1819 Amati’s Journey

Cameron Wilcox, guest writer

Here, I dangle, along with my many colleagues. It is silent. The store hasn’t been so quiet in many weeks, not after I arrived. Unlike most, I was not born, but made in the great land of Germany. However, Germany did not remain my permanent home. I was moved to a small instrument shop in Liverpool, England. Here I am; I am so excited to be acquired by a costumer! I want to have a purpose and to be useful. However, based on the opinions I have received, my dreams of being loved are far from reach. My name is Amati, and I am a violin.

Their stares make it clear. I know I am an outcast; I know my history appears dissimilar to the others’. Though my craftsmanship parallels theirs, my authenticity is my downfall. I am a copy—a copy of another’s work. “You are a fine replica,” my maker would say. I hate these words: replica, copy. All of my hopes for companionship, gone; who would desire a fake for his own?

“Good afternoon! What can I do for you today?” the shop clerk—Marcus

Stravinski— asks a smartly dressed man in a top hat and trousers.

“I am in search of a quality violin. Show me the best you have.”

I watch as the clerk leads the man to the right of the store, opposite to where I am positioned. He shows him instruments of “marvelous English craftsmanship.” I’d rather the phrase “brutal critics.” However, something seems different. Every time Marcus starts to ramble about the brilliance of the others, the neat gentleman glances in my direction. Leaving the clerk behind, his footsteps aim to where I am hanging. Oh bother, another soul approaching to reprimand my structure. Sure enough, he is standing directly in front of me.

I wait. I know what he is going to say and I deserve it. I feel my fingerboard being grasped; my body swings from the nothing to the underside of his chin. He picks up a bow, and trailsit across my strings. It’s…It’s beautiful, I think to myself as I feel a connection I have never felt before. The man pauses, and the silence returns.

“How much is this one?” the man asks in an impressed tone as he peeks at my label.

“Well, he’s about €1,800, but you would not fancy that one, there are plenty more—”

“I want this one,” the man interrupts assuredly.

A copy and a fake, and he wants me? I remain in a shocked state as I am put in a case. He hands over the adequate payment and closes the lid. The man now carries me, I lay in my case, more content than I have ever been; I have a home.

* * *

“Off to the ship!” my master says to himself. It’s a big day. It has been a few months; my owner and I have strongly bonded. He is Henry Perrin, an Englishman, well, not for long. The sky is clear, the waves crash, and Henry and I are ready to migrate to the United States of America. I cannot see anything; my casing hinders any visuals of the ship. I know it must be amazing. Though the crashing of the waves reminds me of the images of my journey to England, the ship we are currently boarding sounds dissimilar to the silent, average sea vessel. I hear hissing, bringing to mind the sounds of a teapot.

It is evening now. The seas sing silence, but the brouhaha the passengers generatedeafens me. Based on the conversations Henry has had with the Captain, John, and Alfred, the seaman, I have concluded that this ship is a hybrid between a steam ship and a sail-powered ship, the S. S. Savannah, the very first of its kind! It is making the return journey of its first voyage. What an honor! Henry and I are in our cabin that is furthest from the rest.

“Well, it is ‘bout time I had practiced!”.

I love these words. I love practice time. His fingers are firm but gentle. He plays with such passion.

Henry is a popular concert violinist. He plays all sorts of music from the earliest of Bach

to the popular Yankee Doodle. He pulls outBeethoven’s Spring Sonata. Not this one again! I despise Beethoven. So slow, so boring. Henry has planned a concert in New York a day following when we arrive, what a rush that will be. My first concert ever, and I am less than a year old!

Finally, we’re in the country of the free. The seal of my case is open slightly; Henry didn’t fasten the latches tightly. There are so many different faces, fancy dresses, and even towering, two-wheeled contraptions people saddle like horses! Oh look, there’s a man selling mechanical horses on the street.

“Swiftwalkers! Get your Swiftwalkers here!”

Wow, if this is what all of America is like, I don’t think I’ll ever want to leave.

The concert is about to begin. I can imagine the bright stage lights and the reverberating walls of the concert hall. Henry plays scales to warm up his fingers; each ascending and descending note is faint, but his tone is pure. I wonder what he has chosen to perform tonight. The applause thunders as he enters the stage with a hired pianist. Here we go; his bow touches my strings. Oh no! Not again! Out of all the composers, he chose to play Beethoven?! How foolish. Well, I’ll manage. I have to admit, I have never sounded so vibrant.


I am busy these days. Henry and I have travelled all over the nation. Traveling is quite costly, but due to the recently opened savings bank, we are able to keep track of our profit and calculate the funds required for each journey. We are on our way to Vermont; Henry has become interested in going to Norwich University that was founded by Captain Alden Partridge, a strong supporter of the “American System of Education” (Norwich). This school is quite unique pertaining to its allowance of civilians to attend a military school. Fortunately, Henry takes me everywhere with him, so I will not miss out on the excitement. The carriage stops, and we step out.

“My, what a massive establishment!” Henry exclaims in awe.

Oh, I would love to see it. However, I’d rather be snug and in one piece inside my protective capsule than shattered on the steps of the Academy. Henry walks inside, and seems to look around for a while, before he is interrupted by one of the staff members.

“Good Morning! Can I assist you?”

“Hello! Yes please. Could you tell me how to sign up for your program?”

Sign up! How dreadful! He is going to register to a combat school?! What about me? Will he forget about me? What if I am abandoned at home in New York, never to see Henry again?

The journey home has begun. Henry is speaking with a woman as far as I can tell.

“The rumors are frightening, aren’t they?” she spoke with concern.

“What rumors? I apologize, I’m not from around here.”

“The financial dilemma; I’ve heard the ‘depositors were wiped out’ and the economy is dwindling, leaving us in poverty!” (Panic).

“Well nothing’s happened yet. I have good hopes for the future!”


He spoke to soon. As soon as we arrived home, newspapers warned of the dangers the economic state was bringing. People flustered the streets in an uproar. Henry places me on his desk by his windowand quickly leaves to discover the reasoning for the panic. Minutes later, a stray paper catches the wind and plasters itself opposite my side of the glass. It reads: First Parachute Jump. That cannot be what all the fuss is about; I glance upward. In bold font it states the following: Crash of 1819 Leaves Many Jobless. This is horrendous. What does this mean for me? Henry still has his job, but for how long?


I haven’t seen the light of day for what it seems like ages. Henry has gotten hired by a farmer just south of New York. He doesn’t practice much anymore; as soon as he comes back from a long day of labor, he hasn’t the time or the energy. His concerts are not selling like they used too, and he had to find work elsewhere. He works endless shifts just to assure that he has a meal for dinner. Because of the state of the economy he is unable to attend Norwich. He enters the door, but on this particular day, he enters with excitement.

“Guess what? We’re going to have an excellent concert!”

This is the first time he’s ever spoken directly to me. Why is this concert so different?

“We’re going to perform in a new territory, the state of Alabama, for the celebration ceremony.”

I guess that is my answer. He’s going to practice again. Goodbye to loneliness!



Happiness saturates the air. The voices of cheerful, new residents are audible all around the fairgrounds. Henry opens my case—instantly I smell the food standsin the crisp winter air. A red banner welcomes us to Alabama, the newest state. The audience applauds as we enter the stage. This time, we’re all on our own. Yes! He’s playing Bach! There is no other composer I love to play as much as Bach. Henry finishesand sets me on a small table at the back of the stage for intermission. I am happy; I’m back!

Suddenly, A dirty looking man leaps onto the platform. In an instant he grasps me and snatches me from the table. I am terrified! The onlookers scream and panic as the security pursues us. I saw him; I saw Henry. He is distraught; he runs after me alongside the police men.

“My violin! My precious violin!”

This is the last I ever saw of Henry Perrin.



The economy must be so terrible that they could sell me. The dirty scoundrel sold me to a shopkeeper who had no intentions of up-keeping me. He put me in the back of his shop at the end of his storeroom. My strings, they’re unwinding. My bow? Masticated and ruined by bow bugs. Over time my varnish has faded. I do not know exactly how long I’ve been rotting away here in this closet, but I’ve never been so alone. Henry Perrin loved me. He gave me the care that I needed, rather, that I desired. No one will ever show that kindness, that caring heart, to me ever again. Is this truly the end of my story?


“Why, hello there!” the man greets.

He must be new; he wears the same clerk outfit that the ignorant shopkeeper wears. His tag states the following: George; Apprentice of Fred’s Produce. Something is different about this man. He is smiling. Just as Henry used to smile at me with satisfaction. Could this be? Does he find interest in me? He looks inside me to inspect my label.

“You’re coming home with me, Amati,” he finishes with a grin.


Author’s note:

This story means so a lot to me because of the non-fictional parts of the story. Amati is actually a violin that was passed down to my cousin, Josh. He has graciously let me take care of it because he says, “I don’t think I’m going to master the violin anytime soon.” You may have been pondering the unique ending to the story. Amati ends up belonging to a fellow named George. Who is George? This man isn’t fictional; he was my great Uncle that I have never met. He was the one that played and passed down the instrument that is now in my care. Every time I gaze at it—at Amati—I see stories and a history beyond his label. Though his authenticity is questionable, his value is equally meaningful.

Works Cited

Dana, Charles A. “History of Norwich University.”Norwich, about.norwich.edu, Web. Accessed 13 April. 2017

“Panic of 1819.”U-S-History, www.u-s-history.com, Web. Accessed 5 April. 2017

Powell, John. The 19th Century. Salem Press, 2007

“S.S. Savannah.”Today in Georgia History, www.todayingeorgiahistory.org, Web. Accessed 5                 April. 2017.

Dana, Charles A. “History of Norwich University.”Norwich, about.norwich.edu, Web. Accessed 13 April. 2017



History. www.history.com, Web. Accessed 13 April. 2017

“Beethoven’s Spring Sonata.”

Violinist. www.violinist.com, Web. Accessed 13 April. 2017

“Schweitzer Copy.”

Violinist. www.violinist.com, Web. Accessed 13 April. 2017