THE SWAN MARK
the swan in the heading?
many instrument makers (and other craftsmen) used stamps with which they
marked their work in order for it to be identified.
In many instances there is no maker’s name attached to the mark.
Even today this practice is carried on with the marks that are
associated with hallmarked gold and silver.
instrument makers generally didn’t follow the practice, although wind
and stringed instrument makers often did.
For instance, various members of the Tieffenbrucker family used an
anchor with their initials either side of it, and Pietro Railich used a
cross with his initials. Occasionally
the mark is a little more elaborate – the maker Daniel(?) Pfanzelt used
the front half of a horse with his name around it, and a still
unidentified maker of a chittara battente (now in the National Music
Museum, Vermillion) has a bird inside of scrollwork, topped with a star
with the letter “C” or “G” below, possibly with a “M” above
that (if it is “MG” then Magno Grail of Rome comes to mind, further
research may be able to confirm that).
the best known examples of maker’s marks occur on wind instruments, such
as the so-called “rabbit’s foot” found on early recorders.
It was later suggested (by David Lasocki) that the mark was, in
fact, a silkworm moth, and the mark indicates members of the Bassano
family of Venice and London – a theory which is now generally accepted.
One also finds, for example, the use of interlocking roses in the
instruments of Peter Bressan.
the only place a keyboard instrument maker might have need of a maker’s
stamp is on the jacks – generally the use of a initialled rose in the
soundboard and/or signature painted on the nameboard or jackrail makes any