Offer Update

Whether it was Valentine’s Day or the cold dark winter nights that spurred you to buy so many candles we don’t know but with just over a week left on our February fragrance offers we thought we’d better let you know that we only have a couple of each left.

To take advantage of the reduced price on our Northumbrian hand poured candles click here; where you’ll also find our fine French unisex Eau de Parfum.

20 - Candles

Birthday Tributes

Following our #ThrowbackThursday post yesterday featuring an ancient violin we thought we’d make today’s post a birthday tribute to two historically important violinists.

17 - CorelliArcangelo Corelli, born this day in 1653, was an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era.  The reason for Corelli’s importance is that his music was key in the development of the modern genres of the sonata and the concerto, in establishing the pre-eminence of the violin, and as the first coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony.


17 - VieuxtempsOur second violinist is Henri François Joseph Vieuxtemps, born this day in 1820, who was a Belgian composer and violinist.   He is important as he was a prominent exponent of the Franco-Belgian violin school during the mid-19th century. He is also renown for playing one of the violins of legend; now known as the Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesù.  The violin, built in 1741, is generally regarded as one of the finest examples of the Giuseppe Guarneri’s craftsmanship and is remarkable  in many ways, not least of which is that it is considered to be without defect despite its continued use over many years.

Ancient Instrument

Our recent #ThrowbackThursday posts have focussed on ancient guitars but today we’re taking a look at the violin.

It is widely accepted that the violin first emerged in northern Italy in the early 16th century.  There’s substantial documentary evidence that in the decade between 1485-95 Brescia was the home of a school of string players and makers.  Everyone listed at the school was honoured with the title “maestro” and all the stringed instruments of the period were covered: viola da gamba (viols), violone, lyra, lyrone, violetta and viola da brazzo.

16 - Amati violinSadly, none of their very early instrument are known to have survived.  However, we know of them not only through the documentation but through contemporary paintings.  From these we can see that the instruments were three-stringed violetta types.  Because of this, can be argued that the first real violin was built by Andrea Amati, one of the famous Cremonese luthiers, in the first half of the 16th century; by order of the Medici family.

The oldest surviving violin, based on the date inside, is the Andrea Amati “Charles IX”, made in Cremona in 1564, but sadly there is some doubt over the accuracy of said label.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an Amati violin that may be even older, possibly dating to 1558 but again this date is sadly very doubtful.   The picture is of the allegedly oldest violin, currently on show at the Metropolitan.