Stephen Barber & Sandi Harris, Lutemakers
Catalogue and Price List 2017
Baroque mandolins, mandolini
Above are three of Santa's Little Helpers; from left to right: Tigger, Squeak and Robbie (taking time off from Forbidden Planet).
1. Attributed to Antonio Stradivari, c. 1710 (Private collection, London).
7 ribs, in figured maple with thin ebony spacers between; maple neck
and pegbox; boxwood pegs; ebony fingerboard with bone edgings; inset
rosette in wood & parchment.
instrument which has long been the subject of controversy in baroque
mandolin circles. Whether or not it is by the great Stradivari - (there
is a suspicious label) it is an attribution that has been based on the
quality of the workmanship, its simple, restrained elegance, and the
brilliance of the varnish - it is a very well-proportioned instrument,
similar to one of the Cremona templates (No. 420, a ' Mandolino Coristo'
). It is unusual in having a back constructed very simply from only
7 ribs. The
original instrument survives with what may well be its original case,
lined with printed paper.
2. After an unsigned Italian instrument (Liverpool Museum No. 1967.161.43)
9 ribs, in ebony striped with plain white maple or ghostly-white holly
(the original is 5 ebony ribs & 4 ivory) with thin black/white fillets
between ribs; 2-piece capping-strip in black & white, echoing the construction
of the back; half-edging in bone (outer edge) and ebony double-purfling;
rear of neck veneered with 9 stripes of ebony alternating with bone,
with thin white/black contrasting fillets between; ebony fingerboard
edged & inlaid with bone panel lines; simple but elegant lute-like rose
with chip-carved 'knot' surrounding border; maple bridge, its top veneered
with an ebony panel edged with bone; pegbox painted black, with bone
edgings on front surface; ebony pegs with bone collars; octagonal pegbox
finial inlaid with bone & ebony.
A very pretty little instrument, which we carried out conservation work on in 1993 for the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool Museum. During the conservation, we opened the instrument in order to properly repair cracks in the ivory back, and thus were able to observe that the soundboard of this little gem is in original condition, its barring light and well-made.
(Available to special order with its 4 white ribs made of mammoth ivory).
These images show the original instrument in our workshop, during the conservation work; unfortunately, we have lost the photographs of our subsequent copy of it.
3. After an unsigned Italian instrument, c.1640 (Paris, Citée de la Musique / E.222, C.235)
11 ribs, in ebony with thin holly/ebony/holly fillets between (original
is ivory); rear of neck veneered with ebony; maple pegbox , with beautiful,
elegant small scroll; boxwood or bone pegs; ebony fingerboard edged
with bone; wood & parchment rosette in 3 tiers, with surrounding ring
of little bone squares inlaid into a black ground; plain pearwood bridge;
inlaid 'spade & curved triangle' motifs in upper and lower soundboard;
bone & ebony half-edging.
very attractive instrument has a beautiful rosette and its original
bridge, which is similar to contemporary lute bridges from Venice -
its probable provenance.
4. Own design (Based on an instrument in a private collection, London).
13 ribs in yew (heart and sap yew used for the example above) with thin ebony spacers between; pearwood or maple neck
& pegbox, resolving in a square finial with inlaid ebony & bone chequerboard
design; boxwood pegs with bone pips; ebony fingerboard edged with bone;
ebony half-edging; pretty, lute-like rose of simple, curving motifs;
slightly larger instrument, with a slightly longer string length than
the other models above. It is based on an instrument in a private collection
in London, which we restored in 1988, which had its bridge missing and
its rose severely damaged, but was nevertheless a strikingly well-proportioned
instrument, plainly made without decoration, recalling the mandolino
attributed to Stradivari (No. 1. above).
The instrument above was made as one of a matching pair, for Nigel North and Barrington Pheloung; they were played on their recordings of the Vivaldi mandolin concerti, the ensemble directed by Barrington. The concerti were recorded for the BBC television series Inspector Morse.