The ‘Mahler’, dated 1672, is the earliest of the ten original Stradivari violas that have survived the years. Due to its main characteristics, this instrument is attributed to Stradivari’s first period, in which the influence of Nicolò Amati (1596–1684) was still quite evident. Moreover, to corroborate this assumption, we have the original label, from which the exact production date of the viola can be deduced. It reads: ‘Antonins Stradivarius Cremonensis/Faciebat Anno 1672’. Interestingly, the label presents a peculiar spelling error in Stradivari’s name, which is written Antonins instead of Antonius. The mistake can be seen in several other instruments as well, and is explained by the fact that the Cremonese master used to employ pre-printed labels to which he would merely add the last ciphers of the year, which were drawn by hand. For quite a long time this instrument was simply referred to as ‘viola, 1672’ and it in fact remained nameless until Mr. Rolf Habisreutinger gave it its moniker on the occasion of its acquisition, which took place on 7 July 1960, Gustav Mahler’s 100th birthday.
More information: Antonio Stradivari Set 1, Volume 1, Page 86