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Article

John Barnes, Charles Beare and Laurence Libin

Faking musical instruments can involve such acts as creating an entirely new deceptive object, rebuilding an instrument with intent to deceive, conflating parts from different sources to form an instrument with a fictitious history, or forging an inscription on an instrument (and producing false documentation) in order to associate it with an advantageous name or period. A successful faker needs to know what customers want and the extent of their historical knowledge. Fakes can thus shed light on those who were deceived as well as on those responsible for deception. Partly to discourage misrepresentation, during the Middle Ages European trade guilds began to register makers’ marks and require their use on products; bells were perhaps the first instruments to bear such identification. Despite continuing efforts to suppress the practice, and improving methods of detection, faking and forgery, especially of valuable instruments sought by collectors as investments, continue to flourish.

Instruments of the famous Ruckers family, enlarged and redecorated to satisfy contemporary taste and musical requirements, were in demand in the 18th century, particularly in Paris. Since the alterations concealed much of the original material and involved replacement of many parts, it was not difficult for those engaged in this trade to satisfy the market without actually starting from an original Ruckers instrument. Several workshop inventories taken for legal purposes refer frankly to counterfeit Ruckers harpsichords....

Article

Aaron S. Allen and Laurence Libin

Term encompassing issues of respectful management of natural resources and corresponding ecologies so that they endure. Unsustainable depletion of resources through excessive use or misuse, habitat destruction, climate change, and associated cultural and ecological pressures increasingly concerns instrument makers, consumers, and preservationists, leading them to realign values and practices. Sustainability has become an existential problem for societies that rely on vanishing resources, and for plants and animals that interact in ecosystems, which in turn encompass humans. While cultural aspects of sustainability have been considered in many ethnographic and organological studies, ecological implications require further attention.

Many kinds of instruments have traditionally incorporated materials from now-endangered or threatened species. These animal and plant materials have been exploited for their tonal properties, durability, or other physical characteristics, and for decorative, symbolic, or economic reasons. The efficacy of instruments played in religious or magical rituals, displayed as regalia, or worshipped in their own right can depend on the use of these rare substances, and the value of collectible instruments is enhanced by their presence....