A Special 1/4 Size Violin Ascribed to Mathias Hornsteiner, 1872
This late 19th century 1/4 size violin is of German origin, bearing a label ascribing its creation to Mathias Hornsteiner in 1872. A commercial label has since been added to the belly, just underneath the makers’ label, which reads, “Czechoslovakia.” I believe the instrument was made in Mittenwald or Bayern, but the secondary label certainly indicates where the violin was imported from and that it arrived in the United States after 1907, likely between 1919-1929.
This violin boasts a book matched maple back with a fairly tight flame, wood which matches the ribs and scroll. The spruce top features a medium grain, all of which is varnished in a burnt umber over an orange base, if not with somewhat reddish hue and which demonstrates a fine translucence with attractive shading around the f holes and joints; antiqued well to hint at the ground beneath. There is some minor wear, such as scratches and dings, all commensurate with age and light use, but the violin is otherwise in remarkably pristine condition.
Most importantly, the neck is slender, perfectly graduated to scale, and the instrument is altogether well setup and ready to play. Details of the setup include a perfectly shaped and delicately carved bridge of aged maple, Wittner style, extra light composite tailpiece with built in fine tuners, a Guarneri style chinrest, and a fresh set of strings: Zyex - E, and Thomastik-Infield Alphayue across the A, D, & G. The the sound is powerful, rich, full of color, and altogether shocking from an instrument of this size, if not for which, the violin would retail for $4000-$6000 as a full size instrument.