Over ten years ago I penned a long essay about the invention of tradition and the price of Stradivari violins. I’m fascinated about how the market works and how prices have developed over time and think its important to go as far back to the beginning in order to gather context for the modern market. The purpose of the article was entirely academic for one of innumerable exams at Oxford University, and for that reason it goes into some things in an academic voice that is different from my preferred writing style and takes it’s style from Eric Hobsbawm’s remarkable methodology of “The Invention of Tradition”. A decade later, I think that most of my arguments still hold water, with some excruciating exceptions that serve to underline to me exactly how much I have learned in the intervening years. It seeks to understand Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume as an innovator in a market that ultimately lived up to his challenges.
The essay was published in 2011 in Tom Wilder (ed.) The Conservation, Restoration and Repair of Stringed Instruments and Their Bows. You can order a copy here.
You can read the entire text of the essay here for free.