Saturday, 6 February 2016

Grandfather's Violin

Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis

Faciebat Anno 172(?)


Grandfather's violin
Thus reads the label inside my grandfather’s violin.  It tells us that the violin was made in the style of Stradivarius in the year 1885.  Exactly where and when it came into grandfather’s possession we don’t know.  But in 1885, Charles Pilkington was 19 and leaving Ireland for America.  Possibly the violin was purchased on his travels, and returned to Ireland with him some years later, but that is just speculation. 

Charles Osburne Pilkington
We do know that music was important to the family.  Letters and diaries relate many a musical evening when family and friends gathered together.  This tradition continued in the isolated coastal community where grandfather and his brothers settled in Australia.

Grandfather didn’t bring the violin to Australia with him in 1903; perhaps he wasn’t certain he would stay, or wanted to get settled first.  It was sent out to him 2 years later with his brother Fred.  Nance, his sister in Ireland, later wrote to Fred:

“I forgot when writing to Carl to ask him if the violin travelled out safely.  Did you tell him it was little Pongo’s blanket that made the green bag for it? and his little white hairs were stuck all over it.”

The violin passed first to my father, and then to my niece.  It has a lovely mellow tone and she plays it beautifully.  I never knew my grandfather, but the generations were linked at our 2013 family reunion when Caitlin played old Irish airs on his beloved violin.


  1. Beautiful story, how wonderful that such a treasure is so much valued and played, today...