‘And the thieves got clean away’: From the archive: June 1892

June 1892 cover

An anonymous article entitled ‘Fiddle Dealers, Beware!’ reveals how two of London’s best-known violin dealers were swindled by a pair of European con artists

There are many forms of fiddle swindling, but it seems the ingenuity of buyers is no more exhausted than that of sellers. Quite recently two well-dressed men entered the shop of Messrs. Haynes, Foucher and Co. One was a German—at least he looked like one, for he said little, evidently believing that a still tongue makes a wise head. The other was a Frenchman, and Mr. Foucher being also of that ilk, they got on very well together.

Some “Carrodus” and “Foucher” violins were selected, and then came the question of the clarionets. Mr. Foucher showed some, and they were inclined to buy three; but when the price was mentioned the Frenchman shrugged his shoulders: “My friend at the Cape has not sent enough money; we are limited to so-and-so, and if he wants more clarionets or fiddles, well, ma foi! he must send some more money!” Another thing which convinced Mr. Foucher was that while the German friend was looking round the shop, the Frenchman whispered in Mr. F.’s ear that he should expect a commission on the transaction, and would call to-morrow to get it…

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