Parksville man may have had a special violin

Published 8:22 am Monday, August 14, 2017

A Parksville man, who bought a violin in 1910, thought the musical instrument was made by the famous Antonia Stradivari, a famous Italian violin maker in the later part of the 17th and first part of the 18th centuries.

Harry Wilson Rice, a clerk at the B.G. Fox Stable, bought the violin from Riley Preston, who traded for the instrument and had “gotten it for a song.”

Preston considered himself lucky when Rice paid him $3 for the violin, according to articles in the Kentucky Advocate and Advocate-Messenger newspapers.

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“Those who heard it was charmed with a soft, sweet tone, and investigation demonstrated the instrument was made by Antonius Stradivarius in 1700, more than 110 years ago.”

“An instrument made by the same great maker during the same year sold some time ago for $25,000, and Rice thinks that his is equally as good as the one that brought the top price.”

The average price for which these violins sell has ranged from $1,000 to $300.

The article described Rice as having “a genial spirit and sort of a country fiddler,” and hopes this instrument is an antique made by the old Italian.

“His friends are, too, but the chances of a 1,000 are against it.”

A few days after Rice discovered the name on the violin, he was besieged with people who wished to see his rare find and moved it to the Boyle Bank and Trust Company’s office and placed it on exhibition for the public to see.

Named discovered

Rice had the violin about a year before he made a detailed examination of it and discovered the name Antonio Stradivarius.

The name of the maker is engraved on the inside of the instrument and can be easily seen and read. Stradivarius was born in 1649, and died in 1737, according to the article.

However, the Messenger stated the name inscribed in the violin is Antonio Stradivarius who is supposed to have carved that name there more than 200 years ago, is Stradivari.

“As far as can be learned the word Stradivarius is an adjective used to describe something made to the order or pattern of Stradivari, as adjectives Jeffersonian, Baconian and Byronic are used to distinguish writings and teachings which follow the lines laid down by Jefferson and Brynn.

Born in Cemona, Italy

Stradivari was born in the Italian city of Cremona in 1649 and died in 1737. The man who taught him to make violins was Nicholas Amadi of Cremona, whose father and grandfathers  before him for generations had been making violins. It seems, however, that the high state of perception in the art was reached by Stradivari.

“No violins since his time have surpassed his and nearly all the good ones have been built on his model. Therefore, the violin that was made by Stradivari is worth between $10,000 and $15,000.

“Some of the greatest artists used the old instruments.”

“The violin that Rice had is very old, but a violin 75 years old would probably have aged more.

“If Stradivari had made this violin, it stands to reason he would have put his name on it and spelled the name correctly.”

Copies made

Thousands of violins that never saw Italy, bear the name of Stradivari, Amati, Giuseppe “Del Gesu” and other famous makers, but a master can tell whether the instrument is by one of the famous makers or is just an ordinary fiddle of commerce.

“It is probable that some artist from Cincinnati or Louisville, hearing of the find will come to Danville soon to see the violin.

“If it should chance be genuine it would be an extraordinary thing that it should have wandered so far and so long without its worth being recognized, for any person who has toiled long enough at a violin to be able to play on it, becomes as intimately acquainted with it as he does with the features on his own face.

“So it is almost an impossibility that a violin of much merit and worth as a Stradivarius should lie undiscovered for 200 years or more”, according to the article in the Messenger.

Oldest violin in Kentucky

A few days after the article about Rice was published, another old violin was found.

James I. Westerfield, a former postmaster of Parksville, owns a 213-year-old Stradivarius violin, according to the Advocate.

It is the oldest violin in Kentucky. It was made 213 years ago and bears the name of Antonius Stradivarius, Cremon, 1687.

The violin weighs exactly 13 ounces.

The violin is 13 years older that the one owned by Rice, and is much prized by Westerfield.

(Editor’s note: Research from the Advocate newspapers and It would be interesting to know what happened to the two violins which could be worth hundreds of thousands to several million U.S. dollars at today’s prices, according to Does anyone know where either of the violins are now?)