A Sharp

Antique dealer Leopoldo Franciolini (1844–1920) was so prolific in creating fraudulent musical instruments that scholars are still trying to sort out the confusion he left behind. The modern stewards of Frederick Stearns’ collection write:

In this case, we have an Alto Clarinet in F. … It is a composite instrument with four sections: two are leather-covered maple, … the barrel appears to have been purloined from a bass clarinet … the bell from an oboe. The mouthpiece appears to be re-purposed from a bass clarinet. … The simultaneous crudeness and creativity demonstrated in [Franciolini’s] catalogue is greatly entertaining. More troubling, however, is the shadow cast upon the flawed judgment of Frederick Stearns in his last years of collecting.

The catalog description of a harpsichord in the Stearns collection reads, “One could say that it is the only surviving instrument ever crafted by the maker Rigunini, however, given that not a single person by the name of Rigunini ever seems to have drawn breath, we might assume that Franciolini invented the name and forged the date.”