I Have just noticed a very dubious W E Hill & Sons certificate on Ebay, for an Italian Violin from the early 1700s. being offered at a high price.
The certificate was of a violin submitted to Hills and not sold by them. The signature looks very dubious as does the typing. I can not identify the violin on ebay as it would break Ebay rules.
In the early 1980s Hills offered to authenticate their old certificates as a number of fake certificates had come to their attention. I had then bought a V. Panormo violin from a Philips auction and took the certificate dated from the 1930s to Hills at Great Missenden with the violin for a check over. Fortunately it passed scrutiny!
W.E. Hill & Sons were regarded pre-eminent in the field of authentication, particularly of old Italian master instruments. If an instrument was submitted to them which they refused to authenticate with a certificate, a letter C was written on the inside of the C bass rib in red ink. This became know in the trade as " kiss of death"
I enclose a photo of a genuine Hill certificate.
Hill's certificates were on a single sheet of paper with a description of the instrument and the label, if any, but no photos. Such a document would be relatively easy to produce on a laser printer although the characteristic signature would need to be by hand.
The condition of the instrument may have changed dramatically since the issue of an old certificate, so a statement of condition cannot be relied on
Buyers beware. Hills are not around to check anymore!.
Violins from Hills should have a number stamped at the end of the fingerboard and have a Hill fitted bridge, although of course age may have required newer fittings. A dodgy dealers trick is to fit a genuine Hill bridge on an instrument to give it false credibility.
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