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The following text I came across some years back :
STAINER , JACOBUS , born at Hall , near Absam --a short distance from Innsbruck--July 14 1621 , diedat Absam , 1683 . This maker is the most renowned of the German school , concerning whose early career
the following account has been handed down. A priest residing in the district of Absam took a fancy to young
Jacob , and had him sent to Innsbruck to learn the art of organ building under one Daniel Hertz . This calling not suiting the youths inclinations , his master advised him to learn the art of violin making . Stainer then went to
Cremona , and placed himself under Nicolas Amati , who soon recognized the talent of his young pupil , and
took great pains in instructing him in the secretes of the art. He then quitted Cremona , and for a short time
worked in Venice under Vermercati, who at that time was a maker of some merit . With an accumulation of
experience gained in the best schools of the time , Stainer finally returned to Absam and settled there as a maker of violins on his own account . In the year 1645 he married a Margaretha Holzhammer , by whom he had several children . His renown as a violin maker rapidly increased , but for some reason or other he found it difficult to provide for the wants of himself and family , and he was compelled to travel about the country in
order to dispose of his instruments . However , in 1658 , he was appointed court violin maker to the Archduke
Leopold , and in 1669 received the distinction of "Maker to the Emperor" ; but all these advantages and hon-
ours contributed but little to raise him from his chronic state of poverty . He now began to experience some bitter reverses . A certain creditor of his , named Solomon Heubnar , with whom at one time lived (Stainer left
him without paying for his board) lodged an information against him charging him with heresy . He was seized
and thrown into prison , and remained there six months , at the expiration of which he found himself utterly ruined and poverty stared him in the face . He was then persecuted by Count Albert Fugger for certain dues
which it was customary to levy on court tradesmen . Stainer petitioned the Emperor to waive this claim , but to know purpose , his supplication being ignored , it is thought , in consequence of his previous conviction for alleged heresy . Stainer then fell into a state of abject misery , neglected his work , and finally died out of mind.
It will therefore be seen that this renowned maker worked under most distressing conditions , and it was a marvel that he was able to produce anything worthy of subsequent copying . Stainers house is still pointed out , and ,it is said , the bench to which he was bound when mad .
Another story which has gained currency in some quarters , but in others said to be mythical , recounts that at a latter period of his life he abandoned his calling and became an inmate of a Benedictine monastery . Here , with the assistance of a brother monk , he contrived to get together sufficient materials for the manufacture of sixteen violins of great beauty . These fabulous fiddles are known as the "Elector" Stainers
from the circumstance that each Elector was supposed to be the recipient of one of these instruments , the remaining going to the Emperor of Germany . For information concerning the instruments made by this unfortunate fiddle maker , the best is that contained in the treatise of Jacob Augustus Otto , maker to the Court of the Archduke of Weimar , translated from the German by Thomas Fardely , of Leeds (1833) , and since then by the late Mr. Bishop , of Cheltenham (William Reeves , London)
Otto says : " The instruments made by Jacobus Stainer differ from the Cremonese both in outward shape and in tone . They are higher modeled , and their proportions of strength are calculated quite differently . The nearest comparison which can be drawn between a Cremonese and a Stainer is this : a Cremonese has a strong reedy , sonorous tone something similar to a clarinet , while a Stainer approaches to that of a flute .
The belly is modeled higher than the back . The highest part of the model under the bridge extends exactly one half of the instrument towards the end edge . It decreases in like manner at the upper broad part towards the neck . The breadth of this model is uniformly the same as that of the bridge , from which it diminishes towards the side edge . The edges are very strong and round . The purfling lies somewhat nearer to the edges than in the latter (Cremonese) in which it is very broad . The F holes in Stainer instruments are very beautifully cut , and the upper and under turns are perfectly circular . In length they are somewhat shorter than the Cremonese .
The neck is particularly handsome , and the scroll is as round and smooth as if it had been turned . Some few have lions heads , which are extremely well carved . The sides and the back are made of the finest figured maple and covered with a deep yellow amber varnish . In some the peg box is varnished dark brown and the belly deep yellow . The above are the most accurate marks by which the genuine Stainer instruments may be distinguished . They are rarely to be found with any labels inside , but in the few which are to be met with of the
genuine instruments bearing any inscription , they are simply written , not printed. "
Genuine Stainers with labels have this inscription : Jacobus Stainer in Absam prope OEnipontum h-fis 16--