Dendrochronology Analysis & Reports

What is Dendrochronology?

Dendrochronology is a scientific method of dating based on the growth rings of trees. Each year trees produce a ring, the dimensions of which vary from year to year, according to the environment in which they find themselves. Ring growth from the spring is wider and lighter, while the darker, late summer growth narrows before stopping, forming a sharp boundary. They are also affected by temperature and precipitations. The resulting pattern is a little like a barcode, and by comparing the pattern from a particular tree with already established chronologies, dendrochronologists can date the time at which the rings were formed to an exact year.

Dendrochronology is used to date instruments by comparing the tree rings of the wood used for the top with spruce reference chronologies from the Alps (the source of most classical makers’ wood). The rings are also compared with other examples by the same maker and contemporary makers from the same area. The result gives the youngest possible date for the spruce, thereby helping to establish whether an instrument is genuine.

Tarisio’s Dendrochronology Reports

At Tarisio we use dendrochronology to help support existing attributions for our high-value lots. The dendrochronology reports are made available to buyers for use as supporting documentation.

Peter Ratcliff

Tarisio’s dendrochronology is carried out by Peter Ratcliff, a UK violin restorer for the last 30 years. Over the past decade Peter has developed one of the world’s most extensive dendrochronological databases and is now one of the leading experts in the field. Peter offers dendrochronological testing and reports on instruments of the violin family, as well as early guitars.