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Dollar Fiddle.

Messrs. Balfour & Co.,  of 11, Rood Lane, London, England, modestly style themselves in their advertisements, “Violin Experts.” We have not the slightest doubt that, in doing so, they neither overestimate nor misrepresent their knowledge and their qualifications in all matters appertaining to the art of making fiddles. At any rate, the conclusions at which they have arrived respecting their abilities, and the concise expression which they have adopted in order to impress these abilities upon the minds of unthinking fiddle-lovers, has aroused no protest, up to the present day, on either side of the Atlantic. All things considered, however, we are seriously inclined to believe that Messrs. Balfour & Co., of 11, Rood Lane, London, England, are British humorists who find it more profitable to be known as violin-experts than as provokers of laughter. At last they have been betrayed into giving us an exhibition of their true talents.

Messrs. Balfour & Co. are the proud possessors of a Guarnerius (del Jesu) fiddle. Their love of the great Joseph can only be described as an intense, almost superhuman, passion, while their worship of the Italian master’s instruments is nothing short of idolatry. But despite all this, Messrs. Balfour & Co. are, sad to relate, violin-experts and dealers. As experts, they take natural pride in pointing out and dwelling upon the many physical and tonal beauties of their “Joseph”; but, as dealers, they realize that it is their duty to the public to relinquish their beloved fiddle. As experts, they “dare to value this exceptional ‘gem’ at the modest sum of $100,000.” As dealers, they are unable to suppress their generous impulses and philanthropic tendencies, and stand ready to part with their fiddle for the insignificant sum of $5000.

Messrs. Balfour & Co. ask, in heavy, black type, “Why not $100,000 for an old fiddly?” And we answer, perhaps with child-like simplicity, “because.” Three (sic) are many reasons why it would be foolish to demand $100,000 for any fiddle. Of all reasons, however, the first we have in mind is, we believe, all-sufficient: that is, no sane purchaser could be found for it. A purchaser would have to be sought among a limited number of fiddle-mad individuals; and even then the obstacles in the way of a sale would be great, for the fiddle-mad are not always possessed of great wealth, and, when they are, it has been discovered that their lucid and cunning moments are invariably associated with the purchase-price of a fiddle.

Gentlemen, a Guarnerius fiddle is not Fifth-Avenue real estate.


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