The "Dancla" Stradivari 1703
The Dancla is a splendid violin, in an extremely fine condition. The harmony between the shape of the wood and the tones of the varnish, resulting from previous use, presents an overall impression, which seems to have been planned while it was being made.
The long way of the Dancla through many different hands is described in 1938 in a letter from Hill&Sons to H. Berro, Bern, who owned it at that time: ‘At the beginning of thelast century, this violin was in the possession of Baron Roger, an amateur violinist, who passed it on to Hilaire E. Halma, who was an excellent player and who was awarded the “Premier Prix “at the Paris Conservatory in 1824. In 1854/55 the violin was acquired by the firm Bernadel Frère, Paris, which sold it to Charles Dancla (1817 – 1907), the famous violinist, who owened it until 1876 and who then sold it to the firm Chanot – Chardon, Paris. It then went into the possession of Charles Wilmotte, Antwerp, the most famous amateur and collector of his time. In 1883 he sold the violin to David Laurie, the internationally renowned violin dealer, who then passed it on to Mr. Labitte, Reims. This excellent amateur owned several instruments, later on one of the violins was bought by Joseph Joachim. In 1887 the violin went back to David Laurie, who then sold it to William Croal, Edinburgh. At the same time he was the owner of another Stradivari, known as the “Cessole”, and these two violins stayed in his possession till he died in 1906. He preferred the “Dancla” because of its sound qualities.
From his estate the violin went into the possession of Mr. Kirkhope, Edinburgh. After his death my company purchased it and later sold it to Richard Bennet, the most important instrument collector of his time, whose collection later on came into our possession again: an amateur bought the violin, but later exchanged it for another instrument.’
The story continues: In 1938 the violin went to Switzerland, first to H. Werro, Bern, then to Fiez, Luzern. In 1959 it turned up at Christie´s, the auctioneers. Since 1998 it is in the possession of the L-Bank Baden-Wuerttemberg and on loan to the German violinist Linus Roth.