This boxwood instrument, measuring a mere 11/2in (3.7cm) in length, was constructed by a Swiss mechanical engineer called Cornel Schneider in 1992.
There is nothing new about miniature violins; makers traditionally knocked out a handful as apprentice pieces and novelty gifts for established musicians, but this was a deliberate attempt to get into the record books, which Schneider duly achieved after 70 hours of delicate craftsmanship.
To prove its worthiness, the concert violinist Gergely-Werner Szücs played it on Austrian television, using a lightweight bow, though it did not exactly sound like a concert violin. In fact, the violin only has two strings, rather than four, because it is too small to provide a sufficient angle for the bow to play the usual number individually. The Impossible Micro World Museum in Bath had paid £2500 for the instrument when it was sold at Sotheby’s Bond Street in November 1993, but when the new proprietor, Mike Watts, took over the museum this year he decided that the violin was “too big for us”, and consigned it to Gardiner Houlgate’s sale of musical instruments in London on November 12, where it again brought £2500 (plus 15 per cent buyer’s premium) from a collector.
A little too fiddly?
Imagine being serenaded at your dinner table, preferably by one of the Python team, with the world’s smallest playable violin.