Antonio Stradivari (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔːnjo stradiˈvaːri]; 1644 – 18 December 1737) was an Italian luthier and a crafter of string instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas, and harps. Stradivari is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial, "Strad", is often used to refer to his instruments. It is estimated that he made 1,000 to 1,100 instruments and that around 650 of these instruments survive, including 450 to 512 violins.
The Hammer Stradivarius is an antique violin made by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) of Cremona. The back measures 36 cm, bearing the label inside: "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis/Faciebat Anno 1707". Dating from 1707, it was made during Stradivari's 'golden' period.
It is named after Christian Hammer, a 19th-century Swedish collector who is its first recorded owner. The violin made its way to the United States in 1911 with a violinist and teacher Bernard Sinsheimer. In 1992, it was acquired by a Japanese oil company in an estate sale. The Hammer was on loan to violinist Kyoko Takezawa, who performed with it for the next twelve years.
The Molitor Stradivarius is an antique violin made by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari of Cremona in 1697, the very beginning of the maker's celebrated "Golden" period. It bears the label, "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis / Faciebat Anno 1697" and is branded to the lower rib, "Curtis Phila."
Thought to have been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, the violin belonged to 19th century Parisian socialite and arts patron Juliette Récamier until 1804, when it came into the possession of a general in Napoleon's army, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor. The violin remained in the family of its namesake until World War I, when it was sold in quick succession by several Parisian firms. The violin then joined the ranks of other superlative instruments in the collection of the Curtis Institute of Music, where it remained before being sold by the London firm of William Hill in 1936.