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date: 06 December 2019

Makers’ marks.locked

  • Herbert Heyde


By ‘makers’ marks’ is meant here the practice of identifying the makers of Western instruments by means of marks, labels, brands, inscriptions, and other legible indications on the instruments. Marks of ownership and technical markings (such as serial and batch numbers) are not considered here.

In the 14th century European cities and guilds began requiring craft masters to identify their products with marks, with the objectives of promoting high quality and reducing fraud. In the 15th century this practice was extended to musical instruments when their production came under the aegis of the professional craft system. Some guilds included an article in their ordinances to require marking: the Guild of St Luke (Antwerp, 1557) for harpsichord makers, the ‘Pfeifenmacherzunft’ (fife makers guild) of Berchtesgaden (1581) for their masters, the ‘Handwerk’ of the brass and woodwind instrument makers in Nuremberg (1625, 1667). In 1563 the English Statute of Artificers decreed product marking but prohibited apprentices and assistants from signing work....

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