condition. A letter from Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, dated 27 February 1934, quoted in the brochure The Stradivari Memorial, by W. D. Orcutt, states that this cello was 'formerly priced at $55,000'. Part of the stipulation of Gertrude Clarke Whitehall in giving a quartet of Strad instruments to the Library of Congress was that they were to be performed on in concerts every year. (Instruments must be played on to remain alive and at their best). For years the Budapest Quartet was brought to Washington for a series of concerts in both the fall and the spring, the concerts of course being given on these instruments. The Juilliard Quuartet has continued this practice.

The Bergonzi family should also be mentioned in connection with Cremona. The founder of the family, Carlo I (c. 1683/5-1747), was the best maker of this family, but unfortunately, in spite of attributions of cellos to him in the past, he made no cellos. His son, Michel Angelo, and in turn his son's son, Nicolo, are the other notable members of this family who did make cellos.

Lorenzo Storioni (1751-c. 1801), along with G. B. Ceruti, is known as the last great makers of Cremona. Plate 10 shows a fine example of 1794 of Storioni's late period.

There were other important families of violin makers than those associated with Cremona and Brescia that started in the seventeenth and continued into the eighteenth century or even later.

The Grancino family and the Testore family both worked in Milan as did Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi. Giovanni Baptista Grancino (see Plate 11) and Carlo Giuseppe Testore were the finest workmen in their respective families.

Members of the Tononi family worked in Bologna and Venice, while the Gagliano family made Naples famous as a centre of violin making for several generations. The Nicolo Gagliano cello of 1753, illustrated in Plate 12, is described in the Hill & Sons certificate (19 March 1925) as follows (click here to see a G. Gagliano cello):

'...a fine, characteristic and well-preserved example. The back, a jointed one, is of handsome wood marked by a medium curl; that of the sides matching, and the head, plain; the varnish being a beautiful golden colour. The instrument measures 29 inches in length of body...' The Lewis and Son certificate (12 November 1947) adds, 'The top is of figured spruce of fine grain at the centre joint, widening towards the flanks...'

Mention should be made of the very great maker, David Tecchler, who worked in Rome during the first half of the eighteenth century. One of his cellos, dated 1712, may be seen on Plate 13.

The description of it on the Wurlitzer certificate (5 December 1958) reads: 'The back is cut on the quarter from two pieces of maple with regular medium width flames slightly descending from the centre joint. There is an original added wing at each lower flank. The top is cut from two pieces of spruce with slightly wavy grain, medium width at the centre and broader on the flanks. The sides are of maple matching that of the back. The scroll is of plainer maple. The varnish is a dark reddish brown colour. This instrument, somewhat reduced in size [now body length of 29 11/16 inches] from its original larger dimensions, is a fine and typical example of the maker's work'. The owner writes, 'The Tecchler I have is one of the very finest. I have played upon a number of Tecchlers, but this is the best... It is referred to as the Ex-Maurice Eisenberg Tecchler'.

Giovanni Baptista Gabrielli (Gabrielly) worked in Florence during the middle third of the eighteenth century; a specimen of his work may be seen in Plate 14.

Tommaso Balestrieri (1720/40-1788/90) worked in Mantua, and although he probably was not born by the time Pietro I Guarneri of Mantua died, he is said to have been influenced by his work. He only made a few cellos, but they are fine instruments, as are his violins. Plate 15 pictures one of his cellos dated 1765. Camillo Camilli also worked in Mantua.

For cello history, an important development beginning in the 1690s was the rise of the Venetian School of violin makers. The three greatest makers of cellos of this school were Matteo Gofriller, Domenico Montagnana, and Santo Seraphin. (Cellist Stephen Drake of Nashville, TN has some photos of Montagnana cellos at his website, which is well worth a visit.)

An interesting case is that of Matteo Gofriller, because he is literally a twentieth-century rediscovery. For a long time he was practically unknown, so that his magnificent cellos were ascribed to Andrea Guarneri, Carlo Bergonzi (who made no cellos), or to Stradivari himself.

It was in the 1920s that Gofriller began to be identified with his instruments and came into his own right as one of the very greatest makers of cellos. Nothing is known of his background. It is supposed that he was a Tyrolean by birth; he worked in Venice. The first known instument by him is, interestingly enough, a viola da gamba dated 1689. This was made, perhaps, in response to what must have been a certain demand for gambas in Venice at that time, for Giovanni Legrenzi on his appointment as maestro di cappella at St. Mark's Cathedral in 1685 reorganized the Cathedral orchestra, which included two violas da gamba as members of his 34 piece orchestra. E. N. Doring accounts for 21 extant cellos. These instruments date from c. 1697 to 1732.

Many famous cellists have knowingly owned these cellos in the twentieth century, including Pablo Casals, whose cello was first attributed to Carlo Bergonzi. Plate 16 pictures a Matteo Gofriller cello of 1729.

Matteo's brother, not so esteemed, but still a fine maker, worked in Venice and Udine. Plate 17 pictures a Francesco Gofriller cello of 1730.

The Hermann certificate gives the following description: 'The back is in two pieces of bird's-eye maple, the sides to match, the scroll plain. The top is of spruce of medium wide grain. The varnish is of a deep reddish brown colour and of fine quality'. It also states that it is from the ex-Wahl collection, although it is not specifically listed in the inventory of the Wahl estate as recorded in Violins and Violinists, July-August, 1955, pp. 170-71.

Domenico Montagnana (c. 1683/90-c. 1750) ranks with Matteo Gofriller as one of the greatest makers of cellos, and both of these makers are known particularly for their cellos. Nothing is known definitely about his earlier life or training. His cellos are large and bold in outline, the scrolls being particularly massive.

The cello illustrated in Plate 18 is tonally magnificent. The lower strings have a mighty tone, and throughout the range the tone is very beautiful. This is surely one of the great cellos.

Santo Seraphin (1665/99-1737/48) was born in Udine, Italy, and his work as a painter before becoming a maker of instuments may account for the extremely fine detail of his work. His instruments are not numberous, but particularly his cellos have been highly regarded. The tone, though beautiful, does not have the volume, for instance, of a Montagnana. Plate 19 pictures a Seraphin cello.

The Wurlitzer certificate reads: 'The back is cut on the quarter from two pieces of maple with handsome flames of medium width sloping downwards from the centre joint. The wood of the sides and the scroll matches that of the back. The top is cut from two pieces of spruce with grain of medium width at the centre, broader at the flanks. The varnish is plentiful and a golden orange colour. This outstanding example of the maker's work with its original uncut dimensions is in a fine state of preservation'. (As the body length is 28 3/4 inches, there really would have been no need to cut the instrument down). The corners on this cello are projected in an unusually sharp manner, as can be seen in the plate.

Francesco Gobetti was also a well known maker of instruments from Venice.

The Guadagnini family was one of the most prolific in the production of instrument makers (click here to see a G. B. Guadagnini cello). The family line began with Lorenzo (c. 1695-1745 / 50) and ended with Paolo (d. 1942). Several of the makers in the family during the nineteenth century made guitars either along with or in preference to making violins. The genealogy table in Doring's The Guadagnini Family, (1949) p. 302, should be amended according to his own later corrections:

Very little is known about Lorenzo Guadagnini. Few of his instruments are extant. (Doring's book on the Guadagnini family lists no cellos in his tabulation of Lorenzo's instruments.) Plate 20 pictures one of his rare cellos. Hamma says Lorenzo's instruments are 'mostly a large wide model on spirited lines; the arching varies a great deal'. The arching on this cello appears high; the model is certainly 'spirited'.

It was Giovanni Battista, however, who was the greatest maker of the family, in spite of great variation among his works. His best cellos, because of their marvellous and powerful tone, have brought very high prices. Plate 21 pictures a G. B. Guadagnini of 1748.

In his tabulation of G. B. Guadagnini's instruments, Doring has listed 21 cellos, making comments on five of them from the Turin period (his last of five places of work). Doring states that 'Guadagnini's determination to adhere to his own concepts establishes him as the only great maker subsequent to the passing of the Cremonese masters who gave to posterity a type of instrument completely of his own design and technique, and entirely the work of his own hands'.

The only notable followers of G. B. Guadagnini in Turin were Francesco Pressenda (1777-1854) and his student, Giuseppe Antonio Rocca (1807/10-c. 1868). Plate 22 pictures a Pressenda cello of 1835.

The owner writes: 'The back is of one piece (small "wings") fine curl maple as are the sides and head. All the maple appears to have come from the same block of wood. The top is fine grain spruce, 15-16 rays to the inch. The head is massive but graceful and characteristically outlined in black. The cello is generously covered with a rich fiery red-orange varnish'.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries produced hundreds of Italian makers of instruments of the violin family, of which we have mentioned only some of the more important. The best instruments of these centuries have never been matched, for reasons as yet unknown. With all our current scientific know-how it has not been possible to duplicate the tone of an Antonio Stradivari insturment or that of any other of the great instruments of these centuries.

It is interesting to note that almost all the improtant early Italian centres of violin making through the eighteenth century were in the same latitudinal belt, roughly between 44 degrees and 46 degrees, across northern Italy and extending from west of Milan eastward to Venice and Udine. The chief exceptions were Rome (Tecchler) and Naples (the Gagliano family). We shall leave the question of 'why' unanswered because it involves too much speculation.

The founder and greatest maker of the German School of violin making, Jacobus Stainer (1621-83), was a Tyrolean by birth but was probably trained in Italy. One of his cellos is pictured in Plate 23.

The high arching for which he was famous should be seen. The upper shoulders are quite widely rounded, the f-holes a little nearer the sides, with an animal head replacing the scroll. Matthias Albani (c. 1620-c. 1712) and especially his son, Johann Michael (c. 1677-1730), were also noted German makers.

Plate 24 pictures a Matthias Albani cello of 1694. The high arching of both the back and top reflect a Stainer influence. It is even possible that Matthias Albani was Stainer's apprentice.

The greatest representative of the French School was Nicholas Lupot (1758-1824). William Forster (1739-1808) and Thomas Dodd (c. 1760-c. 1820) (the latter for his cellos only) are among the best known English makers. Plate 25 pictures a William Forster cello of c. 1780.

The William Lewis & Son certificate for this Forster cello, dated 27 May 1942, reads in part as follows: '...a plentiful covering of the original golden brown varnish, of excellent texture. The wood selection throughout being in two parts matching in figure excepting the middle section of the right side which shows curving curls, the figure otherwise straight and slanting slightly downward from the centre joint; the sides show a wider, plainer figure; the wood of the scroll plain. We consider the cello to be representative of the best traditions of the English School'.

Plate 26 illustrates a cello of 1790 by Thomas Dodd. In spite of some fine instrments, the German, French and English Schools have never commanded anything like the prices of those of the best Italian makers.

Abraham Prescott (1789, Deerfield, New Hampshire - 1858, Concord, Massachusetts) was an early American instrument maker who specialized in the large model of cello, the church bass. He was not the first maker of members of the violin family in America, since one James Joan (Juhan), a Frenchman, 'made and sold violins and bows' in Boston as early as 1768, and Benjamin Crehore (d. 1819 in Milton, Massachusetts) was a 'widely-known maker of cellos, basses, harpsichords and pianos'. Prescott, however, is the bestg known of these early makers.

The Prescott cello shown in Plate 27 was made between 1831 and 1845. I have included a picture of this cello partly so that the reader can compare the beauty of the proportions of the great Italian cellos with a different style of cello.

The aesthetic impression of the Prescott is far less satisfying. The instrument has historic interest, but it is a considerably less-than-great cello. The measurements of this cello may be compared with those of Pietro Guarneri (Plate 7) and Santo Seraphin (Plate 19).

Cello Size Comparison
Length of Body Upper Bouts Lower Bouts
Pietro
Guarneri
30 inches 13 3/8 inches 17 1/2 inches
Santo
Seraphin
28 3/4 inches 13 13/16 inches 16 7/8 inches
Abraham
Prescott
32 inches 14 1/2 inches 18 5/8 inches

The price range 30 years ago (about 1945) of the best Italian cellos was from about $2,500 to $40,000 or more for a few of the best A. Stradivari cellos. Since prices of instruments rise with the rise in the price level, these prices are now (1975) several times as high. In the past, interested wealthy people bought instruments as investments, but the custom has been largely dropped in favour of the stock market with its ready exchange.

A number of students have asked me over the years how one knows the original maker of a cello in spite of the fact that many makers did not label their works and because of the extensive skulduggery in tampering with labels that persisted throughout the neneteenth century and even into our own. The answer to this question is that a dealer selling a fine instrument today will give the buyer a certificate of authenticity for the instrument.

These certificates are mostly made out by the great experts in the world who have made a lifelong study of instruments, and they are frequently associated with the great instrument houses of Europe and America, the oldest and most prestigious being Hill and Sons in London. The firm was established in the eighteenth century. Other famous firms are John & Arthur Beare, Ltd., London; Hamma & Co., Strttgart, Germany; Werro of Berne, Switzerland; Pierre Vodoudez, Geneva, Swiitzerland; Etienne Vatelot of Paris; Rembert Wurlitzer of New York; Wm. Moennig & Son, Philadelphia; and Wm. Lewis & Son, Chicago, as well as others. There are some individual experts who have their own business. The certificates stating that an instrument is made by such and such a maker will hold until proved false. The example spoken of earlier of Matteo Gofriller's cellos illustrates the point. One reason that it is safer financially to buy an instrument from one of the well-known dealers is that they will stand behind the certificate they issue with the instrument.

By the nineteenth century mass production of instruments of the violin family was under way and still exists. Important industrial centres were to be found at Mirecourt in France, Mittenwald in Bavaria, and Markneukirchen in Germany.

Take, for example, the Heberlein family, working at Markneukirchen. Fairfield says, 'They are commercial makers and have made many thousand instruments and hundreds of copies of Stradivarius and Guarnerius, all very well done. Their labels are inscribed with names of different copies, such as 'Wilhelmy', [name of a Strad violin], and so on. They had a regular catalogue, listing instruments by numbers, the Stradivari models from 1 to 8, and the Joseph Guarneri models from 1A to 8A. Their own prices ranged from $50.00 to $240.00. They also made special models that sold as high as $350.00. There were dozens and dozens of makers and families associated with these centres. They often put the name of the maker they were copying, as for instance 'Stradivarius' as the label, inside the instrument. Although this was professionally understood, and quite a general practice, it resulted in a confusion in some people's minds, who upon discovering, for instance, an old violin in the attic, and seeing the label, were fooled into thinking they had found a treasure.

The greatest copyist in violins who ever lived was Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875). For his cellos he often used the Duport Strad for his model. I owned one of these copies at one time (No. 2761 in the series of c. 3,000 instruments that Vuillaume made). It was a handsome, bright red cello, and always reminded me of a racehorse. The tone was very pleasant, but lacked altogether the Italian quality, the two bottom strings lacking a certain depth of tone, particularly the C-string; and the varnish was of a harder texture. The cello was not so subject to changes of weather or season as are the instruments of the great Italian makers. The tabulations in Violins and Violinists, the six issues of 1958, and November-December 1960 list 23 cellos by Vuillaume. Undoubtedly this list is incomplete and represents only instruments known at that time. Roger Millant says only that Vuillaume made 'relatively few' cellos. Vuillaume did much trading with the Italian, Tarisio.

Luigi Tarisio (c. 1790-1855) who lived in Milan, Italy, was a fascinating eccentric who had a passion for collecting violins, cellos, and basses made by the Italian masters. He scoured northern Italy for them for 30 years, and in his annual trips to Paris and later to London, he is thought to have brought more than a thousand instruments back into circulation. The first great wave of appreciation for the Italian seventeenth- and eighteenth-century masters was due to Tarisio, and he undoubtedly rescued many instruments from destruction. He was trained as a carpenter, and his knowledge of woods gathered during his apprenticeship served him well. He had a natural gift for identifying fine instrments, no matter in what condition, and the accounts of his searches make fascinating reading. He undoubtedly identified the makers of many of the best instruments now in circulation. He also had a mentor in the first great collector of violins, Count Cozio de Salabue, who probably helped him a great deal

Let it be said that although the shift from craftmanship to commercialism started in the nineteenth century and still exists, and that although G. B. Guadagnini may have been the last original artist-craftsman, there were during the nineteenth century and are right up to the present, many, many fine craftsmen who do not have the commercial attitude, and continue to meet the demand for fine violins. It is simply that none of them has established a reputation to be compared with those of the violin makers of the 'Golden Age' of violin making, that is, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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