Ref :   0523

A very fine violin by
The Voller Brothers
Copy of J. B. Guadagnini, 1779
London, circa 1900

William Voller (b. 1860) and his brothers, Charles and Arthur, worked in Streatham, London, from 1885 to 1927. Today they are considered the most remarkable imitators of old Italian instruments, unequalled and unrivalled by anyone else before of after them.

In recent times their notoriety as imitators and copyists has finally been eclipsed by the breathtaking craftmandship of their accomplishment: a massive revival of interest in their work is in evidence - very much has been written about them, all in superlatives, and the British Violin Making Association has recently produced a book about them. Owning a real Voller is now very much in vogue and their instruments are being sought by collectors and musicians alike, not only because of the former notoriety of these men, but because of what these instruments are - truly remarkable testimonies of the highest order of craftmanship and skill, rivalling the finest work of the leading violinmakers of the 19th century.

William Henley says this about them: "Perfect replicas of any model, exhibiting with matchless exactitude the skill and imagination of the renowned Vuillaume. Appearance of wear and age marvelously accomplished. Superior in every way (...). Smallest details perfectly represented and very skillfully finished. Instruments splendidly desirable as regards the picturesque, and certainly adequate for all requirements of first-class players. (...) Finest wood carefully selected for its accoustic properties."

Charles Beare said this of them: "The most ingenious copyists are acknowledged to be William, Charles and Alfred Voller. The brothers were all accomplished musicians whose acquaintances included such well known figures as Wilhelmj and Tertis as well as having business contacts in various parts of Europe. By 1892 they were working for George Hart in London and several of their early instruments bear his label. After setting up independently they embarked on numerous copies of lesser-known makers as well as the more obvious names that include some dangerously convincing imitations of the Gagliano family. Some copies of well-documented instruments should have been safe from fraudulent abuse but controversy did arise over a Stradivari copy that became known as the "Balfour Strad". The violin was originally purchased through an agent of the Vollers for 45 and takes its name from the company that subsequently offered it for sale. It was finally advertised as the genuine article for 2,500 and prompted a well publicised letter asserting "You know it is only a clever "Fake" and signed "One who knows who made it". Once the new owner realised his mistake civil court proceedings were instigated that resulted in an out-of-court settlement."

This violin, bearing a label ("G. B. Guadagnini Torino, 1779") is a concert instrument of the highest order, and a fine testimony of all the superlatives written about the Vollers. Until the authority, Claude Lebet in Rome, identified the violin as a Voller (and certified it as such), it was thought to be the work of Pressenda. It is an exceptionally beautiful violin: the two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of well-flamed maple with a distinct medium curl. The top is of medium to wide-grained tone spruce. Purfling and corner work are remarkably executed. The varnish is a beautiful transparent red-gold that greatly enhances the beauty of the materials.

This violin has for years been the main instrument of a leading concert violinist, recording artist, recitalist and academic. It has been used numerously for CD productions and concerto performances. It has all the tonal properties one would wish for in a serious concert instrument.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 35.9 cm; upper bout: 16.9cm; c-bout: 11.3 cm; lower bout: 20.7 cm.

Condition :
  Excellent. Other than repaired wing cracks, this violin is free from any discernable repairs or cracks.

Provenance :
  This violin was the principal instrument of a leading concert violinist and academic and has been used extensively for concert performance and recordings. Current ownership withheld.

Price : P.O.A.
This violin has been withdrawn from sale through this dealership.


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