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Antonius Stradivarius in South Dakota

Antonius Stradivarius in South Dakota

by Joseph R. Johnson

Originally published in American Lutherie #12, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2000

When the name Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) is mentioned, images of fine quality violins, master craftsmanship, and exor­bitantly large price tags come to mind. Stradivari is known to the world primarily as an excellent violin maker. However, the members of the violin family were not the only stringed instruments that he made. Stradivari’s output also included a harp, three known guitars, and patterns for lutes, mandolins, mandolas, and violas da gamba.

The Shrine to Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, is home to the “Rawlins,” one of three extant guitars made by Antonio Stradivari in Cremona, Italy, between 1680 and 1700. The second is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University in England. The third, much altered and in need of restoration, is privately owned in Italy.

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