This violin formed part of the collection of Stephen Kolbinson, a farmer from Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Canada. In the 1950s, Kolbinson travelled the world in search of fine stringed instruments and at one point actually sold a significant portion of his farmland to buy a Stradivari. Years later, after a downturn in his fortunes, he was forced to sell his instruments and his collection was bought by the comedian and accomplished violinist, Jack Benny.
Kolbinson was eventually able to assemble a quartet of Amatis, buying the viola from France, sight unseen, over the telephone. In 1959 he sold the quartet to the University of Saskatchewan for a relatively modest sum, on the condition that the university establish a string quartet. Before his death in 1986 at the age of ninety-eight, Kolbinson had eventually learned to play the viola, and achieved his dream of playing with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Stephen Kolbinson (right) presenting the Amati quartet to Murray Adaskin of the University of Saskatchewan in 1959