Small Cello by Anton Wachter, Füssen-Faulenbach, 176?



The table is of two pieces of slightly wavy grain with 10 to 4 growth rings per cm. The purfling consists of two scribed lines.

The back is three pieces of plain slab-cut maple. One piece runs the length of the back and covers the whole upper and center bouts, and two wide symmetrical wings joined at an angle form the outer edges of the lower bout. The purfling is the same as on the table.

The ribs are five pieces of plain maple.

The original neck of plain maple is attached to the outside of the ribs. The lion head is competently carved but without much detail. Three of the pegs are of stained wood and may be original.

The original black painted fingerboard incorporates a very thick wedge. The tailpiece also appears to be painted.

The boxwood endbutton is possibly original. A second hole drilled below it, probably for an endpin, is now closed with a plain wooden button.

The varnish is pale golden brown.

Body length 66.2
Body width
      upper bout 30.1
      center bout 20.5
      lower bout 36.5
String length 59.0
Rib height
      top block 10.5
      upper corners 10.7
      lower corners 10.8
      bottom block 11.2

Antoni Wachter Geigenmacher
in Faulenbach bey Fussen

Bought in August 1972 from Alain Vian, Paris


At present there are two competing biographical narratives for the luthier Anton Wachter. According to the more plausible of these, his dates are 1714–93 and he was born, worked, and died in Faulenbach, a small village just outside the important south-German violin-making center of Füssen; his godmother’s husband, Christoph Entzensberger, was a violin maker in Füssen from whom he might well have learned his trade. In 1741 he married Maria Anna Kockher, and Lorenz Wachter, later active as a violin maker in Bonn, may have been their son. (An alternate scenario states that Wachter was born in 1713 in nearby Pinswang, was working for the violin maker Johann Gottfried Scheverle in Prague in 1740, and married Anna Klocher in Füssen in 1741 before settling in Faulenbach, where he died in 1789.) In any case, violins by him are known with dates ranging from 1769 to 1789, but published documentation is lacking for other extant cellos.

We bought this small cello because it was in such original condition. The very large neck heel, painted fingerboard and purfling, and relatively crude lion’s head were very attractive to us as novice collectors. I did not yet have a baroque cello and we thought it would be an interesting one to start on. We gave it to Paul Reichlin, the restorer in Samstagern, Switzerland, whom we had worked with before. There was a lot of correspondence with him about the restoration (at the now unimaginably slow pace of transatlantic airmail). He did not want to disturb the original setup, and unfortunately, the neck would not hold the strain of being strung. After the neck heel broke twice, we determined not to do any more invasive repairs. So the cello remains as an object to be studied. This was obviously not an expensive instrument originally, and could possibly have been intended for a child rather than as a cello piccolo of some sort.


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