In Focus: A 1908 violin by Arthur James Maskrey

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Written by Bruce Babbitt

Arthur James Maskrey, an extensively educated man, rose to high levels in every interest he pursued: industrialist, inventor, chemical engineer, musician, painter, horticulturist, athlete, dog breeder and violin maker. Born in 1853 in Wolverhampton, UK, he soon moved with his family to Coatbridge near Glasgow. He made his first violin when he was 15, the result of the same curiosity and inquisitiveness that guided him through life. Professionally he followed in the footsteps of his forebears, who were involved in tin plate manufacturing. This soon took him to the centres of the industry and eventually, in 1898, to the US. Chester, West Virginia, where the violin shown here was made, may seem like an obscure place but that is far from the truth. It is situated in an area of rich history of steel and pottery making, south-west of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Ohio River. Maskrey’s violin making was more of a leisure time obsession, but I’m sure it was taken very seriously and obviously follows the lead of strong, well-established fundamentals…

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