Quintessential Collection

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The four crucial factors in establishing an important collection are quality, rarity, provenance and intense interest in the items collected. Whether collecting sea-shells or fine art, these elements apply. An example of these best practices being employed in assembling a great and valuable collection follows:

Ultimate Collector ?

Dr. David L. Fulton is acknowledged as the preeminent living collector of violins and violas. In addition to collecting violins, Dr. Fulton has been a successful and well-recognized musician, mathematician, and software developer.

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Came from Cremona

Dr. Fulton’s string instruments are estimated to be worth in excess of $60 million and include some of the best preserved and highest quality instruments ever created. Most of the centuries-old, 26 instruments in his collection, are from Cremona in Northern Italy, the birth place of the modern violin family.

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Cremona’s Craftmen

A short history of Cremona’s luthiers is helpful in understanding why Fulton’s violins comprise the quintessential collection.

During the 1500’s Andrea Amati designed and produced the first modern violin, viola and cello in Cremona. His sons and grandson, Nicolo, further perfected the violin family.  Nicolo’s apprentices included the two greatest names in violin making, Stradvari and Guarneri. Antonio Stradvari, having become a master left the Amati shop to start his own violin business.

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In his “golden period,” from 1700 to 1726, Antonio went on to create the best “Stradavarius Violins.” Other members of Antonio’s family made fine Stradavarius violins, but Antonio’s were masterpieces. Antonio made approximately 1,000 instrument of which about 650 are known to exist today. No two are identical and those he made before and after his so-called golden period are generally of lower quality and consequently have less value.

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The other Amati apprentice Andrea Guarneri was an excellent violin maker in his own right but Andrea’s great grandson Giuseppe Guarneri (del Gesu) vies with Antonio Stradvari for the title of greatest violin maker of all times. Many theories exist why violins created by these two master luthiers produce the finest of sounds, but none have fully answered the question.

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Violins and violas from Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu and Antonio Stradvari make up the majority of Dr. David L. Fulton’s collection, accounting for its great value. All important violins are given names, including their maker, date made, and usually the name of their most famous owner(s) or musician(s). The instruments’ provenances have been fully researched to assure they are genuine. An example from the collection is the violin designated: “Stradivari ‘Alba, Herzog, Coronation’ 1719.”

Collection Enhancing

Dr. Fulton is devoted to preserving and enhancing his collection of rare violins. Two documentary films have been produced by Fulton, the first entitled Homage with violinist, James Ehnes, performing on 14 of Fulton’s violins.  The second film, Violin Masters: Two Gentlemen from Corona won a 2012 Emmy for Historical Documentary.

For All Collectors

To the extent financially possible, all collectors should follow Dr. Fulton’s model. Collect items (toward which you have an affinity) of quality, rarity and strong provenance. Then preserve and enhance those items, storing them in a safe and secure location.


The Sofia family have been serving New Yorkers for over a century. We have long held an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. For all your storage needs, call us at (212) 873-3600 or visit our website at:  http://www.sofiastorage.com

Violins Were Made to be Played

Can you name the 10 famous violinists pictured below ?

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Joshua Bell.Photo by Chris Lee

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