Identifying Medieval Fragments in Three Musical Instruments Made by Antonio Stradivari


  • Jean-Philippe Échard Musée de la Musique (Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris) & Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation (Sorbonne Université – Ministère de la Culture – CNRS)
  • Laura Albiero Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (CNRS) image/svg+xml



musical instruments, organology, parchment, fragment, book of hours


This article identifies ten fragments, used as reinforcements in the sounding boxes of three instruments made by Antonio Stradivari (Cremona, ca. 1648–1737), which are now kept in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (the ‘Cipriani Potter’ violin, 1683, and the ‘Hill’ guitar, 1688) and the musée de la Musique in Paris (the ‘Vuillaume’ guitar). The fragments appear to come from a single book of hours, made in Italy no later than the mid-fifteenth century. This identification allows the documentation of the use of parchment fragments in the making process of Stradivari. The authors discuss what the common origin of parchment fragments found in three distinct instruments implies for the authenticity and relative dating of their making. Finally, this study sheds light on the potential of documenting reused parchment fragments, which are widely present in many string musical instruments produced in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.