After examining the instrument in the 1950s, however, the New York violin expert Rembert Wurlitzer was convinced that the label should be read as 1717 and firmly dated as having been made within Stradivari's "golden period," which is said to have lasted from around 1700 until 1720, when many of the master's greatest instruments were made.
The date of 1717 made the instrument even more desirable, and Museum materials began to use the 1717 date in connection with "The Antonius." Curators and conservators later became more cautious and referred to the instrument as having been made in either 1717 or 1721.
Establishing the exact date that a great instrument was made can be an important way of understanding how it fits into musical history and also within the development of an individual maker's craft.
Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) had an extraordinary career building instruments for more than seven decades, during which time he became known as an innovative maker who was constantly trying new ideas.
He also appeared as a soloist and made his American debut performing the Brahms Violin Concerto with The Symphony Society of New York (a predecessor orchestra to the New York Philharmonic) in October 1910.
The following month, Berber performed the same piece with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a concert that Anne Matthews likely attended.
Stradivari used pre-printed labels that he had made up in large batches.
After 1700, he had labels made that, rather than printing the entire year, had a single printed numeral "1" followed by blank space for the maker to write out the other numerals denoting the year.Some instruments by Stradivari, however, have had their labels removed or tampered with, or the labels have become degraded or damaged in a way that prevents them from being easily dated."The Antonius" violin by Stradivari in The Met collection has suffered from confusion about its date for more than a century, though recent examinations have allowed us to firmly date the instrument.Berber had owned the Stradivari violin since 1904, but in 1909 he also acquired a great violin made by Giuseppe Guarneri, del Gesú.He probably brought both violins on tour to the United States in the hope of selling the Stradivari violin to a rich American.Around 1700, Stradivari abandoned the long pattern and returned to making instruments according to the grand-pattern proportions established in the mid-17th century by another Cremona-based violin maker, Nicolò Amati."The Antonius" is an example of a grand-pattern violin made by Stradivari during his mature years, a highly valued instrument by players across the centuries.There was a career day at his school and one of his classmates in his Columbus, Ohio, suburb brought in his father, Greg Gillum, who was on Ohio State's football staff.The speech made such an impression on Butt that he wrote Gillum a thank you note, dating it May 25, 2007.On December 24, Berber signed an affidavit in the office of the American Consulate in Geneva affirming that the instrument was made by Antonio Stradivari and finalizing the sale to Matthews.The date of "The Antonius" has long been misunderstood.