William, Charles & Alfred Voller
(1854 – 1935)
Perhaps the most gifted copyists in the history of violin making, the Voller brothers William, Charles, and Alfred are the objects of equal admiration for their tremendous talents and contempt for their nefarious business practices. They began in the London shop of George Hart and Son, where they were tasked with creating copies of important instruments that passed through the firm, which were always ...Read More clearly labeled as such. When the brothers set up their own shop in Notting Hill Gate, however, their work turned the corner from expert imitation to abject fraud, and with the aid of an unscrupulous dealer they managed to fool not only unsuspecting customers but some of the foremost experts on violin making. While William focused on the varnish, Alfred produced the scrolls and Charles made the body parts. As forgeries of well-known and documented instruments were too risky, the Vollers began to concentrate on slightly more obscure makers, especially Gagliano, with breathtaking results. Though the brothers themselves were all dead by the 1930s, the most despicable appropriation of their formidable skills was in the sale of fraudulent instruments to refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. Prohibited from taking cash out of Germany, they were swindled into investing in supposedly rare and priceless violins instead.
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