A label of Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis?

     
Have you found a violin with the label "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis"? Keep cool. It's almost certainly a fake. In the past some restorers have stuck labels (genuine or forged) inside instruments of various origins and there has been a proper business in labels, apart from the selling of violins. There have also been cases of old-time violin makers who would put the names of other contemporary makers on their own violins.
Nowadays, no violin expert would judge the value of a violin by its label.
Labels such as "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 17", followed or not by circles with crosses, initials or other particular signs are made (in series) to be completed before being stuck on the instrument: actually "... Anno 17" shows only the first two numerals of any year of the 18th century. A complete label should read "... Anno 1715" or "... Anno 1707", or at least an year of the 18th century.
There are also cases where you can't even seriously talk of fakes. A label like the following: "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis / Faciebat Anno 1721 / Made in Bohemia" is a joke rather a fake, considering that Stradivari never learned English.
However, if you wish to learn more about the quality of the instrument you should take it to a violin maker, who will let you know if it is a good quality instrument. He may not be able to give you details of the period or school, but will be able to tell you if it was made by a good craftsman or on an assembly line. The addresses of violin makers, under the headings of States, can be found in the Reports of magazines for enthusiasts such as "Strad" or "String".
If, after the first check, the violin maker recognizes a particular quality in the instrument, it may be worth while asking for a specialist's appraisal (Expertise) on the part of an expert and connoisseur (usually a restorer or well-known maker) who will issue a certificate of attribution and an estimate of the instrument's value.
The cost of the expert's survey is, as a rule, quite modest if it concerns merely a verbal evaluation. There is, instead, a fixed price and a percentage of the instrument's value when a certificate evaluation is wanted.
If you so wish, you can have a first opinion from the expert violin makers of the Cremona School of Violin Making (Scuola di Liuteria) sending photographs or colour slides taken in the most professional manner, with shots of the whole instrument and of its details. The evaluation may not be infallible (to value an instrument is not the same thing as valuing its photo), but it is possible to get a general indication. It's the best that can be done without having the instrument to hand.

Copyright 1995 1996 internet graffiti
April 1996