Makers - Do you issue certificates with new instruments and/or bows you make and sell?


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Thanks for the replies  @MANFIO @David Burgess @Andreas Preuss @Torbjörn Zethelius @Davide Sora @Larry F and apologies for the slow reply.

I was curious as I know a few violin makers here in the UK, but to my knowledge none of them issue certificates. I have also been following the auctions quite a lot, and it seems to be mainly contemporary Italian instruments that have accompanying certificates from the makers. I was wondering if this was a practice more common with Italian makers or if it was just a coincidence?

I can see how certificates might seem to be waste of time due to the ease of them being forged, and I was interested in what ways people are trying to mitigate this. I definitely agree with @David Burgess that it's advisable to keep transactions details and correspondences where possible.

I have thought about some way of putting a QR code in a certificate which contains a link to a private personalised video with the maker showing and talking about the instrument in detail. Not sure how stable a medium it would be from a legacy point of view though. @Torbjörn Zethelius your Crypto technology suggestion is definitely an interesting thought!

I really like @Andreas Preuss suggestion of the online catalogue, I think if I was to make things then I would try and do this. Hopefully even if the website went down it might still be searchable by wayback machine etc etc. @Davide Sora keeping a detailed photographic record is a great idea, but how do you ensure that it ends up in the right hands in the future?

Thanks all for the discussion, very interesting indeed!

 

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On 2/26/2021 at 5:07 PM, David Burgess said:

I consider it to be waste of time, of no practical use to the client, since printed documents can so easily be forged these days.

 

Hmmm, why doesn't that apply to any certificate?  Does any certificate really identify the instrument?

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2 hours ago, MANFIO said:

In some certificates each photo is signed by the maker, sometimes the branding iron is used to make an imprint on the paper, these things are not all that easy to fake.

Those would be the new ones.  Many of the old ones are just pieces of paper.  Length 45 barleycorns, spruce top with medium grain, bookmarked maple with medium flame, shaded orange varnish, etc. -- a description which must fit half of all violins.  N'est ce pas?

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3 minutes ago, La Folia said:

Those would be the new ones.  Many of the old ones are just pieces of paper.  Length 45 barleycorns, spruce top with medium grain, bookmarked maple with medium flame, shaded orange varnish, etc. -- a description which must fit half of all violins.  N'est ce pas?

I do that in my certificates, and many makers in Italy are doing the same.

 

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7 hours ago, Shelbow said:

I really like @Andreas Preuss suggestion of the online catalogue, I think if I was to make things then I would try and do this. Hopefully even if the website went down it might still be searchable by wayback machine etc etc.

In my opinion, a public online catalogue assists the fakers as much or more than it does the maker. I post very few photos of my instruments, for that very reason.

3 hours ago, MANFIO said:

In some certificates each photo is signed by the maker, sometimes the branding iron is used to make an imprint on the paper, these things are not all that easy to fake.

I don't think they are hard to fake, compared to paper currency. The US government has gone to great lengths to prevent forgery of paper currency, yet it remains attractive to forgers, and they often pull it off.

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26 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I don't think they are hard to fake, compared to paper currency. The US government has gone to great lengths to prevent forgery of paper currency, yet it remains attractive to forgers, and they often pull it off.

The situations are not the same.... paper currency forgery is a big business, you can get big printers, hire high profile professionals, etc. It is an organized crime realm.

With violins, in general you have just one faker, he will not have the means paper currency fakers have.

 

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3 hours ago, MANFIO said:

In some certificates each photo is signed by the maker, sometimes the branding iron is used to make an imprint on the paper, these things are not all that easy to fake.

 

14 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

The situations are not the same.... paper currency forgery is a big business, you can get big printers, hire high profile professionals, etc. It is an organized crime realm.

With violins, in general you have just one faker, he will not have the means of paper currency fakers have.

 

How difficult is it to have a copy of a brand made these days? Send someone a scanned image, and one or two hundred bucks, and the brand shows up at your door.

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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

 

How difficult is it to have a copy of a brand made these days? Send someone a scanned image, and one or two hundred bucks, and the brand shows up at your door.

A pen written signature is still very very difficult to fake, I think. There are forensic specialists working in the legal field, there are such things as the pressure of the pen, point of "attack" and "fugue", with macro photos, they are very interesting.

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37 minutes ago, MANFIO said:

A pen written signature is still very very difficult to fake, I think. There are forensic specialists working in the legal field, there are such things as the pressure of the pen, point of "attack" and "fugue", with macro photos, they are very interesting.

Are there not many more of these signature clues in the fiddle itself?

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Without an attached picture, how do you connect a certificate to a particular instrument?  There's just not very much identifying information on a certificate.

Let's see, I have a Strad with a certificate, and a Strad copy.  I can try to use the certificate on the copy, especially if the copy is a pretty good one.

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37 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Are there not many more of these signature clues in the fiddle itself?

Sometimes. But the average insurance claims adjuster isn't going to know, nor the police when trying to recover a stolen instruments.

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I provide certificates with my cases, in part because there unfortunately fakes being made, in part to assist the client in a post-sales scenario. There are no images, but the serial number, model name, colors and eventual options. 

With this information, should the client need a replacement part it is easier to send him the right one; if there are durability issues with a supply of components, I can cross-reference the date of completion with our database of manufacuring changes to find out how many cases are affected and where they were sold; and lastly, if a case is stolen and the client provides the serial number we put it on our hotlist. If it shows up on eBay or in our atelier for maintenance we spot it immediately. 

Not all of these measures can be applied to violins, but some can, especially when the maker likes to experiment. 

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