The Hellier Stradivarius of circa 1679 is a violin made by Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy. It derives its name from the Hellier family, who might well have bought it directly from the luthier himself.
The Hellier Stradivarius has had a convoluted ownership history. It seems to have been in the possession of the Hellier family from the beginning of the 18th century. Samuel Hellier, High Sheriff of Staffordshire 1745, probably brought the violin to England. However, two Cremona violins are first mentioned in the will of his Uncle in 1719 and all formed part of a longstanding collection that was kept in the family until 1880.
In 1880, The Hellier was sold by Colonel Shaw-Hellier, commandant of the Royal Military School of Music, to George Crompton of Manchester, who, in 1885, sold it to the Hill firm on behalf of Dr. Charles Oldham of Brighton, a medical man with violin-playing talent. Shaw-Hellier repurchased the violin in 1890. Upon his death in 1910, his nephew sold the violin back to the Hill firm, who in turn sold it to Oscar Bondy of Vienna. Bondy kept it until 1925, when he sold it to the Hills for £5,000. Hill then sold it to H. E. Morris of Newmarket, formerly editor of the Shanghai Daily News; upon his death in 1944, it was sold to Rembert Wurlitzer, the famous New York violin dealer, yet again through the Hill firm.
In 1956, Wurlitzer sold the violin to Henry Hottinger of New York, who then sold it to Wurlitzer's daughter in 1965. She kept it until 1979, when it was sold to Thomas M. Roberts of Memphis, through another dealer, Alfredo Halegua of the Washington, D.C. Violin Gallery. In 1998 Roberts sold the violin through Halegua to Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod, the ichthyologist and publishing entrepreneur later jailed for tax fraud.
A. Philips Hill has called this violin "one of the finest Stradivaris in existence". It was loaned to the Smithsonian Institution from 1998 until 2003. Today, it has been consigned to the Stradivari Foundation in Cremona as part of its "Friends of Stradivari" project and is currently on display at the Museo del Violino in Cremona.
- Will of John Hellier, Merchant of Westminster, Probate 26 Jun 1719, National Archives PCC
- "Violins, violas, cellos & double basses owned by H. E. Morris (Newmarket, England)". Cozio. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- Hellier Stradivarius in the Cozio Archive at tarisio.com
- Museo del Violino at Google Cultural Institute