Four years of meticulous research in the museums and libraries of Oxford, London, Paris, Milan, and Cremona has resulted in the first entirely document-based factual analysis of the historical and physical reality of the Messiah violin, thus supplanting the oft-repeated mythology.

275 pages, 30 colour plates, 30 graphs and line drawings.

In this invaluable and intriguing study, Sackman navigates a clear path through the complex and unreliable history of the much admired Messiah violin, examining a wide range of sources with a keen and critical eye, disentangling fact from legend and re-opening the debate about the instrument's authenticity. Although he does not prove conclusively Stradivari's non-involvement in its construction, he casts sufficient doubts that will challenge curators and connoisseurs to re-evaluate the evidence and reconsider their views regarding the instrument's origins and dating.

Robin Stowell, Emeritus Professor, Cardiff University

Nicholas Sackman assiduously dismantles every single aspect of what is known or assumed about the provenance of the violin, the archival and textual material, and the characters involved. As a scholarly work it leaves me reeling; Sackman has made an exhaustive examination of all the available material. I am hugely grateful to Sackman for this book.

J Dilworth, The Strad, November 2015, p. 98

Book extract

Chapter 10: The 1890 purchase, more correspondence, and players

At the start of 1890 news emerged from Paris that the two married daughters of Delphin and Jeanne-Emilie Alard — joint owners of the Le Messie violin following the deaths of their parents — were disposed to sell it. Fifteen original letters are held within the Hill Archives at the Ashmolean Museum which chart the process leading up to the purchase of this violin by Mr Robert Crawford of Edinburgh. The earliest letter, on 38 New Bond Street letter-paper, is from Arthur E Hill to Robert Crawford, dated 21st January 1890…

Copyright © 2017, Nicholas Sackman. All rights reserved.
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Unsolicited written comments received from readers

"I find [your book] very readable, and the background to Vuillaume's activities fascinating."
"I just wanted you to know how thoroughly I have enjoyed your book, which I think is a masterpiece of subtle and well-reasoned argumentation."
"Your thoroughly well-researched book..."
"I especially enjoyed not only following your lines of thought, but also the way you constantly cover every eventuality. When you have made a statement, you seem to know each and every doubt that may come up in the reader's mind and [you] immediately deal with that as well."
"Allow me to say that this is an impressive piece of work."
"I have now completed, and greatly enjoyed, reading your meticulously researched book [which] reveals many missing pieces in the complex jigsaw of putting together the various transactions and correspondence relating to [the Messiah violin]. It was refreshing to read your book and I understand the work you have put into writing it; thank you."
"Your book will occupy an honoured place on my shelves."
"I don't think that anybody has analysed every single strength and weakness of the science of dendrochronology as you have done. This alone must make your book a classic, far beyond the questions around Vuillaume and the Messiah [violin]."
"Thank you for the book, which has been revelatory in so many respects; you have done a great job in assembling the evidence."
"Regarding your 'Messiah' book, I read it cover to cover glued to every word and sentence; you make a very strong argument and I am impressed! Your research is so thorough."
"Your book is the most scholarly and deeply researched study of the disputed instrument ever undertaken; it demolishes the long-accepted provenance of the Messiah [violin]."
"I have just finished reading your book. It is refreshing to have a work of genuine scholarship in the literature of the violin; it has set a new benchmark for future studies. Congratulations on such an important publication." all comments are on file

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Price: £25 (GBP) plus postage. Below is an estimate of the total cost of buying one copy of The Messiah violin: a reliable history?, including delivery costs, based on current (2017) postal-charge information. A confirmed cost will be provided on receipt of an order. One book, with packaging, weighs more than 1 kilogram.

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