“THE BASIS OF KNOWLEDGE OF OLD STRING INSTRUMENTS”
(GUARNERI) HILL, William Henry, Arthur F, and Alfred Ebsworth. The Violin-Makers of the Guarneri Family (1626-1962). London: William E. Hill & Sons, 1931. Quarto, original half tan vellum gilt, top edge gilt, uncut; original cardboard slipcase. $1600.
First edition, with 58 plates (17 in color, 41 photogravures) and dozens of in-text illustrations. Cellist and conductor Alfred Wallenstein’s copy, with his bookplate.
The Hill family's history as violin makers dates back to the middle of the 18th century; in the 19th century, they became specialists in the art of restoration. "No praise can be too high for the contribution of this unique firm to the history of the violin and its accessories… The Hill's connoisseurship was unrivaled and was reflected in several publications which form the basis of knowledge of old string instruments… the first edition of the invaluable Antonio Stradivari: his Life and Work appeared in 1902 and The Violin-Makers of the Guarneri Family in 1931. Alfred Ebsworth Hill was the world's leading expert on old violins. His memory for instruments was legendary, and his judgment concerning authenticity was unchallenged" (New Grove 8:557). The list of subscribers at the rear of the volume includes musicians Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreitzler, Bronislaw Huberman, Jan Kubelik, Kikuo Suzuki and Charles Munch, along with Mussolini and the Queen of Belgium. With Guarneri family crest stamped in black, red, green and gold on front board and title page. Bookplate of renowned cellist and conductor Alfred Wallenstein.
Mild wear to slipcase. Book fine and quite lovely.