Dickís Forum Ė No. 7
I met Albert Masterman in Los Angeles about 1952, after being referred to him by John Coppin. His shop was on the second floor of an office building on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles and I remember walking up those stairs to a variety of aromas coming from his shop. He would rehair my bows when they needed it He was a friendly man who would take time to talk with me about violins and my lessons.
During one of my lessons John had told me that Albert had imported some ďmodernĒ Italian violins and he thought I should go look at them. He especially liked the violins of Ansaldo Poggi and told me about one in particular that had been damaged in shipment to Mastermanís shop but none the less was the best sounding violin of the bunch. I went to see the violin and immediately fell in love with it. During shipment the scroll, (the curly end of the neck near the tuning pegs) had been sheared off and reglued by Masterman. Rather than return the violin to Italy for repair Poggi had sent a new neck with scroll to be installed in the violin if a buyer wished. Otherwise the violin was available at a reduced price.
I bought that violin from Masterman for $695 and he gave me the new neck and scroll to go with it. It took me a long time to pay for the violin but he was very gracious and I was faithful in paying for the violin until, at last, I had it paid for. About four years later when I decided in a fit of anger with my father that I was no longer going to play the violin I sold my Poggi violin to another of Johnís students for just what I paid for it: $695.
Now comes the part of the story Iím reluctant to tell. Today, some 50 years later, violins by Ansaldo Poggi, now deceased, are worth $40,000 to $50,000 and Iím a whole lot wiser and sadder.
God seems to have known about this incident in my life and seems to have set about to make me feel a little better about it. A few years ago, I was talking to Burdell Tenney, a violin collector friend in Redlands, California. He had acquired a violin that he wanted to show me. He handed me a very well-made amber-colored violin. It had no strings, no bridge, and had not been played in a long time. After looking at the violin, I looked inside to see if the maker had left his label in it. Sure enough, the label read: ďA. Masterman - Los Angeles, CaliforniaĒ. I almost got tears in my eyes and after a short negotiation, Burdell and I worked out a way for me to acquire this violin, which I have to this day and will never part with. I had sold Mastermanís Poggi, but I acquired an instrument made by Masterman himself.