Beethoven was given these four valuable stringed instruments around 1800 by his friend and patron Prince Lichnowsky, possibly in connection with the creation of the String Quartets op. 18, Beethoven's first works for this classical Viennese genre. As one of the composer's first Viennese patrons, Prince Lichnowsky gave him an annual stipend of 600 gulden. The composer was to be given access to this until he was able to find an appropriate position. The instruments are marked with a big "B" and Beethoven's signet on the back.