Istituto per la Ricerca Organologica e il Restauro

 

 

Notes about the first address

of Luigi Embergher in Rome.

News about Embergher’s workshop in Rome
between 1893 and 1937 from the time’s yearbooks.

Lorenzo Lippi

Translated by: Emmanuele Torchio and Maurice Cohen

 

    The first period of Luigi Embergher’s activity in Rome, after coming from Arpino, as well as the year this activity began and the list of addresses he changed, are often treated in a contradictory way by different sources, even recently, and until today there is no serious and documented filing work to support a reliable reconstruction.

    The source most commonly referred to (and surely the most reliable) are the labels inside many of the instruments preserved today. The difficulty is mainly in the lack of information exchange between researchers and collectors that attend this artist and, on the other hand, the relative lack of exhibits that can be attributed to the beginning of Embergher’s activity (both in Arpino and in Rome), so that there are still many doubts about his relocations.

    To face this need, we are preparing a page on the IROR website to give public opportunity to reveal this kind of data, as well as the serial numbers (often written by hand on the label) and also other details (like the eventual note of a signature on the neck block) in order to create the core of a database that offers the opportunity of exchanging knowledge between researchers and collectors, and so allow a better interpretation of these informations.

     

    Beside other research I am conducting on the roman mandolin,  I found that a very important item is the reading of the time’s yearbooks, a real hoard of information, and not only about the addresses of lutherie workshops.

    Being Rome, the most known index (still existing and published, although completely different form the original setup) is with no doubt “Guida Monaci”.

     Edited by Tito Monaci since 1871, following similar indexes edited in Europe and in Italy, Guida Monaci had in a few years a huge success, becoming shortly the most important publication for commercial and professional activities existing in Rome. The importance of this index is due also to the exclusive links with the Capital, differently from other indexes that, referring to the entire Italian Kingdom, were necessarily less detailed.

    Although some lack due to the difficulty in finding complete collections in the libraries and in the most accessible archives, the resulting analysis is quite interesting and contains also some important information probably never edited before.

     

    The first record of the name of Luigi Embergher as builder of musical instruments is in the 1893 Guida Monaci which shows an unknown address of the Embergher workshop: Piazza Monte d'Oro, 29. The deadline for the publication on the index was the beginning of last December. Then the year in which Embergher had a shop in that address must be 1892, consequently all dates referred to later in this essay must be anticipated by one year.

     

    It is interesting to notice that since the beginning Embergher paid for an advertising (called “annunci speciali”: “special announcement”) that he kept until 1901. This shows Embergher’s commercial initiative: although just arrived in Rome’s productive tissue (or maybe just for this reason) he understood the importance of a wider visibility, and he invested money in it. The years between 1890 and 1900 are those with the highest presence of mandolin constructors, even important ones, and the market had surely a great development, at least judging from the quantity of commercial activities and “special announcements” shown on the Guida, even related to other production sectors; on the other hand, competition was undoubtedly thougher and it is easy to understand how some way of “commercial agression” was necessary for those who wanted to excel in this business.

    Between 1902 and 1928, Embergher did not buy any advertising, limiting his presence only to his name and address in the “Musical Instruments” list.

    There is a new ad in 1928 where he may call himself “Cavaliere” (he was nominated in the meanwhile) that goes on until 1933. Although in that time Embergher had a contraction of his business, so much that he had to reduce the workers and the working days, it is meaningful that he decided to invest again in advertising.

    The presence of Embergher on the Guida Monaci ends in 1937, substantially when he gave his activity to Domenico Cerrone.

     

    I think that even the advertisings, when existing, are quite interesting since they show significant moments of Embergher’s activity. From his success in the international exhibitions to the claim of his inventions and his patents, typical of the time’s luthiers, at least among the mandolin builders, like a kind of almost compulsory participation to the modernity of the Italian “second industrial revolution”, so much that many craftsmen patented the strangest inventions just to have the right to write it on their labels (even if they were totally irrelevant with the matter) and often they boasted unfiled patents and inexisting inventions.

    Only once, in 1897, advertising reports, apart from the address of the factory in via Tomacelli, also the address of a warehouse in via dei Condotti, 36.

     

    Following, a list of the years I consulted and the reported addresses, then the pictures of the advertisements. For some years, I also consulted other indexes (especially the “Annuario d’Italia – Calendario Generale del Regno” and the “Annuario Italiano”), giving the indication, where relevant. Last but not least, I wish to point out that the “Annuario Italiano”, 1932-1933 includes a note about the workshop of “Embergher A. & Bros.” in Arpino, (at the time part of the province of Naples).

     

    © Lorenzo Lippi - IROR

    October 2006

     

    Essential Bibliography:

    M. Lizzani: “Guida Monaci: Roma di ieri, di oggi, di domani” da: “Strenna dei Romanisti”, 1952

    R. Vannes: “Dictionnaire Universel des Luthiers”, 1975

    R. Janssens: “Geschiedenis van de Mandoline”, 1982

    P. Sparks: “The Classical Mandolin”, 1995

    A. Timmerman: articoli sul sito “www. Embergher.com”, 2004

    M. Chiappini: fascicolo di presentazione del Museo della Liuteria di Arpino

    R. Leenen - B. Pratt: “The Embergher Mandolin”, 2004

 

 

Years

Address

1893

Piazza Monte d'Oro, 29 (also in the “Annuario d’Italia”)

1894

Via dei Greci, 21

1895 - 1898

Via Tomacelli, 147

1899 - 1902

Via delle Carrozze, 19

1903

Dato mancante

1904

Via Leccosa, 2

1905 - 1909

Via delle Carrozze, 19

1910

Via di Ripetta, 90

1911

Via delle Carrozze, 19

1912

Via delle Carrozze, 19 (in the “Annuario d’Italia”)

1913 - 1914

Via di Ripetta, 90

1915 - 1937

Via Belsiana, 7

 

ADVERTISINGS (“ANNUNCI SPECIALI”)

 

1893

 

 

1894

 

1895

 

1896

 

1897

 

1898

 

1899

 

1900

 

1901

 

1928-

1933-