Circa 1909-1929 “Carlo Alberi” Violin from B&J. Mirecourt, France.
There is history in trade, and one of my favorite aspects of the violin business is research, discovery, and subsequent identification.
I just finished restoring and setting up this handsome Mirecourt violin with an Italian trade name. Oddly enough, there was actually a Carlo Alberti working at the time who had no correlation to this fiddle. Aside, his grandson is also a fine violin maker. Having said that, the printed label is as follows:
B&J New York.”
Samuel Buegeleisen (1871-1957) and David Jacobson (1869-1904) worked for Tonks Bros. Co. in Chicago before going into business together in 1897 and establishing themselves in New York in 1901. Unfortunately, Jacobson passed away soon after in 1904, leaving Buegeleisen as the sole owner of what would become one of the largest musical import businesses of the early 20th century.
From 1909 to 1929, the business was officially registered as Samuel Buegeleisen, but continued to operate as Buegeleisen & Jacobson, B & J for short. The business was renewed in 1929 to the latter and Samuel’s two sons (Abbott and Henry Durro) joined the business in 1936. Today, this firm is most recognized by its enduring in-house trade names, “Durro” and “Salvadore Durro.” Trade names are fictional, ascribed to imports to differentiate different lines of quality, and sometimes, origin too. Though, it is sweet to see that these honored Samuel’s son.
In any case, what is so remarkable to me is that prior to the First World War, Samuel began stocking up on European instruments and bows, amassing them in warehouses in anticipation of the coming shortages the war would cause. His stockpile assured the companies success when so many others were choked by lack of inventory and that success propelled the company forward for generations to come. B & J was eventually sold in 1971 but still operates today out of Toronto, Canada. They have had a rich history that I can only touch upon.