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A Biographical Dictionary of British Makers of 

Stringed Instruments and Bows and a 

Critical Description of their Work 


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AH rights reserved 






THE first edition of this work was published 
in 1904. Its splendid reception, the ready 
sale it obtained, and the fact that it has long been 
out of print, encourage me in the hope that a new 
edition may find favour with the public. The title 
of the present edition differs slightly from that of 
the first, and the book has been partly re-written, 
thoroughly revised, and considerably enlarged. The 
present effort is, I hope, an improvement in every 
way upon the first ; for one thing, it shows a better 
sense of proportion and a truer appreciation of the 
relative merits of makers, past and present. The 
list of makers has been extended by the addition of 
about a hundred and fifty new names, and the 
extension made it necessary to condense the matter 
of the first edition wherever possible. The work 
would extend to twice its present length if it included 
the name of every one in this country who has 
dabbled with violin making, but I have rigorously 
excluded all who have not made at least half-a- 
dozen instruments. The line had to be drawn 
somewhere. I regret that a few names are unavoid- 
ably omitted which it had been my desire to include : 
these are the names of makers working in London, 
and two or three of the principal towns, who are 


employed in making for music shops and wholesale 
houses, and who therefore are not in a position to 
allow their names to be published. Among these 
are a few clever craftsmen who, if the Fates were 
only more propitious to them, would be reaping the 
reward of public recognition. 

I need hardly say that I have never missed an 
opportunity since the first appearance of the book 
of extending my acquaintance with violin makers 
and violins, and of deepening my knowledge of the 
fascinating art of violin making. Within the last 
few years I have visited nearly all the fiddle work- 
shops in Great Britain, and have examined thousands 
of instruments, new and old. 

The fiddle has been the companion of my spare 
moments (too few alas !) for thirty-five years, and 
if I have laid myself open to the charge of having 
written too enthusiastically about it, my apology 
is that I could not write coldly about a dear, blessed 
little " creature " that has been of untold comfort 
to me. When I have had to wrestle (often unsuc- 
cessfully) with the difficulties of a large industrial 
parish, I have not lacked cheer with my fiddle at 

My sincere thanks are due to all violin makers 
who have furnished me with biographical and other 
particulars, and to all who have helped in a variety 
of ways to make the work a success. I am specially 
indebted to the following gentlemen for much valu- 
able assistance : the Rev. Father A. L. Greaven, 
B.A., C.C., parish priest of S. Paul's, Belfast ; J. 
Michie, Esq., of Brechin, N.B. ; Charles Challenger, 


Esq., of Tiverton Villa, St. Andrew's, Bristol ; W. 
M. Groundwater Esq., of Salford ; James Atkins, 
Esq., of Cork ; Count G. N. Plunkett, F.S.A., etc., 
Director of the National Museum of Science and Art, 
Dublin ; the Messrs. W. E. Hill & Sons, New Bond 
Street ; the Messrs. G. Hart & Son, Wardour Street, 
W. ; the Messrs. G. Withers & Sons, Leicester Square ; 
and W. W. Cobbett, Esq. , 34 Avenue Road, London, 
N.W. I must also acknowledge the assistance of 
my wife, who has been good enough to correct the 
proofs, and of Mrs. Matthew Lewis, who kindly 
furnished some of the illustrations. The authors 
whom I have consulted are acknowledged in the text. 
















APPENDICES ........ 297 




VIOLIN BY ATKINSON . . . . To face page 94 

VIOLA BY BANKS . . . . , 99 

VIOLINS BY BANKS .... . 100 

F. W. CHANNON . . . . 118 

G. A. CHANOT 120 


GEORGE DARBEY ..... 128 


G. L. DYKES 140 






VIOLIN BY OWEN . . . ..,,,, 212 


VIOLIN BY PARKER . . . ,. 216 

VIOLIN BY PERRY . . . . . 218 



VIOLIN BY TOBIN . . . . . To face page 239 


EDWARD WITHERS (Pere) . . . . tt 253 

EDWARD WITHERS (Fils) .... 254 

FELIX FOUCHER tt tt 2 6o 

EDWARD KEENAN if tt 277 

VIOL D' AMOUR BY LEE . . . 280 





THE period embraced by what may be termed 
the "Old School" of British violin making 
is almost conterminous with the eighteenth century, 
and includes the work of Banks, Forster, Duke, 
Parker, Hill, Wamsley, Betts, Hart, and a number 
of other men of equal or less note. It is advan- 
tageous to review its remains from the point of 
view of model, material, varnish, workmanship, 
and tone. 


In contemplating the model adopted by our old 
makers, two features alone seem to stand out suffi- 
ciently prominent to arrest the attention of the 
connoisseur, viz. the absence of originality and the 
inferiority of the type adopted. The manifest 
poverty of idea is very extraordinary when we 
bear in mind that the English excelled as makers of 
the lute and viol. There can be no doubt that 
viols of British manufacture were facile princeps 
among instruments of that type. We gather as 
much from a work by Jean Rousseau entitled 
Traite de la Viole, which was published in Paris 
in 1687 ; from numerous statements on the subject 



in Mace's Musick's Monument, and from other 
works dealing with the history of music. So extra- 
ordinary are the above features considered to be 
that most writers on the subject have thought it 
necessary to endeavour to account for them. Hart, 
in his standard work, The Violin : Its Famous 
Makers and their Imitators, offers the following 
explanation : "It may be that Continental con- 
noisseurs have credited themselves with the works 
of our best makers, and expatriated them, while 
they have inexorably allowed bad English fiddles 
to retain their nationality/' 

This is possible but hardly probable. Some 
connoisseurs are blessed with an easy mind and 
an elastic conscience, we know, but we doubt 
whether, apart from their tonal qualities, there be 
sufficient merit in our old instruments to tempt 
dealers to " expatriate " them. Instruments that 
are " faked " are, as a rule, such as are meant to be 
purchased by the eye and not by the ear. If lack 
of originality had been the only defect of our old 
instruments, the explanation would be plausible, 
but there is beyond that the further defect of in- 
feriority of model. 

The British copied, and in numerous instances 
exaggerated, the high arch of Stainer. Doubtless 
there are reasons, and cogent reasons. We are 
not for a moment to conclude that British artists 
have at all times been unequal to the higher flights 
of art. I hazard the following explanation. There 

(i) A want of stimulus. During the greater part 


of the eighteenth century the intellectual world 
passed through the chill cloud of (what Sir Leslie 
Stephen terms) " otiosity." If British violin makers 
were possessed of the necessary talent, the means 
were wanting to call it forth. Healthy environ- 
ment is as much a condition of life as is healthy 
organism. The glories of the Elizabethan age 
were past and gone. Reaction that principle 
which runs like an undercurrent through the waters 
of universal history was already in motion. The 
force was even now at work which eventually cul- 
minated in the production of Latitudinarianism 
in ecclesiastical polity, of pamphleteering in litera- 
ture, of artificiality in poetry, of Epicureanism in 
morals, and of mechanical servility in art. Ennui 
was in the air, and the nation, from Parnassus 
down to Bedlam, caught the infection. There 
were sporadic efforts at originality in some depart- 
ments, but periodical intellectual gushes are not to 
be mistaken for the persistent and even flow of true 
genius. The social conditions of Britain in the 
eighteenth century were not favourable, I certainly 
think, to the production of original work in the 
branch of art which we have under consideration 
here. It has been objected that social conditions 
have nothing to do with literary or art activities, 
but I think the intelligent reader will be more 
likely to agree with Sir Leslie Stephen, who says : 
" To my mind . . . the philosophy of an age is in 
itself determined to a very great extent by the 
social position. It gives the solutions of the pro- 
blems forced upon the reasoner by the practical 



conditions of his time. To understand why certain 
ideas become current, we have to consider not 
merely the ostensible logic but all the motives which 
led men to investigate the most pressing difficulties 
suggested by the social development. Obvious prin- 
ciples are always ready, like germs, to come to life 
when the congenial soil is provided. And what is 
true of the philosophy is equally, and perhaps more 
conspicuously, true of the artistic and literary 
embodiment of the dominant ideas which are corre- 
lated with the social environment " (English Litera- 
ture and Society in the Eighteenth Century, p. 3). 

(2) Musical conservatism was a potent factor. 
The viol enjoyed a monopoly of public favour, and 
the upstart violin in its battle for the possession of 
the British music world, or for a share of its patron- 
age, had to contest every inch of the ground. This 
is painfully if amusingly evident from the vitu- 
perations of old Thomas Mace, whose " doleful 
jeremiad " over the intrusions of the " scoulding 
violins " are familiar to every student of violin 
literature. The viol held its ground more or less 
down till about 1650, and perhaps even later. In 
spite of Court and other influences the " French 
fashion " (as the cult of the fiddle was called) was 
looked upon by the public as " a giddy and impu- 
dent intruder." Even when modified by the 
" Italian fashion " it found its path strewn with 
many thorns. Very timely was the arrival of 
Thomas Balzar in 1656, and of Nicola Matteis in 
1672. Their wielding of the magic wand it was that 
proved the principal means in undoing the conser- 


vative spell. By the time the strife had fully ended 
the eighteenth century had dawned. The art of 
violin making in Italy was then at its zenith, and 
Cremona stood unrivalled in the production of the 
' l King of instruments . ' * Age and use had done much 
for the Brescian, early Cremonese, and Tyrolese 
instruments, and those which found their way 
into this country were incomparably superior to 
the raw material produced by the native makers. 
Even as the demand on the Continent a hundred 
years previously had been for the splendidly-made 
and well-matured English viol, so now in England 
(that had at length awakened to the superiority of 
the violin) the demand was for the unrivalled instru- 
ments of Italian and especially of Tyrolese manu- 

Owing to a constitutional abhorrence of innova- 
tion we started a hundred years late, and we of 
necessity lost the race. 

(3) Puritan fanaticism. The furious bigotry of 
Anabaptists, Levellers, and Fifth-monarchy men had 
placed music under a ban, and the gentle voice of 
melody had been drowned in the hoarse battle-cry 
of the " saints. " In the fanatical days of " Praise- 
God-Barebones " many and many a precious old 
viol shared the fate of the stained glass and carved 
work of our cathedrals. Puritan England was the 
Patmos of art. Nearly a century elapsed before the 
muses ventured forth to fan art into a flame out of 
the embers of its dead self. 

If some of my readers should think (as some of my 
critics have thought) that I am over-stating the case 


against the Puritans, let them consult such a work 
as The Building of Britain and the Empire, edited by 
H. D. Traill, D.C.L., and J. E. Mann, M.A., where 
we read that " During the troubles which followed 
the death of King Charles I. the cultivation of 
English music was utterly extinguished. Not only 
was progress impossible : it was equally impossible, 
in face of the open hostility of the Puritans, to main- 
tain the high level that had already been attained. 
The cathedral and collegiate libraries were sacked 
by the Roundheads, the great organs were des- 
troyed, all singing worthy of the name was pro- 
hibited in the desecrated churches, and dramatic 
music was publicly condemned as a snare of the 
Evil one " (vide vol. iv. pp. 548-9) . 

So much for the absence of originality. As to 
the other characteristic, the inferiority of type, I 
fear no explanation or apology can be offered. It 
shows lack of discrimination. The old makers 
adopted the model of Stainer and followed it with 
but few departures for the greater part of a hundred 
years. In following those who had gone before 
they unwittingly showed a predilection for the 
least worthy. Something may be said for the 
copyist who, conscious of his inability to create, 
assiduously sets about to copy that which is best 
and noblest in art, but apology becomes difficult in 
the case of the man who deliberately copies an 
inferior model. The British in their choice of type 
showed inability to differentiate tone nuances, and 
lack of artistic feeling in the matter of form and 
proportion, That they sinned without excuse is 


perfectly certain. They were acquainted with Bres- 
cian and early Cremonese instruments as well as with 
those of the Tyrol. They were in a position to make 
a choice, and their choice fell upon the inferior 
model. I am aware that the truth of the last state- 
ment has been denied by certain writers, and it will 
be well perhaps to bring forward the evidence upon 
which it rests : 

(1) There were numerous Italian instruments 
brought into this country about this time. William 
Corbett, who resided for some years in Italy, brought 
back a rare collection "A Gallery of Cremonys 
and Stainers." These were bequeathed by him to 
Gresham College, and handed over to the authorities 
on the death of the collector in 1748, with the proviso 
that they were to remain open for inspection. Soon 
after the death of the donor the college authorities 
disposed of the " gallery " by auction (it is supposed), 
and the instruments became the property of dealers 
and private collectors. The Duke of Hamilton, the 
Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Fafymouth, and 
others, also formed collections of Italian instru- 

(2) That Italian models were known in this coun- 
try is proved by the fact that they were occasionally 
copied ; e.g. : 

(a) Richard Meares (1680) adopted the Bres- 
cian model, and made excellent violins on the 
lines of Maggini. This old maker probably 
made the first English violoncello. 

(ft) Barak Norman (1683-1744) ornamented 
his instruments in the Maggini style, and used 


labels which are no doubt in conscious imitation 
of those used by Del Gesu. 

(7) An undoubtedly genuine violin by Christo- 
pher Wise (1656) is on the Maggini model. 

(8) Peter Wamsley (1715-51) is admitted 
by most experts to have made several copies 
of Stradivari, and to have followed that maestro 
closely except in the matter of graduating the 
thicknesses. He spoilt his work in attempting 
to produce the Italian tone by over- thinning the 

(e) Cuthbert (1700). An admittedly genuine 

example of this maker is on the Maggini model. 

() Matthew Hardie made many violins on the 

Stradivari model towards the end of the 

eighteenth century, and that at a time when the 

Amati model was the vogue. 

(3) There is further the fact that several eminent 

Italian virtuosi visited this country from time to 

time. The performances of these must, one would 

naturally think, have drawn attention to their 


(a) Francesco Geminiani came to England 
between 1709-14, and met with a great success. 
Here he remained and published his works, 
making a few tours on the Continent and again 

(/3) Veracini came to London in 1714, and led 
the Italian Opera Band there. 

(y) Gaetano Pugnani (1727-1803) visited Lon- 
don more than once, and stayed there on one of 
these visits for nearly two years. 


($) Giardini came to London in 1744 and 
remained there for two years. 

(4) Somewhere about 1686 the banker Michele 
Monzi, of Venice, sent a set of Stradivari violins, 
altos, and violoncellos, as a present to King James 
of England. In this connection it may be remem- 
bered that, according to Sandys and Forster, a con- 
signment of new Strad instruments sent to this 
country on approval could not be disposed of at six 
pounds apiece ! 

Thus there is not a shadow of doubt that Italian 
models were known in this country early in the 
eighteenth century, and there is not a shadow of 
doubt that the best models were deliberately set 
aside in favour of an inferior type. 


The wood used by our old makers is for the most 
part maple and pine of the orthodox kind, but 
various other woods were occasionally used, either 
by way of experiment, or because there was a scarcity 
of the right sort. Benjamin Banks used plain 
English sycamore for the back of some of his violins, 
and red pine for the front tables of a few of his 
violas. "Old" Forster used common deal for the 
table of many of his second-class instruments. 
Richard Duke and Daniel Parker were usually very 
particular about their wood, and the latter ranks 
with the most careful of our native makers in this 
respect. Would that we had many more examples 
of his art left us ! Duke's maple is mostly plain, 
but is invariably good acoustically. Matthew 


Hardie used anything that came to hand for his 
second-class instruments, though he generally used 
excellent wood for his Stradivari copies. A " Long- 
Strad " copy of his make now in the possession of 
the Messrs. Hill is made of very fine wood. Edward 
Withers, the elder, whose instruments are rising in 
value, was very careful in the selection of his material. 
The wood in instruments bearing the label of John 
Betts is usually good, but mostly plain. Tobin, one 
of the very best of our British makers, was very 
particular about his wood when circumstances 
allowed him the free exercise of his will, but he 
often was obliged to use indifferent material. These 
are isolated examples, and the departures from the 
traditional rule are neither numerous nor important. 
One thing to be noted in particular about the pine 
used is that it shows a general preference on the part 
of the makers for wood with a medium "reed," or 
grain. Very close or very wide grained wood seems 
to have been systematically avoided. Some of the 
best examples of " Old " Forster are an exception to 
the rule, but many of these have common English 
deal, and not Swiss pine. 


The varnish is excellent as regards elasticity and 
adhesiveness. The oil varnish of our old makers 
will probably wear better than that of even the 
great classical makers themselves. I have seen 
many a battered old Duke and Forster with the 
varnish still plentiful and "defiant." Of but few 
Italian instruments can this be said : the majority 


of the best of them are quite bare. Nothing short 
of a serious accident will damage the English 
varnish. I have seen a Dodd's 'cello varnished with 
the celebrated "original Cremona varnish," which 
had a hole knocked in one of the bouts, and the 
varnish around the scraggy edges had parted 
"clean." There was not a suspicion of "chip" 
or transversal cracks. In this respect the varnish 
of our old makers contrasts favourably with some 
of the best varnishes on the market to-day. One 
drawback, e.g., of Whitelaw's varnish is that it is 
brittle, an,d that it chips in a most provoking manner. 
In other respects the modern varnish is far superior 
to the old. The varnish of most of our old makers 
lacks colour and brilliancy : that is the rule, but 
there are notable exceptions. 

Colour and transparency, however, are not so 
important as elasticity and adhesiveness. In its 
bearing upon tone, elasticity is perhaps the most 
important of all the known qualities of varnish. 
I say " known," because it is highly probable that 
the varnish has a subtle influence upon the colour 
of the tone, the nature of which is not yet precisely 
understood. Long experience and innumerable ex- 
periments compel me to think with the Messrs. 
Hill (vide their Life of Stradivari) that varnish 
plays a much more important part in the evolution 
of tone nuance than is usually admitted. 

It is remarkable that so few authentic recipes of 
old varnishes have been handed down to us. This 
is a fact which militates against the opinion that the 
nature of the ingredients and the method of making 


them into a varnish were regarded as a trade or pro- 
fessional secret. " Secrets " were generally confided 
to " black and white/' paradoxical as it might seem. 
The secret of many a long-lost art consists in the 
fact that at the time it was practised it was no secret 
at all. If the art of embalming had been regarded 
as a mystery, known only to a small inner circle of 
hierophants in ancient Egypt, we should probably 
know more than we do about it to-day. At one time 
everybody ia the land of the Pharaohs knew how the 
mighty Cheops was built, and how the stones were 
quarried and conveyed, and the fact that everybody 
knew then is one of the reasons why nobody knows 
to-day. The masters of painting had no darkened 
chambers wherein they ground their pigments and 
mixed their oils : it would be better for modern 
artists if they had. On the other hand, make a 
mystery of an art, and you thereby secure for it a 
niche in one of the safest recesses of Walhalla. The 
art of the magician in the days of Aaron was a 
secret, but the pundits of India practise it to-day. 
Archimedes enshrouded with a veil of mystery the 
discovery of the principle which is named after him, 
and, thanks to the fact, the world has not had to 
re-discover the law of specific gravity. 

Innumerable instances might be quoted in sup- 
port of my contention, but sufficient has been said 
to illustrate the point. The inference is this : the 
varnish of Stradivari, Guarneri, and other Cremonese, 
was no professional secret ; if it had been such we 
should be familiar with its composition to-day. 
Dodd guarded the secret of his mixture with a 


jealous eye, but his varnish has been applied to many 
an instrument since he laid his brush to rest. 

Our old makers used both oil and spirit varnishes. 
The gums, resins, etc., which entered into their 
composition are perfectly familiar to us. One thing 
alone is doubtful, viz., whether or not in these 
sinful days we get the pure and unadulterated 
article. A list of these substances is given in a 
useful appendix to the valuable work of Mr. Edward 
Heron- Allen, Violin Making, as it Was and Is, and the 
reader who wishes for full information on the subject 
is referred to that book. 

I do not think our older makers, or at least a 
number of them, varnished in the same way as 
modern makers do, and as the Italian masters 
undoubtedly did. Their varnish appears to be 
perfectly homogeneous, that is to say, there is no 
sizing of colourless or yellow varnish, with subse- 
quent coats of colour varnish. There is no foil of 
golden sheen to etherealize the fire of the varnish. 
All that was probably done in the majority of 
instances was the mere rubbing of a little oil into 
the wood, followed by the application of varnish 
in the usual way. A few instruments, it may be, 
show evidence of some such sizing as that of gam- 
boge, notably amongst the examples of Parker, 
Forster, Tobin, Dodd, Fendt, and a few others. 


The distinguishing feature of the workmanship 
is its solidity. Some of the greatest of our old 
makers at their best produced work which may 


justly be described as beautifully finished and 
graceful, but " solidity'' is a word that generally 
applies to all. A typical maker is Daniel Parker. 
Here we have plenty of timber, careful workmanship 
on the whole, with sometimes an absence of regard for 
finesse, and something which impresses one with a 
sense of unconcerned self-reliance and freedom. If 
there is no evidence of laborious finish, there is 
certainly nothing even remotely connected with the 
vulgar or grotesque. 

Many of our second-rate and inferior instruments 
were probably built without a mould. So were a 
large number of the Italian ones ; but there is 
generally this difference in the result : the latter 
are often crude and sadly out of line ; the former, at 
the worst, are only a little rough and quaint looking. 
Our average British luthier may not be highly 
artistic, but he is certainly never truly barbarous. 

Generally speaking, the part of the work which 
is most frequently deserving of censure is the scroll. 
Old British scrolls not infrequently show some 
strength and decision of character, but the curves 
are inclined to be stiff, and the heads a trifle flat. 
The throat of the scroll is usually somewhat thick, 
and the head in consequence appears diminutive. 
Almost invariably the back of the peg-box dimin- 
ishes rapidly right away from the scollop down to 
the first turn, where the volute begins. This is so 
persistent a characteristic of old English scrolls 
that an expert could pick one out from among a 
dozen others with his eyes shut. In all Italian 
fiddles of the first water, the width of the back of 


the peg-box diminishes almost imperceptibly until 
it reaches the throat, where it diminishes much 
more rapidly : this arrangement of lines and curves 
gives the whole scroll a feeling of majesty combined 
with simplicity a feeling wholly lacking in all but 
the very best of our old English fiddles. 

Richard Tobin was the best scroll carver that 
Britain has ever produced. I do not hesitate to say 
that his finer scrolls vie with the best work of Stra- 
divari. It is a sin and a shame that the poor man 
has been robbed of his due by an unscrupulous 
posterity. The heads have been removed from 
many of his best violins, and grafted (I more than 
suspect) on the bodies of nondescripts which have, 
perhaps, sold again and again as " Italians." 

Curiously enough, Benjamin Banks, our English 
"Amati," has left some scrolls which are rather 
feeble in design and execution. 

The interior of our old instruments is often rough 
and unfinished, the marks of the chisel and gouge 
being discernible ; especially is this the case with 
the end blocks, which are rounded off in a more or 
less haphazard fashion with the chisel. In the 
larger instruments the blocks are often shaped by a 
few applications of the tool. I do not think our 
old makers troubled much about glass-paper and 
its uses, either in the finishing of the interior or 
exterior. They handled their scraper very nattily, 
and were content with the result. Nor were they at 
all times particular about matching their wood. I 
have seen fine examples of Duke and Forster with 
an odd rib^ cut the wrong way of the grain to match 


the other ribs : I have also seen a Banks viola with 
ribs cut from three different pieces of timber varying 
in width of curl. It is a common occurrence to 
meet with a fiddle with the head cut from a differ- 
ently figured maple from that of the back and ribs. 

There is one point more in the general character 
of the workmanship which calls for remark, and 
that is the absence of purfling in a large number of 
instruments of the poorer class, and in not a few of 
those of the better class. 

Ink-lines as a substitute are but an eyesore and 
a sham, and are further to be deprecated as affording 
no protection to the exposed edges. 


An extraordinary thing about the tone of our 
old violins, and one which has, apparently, escaped 
the attention of all connoisseurs, is that it is very 
different from the tone of Stainer J s violins, which 
our luthiers copied so slavishly for three-quarters 
of a century. Our artists followed the contour 
and arching of Stainer, but they gave us a tone 
approximating to that of the Amatis. The best 
description of the Stainer tone that I have read is 
that given by the Rev. H. R. Haweis, who says it is 
" a loud, piercing, and pungent " tone. " A vio- 
linist/' he remarks, " in the orchestra could make 
his Stainer cut through all the first fiddles, and 
once the taste for that sort of tone was excited, it 
would be to the ear what curry, or vinegar, or 
quinine bitter, or absinthe is to the palate. The 
Stainer tone is a sort of drastic, stinging stimulant 


to the ear, almost an intoxication ; and the ear 
that has once been caught by it craves for it, and 
misses it even in the loud richness of Joseph, the 
exquisite velvety timbre of Amati, or the superb 
ringing brightness of the great Antonio. J> (Old 
Violins, p. 99.) That description, as any one knows 
who knows anything about fiddles, cannot be applied 
to the tone of any English instrument of the old 
school. There were hundreds of Stainer copies 
produced in this country in the eighteenth century, 
some of them very exact in the matters of outline, 
arching, thicknessing, etc., but I have never come 
across a single instrument of that period the tone of 
which could be said to have the slightest resem- 
blance to the tone of Stainer. The tone of old 
English fiddles is neither loud nor piercing : it is 
rather small, but bright, silvery, and responsive. 

I do not at all know how to account for this rather 
remarkable fact, but I would point out that it has 
its modern counterpart. Many makers who have 
copied Stradivari and Guarneri more recently have 
given us a sufficiently piercing, pungent, Stainer-like 
tone ! 

I fully agree with those writers who aver that the 
qualities of our old instruments have been much 
under-rated. The very best work of Banks, Forster, 
Duke, Parker, and a few others, rivals all but the 
very best Italian work, and I submit that in this 
supremely important matter of tone production, our 
old makers take rank next to the Italians. There 
are one or two old French makers who may be 
superior to our best artists, but only one or two : 


the rank and file of French luthiers are not fit to 
hold a rushlight to our old makers. Stainer is, 
of course, head and shoulders above us, but one 
man does not constitute a school. 

The tone of our old fiddles is not powerful, and 
it may not fill our large modern music halls, but it 
carries well, and ought to win, where it fails to 
conquer, by its purity and sweetness. 



T has been said that the art and craft of violin- 
making is dead in Britain since about the middle 
of the nineteenth century, but the fact is that it 
never was more alive than it is at the present day. 
There are fifty to sixty professional luthiers now 
living and working, and at least ten times that 
number of amateur and occasional makers. This 
number is exclusive of dealers in factory fiddles, 
foreign makers living in this country, and firms who 
employ merely repairers. Since about the year 
1850 the British School of Violin-making may 
truly be said to have accomplished the most complete 
of its avatar a, or incarnations : it has been born 
again born, I verily believe, to a higher and fuller 
manifestation of life. We have now working 
amongst us Atkinson, Byrom, Channon, Chanot, 
Darbey, Gilbert, Hesketh, Keenan, Owen, Richard- 
son, Withers, etc., much of whose work will, I 
venture to think, be highly esteemed a century 
hence. Some of these have struck out a path for 
themselves, and the British school promises to 
justify its claims to the highest honours for the 
production of first-class instruments. Material, var- 
nish, workmanship, and tone place the work of our 
best artists in the front rank. 

21 c 


The renewed interest in the art of violin-making 
is due in part to the general activity in the world of 
art and letters of the last three decades of the 
Victorian era. Such works as Violin Making, as it 
Was and Is (Heron- Allen), The Violin : Its Famous 
Makers and their Imitators (Hart), Old Violins and 
their Makers (Fleming), Old Violins (Haweis), An- 
tonio Stradivari (Hill), and other good books, have 
also materially helped to foster the love of the 
" King of instruments.'' Greater than all has been 
the impetus given to the study of the violin by the 
bewitching charm of the playing of such virtuosi as 
Joachim, Sarasate, Ysaye, Wilhelmj, Wieniawski, 
Dunn, Lady Halle, Kubelik, Kriesler, and others. 


The salient features of modern work demand 
close attention. The models mostly adopted are 
those of Stradivari and Guarneri. It is rather 
curious that English, Irish, and Welsh makers 
have a decided preference for the Strad model, 
whereas Scottish makers seem to prefer the Joseph 
model. Maggini, Gasparo da Salo, Amati, Ber- 
gonzi, and Gagliano are also copied, but not so often 
nor, I think, so carefully. 

Atkinson, Channon, Gilbert, and one or two 
others among professional makers, mostly work on 
models of their own. The late Walter H. Mayson, 
of Manchester, who made over eight hundred instru- 
ments, also made nearly all his violins on a model 
which was decidedly original. The wood used by 


our leading makers is of the traditional kind and 
quality, and is frequently of exceptionally beautiful 
texture and figure. Our amateur fiddle makers 
are not always as careful about the quality of their 
wood as they might be ; the idea having got abroad 
that old wood is the best, and very often they use 
timber which has been almost pulverized by age. 
The instruments made of such wood cannot live 
long. And here I would utter a note of warning : it 
is possible to ride a hobby-horse too far ; that is, 
being interpreted, it is possible to make too much of 
the old wood theory. 

The right sort of timber, cut at the right time of 
the year (in winter), and naturally seasoned in 
blocks for about ten to fifteen years, or twenty 
at the outside, is what is required. Some makers 
ransack the land, hole and corner, for wood which is 
two or three hundred years old, but they could 
well spend their time more profitably. The tone 
obtained from extremely old wood is not a whit 
better than that got from wood which has been 
seasoned for a reasonable number of years ; and in 
a hundred or more years hence, when fiddles made 
from fresh and properly seasoned wood will be 
beginning to live, those made from very old wood 
will be ready to die. It is feared by some makers 
that instruments made from wood of only twenty 
years' seasoning will shrink ; but what about the 
instruments of the old masters ? These, if they have 
shrunk at all, have not done so to any appreciable 
extent, and they were made from wood seasoned by 
them in their own lifetime. 


My readers will remember that most Continental 
authorities agree with me on this point. August 
Riechers in The Violin and its Construction (p. n) 
says : " The age of the wood I consider of only 
very small importance ; if it has been lying by for 
five years, ready cut or split, as the case may be, 
for the construction of a violin, it will then be suffi- 
ciently dry, and will need no further preparation. 
I have exactly ascertained the weight of wood which 
had been laid by for drying for five years, and then, 
having weighed it again at the end of twenty years, 
have found it had not become perceptibly lighter/' 
I have not come across one Italian, French, or 
German writer on the subject who advocates the 
use of very old wood. This country has one advo- 
cate of old wood, Mr. W. C. Honeyman, the author 
of several popular works on the violin. Many 
Scottish makers are converts to his teaching, and 
use nothing but the oldest timber they can lay their 
hands on. I have had fiddles down from Scotland 
for inspection from time to time which were said to 
be made from wood which had been cut two or three 
hundred years ago. I can well believe some of 
them were made from wood which had been cut 
twice as long ago, for they seemed as brittle as a 
mummy, and ready to crumble at the slightest 
touch. One trembled to draw the bow across the 
strings lest the fiddle should vibrate into dust. 

And just a word with regard to seasoning timber. 
It is much more difficult nowadays to obtain a 
block of old naturally seasoned wood than is usually 
imagined. It is usual to look for such in old build- 


ings, old furniture, etc., but it is not always borne 
in mind that the method almost universally adopted 
to season timber in days gone by was that of sub- 
mersion under water for an extended period, followed 
by exposure to dry air for a similar or longer period. 
The newly- sawn planks were sunk in deep water for 
two years or thereabouts, and afterwards stowed 
away in open sheds. 

My father (a Pembrokeshire yeoman), who had 
paid a great deal of attention to both the theory 
and practice of timber seasoning, always treated 
his oak, ash, beech, elm, and sycamore in this way, 
and held that that method had been in vogue in 
this country from the days of the Romans. The 
timber used in our cathedrals and ancient churches 
was all seasoned in this manner, he maintained. 
He explained that the submersion caused the per- 
manent tissue of the wood to "pack," on account of 
the distension which took place in the cells of the 
meristem, and that the active cells themselves were 
made more susceptible to dessication. Thus there 
was secured a minimum of meristem and a maximum 
of density in the permanent tissue. He said the 
permanent tissues were to be regarded as the bones 
of the timber, and the meristem the flesh. The 
bones would last, but the flesh began to decay from 
the moment the tree was cut, and the important 
thing in seasoning timber was to over-rule or retard 
the process of decay as long as possible. 

When violin makers talk about old, naturally 
seasoned wood, the question is : What do they mean 
by " naturally " in that connection ? Is the process 


described above a " natural " process ? If not, then 
what is the " natural " process? 

I have searched patiently and long for what I 
could accept with a degree of confidence as historical 
evidence of the exact method adopted by old 
Italian violin makers in seasoning their wood, but I 
have searched in vain. Modern writers say that 
Stradivari, e.g., was wont to dry his timber in a 
kind of loft or open attic, having first cut it up from 
the trunk or balk into blocks of suitable dimensions. 
I should much like to know where they get their 
information from. It is so easy to suppose this or 
that, but what we want is plain, exact historical 

The workmanship of our leading professional 
makers, and of many of our amateurs, is excellent. 
Careful attention is usually paid to every detail 
of the work. This is a feature worthy of commenda- 
tion, as the British have in the past been somewhat 
impatient of detail. Even details which to the 
ordinary observer would appear as mere trifles are 
now finished artistically. And what a difference 
this attention to minutiae makes to the completed 
article ! An artistically finished violin is a poem, 
a painting, and a musical instrument combined in 
one object. 

English makers somewhat lower down the rank 
have yet something to learn in the matter of inlay- 
ing the purfling, the proportion of widths, the 
arrangement of the curves, the treatment of the 
button, etc., and many Scottish makers are open to 
the charge of having exaggerated the peculiarities 


of Del Gesu, more especially in the outline and 
sound-holes. It is possible that young or inexperi- 
enced luthiers do not quite realize that it is much 
more difficult to make a faithful copy of Joseph than 
of Strad. The so-called Gothic arch of the former 
is a veritable pons asinorum to the modern copyist. 

A large number of amateurs pay little attention 
to the proper length of the stop, and the majority 
of them ought to exercise more care in the working 
of the neck. A thick, clumsy neck at the shoulder 
is a severe tax on the patience of the player, for it 
impedes shifting. Many otherwise fine old instru- 
ments were a great deal too bulky about the shoul- 
ders, but they have been refitted with a new neck in 
accordance with modern requirements. In the cal- 
culation and working out of form and proportion, 
art and craft must go hand in hand and contrive to 
give us that which is both elegant and serviceable. 

Modern varnishes claim a few paragraphs. I 
need hardly say that curious connoisseurs and 
anxious luthiers have devoted much time and 
thought to the fascinating but elusive problem of 
varnish making. Innumerable experiments have 
been made and much money sacrificed in the endea- 
vour to re-discover the Italian varnish. 

Whether the time and money thus expended have 
been utilised wisely is very problematical. It has 
been held by not a few chemists and writers on the 
subject that the basis of the Italian varnish was 
fossil amber. The late Mr. James Whitelaw, of 
Glasgow, the late Dr. George Dickson, of Edin- 
burgh, Dr. Inglis Clark, of Edinburgh, and many 


others, have been advocates of the amber theory. 
I do not exactly know what the data are which 
these authorities adduce in support of their view : 
to me there does not appear to be the smallest 
grain of historical evidence to support the amber 
theory. I believe I have read everything that has 
ever been written on this interesting subject, and I 
have hunted up old documents and made laborious 
research, and I am bound to say that what little 
information I have thus gathered points away from 
the amber hypothesis. 

This is not a treatise on Italian Varnish, and I 
must not allow myself to run away after that ignis 
fatuus : I am writing of modern varnish. Whilst I 
am thoroughly convinced that amber varnish is not 
identical with, nor even distantly related to, Italian 
varnish, it is not to be inferred that I am insensible 
to its many good qualities : I think it an excellent 
substitute. I would not be disposed to quarrel 
with those who think that for brilliancy and trans- 
parency it is equal to the old Italian varnish. I 
think that, on the whole, it is the best covering we 
possibly can apply to our instruments to-day. I 
must make it clear, however, that by amber varnish 
I mean varnish which has real fossil amber for its 
basis, and not oleum succinis, commonly called oil 
of amber. A number of varnishes which are sold 
as amber varnish to-day do not contain the actual 
gum : they are usually made of much softer and 
less durable gums. It needs a knowledge of chemis- 
try to solve fossil amber successfully, and especially 
to develop the deeper colours. 


The following varnishes, most if not all of them on 
the market, are made from genuine fossil amber, 
in solution in oil. 

(1) Whitelaw's varnish. This has been on the 
market for many years, and is now very well known, 
and its excellency generally admitted. It is beauti- 
fully transparent, elastic, and fiery. It is easily 
applied, and does not take a long time to dry. It 
has one drawback : when hard set it is rather brittle 
and inclined to chip. 

(2) Dr. Inglis Clark's varnish. The varnish of W. 
Inglis Clark, D.Sc., had been known to a few experts 
and a small circle of friends for several years before 
the inventor decided to put it on the market. It 
may now be obtained of Messrs. Duncan, Flockhart, 
& Co., manufacturing chemists, 104-108 Holyrood 
Road, Edinburgh. It is made in the following 
colours : golden yellow, pale brown, orange brown, 
dark brown, orange red, and ruby red. It is trans- 
parent and elastic, and possesses a depth and rich- 
ness of colour quite equal to the best of the old 
varnishes. It does not crack or chip, but it takes 
a considerable time to dry. 

(3) Anderson's varnish. This is manufactured 
by Mr. Walter Anderson, of 4 Kildonan Terrace, 
Ibrox, Glasgow. With the use of this varnish the 
maker recommends that raw linseed oil, or other 
specially prepared oil, be rubbed into the wood first, 
day after day, till the wood can absorb no more, 
when the instrument must be allowed to dry 
thoroughly, and the varnish applied thereafter. It 
is made in various colours, but, as far as my experi- 


ence of it goes, it is more successful in the lighter 
than it is in the darker shades. 

(4) Harris' varnish, made by Mr. J. E. Harris, 
violin maker, 37 Nile street, Gateshead-on-Tyne. 
It is made, I believe, in all the usual shades, and is 
said to be of good quality. A number of makers 
have used it with good results. 

(5) Walker's varnish. Made by Mr. John Walker, 
violin maker, 8 Broomfields, Solihull, Birmingham. 
It is soft, elastic, and transparent. I have tried 
it in the golden orange colour, which was very 
beautiful when laid on, but the colour had slightly 
faded in a year's time. No doubt I had exposed 
the varnish too much to the direct rays of the sun. 
It may be remarked here that varnish makers gener- 
ally claim that their colours are lasting, but nearly 
all varnishes, I think, fade a little in the direct light 
and heat of the sun. This was a failing of even the 
otherwise perfect Italian varnish. Charles Reade, 
in his second letter on A Lost Art Revived, first 
published in the Pall-Mall Gazette, August 24, 1872, 
observes that " the sun will take all the colour out 
of that maker's [Stradivari's] varnish/' and he knew 
more about the Italian varnish than anybody ever 
did, barring Luigi Tarisio. 

I dare say there are many more amber varnishes 
on the market, but I think I have named most of 
the better known ones. Professional violin makers 
for the most part eschew amber varnish at least 
the market article and use varnish of their own 
make, but I cannot help thinking that it would 
be more to the interest of their art if a goodly number 


of them used Clark's, or Whitelaw's, or some other 
reliable varnish that has been produced by the 
assiduous application of scientific knowledge and a 
long experience in the laboratory. My remarks 
do not apply to the best of our makers of course, 
who are presumed to know at least as much about 
chemistry as the old Italian violin makers did. 

A very beautiful varnish is produced by Mr. F. W. 
Channon, a clever and well-known professional 
violin maker, of London. Unlike the majority of 
professional makers, he does not attempt to make 
a mystery of its composition or of the method of its 
preparation ; on the other hand, he readily reveals 
both. With his kind permission I am allowed to 
say here that he is prepared to furnish his formulae 
with full instructions to any bond fide violin maker. 

I cannot conclude my remarks on varnish with- 
out urging upon all violin makers the great import- 
ance of this branch of the subject. I reiterate the 
conviction that varnish has a very considerable 
effect upon the tone. I am not prepared to go so 
far as the Messrs. Hill, who say that of the factors 
that go to make a scientifically constructed fiddle 
which shall give the best possible tonal results, 
varnish is to be put down first in the order of import- 
ance. That, I think, puts the case too strongly. 
On the other hand I certainly cannot agree with a 
well-known writer who says that " Varnish has 
little or no effect upon tone." Only a man with 
no actual experience of violin making could write 
that. To cite the instances of old Italian violins 
which have been denuded of their varnish in 


proof of the contention that varnish has nothing 
to do with tone is beside the mark, for such 
violins have been robbed of only their surface var- 
nish. All the instruments of the masters may be 
said to be embalmed bodies, the varnish having 
permeated their whole fabric, so that now they are 
really neither wood nor varnish, but a sort of com- 
pound of both. Every fraction of a drop of the 
varnish which these instruments have absorbed has 
entered into indissoluble relationship with the mole- 
cules of the wood. The Rev. H. R. Haweis very 
pithily observes : " Time, that sometimes robs it 
[the violin] of a little varnish, has no power over its 
anointed fabric. The hard durable substance steeped 
in silicate-like varnish has well-nigh turned to 
stone, but without sacrificing a single quality of 
sweetness or resonance." (Old Violins, p. 13.) 

Little can be said about the tone of modern instru- 
ments. Its qualities, unlike those of outline, model, 
and workmanship, can be fully known only in the 
future, when time and legitimate use have wrought 
their beneficial effect. It may be said, however, 
that it fully justifies the belief that violinists of the 
future will have cause to remember gratefully the 
names of the old artists who carved, and varnished, 
and took thought for the morrow. 

Note. An important contribution to the literature of the 
violin appeared some few years back, entitled : " The 
Varnishes of the Italian Violin Makers of the Sixteenth, 
Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries, and their Influence 
on Tone," by George Fry, F.L.S., F.C.S. London : Stevens 
& Sons, Limited. The author has a wide knowledge of the 
chemistry of varnishes and of vegetable life. 


T) RIDGE manufacture in our days is a distinct 
Jj branch of industry, and even as there is a 
factory fiddle, so also is there a factory bridge, the 
one lacking in merit as often as does the other. 
Very few luthiers make their own fiddle accessories 
nowadays. A gross of factory bridges can be 
purchased at less than it costs in time and energy 
to make a dozen artistic or " hand-made " ones. 
In the good old days a maker of violins was also the 
maker of all the various fittings required for the 
instrument. The importance of the bridge cannot 
well be over-estimated, since a bad one will infallibly 
spoil the tone of an instrument, however good the 
latter may be. It has ever been a matter of sur- 
prise to me how few makers, and how few players 
for that matter, appear to know this simple fact. 
It is quite the exception to find a good bridge on a 
modern fiddle. The tailpiece, which is of little or 
no importance acoustically, is often made with the 
utmost care and elaborate finish, whereas the 
cheapest bridge made of green wood, or baked wood, 
high and thick, is clamped on the suffering fiddle. 
A good instrument is very exacting in its demands 
upon the bridge, and the finer its qualities, the finer 
also must be those of the bridge. A fact worth 



remembering is that fiddle and bridge, once mated, 
should never be divorced. They must be allowed 
to live their existence together in indissoluble unity, 
for there is a sort of psychic bond between them 
which cannot be broken with impunity. If a bridge 
which has been on an instrument for a length of 
time should get damaged it ought to be carefully 
repaired, and not thrown away as a worthless trifle. 
I believe there are one or two somewhere in the 
country who make a speciality of this class of repair. 
The present design of bridge is supposed to have 
originated with Stradivari. Our early makers were 
either unacquainted with it, or did not consider it 
the best, as they adhered to the quasi- viol and other 
forms of bridge down till well-nigh the end of the 
eighteenth century. Very few bridges of the Stra- 
divari pattern were made in England, I think, before 
the beginning of last century. 

Fig. i is an illustra- 
tion of an authentic 
specimen of a Daniel 
Parker bridge, and is 
typical of the work of 
the period, which was 
neither geometrically 
precise nor highly 
finished. Fig. 2 repre- 

FIG. i. (Daniel Parker). 

sents a bridge by the 

little-known maker Henry Whiteside, made some- 
what later. The design is less archaic, and the 
workmanship a little more finished. 

The claims of the modern bridge were advanced 


in this country chiefly by the labours of William 
Ebsworth Hill, who made hundreds of bridges, 
using only the very best wood, and finishing his 

FIG. 2. (H. Whiteside). 

work with the utmost care. It is to be feared that 
time and more especially the carelessness of players 
have considerably reduced the number of Hill bridges. 
The Messrs. Hart, of Wardour Street, and the 

FIG. 3. (Bonn). 

Messrs. Withers, of Leicester Square, are makers 
of high-class bridges, which are of the finest, well- 
seasoned wood, and of simple but beautiful design. 


Many innovations " improvements/* as they are 
called have been put on the market during the 
last few years, only the more important or curious 
of which can be noticed here. 

Mr. J. Edwin Bonn, of Brading, Isle of Wight, 
makes a four-footed bridge (fig. 3) for violin, viola, 
and violoncello. He thinks that four feet ensure 
a more energetic and regular communication of 
vibrations to the front table. 

A rather pretty design, known as the sound-holes 

bridge, was introduced a while ago by the Messrs. 

Balfour (fig. 4). Its prettiness was not improved 

by the inevitable " Patent " writ large upon it. 

A very curious, and, it must be admitted, ungainly 

bit of furniture is the 
bridge designed by a 
Mr. Edward Davies, of 
Cheltenham. It is made 
of two pieces of pine 
cut so that the grain 
runs at an angle of 45 
to the perpendicular 
axis of the bridge, and 
which are glued together 
by means of two strips of wood placed between. 

Each piece, or half, has a protruding wing which 
reaches out nearly as far as the sound-hole. The 
inventor claims that the wood being pine, with 
the grain running nearly vertical, the re-inf or cement 
of the vibrations of the strings is much more intense. 
A new kind of bridge, recently put on the market, 
is called the Gallrein Patent. It is made of three 

FIG. 4. (Balfour). 


pieces of wood, consisting of two outer layers of 
maple, with a layer of pine between. 

There have been sundry other varieties, freaks, 
and " patents/' all of which have " had their day 
and ceased to be." Many more may come, but the 
old pattern bridge is as little likely to be discarded 
as the old pattern violin. 


WRITERS who pay attention to the subordi- 
nate but important subject of violin acces- 
sories are in the habit of telling us that strings of 
British manufacture are of no great account. 

Haweis allows that " the English make a good, 
serviceable string," but adds that " English strings 
are only fit for rank-and-file orchestral fiddling, 
but not good enough for the leader " (Old Violins, p. 
158). Other writers speak in much the same strain. 
I venture, with all due deference to these authorities, 
to take up the cudgels in defence of the English 
string, and I am glad of the opportunity to do so for 
more than one reason. First, my experience of 
violin strings of English manufacture enables me 
to say that they are by no means the comparatively 
worthless articles they are made out to be, and I 
am of the opinion that some, at least, of the people 
who condemn them have formed their conclusions 
too hastily. About ten years ago I resolved to dis- 
cover the truth about strings for myself, and since 
then I have thoroughly tested in every possible way 
all the principal strings on the market, including 
those of Italian, French, German, American, English, 
and even of Russian and Indian manufacture. The 
result of these tests (conscientiously and systematic- 



ally carried out) shows conclusively that the differ- 
ences in the relative merits of strings of foreign and 
native manufacture are very slight indeed. Some 
of the finest Italian strings, notably those of Neapol- 
itan manufacture, were admittedly more uniformly 
true, but, as a set-back, they were nearly always 
more brittle than those of English manufacture. 
The greater purity of Italian strings, when it exists 
(very often only in the imagination of the player) 
is of so small a degree and subtle a character as to be 
appreciable only to the highly trained ear. People 
who talk glibly about the "immense superiority " 
of foreign strings are, in nine cases out of ten, in- 
capable of distinguishing differences in tone nuances. 
I have again and again come across people who 
boasted an advanced musical education, and who 
were certainly good violinists, who could not distin- 
guish any difference between the tone of a first- 
class Italian string and that of an English string. I 
have repeatedly tried the experiment, and nearly 
always with the same result neither player nor 
auditor knew for certain (that is, from the tone) 
which string was Italian and which English. I was 
not at all surprised, for what difference there was, if 
any, was really very slight. 

But there is something more important to be said 
in favour of the native article. Strings of British 
manufacture are frequently " doctored up " a little, 
and sold as " Italians." 

This fraudulent practice commenced on a small 
scale a good many years ago, and it has been going 
on at a rapidly increasing rate ever since, so that 


at the present time it is no exaggeration to say 
there is as much fraud in the string trade as there 
is in the fiddle trade itself. This may sound very 
startling in the ears of some, but if they will be at 
pains to ascertain the truth about string manufac- 
ture, as I have been, they will learn this and a great 
deal more. They will soon learn, at least, that 
they cannot always be certain that a string which is 
sold to them as " Italian " is of Italian manufacture. 

Furthermore, it is not generally known, I imagine, 
that the finest gut in the world for the purpose of 
string manufacture is that obtained from English 
lambs, and that the Italians use no other for their 
finer strings. Haweis was assuredly ignorant of 
this fact (or he was romancing, as he was often wont 
to) when he said that the gut obtained from young 
Italian lambs killed in September was used for the 
best Italian strings. 

It passes one's comprehension why the British 
public, or a large section thereof, should be for 
ever acclaiming everything of foreign origin and 
denouncing everything British. That sort of thing 
has too long been prevalent in Britain, and it is 
about time we had done with it. 

The day was (and has not long passed the even- 
tide) when an artist in order to succeed in this 
country had to go abroad to complete his studies. 
We used to be told years ago that a few second-rate 
artists had been known to drop their English names 
and to assume a grand-sounding foreign cognomen 
and foreign manners in order to enhance their 
chance with the English public. It seems incredible, 


and it certainly is too contemptible for words. 
But matters will improve by-and-by. The British 
artist and the British fiddle are coming to their own, 
and British strings will not tarry long. 

Many violin books give a very good account of 
the process of making strings abroad, it might be of 
some interest if I give here an account of how 
strings are made in England. I am indebted to 
Mr. G. A. Parker, of 94 Burghley Road, Kentish 
Town, London, N.W., for the information which 
follows. He very courteously allowed me to in- 
spect his factory, and carefully explained to me 
every detail in the process of making strings, from 
the raw material to the finished article. I may 
mention here that only the very best strings are 
made in this factory, the gut and material used 
being the finest England can produce. 

Before explaining the process of making, it will 
be well to describe the fixtures, tools, etc., used. 
The plant is by no means elaborate, and there is 
nothing striking about it except, perhaps, its almost 
primitive character. Here is a complete list of the 
articles (for they can hardly be termed anything 
else) used : 

i. The bench. This rests on two trestles, one of 
which is a little higher than the other, and is made 
in two parts, each of which is about 8 feet long and 
18 inches wide. The trestles are so constructed as 
to make the bench dip in the centre, to allow all 
water and other liquids to run off. On the trestles 
also is fixed, in the centre, a trough, or gutter, run- 
ning the whole length of the bench. In the bench 


are cut six holes, the first two being about 3 
inches from the lower end, and i foot apart ; 
the next two are 5 feet up the bench and the same 
distance apart ; the remaining two are about a foot 
from the upper end, and also the same distance apart. 
The use of these holes will be described further 

2. Iron bins, with lids, to hold water. 

3. Enamelled bowls. 

4. Metal scrapers, to clean the gut. 

5. Loops. These are made of the finest hemp, 
each about 3 inches long. To these the strings 
are attached. 

6. Splitting board. This is about I foot square. 
It has a hole in the centre, in which the knife is 
fixed, and a wooden peg on the left side, which acts 
as a guide for the gut. The knife has a blade about 
10 inches long, and a long, tapering handle which 
fits into the hole. On the blade are fixed two or 
three bone guides, which are so constructed as to 
counteract the natural curve of the gut before it 
comes in contact with the knife. The point of the 
knife is upwards and the edge away from the 

7. Spinning wheel. This is made of wood, with 
iron axles, and consists of one large wheel connected 
to two small wheels by a gut band. To the small 
wheels are attached hooks, which enable the operator 
to spin two strings at a time. 

8. Drying frames. These are of wood, with 
pegs fixed at both ends, and are of two lengths, 5 
and 7 feet respectively, the shorter ones being 


for E strings, and the longer ones for A, D, and 'cello 

9. Coiling table. A neat, simple but ingenious 
little machine used for coiling the string. 

10. Sulphur box. This is a large wooden box 
with a tight-fitting lid, and is so carefully con- 
structed that it is not only water-tight but also 
practically air-tight. Into this is put the sulphur 
lamp. Now for the process. 

As soon as a lamb or a young sheep is killed the 
gut intended for strings is thoroughly cleansed. 
It is important that the cleansing be done almost 
immediately, otherwise the gut deteriorates, and its 
value for string making is lessened. It is then very 
carefully dried on frames, and is shortly ready for 
the string maker, to whom it is sent in bundles, called 
" shocks/' weighing about 2 pounds each. 

A shock of gut is taken and placed in a bath, and 
covered with water. (The water in this country has 
first to be chemically treated, as it is too hard in its 
natural state.) In about six hours the gut is 
thoroughly soaked, and is then turned out on the 
bench, when every strand is carefully pulled through 
the fingers to get out all tangles and knots. A 
shock is divided up into about seven parts, each 
part being placed in an enamelled bowl and covered 
with water and allowed to soak for about twelve 
hours, when the water is drained off. It is next 
scraped, every length of gut being scraped twice 
before it is split, first up, and then down. This 
removes anything that might be adhering to it, and 
it is very essential that the scraping be carefully 


and thoroughly done. When this is completed the 
gut is soaked again in water for a short time. It is 
now ready for splitting. A bowl of gut is taken 
and placed to the left of the splitting board, one end 
of the gut being taken out of the bowl, passed round 
the wooden peg, and split on the point of the knife. 
The gut is opened and fixed on the bone guide [the 
guides are of varying sizes, according to the width 
of the gut] and is then pulled by the operator to- 
wards him, being split as it comes in contact with the 
keen edge of the knife. Great care has to be exer- 
cised in this operation, to ensure that the strands 
are of uniform width. When all the gut is split, it 
is put in bowls, and is again carefully scraped in 
the same manner as before, this time to cleanse the 
inside. Another soaking in water follows, this time 
for four or five hours. 

The gut is now turned out on the bench ready for 
spinning. The laying out looks an extremely easy 
matter, but is really very difficult, and is the most 
important and tricky part of the whole business, 
requiring great skill and a long experience for its 
proper manipulation. To make violin E strings 
three or four strands are used, violin A six to eight, 
violin D ten to twelve, etc., according to the width 
of the strands. Guts vary a great deal, some are 
hard, some soft ; some are wide, others narrow ; 
some are light, others dark. To make a string that 
is as near perfection as possible, it must be made of 
strands that are of the same texture, colour, and 
width, and it is in the correct and rapid selection of 
suitable strands that the skill of the workman comes 


into evidence. The gut is laid out on the bench in 
the desired length, being carried backwards and 
forwards until the right gauge is obtained. The 
right thickness is ascertained by feeling, there being 
no gauge made to test the thickness at this stage, 
and great care has to be taken that the strands are 
perfectly even and straight, and that they do not 
cross each other. 

Each string (or batch of strands which make 
the string) is now placed in a bowl, with the end 
hanging over the edge, the next string being then 
made and laid beside the first, and so the process 
continues till all the gut is used up. 

The string (hemp) loops are now brought into use, 
the ends of gut resting over the brims of the bowls 
being attached to them, i.e. each batch of gut strands 
to one loop of hemp string. A wooden peg is in- 
serted in the first hole of the bench and another peg 
at the other end. A bowl of strings is taken and all 
the strings are laid out on the bench with the loops 
at the first peg. One string is taken up at a time, 
the loop being placed over the peg, and the gut 
drawn down the bench between finger and thumb till 
it reaches the peg at the other end, when it is cut 
the desired length and the end attached to a loop 
placed over the second peg. This process continues 
until there is a sufficient number of strings on one 
set of pegs, when other pegs are brought into use. 

When several pegs are thus made up, the spin- 
ning wheel is used. The wheel is placed at one end 
of the bench, and two strings are attached to the 
hooks, the handle turned about fifteen times, and 


the first spinning is done. One turn of the spinning 
wheel gives about twenty-five revolutions to the 
hooks, so that each string is twisted from 350 
to about 370 times. 

The pegs are now replaced by rods which are 
made to fit into the sulphur box, and the super- 
fluous water being squeezed from the strings, the 
latter are carried to the sulphur box or chamber, and 
put in position. The lid of the box is closed down, 
and all cracks or crevices carefully sealed up. The 
lamp is now lit, a tin of sulphur placed over it, and 
both are inserted into a properly constructed closed 
chamber at the bottom of the box. This part of 
the work is usually done the last thing at night, and 
the strings are allowed to remain in the sulphur 
chamber until the following evening, when the lamp 
is again lit. Only a very small quantity of sulphur 
is used for the best quality string ; but in making 
lower priced strings, and when cheap gut is used, a 
much larger quantity of sulphur is burnt, and it is 
often necessary to use bleaching water. The lovely 
white strings we get from the Continent are really of 
inferior quality, if the buyer only knew it. The 
strong bleaching impoverishes the gut, but the white- 
ness sells the string. 

The strings are removed from the sulphur chamber 
into the drying-room, where they are stretched on 
drying-frames. The spinning wheel is again used, 
each string Jbeing given from 150 to 200 revolu- 
tions. When the strings are half dry, they are 
spun for the third and last time, being given about 
the same number of revolutions as before. Care has 


to be taken at this stage that an even temperature 
is kept up in the drying-room, and that there is 
not a particle of dust about. When the strings are 
thoroughly dry they are polished. The polishing 
is done ^with specially selected "pumice stones, in 
which grooves have been cut, six or seven strings 
being polished together in one groove. The strings 
are then dusted and oiled. Finally they are cut 
off the loops, coiled, and tied with silk or gut, and 
placed in bags and boxes ready to be dispatched to 
the wholesale houses and dealers. For covered 
strings the gut is not oiled. The process of cover- 
ing the string with wire is a very simple one so 
simple that I was able to learn it in about ten min- 
utes, and to cover a G string for myself, which I 
keep as a memento of my visit to Mr. Parker's excel- 
lent factory. 


(i) T EGENDS. Readers of violin literature are 
familiar with various legends and tradi- 
tions relative to the origin and development of the 
fiddle and other stringed instruments, and it would 
be invidious to relate here tales that are already 
" grey with age." There are, however, two or three 
pretty legends which I have happened upon in my 
reading that have never, as far as I am aware, been 
related in any book on the violin : these are of some 
interest, I think, and may afford the reader a little 

One is a Keltic legend of the tenth century, related 
in " The Adventures of the Great Bardic Com- 
pany. 1 ' According to this story (which doubtless 
belongs to a much earlier mythology) the emit or 
cruidh ( = crwtti) is a metamorphosed mermaid. 
Thomas Moore has turned the legend into verse, 
substituting, however, harp for emit, perhaps in 
accordance with a later version, or it may be on his 
own responsibility. This is how Moore puts it : 

The Origin of the Harp [Cruit]. 

" Tis believed that this harp, which I now wake for thee, 
Was a Siren of old, who sung under the sea ; 
And who often, at eve, through the bright waters roved, 
To meet on the green shore a youth whom she loved. 



But she loved him in vain, for he left her to weep, 
And in tears, all the night, her gold tresses to steep, 
Till Heaven looked with pity on true love so warm, 
And changed to this soft harp the sea-maiden's form. 

Still her bosom rose fair still her cheeks smiled the same 
While her sea-beauties gracefully form'd the light frame ; 
And her hair, as, let loose, o'er her white arm it fell, 
Was changed to bright chords, uttering melody's spell. 

Hence it came, that this soft harp so long hath been known 

To mingle love's language with sorrow's sad tone ; 

Till thou didst divide them, and teach the fond lay, 

To speak love when I'm near thee, and grief when away ! " 

Here is another Keltic legend from the folk-lore 
of South Wales : A huntsman once upon a time 
set out hunting in the forest of Nedd [dd = th in 
thee], and chanced to put an arrow through the 
heart of a beautiful fawn. On lifting up the dead 
fawn to sling it over his shoulders it became a flute. 
The ancient huntsman played upon this flute daily, 
and its sweet tone gave him unbounded pleasure. 
But it chanced one day that he let fall the flute on 
the spot where he had slain the fawn, and the flute 
when it struck the ground changed into a serpent, 
which bit him, so that he died. His son passing 
that way found his father's corse, and surmising the 
cause of his death, hunted for the serpent a year 
and a day. He found it coiled up and basking in the 
sun. The serpent sprang at him, but he, being an 
agile youth, leapt aside, and struck the serpent a 
hard blow, so that it lay stretched out at his feet. 
On lifting its body up with his staff it changed into a 
lyre. The youth, not in the least alarmed at so 


wonderful a change, picked up the lyre, and bore it 
away with a glad heart, and it was his wont to play 
upon it daily, and his soul delighted in its charming 
sounds. But it chanced one day as he was roaming 
in the forest that he accidentally let fall the lyre on 
the very spot where he had slain the serpent, and the 
lyre upon striking against a stone was instantly 
changed into an eagle, which flew away to the 
heights of Ban. So great was the grief of the old 
man (for he was now stricken in years) at the loss of 
his lyre, that he shortly died of a broken heart. 
His son swore on his grave that he would avenge 
his father's death, and went hunting for the eagle 
a year and a day. He found its eyrie on the top of 
Mynydd Ban, and rested him on the heather till he 
should espy the eagle. When at length it flew close 
above the youth, a well-directed arrow brought its 
lifeless form down fluttering at his feet. He eagerly 
picked it up to examine the wound, when lo ! no 
sooner had he lifted it from the ground than it 
changed into a musical instrument, the like of 
which he had never beheld before. Its form was 
like that of a fair maiden, and its tone like the notes 
of a nightingale. Each time he drew the bow across 
its strings it whispered : 

" A fawn was I, my tale to tell ; 
A fiddle am I till breaks the spell." 

The word in the Welsh legend is cr&th, which I 
have rendered fiddle, modern Welsh itself frequently 
preferring the latter word to the native and more 
ancient one. South Walians invariably call a violin 


ffidl, whereas North Walians have retained crwth, 
using it as the equivalent of fiddle. 

A very curious legend is current in certain parts 
of Poland. It says that the goudok, a kind of rustic 
fiddle, was invented and brought to Europe by The 
Old Wandering Man, and that from this the modern 
violin has been developed. The story of the Old 
Wandering Man looks like a variant of the legend of 
The Wandering Jew, but it has some peculiar 
features. The old man in this case is said to have 
invented, many centuries if not millenniums ago, a 
cabalistic magnet which possessed the extraordinary 
property of " secretly attracting the aura, or mys- 
terious spirit of human efflorescence and prosperous 
bodily growth, out of young men, and to gather 
these benign and healthful springs of life and apply 
them to the person of the inventor, by inspiration 
and transudation, so that he was able to concentrate 
in himself, though waning in age, the accumulated 
rejuvenescence of many young people, who were 
consumed in proportion to the extent their vitality 
was extracted from them." The Old Wandering 
Man is believed by the Polish peasantry to be still 
living, and to be going to and fro, as devotedly 
attached as ever to his primitive fiddle, his only 
consolation in life. 

(2) Art. The treatment of the violin in painting, 
wood carving, stained glass windows, etc., is a very 
wide subject, but I can touch only the fringe of it 
here, and that at only one point. Every lover of 
the leading instrument who is also a lover of truth 
cannot but be puzzled and pained by the persistence 


of the badly painted and badly carved fiddle in 
modern art. Almost every year picture exhibitions, 
coloured windows, and decorative carving, more 
especially of the ecclesiastical class, furnish us with 
numerous examples of impossible fiddles. Why is 
this ? And why is it tolerated ? If a painter 
treated an ordinary article of furniture with the 
same liberty or indifference that he does the violin 
which he sometimes puts in the hand of his sitter 
he would be voted a mere dauber. What violin 
connoisseur is there that does not feel angry with 
the painting entitled The Old Fiddler, exhibited at 
one of the Art galleries a few years ago, and now 
owned by a rich collector ? The picture depicts 
an old strolling fiddler crossing a bleak hill on a 
wintry day, carrying his fiddle in a green baize bag 
under his arm, with its head protruding. The 
picture was pronounced by the critics to be very 
fine, and so it would be but for one stupid blunder 
the head of the fiddle is shown twisted round on a 
level with its sides ! 

But painters, great delinquents though they be, 
are eclipsed by stained glass artists and ecclesiastical 
wood carvers, especially the latter, who, I think, are 
the greatest sinners of all in this respect. Out of 
innumerable examples of bad carving which I could 
easily cite, I will take one example, which shall serve 
as a type of its class. It is that of the instruments 
on an elaborate and very expensive reredos put up 
in a large modern church where I officiated recently 
a church which boasts an aristocratic and cultured 
congregation. The carving on that part of the 


r credos which lies immediately behind and above the 
altar depicts the " Heavenly Choir," led by a small 
orchestra of angels, who are playing upon various 
stringed instruments, all of a modern description. 
Of the two principal figures, which stand slightly 
in front of the group, and are in high relief, one plays 
upon an instrument that is perhaps intended for a 
banjo, but which looks more like a frying-pan than 
anything else. The other holds a tolerably decent 
fiddle, and a bow that might pass muster for a 
" Tourte," in an attitude which is intended to show 
that he is in the act of playing, but which really 
suggests that he has had a fiddle put in his hands 
for the first time, and is attempting to scrape out a 
few notes ! 

One often wonders what conclusions future musical 
historians, judging alone by such painting and carv- 
ing as I have described, would form as to the shape, 
size, and proportion of the fiddle of the nineteenth 
and twentieth centuries, and as to the technique of 
violinists of that period. They would not be very 
flattering conclusions, I trow. It is a pity the 
ancient Greek law is not in force to-day which made 
it a punishable offence " for painters or other 
imitative artists to innovate or invent any forms 
different from those which were established/' and 
" unlawful in painting, statuary, or any branches of 
music to make any alteration or false representa- 
tion " (Vide Plato, De Legibus, liber II). For, 
assuredly, truth is as important a virtue in a work 
of art as it is in a business transaction, and art itself 
ceases to be of real value when it relinquishes its 



hold upon truth. Ruskin very justly observes that 
" there are some faults slight in the sight of love, 
some errors slight in the estimate of wisdom ; but 
truth forgives no insult, and endures no stain." 
(Vide The Seven Lamps of Architecture, chap, on " The 
Lamp of Truth/' par. i). 

It is no answer to the strictures made here (more 
especially on the carvings) to say that the artistic 
treatment of the violin in this case is to be con- 
sidered as a mere abstraction that sort of answer 
has been given from time to time. As a matter of 
fact it is not abstraction, and if it were, it would 
be illegitimate in these particular cases. That it 
is not abstraction is evident from the position of the 
carving and the attempted perfection of the form 
in almost all the instances that have come under my 
observation. In abstraction only a limited number 
of the qualities of a thing are represented, but in the 
carvings here considered an attempt is made to 
show all the essential qualities of the form of the 

And if it were abstraction, it would be open to the 
still more serious charge of illegitimacy. It is a 
canon of architecture that abstraction is not legiti- 
mate where an object is to be closely seen, but 
only where it is to be viewed from a distance. The 
carvings in the examples reviewed here are in close 
proximity to the altar, choir stalls, etc., and are on a 
level with the eyes of the spectator, and only a few 
feet away from him. We may reasonably ask those 
who offer this kind of apology for bad art : Why 
if the instruments put in the hands of angels, etc., are 


intended for mere abstractions are not the figures 
themselves treated as mere abstractions ? 

Nor is it a good defence of bad painting and 
carving to quote the example of certain masters who 
have given us false or imperfect representations of 
the violin. To such a shallow defence I would reply 
in the words of Landor : " I dare not defend myself 
behind the bad example of any man, and the bad 
example of a good man is the worst defence of all " 

(3) Story. The violin has an olla podrida of 
romance, anecdote, song, proverb, nursery rhyme, 
and what not, all its own, quite apart from its more 
formal literature. I can only indicate in a general 
sort of way, with no attempt at classification, the 
character and extent of this class of writings. 
Charles Reade's " Jack of all Trades " and " Christie 
Johnstone " are familiar to most readers. These 
tales, written as they are by one of the first con- 
noisseurs of Europe, and by a master of English 
literature, are rather disappointing. If " Thomas 
Harvey " is a thin disguise for Thomas Hardie, the 
son of Matthew Hardie and there is not much 
doubt about it then the writer has exaggerated 
the importance of Hardie as a violin maker. Reade 
says that Harvey, or Harvie ( = Hardie), was " re- 
markably successful in insuring that which had been 
too hastily ascribed to accident a fine tone " : as a 
matter of fact the tone of Thomas Hardie's instru- 
ments is almost always poor and often positively 
bad. Honeyman is of the opinion, having regard 
to Reade's great knowledge of the violin and his 


passion for truth, that Hardie's violins must have 
originally had a good tone, but that they have 
gradually deteriorated owing to the wood having 
been artificially seasoned. Some scores of novels 
have appeared since Reade wrote these two tales, 
in which a violin maker or player is the hero, or an 
important character ; many of them are of consider- 
able merit, and a few very instructive and interesting. 
A really clever and fascinating book is " Interplay," 
by Beatrice Harraden, in which one of the minor 
characters is a violin maker, bearing the rather 
commonplace name of Paul Stilling, whose imbecile 
innocence of the world and its affairs is eclipsed only 
by his phenomenal ability and skill as a fiddle maker 
and repairer. He is described as one who makes 
great fiddles by intuition, and as "an absolutely 
entrancing companion in his own realm." The 
authoress evidently a " modern woman " has a 
thorough knowledge of the subject of violin making 
and repairing, and has produced something worth 

Of interesting violin anecdotes there is no end. 
Hart, in his book, has a choice selection, to which 
may be added many more equally entertaining from 
" Some Early Musical Recollections of George Had- 
dock," the numerous publications of the late Dr. 
T. L. Phipson ; " The Fiddle in Scotland," by A. G. 
Murdoch a little work which contains several 
quaint stories of old Scottish fiddlers and fiddle 
makers and from other books and periodicals. 
To the particularly pleasing and amusing stories of 
Gainsborough (related by Hart) may be added others 


about Romney, and one or two other great painters, 
who " found inspiration and solace in the sweets of 
the fiddle.'* Painters and litterateurs as a rule are 
musical, and are able to appreciate the difference 
between beautiful and commonplace music, but 
there are exceptions, and Ruskin was one. In the 
" Life and Letters of Sir Charles Halle," Mr. C. E. 
Halle in a passage relating to certain musical inci- 
dents at a house party, where several celebrities 
had gathered, including Tennyson, Swinburne, Burne 
Jones, Rossetti, Watts, Browning, Leighton, Millais, 
Fred Walker, Doyle, and several other poets and 
painters, says : " My father was always delighted 
in having such men to play to ; with painters, as he 
has himself said, he was always safe with littera- 
teurs he was occasionally not quite so fortunate. 
They were fond of talking and found it difficult to 
sit long and listen, whatever other sounds were 
being made, and at times matters fared even worse. 
Some years ago, in 1864, Professor Ruskin asked 
him to come and play to a school of young girls in 
whom he was greatly interested. My father readily 
consented, and as the Professor was there himself, 
and it was the first time he had played to him, he 
was careful to select what was most great and beauti- 
ful, and played his very best. When it was all over 
and my father was about to leave, one of the girls 
told him she had been practising Thalberg's arrange- 
ment of 'Home, Sweet Home/ and would very much 
like to hear my father play it before he went away. 
He told her it was a pity they should listen to a trivial 
thing like that after the beautiful music they had 


just heard, but as she appeared disappointed and 
some other girls came forward with the same re- 
quest, he gave way, sat down, and played it. To 
his chagrin, Ruskin, who had been politely ap- 
preciative, now became enthusiastic, and told 
him that was the piece he liked best far and 
away ! " 

Mr. Heron-Allen has told us all about nursery 
rhymes connected with the fiddle, it only remains 
for me to give a few proverbs I have heard in differ- 
ent parts of the country. 

" Drunk as a fiddler " is an expression which is 
often heard, and is common to all parts. It is rather 
hard on the poor fiddler, who would doubtless break 
his heart but for the knowledge that he sins in good 
company so at least another proverb, " Drunk as a 
lord," tells him. 

" Fiddler's pence/' a collection of small coin. 

" Fiddle-sticks ! " expressive of contempt, etc. 

"Mending his fiddle" (S. Pembrokeshire), trying 
to recover lost ground, retrieve his position, and a 
variety of meanings. 

" Playing her fiddle," Welsh " Canu ei chrwth," 
said of a cat purring, and metaphorically of a woman 
humming a tune pleasantly while at work. " Digon 
o gr^th a thelyn" (Welsh), which means literally, 
enough of a fiddle and harp, said of one who can sing 
a good song, tell a good tale, play an instrument, or 
anything to entertain a company ; who is, in fact, 
an entertainment in himself. 

" Playing the fiddle," is an expression applied by 
Welsh people to a preacher who has " more sound 


than sense/' referring, of course, to the peculiar 
style of oratory known as Welsh hwyl. 

" Yea canna vettle shoon with a viddle stick " (S. 
Pembrokeshire) = you cannot repair shoes with a 
fiddle stick. 

" I wunna crowdy to norra one " (S. Pembs) = 
I will not play the fiddle to. any one, that is, I will 
not fawn upon any one. 

" To play second fiddle to " = to act a minor part, 
to take a back seat, etc. 

" Playing the fiddle to the devil/' 

" Many a good tune is played on an old fiddle." 

" A dry fiddler makes a dry fiddle." 

" There are three won't work without a stick, 
An ass, a fiddler, and gentleman Dick." 

" You grease the fiddler, he'll grease the fiddle " ; 
" greased " in the second instance, of course, referring 
to the popular error that grease or some such lubri- 
cant is applied to the bow. 

" The fiddler blaming the fiddle, and the fiddle 
blaming the stick," i.e. saddling the blame on 
another, and he on somebody else. 

" Three guests who never miss a feast, 
The fiddler, beggar, and the priest." 

" Fit as a fiddle." 

" As taut as a fiddle string." 

" Fiddling with it " = trifling with it, a common 

" Like fiddle and fiddle-stick " ; i.e. inseparable, 
or indispensable to one another. 


" Got it all in his head like a fiddler." This may 
refer to the music, which the old time fiddler usually 
committed to memory, or to the miscellanea he 
carried in his top hat in the shape of strings, ballads, 
spare neck-bands, resin, etc. 

" A face like a fiddle, and a tongue like a fiddle- 

" As busy as a fiddle-stick." 

" Tickle your strings ! " Meaning : " Be up and 
doing ! >] Fiddlers at a country dance when their 
enthusiasm flagged were encouraged by the crowd 
who shouted, " Tickle your strings, ye merry fid- 
dlers ! " The expression now has a variety of applica- 

" Fiddling money out of people " is an expression 
frequently heard in S. Wales. 

" Drawing the long bow," exaggerating, finessing, 
putting too fine a point to a story, etc. 

" Talking and fiddling," a common expression. 

11 Talking and fiddling with their hats and fea- 
thers " (Pepys). 

" Every fiddle to its f addle," equivalent to " every 
man to his own trade " ; of. " Let the shoemaker 
stick to his last." 

" Call the fiddlers ! " When an altercation threatens 
to become serious the more placable portion of a 
drinking company cry " Call the fiddlers ! " to show 
their disapproval of the noise, and their desire for 
order and peace. This proverb is a testimony to 
the power of the wee fiddle as a peacemaker, for it 
points back to the good old time when the fiddle was 
the one indispensable thing at country weddings, 


fairs, village green gatherings, wakes, etc., where 
its strains often hushed an angry dispute. 

" He has more than one string to his bow." 
This proverb has two or three variants. 

" Tighten your strings ! " Pluck up courage. 

" Leaning on the riddle," concentrating energy 
and attention upon anything ; derived perhaps from 
the habit of old fiddlers of bending forward and 
leaning their heads on their fiddles when playing 
earnestly and it must be added furiously. 

" Mae e' wedi hongian 'i grwth " (North Pem- 
brokeshire) he has hung up his fiddle ; said of one 
who has failed in an enterprise, or given anything up 
in despair ; cf. " We hanged our harps upon the 
willows" (Ps. cxxxvii., v. 2). 

" A Two-penny fiddler " (S. Pembs.), one who is a 
mere dabbler at a thing, not at all limited to the 
violin, or to music. The recognized fiddlers in olden 
times charged each couple the sum of threepence for 
a " round " of dancing ; the less capable fiddlers 
who charged only twopence were looked upon with 
contempt, hence the expression. 

" Feathering the bow," " Feathering the strings," 
" Feathering the notes," and other similar expres- 
sions, have a variety of metaphorical applications. 
There are, doubtless, many more fiddle proverbs and 
colloquial expressions, some of them I dare say 
quaint and expressive, and concealing little bits of 
interesting history. A complete collection of these, 
with explanatory notes and comments, would be of 
value to the antiquarian. 



THE Italian tone ! What is it ? And what its 
raison d'etre ? Simple though these questions 
appear to be, they are by no means easy to answer- 
Indeed, I do not think the second can be satisfactorily 
answered at all. 

To the question : what is the Italian tone ? there is 
given a diversity of answers, and it is difficult to 
say which exactly is the best. The answers are all 
of a more or less rhetorical character, and I am not 
aware that anybody has ever attempted to give us 
an exact scientific description of it, couched in the 
phraseology of acoustics. Nor do I think such a 
description easy to give. The epithets " sweet/ 1 
''clear/' "bright," "rich." "mellow," "silvery," 
"sonorous," "responsive," "bell-like," and such 
like, are applied to the Italian tone, all of them cor- 
rect enough when they are used to describe the tone 
of the best instruments made by the great masters ; 
but I think the quality par excellence which distin- 
guishes the Italian tone is what I may figuratively 
call its liquidity. It has a kind of oily smoothness 
which mollifies and pleases the ear in a manner that 
words fail to describe. It is a tone, then, produced 
by stringed instruments of the violin family which 



has a peculiar liquidity in addition to other good 
qualities. It is a kind of tone, I need hardly say, 
which is not possessed by every instrument made by 
the old Italians, and not always by instruments 
made by even the masters. And I will add (what 
to some will appear rank heresy) a tone which is 
sometimes possessed by instruments made neither in 
Italy nor by the masters. 

The fact is, the term Italian tone is much of a 
misnomer, leading to wrong inferences rather than 
to a right judgment. 

Connoisseurs of ripe experience, and whose per- 
ceptive faculties have not been warped by prejudice, 
will agree with me that a great deal of nonsense has 
been written about Italian instruments and the 
Italian tone. Without a doubt, the finest of the old 
Italian fiddles are superior to all others, but there 
were great fiddles made outside Italy. 

Mr. W. C. Honeyman appears to me to take a 
pretty sane view of the matter. He writes : " ' Are 
Italian violins superior to all others ? ' is a question 
frequently asked by the puzzled chooser of a violin. 
It is not easy to answer this question in an off-hand 
manner, players differ so much in opinion as to what 
is ' superior ' ; but no one of experience and proper 
training can deny that the best of the old Italian 
violins have a subtle and thrilling sweetness of 
quality of tone which is rarely found in those of any 
other country. ... All Italian violins have not 
this quality. ... If a skilled violin maker would 
but use the best Italian wood of matured growth, 
seasoned for years in the warm dry air of Italy, and 


make a good instrument, and cover it with a fine 
amber oil varnish and expose that violin for a year 
to warm dry air, I have not a shadow of a doubt 
that that violin would have the Italian tone, no 
matter where it were made." (The Violin : How to 
Choose One, p. 45.) 

What is the raison d'etre of the Italian tone ? 
In other words, what was the secret of Stradivari, 
Guarneri, Amati, Bergonzi, Maggini, and other great 
Italians, and I may add of a few great makers 
outside Italy ? 

Connoisseurs differ widely in their opinions. In- 
deed, out of the small army of fiddle experts, past and 
present, hardly any two men will be found to have 
exactly the same opinion. 

I think it might be of some interest, and perhaps 
of some value, if I put down here as concisely and 
clearly as possible the opinions theories I had better 
call them of some of the more important writers 
on the subject, and at the same time point out what I 
consider to be their defects. 


The gist of this theory may be stated thus : The 
cubic capacity of the best Italian instruments (more 
especially of Stradivari's) is such as ensures the 
exact mass of air required by the tonal basis of con- 
struction. This theory has two fatal defects : 

(i) It is well-nigh impossible to secure the required 
exact mass of air. The mass of air in the chamber 
of the violin is not identical at any two consecutive 
moments of time. Air is highly elastic, and its 


density at any particular moment depends upon 
temperature and atmospheric pressure. And the 
quantity of reinforcement of vibration by a volume 
of air depends upon the density of the air at the time. 
(Vide Helmholtz : Sensations of Tone, and other 

(2) The present cubic capacity of many of the 
best Italian fiddles is not what it was when the 
instruments were new. Nearly all these old fiddles 
have been refitted with a larger bass bar and end 
blocks, which means a slight decrease in the cubic 
capacity. A large number of them have been opened 
time and again for repair, with the result that the 
ribs are not always quite as deep as they originally 
were. Others are indented here and there, especially 
around the bridge. 


This theory was broached by M. Savart as a result 
of his researches on the acoustics of Italian violins, 
with special reference to those of Stradivari. It 
holds that the quality known as Italian tone is due 
to the relative pitch of the fundamental tones of the 
back and front plates of the violin, the pitch of the 
back being a tone lower than that of the front. 
(Vide Fetis : Notice of Stradivarius, p. 83.) 

I observe (i) That this theory rests on the logical 
fallacy of non-observation. Savart does not tell us 
that he tested the plates of any violin intact, as it 
had left the hands of the maker, but he constructed a 
fiddle, or some sort of musical box, the plates of 
which he graduated to produce the required tonal 


difference, with the result that he obtained what he 
conceived to be the Italian tone. 

The clue which set him on the right track he says 
he got by discovering that rods of maple and pine 
cut from shipwrecked Strads were found when 
thrown into vibration to give exactly the same rela- 
tive pitch. 

(2) I submit that we have no evidence that the 
plates of any great Italian instrument, much less an 
instrument by Stradivari, in their original condition, 
have ever been tested with a view of ascertaining 
their tonal pitch. 

(3) I submit further that there is not a fiddle in 
existence, made by any of the masters, with its plates 
in their original condition. The fixing of a stronger 
bass bar has necessarily altered the pitch of the 
table. The use of glue in repairing is another little 
factor to be considered. A rod of glue would give a 
very different note from a rod of pine, and although 
the quantity of glue used in repairing be exceedingly 
small, still it has to be taken into account. And the 
majority of old Italian fiddles have some little glue 
in their flesh by now. 

(4) It does not seem to have occurred to those 
who hold this theory that varnished plates of wood 
give out a different note from the same plates in the 
white. There is a slight difference of thickness to 
take into account, but more important is the altera- 
tion in density. Oil varnishes penetrate the wood 
and increase the specific gravity of the plates. 

Presuming that the old makers worked their plates 
to produce a certain tonal difference, why should it 


be supposed that that difference would be main- 
tained after varnishing ? 


Different pieces of timber differ in density. The 
great Italian makers had exact knowledge of the 
degree of density required in the back and front 
plates to produce what they term " the necessary 
acoustic accord." This appears to be the view of 
the Rev. H. R. Haweis, who says : " Charles Reade 
was napping when he expressed a hope that a certain 
Stradivari back, mated with a new belly, might some 
day be united to some Stradivari belly of which he 
knew ; but unless it happened to be the belly Strad 
had selected for that particular back, what reason 
is there to suppose that the result would be satis- 
factory ? " 

Plausible as it appears, this theory will not bear 
much weight, for 

(1) The only method of determining the exact 
density of timber is by the use of the hydrostatic 
balance ; and he would be a rash writer, indeed, 
who would venture to credit the old luthiers with a 
knowledge of hydrostatics. No doubt the great 
makers, particularly Stradivari, Guarneri, and a few 
others, were cunning craftsmen, endowed with 
intuitive powers beyond the average craftsman, still 
they had their limitations, and they were very 
ignorant, the majority of them, of book learning. 

(2) The specific gravity of different pieces of maple 
and pine of the same dimensions varies infinitely. 
For example, ten pieces of pine of exactly the same 


measurements, cut from the same log, and from the 
same side of it, if you like, would be found to give, 
if accurately tested, ten different specific gravities. 
(3) By the mathematical theory of chance it is 
impossible that Stradivari or anybody else should 
succeed in fortuitously hitting upon a uniform ratio 
of density between the plates of a large number of 




This theory holds that the peculiar timbre of the 
tone is due to the kind and quality of wood used. 

Mr. Honeyman says that nothing but Italian wood 
will give the Italian tone. Another says it must be 
cut from this, that, or the other locality, and a third 
that it must be from a particular part of the tree. 

Now there can be no question that it is a matter 
of supreme importance to use the right kind of wood, 
and the very best of that kind, but that a fiddle made 
of such timber will necessarily yield the Italian tone 
we know is not the case. There are hundreds of 
fiddles made of Italian wood which have not the 
Italian tone. Curiously enough, the old Italian 
makers used wood of foreign growth for their better 
class instruments. We have it on the authority of 
the Messrs. Hill that all the finer figured maple of 
Stradivari was of foreign (i.e. non-Italian) growth. 
(Vide Antonio Stradivari, p. 169, 2nd Ed.) 


This theory holds that the Italian tone is to be 
attributed to the old Italian varnish absolutely. 


The Messrs. Hill, whilst not going quite that 
length, perhaps, maintain that the varnish was the 
first and most important factor in the construction 
of Strad instruments. 

But I quite fail to see why, if the secret of the 
Italian tone is in the varnish, so many Italian instru- 
ments of the classical period do not possess it. 

There is genuine enough Italian varnish, I should 
imagine, on all instruments made in Italy from 1650 
till about 1750, but a considerable number of these 
old relics can lay no pretence whatever to the Italian 

These do not exhaust the list of theories, there are 
many more. There is the plate tension theory of L. 
H. Hall, of Hartford, Conn., the natural varnishing 
theory of Otto Migge, the harmonic proportion 
theory of Carl Schulze, etc. I am not sure that I 
quite understand some of these theories, but I have 
a suspicion that if I did I should not be very much 

I have not a pet theory of my own to offer my 
readers, and if I had, I should be exceedingly chary 
of putting it before them. In sooth I must confess 
that I know very little more about the mysteries of 
the Italian tone now than I did thirty-five years 
ago when I first took up the study of the sub- 

I have thought about this mystery so long, pon- 
dered over it, and carried it about with me in all 
my daily rounds, that I verily believe I should not 
care to have it solved. There is a subtle charm 
about all mystery, and about this one in particular. 


I do not think there would be half the number of 
violin makers to-day but for this mystery of the 
Italian tone. It is the magnetic pole of the fiddle 
world, which makes the gauges and callipers of a 
thousand craftsmen to point all in the same direc- 
tion. I may express my meaning in the homely 
language of Bolingbroke, who said that " plain 
truth will influence half a score men at most in a 
nation, or an age, while mystery will lead millions of 
men by the nose." 

I may in concluding these few and scattered 
remarks on the Italian tone point out briefly what 
theory and practice have taught me to regard as 
important factors in the construction of a good 
fiddle. They are : 

(1) The quality of the wood. 

(2) The outline and model. 

(3) The graduation of the thicknesses. 

(4) Good varnish. 

(5) Accurate workmanship. 

I think the curves of the plates, especially of the 
back, have an important bearing on both the quan- 
tity and the quality of the tone, and I think also 
great care should be exercised to make the plates fit 
true on the ribs, to ensure their perfect freedom from 
torsional strain when glued on. It is needless to 
add that I consider it very desirable that the in- 
strument should be finished in as artistic a manner 
as possible. 

Stringent attention to all these points may or 
may not result in the production of an instrument 
which has the Italian tone. May or may not: 


which of the twain is largely a matter of chance. 
This much is certain, however, to neglect these 
factors is to court failure, ending in disappointment 
and vexation of spirit. 


more important matters have been touched 
JL upon, it only remains to say something about 
those of minor interest. 

And first, as to vagaries. By this term I mean 
departures from the traditional type of violin, and I 
would include under one head all modifications, 
varieties, and freaks, whether presented as " improve- 
ments " and trotted out under the aegis of the 
Patents Act, or otherwise. 

No man who loves truth will deprecate scientific 
investigation and experiment, and the discovery of a 
new law, a new fact, a new element, or a new any- 
thing, will be hailed with delight by the thinking 
section of the community. The fiddle world would 
appreciate any real discovery or invention of un- 
doubted worth ; but unfortunately the majority 
of violin vagaries can claim to be neither inventions 
nor discoveries : they are mostly eccentricities or 

Thus it stands with the fiddle, I believe : it has a 
long ancestry, reaching back thousands of years, 
but it appears to have entered upon its last cycle of 
evolution during the Renaissance, and to have 
reached the full measure of its stature early in the 
eighteenth century. Further it cannot go. Heron- 



Allen observes that " The violin ... is perhaps the 
only human contrivance which, taken as a whole, 
may be pronounced to be perfect. . . . This exqui- 
site machine, standing apart in its mysterious 
simplicity from the vulgar herd of instruments of 
melody and harmony, is capable of expressing more 
by its unaided voice than all the rest put together ; 
and when this has been said, are we not perfectly 
justified in ascribing to it the attribute of perfec- 
tion ? And is it extraordinary that any attempted 
improvement only proves to be a deteriora- 
tion . . . ? " 

This is the unanimous verdict of experts, at least. 
It is manifest, then, that all attempts at improve- 
ments are a waste of time and energy. But hardly a 
year passes but that we read of the advent of one or 
more rivals to the traditional type. 

Mr. Heron- Allen in his well-known work devotes 
a chapter to the description of some of the principal 
vagaries that had appeared up to about 1880 : it 
only remains for me to mention those that have 
appeared since. For obvious reasons I omit the 
names of the inventors, patentees, etc. 

(1) The aluminium violin. There have been 
several attempts made within recent years to intro- 
duce violins, and especially violas, made of this 
metal. I saw quite recently a viola made of what is 
known as aluminium gold, an alloy consisting of one 
part of aluminium to nine parts of copper. It was 
more of a curiosity than anything else, and the tone 
was small and harsh. 

(2) Duple, triple, and sextuple barred fiddles. 


These are fiddles with two, three, or six bass bars. I 
also saw recently a freak which, if I remember 
rightly, the maker named the cellular fiddle. In this 
instrument little cells or pits were carved all over on 
the inside of the back and front table, so that the 
surface appeared like a honeycomb. It looked 
curious, and must have cost an immense amount of 
labour, and that is about all that could be said in its 
favour. The makers of these vagaries appear to be 
labouring under the delusion that an increase of 
the interior vibrating surface of the instrument 
ensures a corresponding improvement in its tone- 
producing qualities. 

(3) The radiophone fiddle. The back and front 
of this instrument are each made of twelve pieces of 
wood, which are so arranged that the grain runs 
radially from a common centre located mid-way 
between the sound-holes at the front, and from a 
corresponding point at the back. These pieces are 
not only glued together, but are tenoned and mort- 
ised a method which involves the expenditure of 
time and energy sufficient to produce three or four 
violins of the orthodox pattern. This fiddle is 
fitted with a bridge made of six pieces put together 
on the same principle. 

(4) The plated fiddle. This has two sympathetic 
plates fixed to the end blocks inside the instrument, 
consisting of laminae of pine about one-sixteenth 
of an inch thick, and extending about one-third of 
the length of the body of the fiddle from either 
end. The plates follow the lines of the upper and 
lower bouts, but stand away about half-an-inch from 


the ribs. Here again the idea seems to be that by an 
increase of the vibrating surface it is possible to 
obtain an increase of the volume of tone. 

(5) The acute angled violin. In this device the 
back of the instrument is made slightly larger than 
the front, so that the ribs stand at an acute angle to 
it. Why it should be named an acute angled fiddle 
rather than an obtuse angled one is not quite clear, 
for since the ribs form an acute angle with the back, 
they must necessarily form an obtuse angle with the 
front. There would appear to me to be greater 
propriety in naming the invention after the larger 
angle. Great merits are claimed for this " patent " 
variety. The inventor in a letter under date of 
April 4, 1914, writes : " Violinists of great renown 
have tried them, some of whom say the angular 
violins are better than those of the old masters, and 
I know that I have a dozen of them here in my 
house, the like of which for tone have never passed 
through the hands of the Messrs. Hill & Sons/' 
Possibly not ! 

(6) The rib sound holes. I have seen three varie- 
ties of this kind of fiddle ; one was such a beautifully 
made instrument that it seemed a pity it was not 
more conformable to " the traditions of the fathers." 
The inventor (evidently a scholarly man and a fine 
artist) in a pamphlet explanatory of the principles 
of this new departure says that " there is, aside 
from the absence of sound-holes in the top, no 
change from the well-known and orthodox pattern. 
The sound-holes have been removed because they 
destroy the continuity of the fine grain and fibre in 


a table which, experience has shown, is delicately 
sensible to defects. In this table the sound-hole 
is but a decorative crack, and just as detrimental 
to the expression of full and perfect tone as any other 
crack. The old violins with really fine tone (and 
they are fewer than is generally supposed) possess 
this tone-quality in spite of their sound-holes not 
because of them.'' 

There are numerous other vagaries of recent intro- 
duction, some of them being revivals of forgotten 
freaks, such as the patent leather fiddle, the one- 
table fiddle, the reversed head fiddle, etc. There 
are patent finger-boards, tail pieces, tail-pegs, key 

pegs, and what not. 

* * * * * 

The factory fiddle claims a paragraph or two. 
This ubiquitous intruder came among us long ago, 
and when it did it evidently had made up its mind 
to come to stay. Decry it as we will, it is determined 
never to shake off from its varnish the dust of 
British resin. I am not sure that its advent was 
altogether such a bad event as we are wont to 
picture it. We know that it unfortunately helped 
to kill the home-made and hand-made article, but 
then we also know that it has helped to popularize 
the " King of instruments " in a country and among 
a people which are said to be not over-musical. 
The high-class, hand-made, artistic violin can never 
be produced at a price which brings it within the 
reach of the poorest of the people. Some violin 
makers claim that they can complete an instrument 
in the white in one week, but it is not possible that 


they can within that period give their work the 
degree of finish it should have. He is a very smart 
worker who can finish a fiddle in a fortnight, and 
keep on producing work at that rate. Long days 
and fine work demand a big price. No ! we must 
not unreservedly condemn the little factory intruder ; 
he has a few points in his favour which help con- 
siderably to counter-balance his defects. One of 
our leading professional makers once remarked to 
me that he owed a great deal to the cheap fiddle. 
Put in the hands of a beginner it sufficed up to a 
certain point, but when that point was reached it 
quietly and without a murmur made way to its aristo- 
cratic brother, the artistic instrument. Once the 
love of the instrument is created within him, the 
student will not long rest content with an inferior 
or indifferent fiddle. 

It is impossible that an artist, or even a player of 
merely respectable proficiency, should be anchored 
to earth by a factory fiddle. 

A machine-made fiddle has no soul, and therefore 
no individuality. 

It is a fiddle, that is to say, to which the player 
cannot impart his own individuality, and thus make 
it the medium of expressing his highest thoughts 
and deepest feelings. With his usual philosophic 
insight Haweis remarks that " when Balzac tells 
us of a man who had imprisoned the soul of his 
mother in a violin, he was nearer a certain truth than 
some of his readers fancy. The soul that is im- 
prisoned in your violin is not your mother's, it is 
your own soul, seeking and finding through the most 


sensitive of all musical instruments an utterance 
such as the human voice alone can equal, but not 

excel." (Vide My Musical Life, p. 288.) 
* * * * * 

On the subject of the relative worth of old and new 
fiddles a great deal might be said. It has been my 
conviction for many years, and the conviction is 
growing with the growing years, that the penchant 
for old instruments is largely a matter of sentiment 
is, in fact, a craze. I know it is heresy of an unpar- 
donable nature to say so, and that the anathemas of 
a thousand-and-one devotees of the old cult will come 
down on my unfortunate head, but what advantageth 
it to hide a conviction ? Providing one has spared 
no effort in endeavouring to master his subject, 
and that he has not been slow to profit by experience, 
surely he has a right to express an honest opinion. 
Let it at once be admitted that a good old instru- 
ment, in a good, or at least very fair state of preser- 
vation, is indisputably superior to a new instrument 
and I know not of an expert who would not 
readily grant as much and all is admitted that is 
justly warranted by the case. As to the bulk of old 
fiddles, and all the wretched nondescripts which are 
masqueraded as old fiddles, the pity is they are not 
gathered into one pile, set fire to, and offered up as 
a holocaust to Zethus, or some other vengeful god. 
I am quite certain that a new fiddle, made of good 
material, scientifically constructed, and covered 
patiently with a good oil varnish, if played skilfully 
and given a few years to mature, will be superior in 
every way to seventy out of every hundred old 


fiddles which flood the market to-day. The truth is, 
half the number of these old fiddles were poor, 
cracked-voiced things when they were new, and 
no length of time nor any amount of playing could 
ever improve them, and as to the other half well, 
about fifty per cent, of them have been spoilt by 
quack repairers and " patent " improvement ma- 
niacs. In believing and expressing myself thus, I 
am not alone and unsupported, as my critic of The 
Athenaeum wished his readers to think; I am 
abundantly borne out by the opinion of experts of 
long standing and good repute. For instance, Mr. 
J. M. Fleming (in a passage which I must beg leave 
to condense) says : "It is, undoubtedly, a general 
opinion current among professional and amateur 
players that new violins are usually new in the 
matter of tone. That means that the tone is 
4 woody,' ' hard, ' or ' metallic. ' These are really 
the only terms that may properly describe the 
supposed defect. Now, that opinion is, in regard 
to the vast bulk of ordinary trade violins, perfectly 
sound, and these three terms very accurately por- 
tray the kinds of tone which new violins of the 
trade class possess. Curiously enough, the same 
three terms will exactly describe the tones of ninety 
out of every hundred of the old type to be found in 
the market at the present time. . . . The reader 
will observe that I have said ninety out of every 
hundred a rough and ready way of indicating the 
proportion of bad to good instruments. And by 
1 bad ' I mean not intrinsically bad, but bad by 
comparison with new instruments at equal prices. 


It is now going on for half a century since I began to 
take an interest in violins, and few aspects of the 
subject have caused me more surprise from time to 
time than the apparently fixed determination of 
people to have an old fiddle at all hazards. ." ,-v 
Age guarantees nothing, except the possibility that 
there will be a few cracks . . . nothing with regard 
to excellence of manufacture or quality of tone." 
(Vide The Fiddle Fancier's Guide, p. 25.) Mr. W. C. 
Honeyman, the well-known Scottish expert, ex- 
presses himself much to the same effect, and even 
goes so far as to maintain that " good new violins 
entirely put out of court the majority of old ones." 
(Vide The Violin : How to Choose One.) Mr. 
Edward Heron- Allen observes : "No one who has 
seen the magnificent new instruments of Chanot, of 
Hill, of Boullangier, of Simontre, of Gand and 
Bernardel, and of many other living makers, can 
possibly deny that these instruments will be, when a 
little matured by age, far sweeter and finer than 
any of the time-withered, tampered-with, over- 
repaired, and dilapidated instruments which flood 
the market under the names of Stradivari, of Guar- 
neri, of Amati, of Ruggerius, of Stainer, of Bergonzi, 
and a hundred lesser names " (Violin making : As 
it Was and Is, p. 19). And Charles Reade, very 
pertinently, and in his own inimitable style, remarks 
that if you " take a hundred violins by Stradiuarius 
and open them ; you find about ninety-five patched 
in the centre with new wood. The connecting link 
is a sheet of glue. And is glue a fine resonant 
substance ? And are the glue and the new wood of 


John Bull and Jean Crapaud transmogrified into 
the wood of Stradiuarius by merely sticking on to 
it ? Is it not extravagant to quote patched violins 
as beyond rivalry in all the qualities of sound ? " 
(Vide Fourth Letter in the Pall- Mall Gazette, Aug. 
31, 1872.) 

The testimony of many more competent witnesses 
might be given, but it is not necessary to belabour 
the point. I am not quarrelling with my critics : 
they have as good a right to their own opinions as 
I. have to mine, but I think if they had been better 
informed on the subject they would not have said 
the foolish things they did about the comparative 
merits of old and new fiddles. 

It is my earnest advice to players of moderate 
means, professional and amateur alike, who require 
a good fiddle, to spend their money wisely on a 
sound new instrument, made by some artist of 

recognized ability. 


Repairing does not come within the scope of this 
work, but a few words on the sister craft will not be 
out of place. Good repairers are like gold, often 
scarce, always wanted, and much abused. They 
are often abused, forsooth, because they cannot 
perform miracles, and transform wretched old fiddles 
with broken voices into seraphic Cremonas. 

Repairing, I need hardly tell my readers, is a 
special art, requiring much skill, great patience, 
and a double portion of the spirit of self-effacement 
and of reverence for old work. The absence of the 
last namecl virtue in the repairers of the past is one 


of the reasons why there are so many spoilt old 
instruments. The best makers are not necessarily, 
nor even usually, the best repairers. As a matter 
of fact very few of the leading British violin makers 
are renowned for their repairs, and the majority of 
them do not undertake such work at all. I do not 
think, however, a man can be a good repairer unless 
he is able to make an instrument, and is thoroughly 
conversant with the theory of its construction. 
Repairing is to making what surgery is to anatomy 
skill in the one is dependent on a knowledge of 
the other. There are some scores of repairers of a 
sort up and down the country, but they are not 
repairers in the true sense of the word ; they are 
dabblers. An artistic repairer does not merely 
mend the fiddle, he restores it restores it, that is, 
as near as possible to its original condition, and by 
the help and with the addition of as little new material 
as possible. He does not, like the vandal Ortega 
of whom we read, substitute a brand new table for 
a cracked old one, nor even, indeed, the tiniest 
splinter, where he can possibly avoid it. All the old 
pieces that have broken off, if they are not lost, he 
deftly and cunningly refits in their proper position. 
It has been said of the repairs of Francois Gand, 
of Paris, that they were "masterpieces of ingenuity 
and delicate workmanship." "The care that he 
took and the judgment which he exercised in bring- 
ing together the various broken parts of an imperfect 
instrument, that the original appearance might be 
maintained as closely as possible, cannot be too 
highly praised. He often accomplished seeming 


impossibilities. Splintered cracks were by his in- 
genuity closed as though no fibre had been severed, 
while at other times, pieces were so deftly inserted 
that the most experienced eyes might fail to detect 
their presence. It was with him a labour of love, 
and he did not scruple to spend days over work on 
which others would only spend hours." (Hart.) 
That is a picture of the genuine restorer and 
reverent artist ! And that is the sort of work every 
repairer desirous of doing full justice to his art must 
aim at. The great bane of the fiddle world is the quack 
repairer, with his " patent " nostrums for this, that, 
and the other violin ailment. If you value your 
old instrument, avoid him as you would a pestilence. 
There are several clever and conscientious re- 
pairers in the country, and the owner of a valuable 
instrument requiring doctoring up need be under 
no apprehension in committing his treasure to them 

for treatment. 

* * * * * 

The preservation of instruments is a matter of 
supreme importance, and I do not think I shall be 
giving superfluous advice when urging upon all 
owners of valuable violins the necessity of attending 
to the following points : 

(1) Wipe the instrument carefully with a soft 
silk handkerchief each time after use. 

(2) If the violin is not at all in use, then give it 
frequent airings, but do not expose it for long to the 
direct rays of the sun that would take the colour 
out of the varnish. 

(3) Keep the instrument from extreme tempera- 


tures, and never expose it in a damp atmo- 

(4) Keep it as free as possible from dust. If 
dust should get into the inside, pour in a handful 
or two of barley or rice through the sound holes, 
and shake backwards and forwards till the dust has 
been released. 

(5) Attend to any damage, however slight, with- 
out delay : that will prevent further mischief. 

(6) If the fiddle should unfortunately fall a victim 
to the voracious wood borer the little demon so 
dreaded by possessors of old instruments wash the 
affected parts with hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ), which 
may be obtained at any chemist shop. This is 
perfectly harmless, will not injure the instrument in 
the least, and is the most effective remedy yet 

(7) Last, but not least : give your violin an 
occasional rest. If the instrument gets a great deal 
of hard use, the periods of rest must be reasonably 
frequent and fairly long. If it does not get a respite 

now and again, it will infallibly get " played out." 

A word on the ethics of violin collecting. Some 
writers hold that it is positively wrong to form 
collections of old instruments, on the ground that it 
is selfish, and that it prevents the instruments 
getting into the hands of players. Others take an 
opposite view, and regard fiddle maniacs and rational 
collectors alike as benefactors to the fiddle world. 
To me this wordy warfare seems to be " Much ado 
about nothing." The question of the right or wrong 


of violin collecting is, assuredly, but a small fraction 
of the very large question of the right of ownership 
in the abstract. We can well afford to let the 
smaller matter rest till the larger one has been 




ABEL, DAVID, . A violin of fairly good workman- 
ship bore a label with this name, without date or place-name. 
It looked like early nineteenth century work. 

ABSAM, THOMAS, Wake field : 1810-49. I have 
seen only two instruments of his make, both violins, one on 
the Stradivari and the other on the Amati model. The 
workmanship was of average merit. He made chiefly for 
Pickard, a dealer in Leeds. 

ACTON, WILLIAM JOHN, London. He works at 
472 Katherine Road, Forest Gate, E. He was born in 
Woolwich, December 12, 1848, and was educated at Rectory 
Place Academy, of that place. He was trained by his 
father, and carried on business at Woolwich till 1898, when 
he removed to London. He has made up to date 210 
violins, 19 violas, 29 violoncellos, 21 contra-basses, and 250 
bows. He has also made a large number of replicas of 
ancient viols and other instruments. The model of his 
violins approximates closely to that of the grand Strad, 
the material is excellent, and the workmanship and tone are 
good. He has latterly specialised in bows, which are 
excellently made of the finest wood, and well seasoned. 
His prices for instruments and bows are exceptionally 
moderate, as prices go to-day. Mr. Acton is considered a 


very skilful repairer, and being a diligent and conscientious 
man, he does not lack for work. Facsimile label : 

(to / 

ADAMS, CATHUNE, Garmouth. From about 1775 
to 1805. He made kits, violins, and violoncellos. The 
workmanship is fairly good, but the varnish is of poor 
quality. Tone small, but clear and responsive. Hand- 
written label* 

ADDISON, WILLIAM, London. Period unknown, 
but probably about 1650-75. It is not certain whether he 
made violins, but he made viols. Label : 




AIRETON, EDMUND, London. From about 1730 
to 1807. His best instruments are on the Amati model. 
The workmanship is good, and the tone of fair quality. 
The varnish is a spirit one, of a lustreless yellow. It has 
been surmised that a workman, of the same name, in the 
employ of Peter Wamsley in 1735, was his father. 

AIRTH, WILLIAM, Edinburgh. About 1860 to 1881. 
He emigrated to Australia in the latter year, where he has 
remained, only occasionally making violins. Fair work- 
manship and tone. 


ALDRED, . A maker of viols about the middle of 

the sixteenth century. His instruments were very cele- 
brated and much in demand a century later. They were 
classed with those of Jay, Smith, and Bolles, by Mace in 
his Musick's Monument. 

ALLEN, EDWARD HERON-, London. The author 
of the most popular and reliable work yet published on 
the art and craft of violin making. The book is entitled : 
Violin Making : A sit Was and Is. Without a doubt this 
work has done great service in creating anew and fostering 
the love of the " King of instruments " in this country. 
Mr. Heron- Allen has a practical knowledge of violin making, 
and has made a few instruments. 

ALLEN, SAMUEL, London, contemporary. Chiefly 
a bow maker. He was for several years in the employ 
of the Messrs. Hill, and was esteemed by them as a first- 
class workman. He started business on his account in 
1891. He was born in Cornwall in 1858, and was educated 
for the scholastic profession. 

ALLEN, W., Bristol. Nineteenth century. 1 have 
not seen any of his work. 

' ALLWOOD, THOMAS, Barnstaple. Nineteenth 
century. His work is said to be fairly good. 

ANDERSON, HENRY, Edinburgh. He was born in 
Auchtermuchty in 1839. He has made about 120 violins 
on the Guarnerius model. He received a diploma and 
bronze medal at the Glasgow East End Exhibition, 1890, 
for a case of violins. 

ANDERSON, JOHN, Aberdeen. Born 1829, died 
1883. He is said to have made about a thousand instru- 
ments of every description. If so, the majority of them 
must have vanished in a mysterious manner, for I have 
failed to discover one. 


ANDERSON, JOHN, Glasgow. He is the son of the 

preceding John Anderson, and was born at Aberdeen, in 
1856. He has made a number of violins on a modified Strad 
model, and he also makes very good varnish. 

ANYON, THOMAS, Manchester. An amateur who 
makes very beautiful instruments, and for which he is said 
to obtain prices ranging from thirty to fifty guineas ! 

ARNOT, DAVID. Born at Crieff, and worked in 
Glasgow, where he died in 1897. He made a large number 
of instruments on various models. He had a shop in 
Stockwell Street, Glasgow, where he carried on extensive 
repairing business. Handwritten label. 

ASKEW, JOHN, Stanhope. Born in 1834, die( l in l8 95- 
A very clever maker, who, if circumstances had but allowed, 
would doubtless have produced a large number of instru- 
ments of exceptional merit. Mr. Towry Piper had a high 
opinion of his abilities. In a monograph recently published 
by Mr. W. Morley Egglestone, entitled : John Askew 
the Stanhope Violin Maker, a full description is given of all 
the violins by Askew which are known. I have seen only 
one instrument by this maker ; it was the violin " christ- 
ened " the Van Gelderen, fecit in 1884, and was on the Strad 
model, with golden amber varnish of a slightly reddish tint, 
very transparent and lustrous. The workmanship showed 
the master hand of a born fiddle maker, and the tone was 
full, responsive, and mellow. He was awarded a bronze 
medal at the Inventions Exhibition, 1885, and the first 
prize at the Jubilee Exhibition, Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1887. 

ASKEY, SAMUEL. He worked in London about 
1800-40. Originally a tinman, he became a pupil of John 
Morrison, and worked for some time for George Corsby. 
The work varies in character, but the tone is usually weak 
and harsh. No label of his is known. 


ASPINALL, JAMES. He works at Bolderstone. An 
amateur who produces very commendable work. 

ATKINS, JAMES, Cork. He carried on business as 
music seller for many years in Cork, but has now retired. 
He is over 80, but still takes an interest in the violin, and 
it is not long since he laid by his gouge to enjoy a well- 
earned rest. He has made a number of violins, mostly on 
the Strad model, which are of good workmanship, and have 
a full, clear, and responsive tone. 

ATKINSON, WILLIAM. He worked for many years 
at Tottenham, but left there in 1911 for Paglesham, near 
Rochford, in Essex. He was born at Stepney, October 23, 
1851. He is a professional maker, and is recognized as one 
of the best artists in Great Britain to-day. He received a 
good early education at Lukeing's Grammar School, Mile 
End Road, Stepney, and thus laid a solid foundation for 
his later reading in acoustics and the theory of violin 
construction. He was married October 6, 1880, to Mary 
Elizabeth Camper, at Bromley-by-Bow Church, and has two 
sons, William Camper, and John Benjamin Camper. He 
made his first violin in 1869, whilst serving his time as a 
joiner. He has completed up to date about 200 violins, and 
a corresponding number of violas and violoncellos. He 
works on two original models ; the principal measurements 
of model No. i being : 

Length of body 13 $ inches. 

Width across upper bouts . . . 6f 

middle bouts . . 4! 

lower bouts . . . 8^ 

Depth of ribs at top .... i^ 

bottom . . . H 

Length of sound holes .- . . 3^ * 

Distance between sound holes * . ijf 

Elevation, from J . . . f > f 


The measurements of model No. 2 are the same, except 
that it is -^ narrower across the bouts. 

o 1. 

Mr. Atkinson is particularly careful and happy in the 
selection of his material. He is able to test acoustically his 
wood, and therefore to reject all that does not come up to 
the highest standard of excellence. He prefers maple with 
a figure of medium width, and pine of a " reed " rather under 
medium width. His outline and model are pure and grace- 
ful, and the workmanship is most carefully and delicately 
finished down to the smallest detail. The scroll is a notable 
feature of the work : I have never seen it better carved, and 
rarely quite as good. The width of the back from the 
scollop down to the first turn opposite the throat is main- 
tained with a gradual and almost imperceptible diminution, 
just as in the best old Italian work, and certainly in a style 
which all but the very best of our old English makers failed 
to reach. The button is nearly semicircular, with gently 
toned-down edge. The margin is one-fifth wide, and the 
edges are full, with a very slight elevation above the level 
of the purfling bed. The purfling, every bit of which Mr. 
Atkinson makes himself, is one-sixteenth wide, the inner 
strip having a width which is slightly greater than that of 
the outer ones combined. The sound holes are of beautiful 
outline and cleanly cut. The varnish is an oil one, ranging 
in colour from pale straw to light ruby, is perfectly trans- 
parent and elastic, and soft as velvet to the touch. It is 
laid on in from fifteen to twenty thin coats, and dried in 
the open air. Few makers are so fastidious as Mr. Atkinson 
in the matter of varnishing. He removed from Tottenham 
simply because he believed the air of that place injured his 
varnish during the drying process. He preferred to sacrifice 
the prospects of a ready market for his instruments to the 
less remunerative but vital interests of his art. The Duke of 
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was an admirer of Atkinson's violins, 
and gave proof more than once of the practical interest he 
took in the welfare of the gifted maker. The tone is remark- 


To face p. 94. 


ably clear and responsive : it is powerful, but withal mellow 
and silvery. Facsimile label : 

in Tottenham J9O3. 

The label is varnished over with the same varnish as that 
used on the fiddle, to prevent the ink fading. The maker's 
monogram is also stamped with a cold punch on the back 
under the button. 


BAINES, , London ; about 1780. Nothing is 

known of him beyond the fact that he worked for Matthew 
Furber for some time, whose pupil he was. 

BAKER, FRANCIS, London. An old viol maker. A 
bass viol bearing his label has been known. 

BAKER, JOHN, Oxford, 1680-1720. He made viols 
chiefly, but towards the end of his life he is supposed to have 
turned his attention to violins. No one, however, appears 
to have seen any of these. Tom Britton had a fine viol of 
his make in his collection, and a four-stringed viol da gamba 
was among the exhibits at the South Kensington Special 
Exhibition, 1872, bearing the following label : 




ANNO 1688. 


BAKER, WILLIAM, Brighton. About 1820-40. He 
made a number of violins on a model approaching that of 
the grand Strad, some with grotesque figures instead of the 
usual scroll. Good wood and workmanship ; varnish, 
golden brown, of good quality. Sound-holes rather weak, 
inclined to be " knock-kneed." Tone, powerful, but 
inclined to be metallic and harsh. Label printed in Roman 
characters : 


BALLANTINE, , Edinburgh and Glasgow. No- 
thing known of him except that he worked about 1850. 

BANKS, BENJAMIN, Salisbury. He was born July 
14, 1727, and died February 18, 1795. He was the second 
son and the third child of George and Barbarah Banks, of 
the parish of S. Thomas, Salisbury. In Grove's Dictionary 
of Music and Musicians, Vol. V. p. 306, new edition, it is 
stated that Banks was not a native of Salisbury, but that 
" he early migrated there," from London presumably. This 
can hardly be correct, as it would involve the removal of the 
parents to London and their return to Salisbury within a 
short period of time. George and Barbarah Banks were 
living in Salisbury in 1725 and in 1730. It is not quite 
certain, of course, where he was born : the old registers of 
the parish of S. Thomas are lost, and the transcripts in the 
Diocesan Registry are incomplete. The following are the 
only entries contained in the transcripts with reference to 
the Banks family : 

" Baptisms : 

21 March 1722, George, son of George and Barbarah Banks. 
8 July 1725, Elizabeth, daughter of George and Barbarah 

15 August 1730, William, son of George and Barbarah Banks. 
20 June 1732, Mary, daughter of George and Barbarah Banks." 


There are no transcripts for the periods 1725-1730 ; 
1740-1778. Strange to relate, the burial entries are also 
missing for the year 1795. Thus were the Fates resolved to 
cheat the future biographers of Banks of every scrap of 
information relative to his birth, baptism, and burial ! 
Banks has been styled " the English Amati," a title which 
he no doubt fully deserves. It ought to be recognised, 
however, that only in his best work does he soar above 
Duke, Forster, and one or two others. I have seen some 
examples of Duke which, in my opinion, were quite equal to 
the best work of Banks, except as regards varnish. Duke's 
varnish is mostly thin and lustreless, whereas Banks' 
varnish is very fine as a rule. Hart remarks that it has " all 
the characteristics of fine Italian varnish." The work of 
Banks may be arranged into two classes : (i) the Stainer 
copies, and (2) the Amati copies. Banks, I believe, when 
left to his own choice, copied no one but Amati, but his 
patrons and the trade frequently demanded that he should, 
in accordance with the taste of the times, supply Stainer 
copies. No one is responsible for this inference but myself, 
and perhaps I ought therefore to attempt to justify it. 
The majority of the instruments made by him for Longman 
and Broderip, and which bear that firm's stamp on the 
back, are Stainer copies, and show work which is inferior 
in finish to that seen in his Amati copies. Similarly, instru- 
ments made on the Stainer model for private patrons are 
lacking in delicate finish, and some have an inferior varnish. 
It is as though the good man were impatient of his model, and 
in a hurry to get the instrument out of the way. Patient 
labour, delicate finish, and luscious varnish were reserved 
for the model of his own choice. Only when the material 
happens to be poor or very plain is there any evidence of 
impatience in the finish of the Amati copies. I have seen 
a very large number of Banks' instruments, and I cannot 
recall a single exception to this rule. My inference is to a 
certain extent justified by the fact that it was long ago recog- 
nised that the Amati copies of Banks were his best, 


(1) The Stainer copies, as already stated, show compara- 
tively inferior work inferior, that is, as compared with 
his best style The model is long, from 14^ to 14^, with 
a perceptible narrowing of the upper part of the instrument. 
The arching is somewhat exaggerated, having the ridge 
accentuated between the sound-holes. One is given the 
impression that the copyist, having grasped the general 
idea of the Stainer model, and thinking it sheer waste of 
time to attempt an extended analysis of it, and to be nice 
about detail, resolved that it was sufficient indulgence to 
existing wickedness to reproduce the said feature in any 
shape. I have not seen one Banks fiddle which can be said 
to be a faithful Stainer copy, and I do not think there is 
one in existence. The outline is fairly true, but the curves 
of the arches are treated with a degree of freedom which 
removes the work from the category of " copy/' in the strict 
acceptation of the term. These are the so-called copies 
which have got poor Banks into ill odour with regard to 
some of his varnishing. His varnish, in some cases, has 
" killed the grain " of the tables, so Hart informs us, and I 
dare say he is correct enough, although I do not think there 
are very many instances where this has occurred. Banks 
was a great man, and the small faults of a great man are 
easily seen and usually magnified. 

(2) The Amati copies. On the construction of these 
magnificent copies Banks concentrated his energy, heart 
and soul. Wood, workmanship, and varnish are almost 
faultless. The only part of the work to which exception 
can be taken at all is the scroll, which is sometimes weak, 
and never quite in the Amati style. It is rather singular 
that our old makers, even the best of them, should fre- 
quently come to grief at the same spot the scroll. Some- 
how they fail to respond to the elan of the Italian spirit 
the great thrust of art-life, which makes for freedom in 
every bit of carving and painting. The old English scroll 
is too cramped. There are, of course, some exceptions, but 
not many. Banks therefore failed where the majority of 


To face p. 99, 


his brethren failed, both before and after him. It is difficult 
to account for this failure. Perhaps it is due to the limita- 
tions and idiosyncrasies of the individual artists, or to the 
fact that post-Renaissance Art suffered from the general 
exhaustion which followed the great Awakening. 

But viewing the work as a whole, the Amati copies may 
be described as faithful and felicitous examples of the 
imitator's art. Benjamin had sat at Nicola's feet, and had 
drank deep of his master's inspiration. It has been said 
that the noblest function of art, be it the art of painting, 
sculpture, music, or poetry, is to eliminate what is accidental, 
trivial, and temporary ; and to set before us what is essen- 
tial, profound, and eternal. How far Nicola Amati was able 
to accomplish such a purpose in his art may be a debatable 
point, but there can be no doubt that what the master 
accomplished the disciple very successfully attempted. 

Nor ought the work of the disciple to be disparaged simply 
because it is a copy. The Italians were themselves copyists. 
" The people of Italy," says W. S. LiUy, " are gifted, beyond 
all other nations, with a sense of form. It was natural that 
the supreme masters of the arts of design should arise among 
them. But in other departments of intellectual activity 
they are mediocre and worse. Great men have been among 
them. But how few ! The race is lacking in veracity, in 
virility, and therefore in originality. Just as in the present 
time those who claim to represent its political ideals are 
mere plagiarists from the French, so in the Renaissance 
epoch those who claimed to represent its literary and art 
ideals were mere plagiarists from antiquity." (Renaissance 
Types, p. 31.) 

Italian art in general, and that of sculpture and design 
in particular, owed more to Greek art than we are wont to 
think. Stringed instruments are not to be excluded from 
this indictment, for the construction of these is but the 
application of the principles of design to wood carving. 

To despise the work of our old makers because it is more 
or less an imitation of Italian art, and to extol the art 


which they copied and dub it " classical," is the usual way 
with the flippant connoisseur, who does not trouble about 
the wider issues of history. 

The truth is, no work of art is absolutely original, and all 
nations are copyists by turns. What we borrowed from the 
Italians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the 
Italians themselves borrowed from the Greeks in the fifteenth 
and sixteenth. 

Dr. Johnson said that " No man was ever great by imita- 
tion " : if that is true, then we must say that Banks was 
great in spite of imitation, for great he most certainly is. 
His best work, if not original and distinguished by subtle 
and ^delicate feeling like the art of the Italian masters, is 
yet marked by decisiveness of execution, freedom of manner, 
and exquisiteness of finish. His Amati copies show that he 
was not only a master of the principles of his art and craft, 
but also that he was imbued with the knowledge and feeling 
of form. It is many years since I began to make a careful 
study of the work of our old violin makers, and it has been 
my good fortune to come across some very fine examples of 
Banks' handiwork. I look upon him as summing up in 
himself the whole tradition of the old British School of 
violin making. The tradition of that school, if not remark- 
able for its insight, is sincerely reverent. It has been 
recorded of Michael Angelo when he was a pupil of Ghir- 
landaii that " he was wont daily to contemplate reverently 
the saints and angels whom Fra Angelico seemed to have 
drawn from heaven." And such is the figure I have drawn 
in my mind of Benjamin Banks, save that for saints and 
angels I have substituted violins, violas, and 'cellos. Rever- 
ence, I have observed elsewhere, is characteristic of all true 
art -reverence, that is, for the Idea, in Plato's sense of 
the term, and not merely for any special form under which 
the Idea is visualized. The inspired artist loves the form 
his model not so much for what it is as for what it repre- 
sents. The best work of Banks impresses me with the 
feeling that the artist had set himself the task of discovering 


the formulating principle of his master's model, and having 
discovered it, that he always kept it in mind. 

That Banks understood something of the subtle relation 
between form and sound, and of the modifying effect which 
the curves of the violin had upon its tone, appears to be 
pretty evident to me. Whilst he is careful never to depart 
from the essential features of his model, he nevertheless 
frequently treats his curves in a manner that suggests either 
experiment or a reasoned purpose. But he is very cautious : 
he was seeking knowledge, if haply he might feel after it, 
and find it. Had he been less cautious and gone further he 
would have adopted the great Stradivari's model. 

I quite recently saw and tried one of the most beautiful 
of Banks' violins which it has been my fortune to see. 
The wood was fine, the back being cut on the quarter, with 
a curl of medium and regular width, slanting at a rather 
acute angle in the direction of the button. The tone was 
clear, responsive, and beautifully sweet and mellow. 

One of the best toned Banks violoncellos that I have seen 
was an instrument owned some years ago by a gentleman 
amateur of Tenby. It was of the smaller pattern, of rather 
plain wood, and varnished red. It was in perfect condition, 
and in chamber music it sang mellifluously like a velvet- 
throated baritone. 1 took dimensions of this instrument, 
which I append here : 

Length of body . * . . .... 28J inches. 

Width across the upper bouts "..." , 13 

middle . < icj 

lower . , . 16 

Depth of ribs at lower bouts . , N . 4i 

top . *. ; 4f 

Width of C's . . . . ... 6J 

Length of sound-holes . ,. . . 6 

Distance between sound-holes . . 3f 

Length of stop . . * . . . .26 

Genuine Banks instruments are somewhat rare, consider- 
ing the large numbers that he undoubtedly must have made. 
I have not discovered that there are more than about sixty 



violins, and about twice that number of violas and 'cellos, 
at present in existence. Of this number a good many are 
in poor condition, and some have been spoilt by former 
Goths and Vandals of the art of repairing. I dare say there 
are some fiddles of his about which have been " touched 
up " a little and have got Amati labels in them : I know one 
or two. Some 'cellos that I know are in the possession of 
wealthy people, who trouble little about their condition, and 
probably less about their musical merits. More than one 
poor instrument lies dumb and sad among the folios and 
quartos of a neglected library, and like 

" The harp that once through Tara's halls 
The soul of music shed, 
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls 
As if that soul were fled." 

Banks stamped his instruments in all sorts of places, 
below the button, under the finger-board, under the tail- 
piece and near the button, etc., and he used various labels, 
such as : 

" Made by Benjamin Banks, Catherine Street, Salisbury, 
1770 " ; " Benjamin Banks, Musical Instrument Maker, 
In Catherine Street, Salisbury, 1780 " ; " Benjamin Banks, 
fecit, Salisbury " ; " B. Banks, Sarum." 

He was buried in the Churchyard of S. Thomas, Salisbury. 
His tombstone, which is near the south door, on the right- 
hand side, bears the following inscription: 





18fH FEBiY 1795 



BANKS, BENJAMIN, Salisbury, London, and Liver- 
pool. He was the second son of Benjamin Banks, senior, 
and was born September 13, 1754, at Salisbury. He died 
in Haroll Street, Liverpool, where he last worked, January 
22, 1820. He worked with his father for about ten years, 
but in 1780 he removed to 30 Sherrard Street, Golden Square, 
London. He did not remain there long, probably because 
he failed to obtain patronage. Very little of his work is 
known, and what there is does not reach a high standard of 

BANKS, JAMES and HENRY, Salisbury and Liver- 
pool. They continued their father's business till 1811, when 
they sold up and went to Liverpool, where they opened a 
shop in Church Street, and which they removed later to 
Bold Street. Both were born at Salisbury ; James about 
1756, and Henry about 1770. The former died on June 15, 
1831, and the latter on October 16, 1830. Henry was 
really a pianoforte tuner, and James the violin maker. 
James was a very good workman, and ought to have done 
much better than he did. He followed his father's model, 
and occasionally succeeded in making a good instrument 
with a fine varnish. The tone is never good. He is said 
to have resorted to the deleterious practice of baking the 
wood, then very much in vogue ; if so, that accounts for 
the inferiority of tone. The brothers left a number of 
unfinished instruments in the cellar of their shop, most of 
which were sold to music sellers. 

One of their violoncellos, made in 1797, was among the 
exhibits in the South Kensington Museum, 1872. It was 
the property of Mr. C. J. Read, of Salisbury. It was said to 
be a well-finished instrument, with a moderately powerful 
tone of very good quality. Nothing that I have seen by 
any one of the sons could be said to possess a tone of any 
distinction. The father's mantle unfortunately did not 
fall on the shoulders of the sons. 


BARNES, ROBERT, London. He was a pupil of 
Thomas Smith at the " Harp and Hautboy," in Piccadilly. 
Afterwards he became a partner with John Norris, with 
whom he had been a fellow- apprentice at Smith's. Norris 
and Barnes started business together in 1765. All the 
instruments which bear their label were probably made by 
others. Label : 



BARR, ROBERT, Belfast. A contemporary maker, 
mentioned by the Rev. Father Greaven in his booklet on 
Irish makers. I have not seen any of his work. 

BARRETT, JOHN, London. Period about 1714-30. 
He copied Stainer, and very often exaggerated his arching. 
He also worked on a modified Stainer outline, which was 
long, narrow, much grooved, and highly arched. The 
workmanship is fair, but the tone is small and muffled. 
As a rule, he used ink-lines instead of purfling. The varnish 
is yellow and hungry looking, and helps to give a cheap look 
to the instrument. He is said to have made a better class 
instrument now and again. 

BARTON, GEORGE, London. Period about 1780- 
1810. Nothing is known of him except that he worked in 
Elliot Court, Old Bailey, and principally for music sellers. 

BARTON, JOSEPH EDWARD, Llanelly, S. Wales. 
Born at Moulton, in Lincolnshire, October 10, 1846. A 
very ingenious man who makes all his own tools, and can 
turn his hand to almost any kind of work. He commenced 
to make violins in 1869, but did not turn his attention 
seriously to the craft till a few years ago. He has made a 
number of violins on an original model, of excellent material, 
workmanship, and tone. Latterly he has turned his atten- 


tion to the Strad model, and has produced some really 
high-class work. 

BELLINGHAM, T. J., Leeds. An amateur who has 
made a large number of instruments of excellent workman- 
ship and tone. Accounts have appeared of his work in the 
press from time to time, in which high tributes have been 
paid to his ability. I saw some of his work about ten years 
ago, and thought it very good, but doubtless he has made 
great progress since then. 

BELOE, W. L., Coldstream. Born in 1819, died in 1897. 
He made a considerable number of instruments on a model 
somewhat resembling that of Stradivari. The workmanship 
is fairly good, but the tone is of an indifferent quality. 

BENNETT, , Cork. Nineteenth century. A short 

notice of him appeared in one of the Irish papers many years 
ago, but I know nothing more of him. 

BENSON, JAMES, Stanhope. Nineteenth century. 
He is mentioned in Egglest one's book on John Askew. 

BERTRAM, ALEXANDER, Peebleshire. Nineteenth 
century. He worked at Eddlestone, and made hundreds of 
fiddles of a very inferior quality. 

BERTRAM, WILLIAM, Stobo Castle. He was game- 
keeper to Sir James Montgomery, and made a number of 
violins which it is said he sold to the visitors to the Castle. 
Honeyman says his work was good. 

BETTS, EDWARD, London. He was a nephew of 
John Betts, and a pupil of Richard Duke. The date of 
his birth is not known, but the date of his death is 1817. He 
worked on the Amati model, and produced work which for 
excellency of workmanship is rarely surpassed. Hart 
observes that " the workmanship throughout is of the most 
delicate description ; indeed it may be said that neatness is 


gained at the expense of individuality in many of his works. 
Each part is faultless in finish, but when viewed as a whole 
the result is too mechanical, giving as it does the notion of 
its having been turned out of a mould." The observation 
is very just, and could not be better put. The one failing 
of these beautiful (i.e. beautiful to the eye) instruments is 
their tone, which, as far as my experience goes, does not 
by a long way reach the same standard of excellence as the 
workmanship. But it is fair to say that some judges with 
a much longer experience than I have affirm that the tone 
of a number of them is of a very bright, sweet, and resonant 

BETTS, JOHN, London. Known in his day all the 

country over as " old Betts the fiddle maker/' He was 
born at Stamford, Lincolnshire, in 1755, died in March 1823, 
and was buried at St. Giles, Cripplegate. He was a pupil 
of Richard Duke, and the few instruments there are of his 
own make show that he had imbibed much of his master's 
teaching, but he did not continue long to make himself, he 
chose rather to devote his energies to the building up of a 
solid business, and to employ others to do the actual making. 
That he chose wisely goes without saying, for he would not 
have succeeded as he did financially if he had not left the 
bench for the counter. He was peculiarly fortunate in his 
workmen, some of the finest artists of the day having at one 
time or another worked for him, such as the Panormos, 
John Carter, his nephew Edward Betts, Bernhard Fendt, 
Richard Tobin, etc. Into the productions of these fine 
craftsmen he inserted his own trade label a species of 
fiction which did not originate nor, unfortunately, cease 
with him. There is quite a number of instruments about 
bearing the label of Betts, which could not have been made 
by the artists just named : they are of inferior workmanship, 
and not a few of them have a poor tone. These were possibly 
the work of apprentices or " improvers." A very clever 
copy of the famous 'cello known as " King Andreas Amati " 
was made by (or shall we say for ?) John Betts, which was 


wont to be exhibited by him as " the most exact copy ever 
made of any of the great Cremonys." Fleming remarks 
that " this copy is certainly a fine production, which, 
besides showing paint [sic] in what was apparently the 
primitive abundance, also shows the wood ; a very great 
advantage over the original, which is rather ancient now, 
and dingy-looking " (Fiddle Fancier's Guide, p. 42). 

Violoncellos with Betts' label are fairly common. There 
must originally have been a large number of them, con- 
sidering that there has been a greater depletion in the 
number of 'cellos than of violins. Betts was one of the first 
in this country to do extensive business in old Italian 
instruments, and a large number of fine fiddles found their 
way here in his time. The story of the " Betts Strad," told 
by Hart and others, is well known. Writers describe the 
transaction as "an exceptionally lucky windfall." I am 
afraid it ought to be described as a smart bit of roguery. If 
the story is true (and I have never seen it questioned) then 
Betts must have allowed business considerations to get the 
better of his moral sense. To pay the unsuspecting owner 
of a Strad violin the sum of only twenty shillings for what 
Betts well knew to be worth at least two hundred times as 
much was a most discreditable thing to do. It was immoral 
per se, it was doubly so if, as was not unlikely the case, the 
vendor was a needy person. It is deplorable that writers 
treat this sort of thing as though it were nothing but an 
exceptionally interesting and clever bit of fiddle dealing. 
Clever it may be, but more clever than honest. There have 
been, and there doubtless still are, too many Luigio Tarisios 
about. If business morality in Britain were generally on a 
level with the " Betts Strad " transaction, the day would not 
be far distant when prisons and workhouses would be as 
numerous as schools and churches. Betts used different 
kinds of labels, but mostly inserted the following, with the 
proper date : - 

JANUARY 9, 1782. 


BEVERIDGE, WILLIAM, Aberdeen. Period 1821- 
1893. He was a native of Craigh, Tough, Aberdeenshire, a 
man of strong intelligence, a keen student of nature, and 
an artist of refined tastes. He was for many years curator 
of the Free Church College Museum in Aberdeen, and 
made a number of violins during spare time. The workman- 
ship of the one and only example of his art which I have seen 
was beautiful, and the tone very good. Label : 


TOUCH, 1870. 

BLACKBURN, J. H., Colne. Contemporary. An 
amateur who has made a few instruments, but is mostly 
engaged in repairing. 

BLAIR, JOHN, Edinburgh : 1790-1820. He worked 
on the Stradivari model and turned out a number of instru- 
ments of good workmanship and fair tone. Honeyman is of 
opinion that he was the teacher of Matthew Hardie, and 
there is certainly a close resemblance between their work. 
He used handsome wood as a rule, but his varnish was a 
spirit one of poor quality. No label, but he usually wrote 
his name across the table on the inside. 

BLAIR, WILLIAM, Crathie : 1793-1884. He made 
many instruments on various models. The workmanship 
is generally good, but the tone is harsh and metallic. He 
baked his wood, and used a hard spirit varnish. He was a 
noted character, well known in the North as " The Queen's 

BLYTH, WILLIAMSON, Edinburgh: 1821-97. A 
most prolific maker of wretched things shaped somewhat like 
a violin, but which do not possess any of the usual qualities 
of that instrument. It is said that he could turn out fairly 
decent work when he had the inclination, but he rarely got 
into that mood. 


BOLLES, , London. A celebrated maker of lutes 

and viols in the seventeenth century. Mace tells us that 
he had seen a bass viol of his make which was valued at 
100. That was an extraordinary price for an instrument 
in those days. 

BONE, PHILIP J., Luton. He makes mandolines and 

BONN, J. EDWIN, Isle of Wight. Born at Fermoy, 
Ireland, in 1861 . He was educated at the Ledbury Grammar 
School, and was intended for the medical profession, but 
he abandoned medicine and practised for some time as 
analytical and consulting chemist. Eventually he entered 
the violin trade, and is now established at Brading as dealer 
and maker. He is specially careful in the selection of his 
material, and the workmanship and tone are good. He 
uses an amber varnish of his own manufacture. Mr. Bonn 
has established a wide reputation in the South of England 
as a reliable dealer, and maker of various specialities for the 
violin. Facsimile label : 



BOOTH, WILLIAM, Leeds : 1779-1858. He began to 
make violins in 1809, and continued to make and repair 
till 1856. He followed the Amati model chiefly, but I have 
seen one violin of his make which was somewhat after the 
Long Strad pattern. Fairly good work and tone. Label : 


LEEDS, 1820. 

BOOTH, WILLIAM, Leeds: 1816-56. Son of the 
preceding maker, but a much better workman than his 



father. He died June i, 1856, and was buried in Burman- 
tofts Cemetery. He made a good number of instruments on 
a modified Strad model. The varnish is a golden brown 
colour. Tone rather small but pleasing. 

BOOTH, W., Salford. I have not seen any of his work. 

BOTHWELL, WILLIAM, Aberdeen : 1870-1885. He 
made many fiddles of no particular model and of no great 

BOUCHER, , London : 1764. Nothing known of 

his work. 

BOWLER, ARTHUR, London. He worked ten years 
ago at 1 8 Milner Square, Islington, but I know nothing of 
his present whereabouts. He is a native of Thame, Oxford- 
shire, and a nephew on his mother's side to the late Georges 
Chanot. He was principal workman to Mr. J. A. Chanot 
for some time, but started business on his own account in 
1899. He adopts the Stradivari model, and turns out 
instruments which for finished workmanship and good tone 
will compare very favourably with the best work produced 

Facsimile label : 



BOYLE, W. F., Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow : Contem- 
porary. A retired Church of England clergyman who has 
made violins en amateur for many years. He was born at 
Enniskerry in 1860, and served there as Curate for some 
years after he was ordained. He has a wide knowledge of 
the violin and its literature, and has the necessary mechanical 


skill to apply that knowledge to the construction of the 
instrument. He is specially interested in the varnish 
problem. He makes beautiful instruments, which have a 
large and telling tone. 

BRECKINBRIDGE, JOHN, Glasgow: 1790-1840. 
He made several good violins on the Amati model. The 
wood is of excellent quality and beautifully figured. Varnish 
pale brown or yellow. The tone is clear and sweet. Label 
handwritten : 


PARKHEAD, 1830. 

BRIGGS, JOHN WILLIAM, Glasgow. A contem- 
porary professional maker and repairer. He was born at 
Wakefield in 1855, and was a pupil of William Tarr, of 
Manchester. He has made a large number of violins, violas, 
and violoncellos, on various models, but mostly on an 
original model, which has a nice outline and a moderately 
pronounced arching. The wood is carefully selected and 
well seasoned. He has made several facsimile copies of 
some of the more notable Stradivari and Guarneri violins, 
the workmanship being faultlessly finished, and the tone 
very fine indeed. The construction of these beautiful copies 
must have cost the maker a great deal in time, energy, and 
patience. Mr. Briggs had the largest exhibit of instruments 
at the Glasgow Exhibition, and in many respects the best. 
The wood of the backs and ribs of the instruments shown was 
exhibited as violin timber at the Paris Exhibition of 1880, 
and also at Vienna in 1890, where it was awarded a gold 
medal. The wood of the tables was three hundred years 
old, and had been obtained from an old church in Warsaw, 
Poland. Facsimile label : 


Mr. Briggs, I believe, has acquired sole proprietary rights 
in Whitelaw's celebrated amber varnish, and has bought the 
whole of the large stock left at the inventor's death. 

BRISCOE, D., Channel Islands. Nineteenth century. 
His work is said to be very good. 

BROAD, J. M., Almondsbury, Glos. A gentleman 
amateur who has devoted considerable time and thought to 
the study of violin construction, and especially to the 
mystery of the old Italian varnish. He has made one or 
two violins on an original model, more by way of testing 
certain theories than as a serious attempt at violin making. 
His sound knowledge of theoretical and practical chemistry 
has enabled him to make a varnish which for pate, lustre, 
and transparency it is not possible to excel. Unfortunately 
it is not for sale. 

BROOKFIELD, EDWARD & SON, Southport : 1872- 
1898. They made violins and bows, and repaired very 
extensively. The work of both father and son is said to be 
very good, but I cannot say, as I have not seen any of it. 

BROWN, , Huddersfield : about 1870. 

BROWN, ALEXANDER, Glasgow : 1855-60. Stradi- 
vari model. Good work and tone, it is said, but I cannot 
say. Handwritten label. 

BROWN, ANTHONY, London and Australia : 1850- 
75. Pupil of John Morrison. He did not make many 
violins, but he was celebrated for his guitars, of which he 
made a large number both in this country and in Australia. 
He worked in Rosamond Street, Clerkenwell. 

BROWN, JAMES, Spitalfields : 1755-1834. Started 
violin making in 1804, under Thomas Kennedy. Ordinary 
work ; tone fairly good for orchestral purposes. 


BROWN, JAMES, Norton Folgate : 1786-1860. Son 
and pupil of the previous James Brown. He made very 
many bows, and also instruments after his father's death. 
Average work. 

BROWN, JAMES, London : 1813-34. Son and pupil 
of the preceding. He made only a few instruments. 

BROWNE, JOHN, London : 1730-45. He worked at 
the sign of the " Black Lion " in Cornhill. He copied 
Stainer and Amati, and turned out a great deal of work of 
fairly good workmanship, but of poor tone. 

BRUCE, ARTHUR, Belfast. A present day maker of 
considerable ability and skill. A violin made by him on an 
original model, designed by the Rev. Father Greaven, is of 
good workmanship, and has a lovely tone. 

BRUTON, JAMES, Thornbury, Glos. : 1800-62. He 
is mentioned in a booklet by Mr. J. Spencer Palmer, of 
Thonrbury,but I have failed to trace any of his instruments. 

born in Snargate Street, Dover, October 23, 1845, and now 
lives at Kearsney, near Dover. He worked as a professional 
maker for many years, but has now retired. He was not at 
any time financially dependent on his profession, so that he 
was able to devote ample time and abundant care to the 
construction of his instruments. He has made a large 
number of violins on the Strad and Joseph models. Some 
of the Guarneri copies have been made after a fine Joseph 
which was owned by C. M. Gann, Esq., of Canterbury : 
these are all made of exceptionally fine wood, and the 
workmanship is accurate and beautifully finished down to the 
smallest detail. The Strad copies are of rather full dimen- 
sions, the principal measurements being 14%, 6f , and 8f . 
The height of the ribs in one specimen was ij, diminishing 
to i^, but as a rvjle it is ij throughout, I do not know any 


modern maker who has copied Joseph Guarnerius with 
greater skill, and I know of only two or three who have 
copied him with equal skill. The scroll and the sound-holes 
are generally the trouble. Somehow our copyists (although 
they reproduce the outline of the /' s correctly enough) fail 
to produce the same mental effect : there is something about 
the Gothic quaintness of the great master which defies 
imitation. That something is not the mere type, it is the 
archetype the ideal which struggles for expression in 
matter and form. But Mr. Buckman has come as near the 
real thing as it is possible, I believe, for a copyist to come. 
Very many of his Strad copies have the back cut whole, with 
the curl running at an angle of about forty-five degrees to 
the longitudinal axis of the instrument, giving a very pretty 
effect when viewed in certain lights. 

Fleming considered that the work of this artist was to be 
classified with the best that is produced in the British Isles 
to-day, and with this opinion all must agree who have seen 
and tried it. Mr. Buckman may not be much known to 
the public, but that is because he eschews publicity, pre- 
ferring, like many an artist before him, " To have one 
fiddle friend in his retreat, whom he may whisper Solitude 
is sweet." Label : 

DOVER, 1899. 

his period or his work, but instruments of his are occasionally 
advertised for sale in the music papers. 

^ BYROM, GEORGE, Liverpool. He works at 10 Cases 
Street, opposite the Central Station, as a professional maker 
and repairer, and has been in the trade twenty-eight years, 


There is another Byrom, a brother, also established some- 
where in Liverpool as a professional maker. I regret I 
know nothing of the work of either. They are said to be 
clever craftsmen, but whose time is mostly occupied in 

CAHUSAC, . London : about 1780-1810. Fleming, 

in an article in " The Bazaar " gives his period as 1780-88, 
but instruments of his are known dated 1796 and 1799. 
Little or nothing is known of him personally, except that he 
was for some little time associated with the sons of Ben- 
jamin Banks. There is little doubt in my mind now that 
the work of Cahusac has been much undervalued. Fleming 
in the article referred to describes it as "a poor class of 
work, thinly wooded, with black varnish, somewhat scarce, 
but of little or no value." This writer is so just and honest 
a critic that I can but conclude that he had not seen any of 
the better class instruments made by Cahusac. A violin 
dated 1796 owned by Mr. R. P. Cardell, of Birkdale, South- 
port, was made of fine wood, and covered with a dark amber 
varnish which is perfectly transparent, the workmanship 
being faultless, and the tone equal, sonorous, and responsive. 
I have seen three other violins of his make, which were of 
fine workmanship and tone. Messrs. George Withers and 
Sons have in their collection a nice example of his work. It 
is a pity that these old makers should be hastily judged on 
insufficient evidence. Label printed : 


NO. 196 


17 LONDON 96 

CAIRNS, P., Portobello, Edinburgh. He makes violins 
on what he calls " the acute angle principle." 1 saw two of 


these instruments recently at a music shop in Nicolson 
Street, Edinburgh. The workmanship was beautiful, but 1 
cannot say what the tone was like. 

CAKIN, FRANCIS, Edinburgh. 

CALOW, F. W., Nottingham. Son and pupil of the late 
William Calow. He is established in business at Sussex 
Street, as a professional maker and repairer. He makes 
double basses principally, which are on the viol model, with 
Guarnerian sound-holes. He stamps his name on the back 
below the button. 

CALOW, WILLIAM, Nottingham: 1847-1910. He 
was born at Tansley, near Matlock, Derbyshire, and was the 
son of Thomas Calow, who also made a few instruments. 
He made violins, violas, and a large number of double basses, 
gaining a considerable reputation for his larger instruments. 
One double bass which 1 saw was well made, and had an 
immense volume of tone of good quality. He used oil 
varnishes mostly, but he occasionally used a thin spirit 
varnish for his double basses ; colours : orange, and nut- 
brown. He was considered a first-class repairer. Facsimile 
label : 


CANNON, JAMES, Dumfries. An amateur who has 
made several nice instruments on the Strad model. He 
uses Whitelaw's varnish. Label handwritten. 

CARR, JOHN, Falkirk. He was born at Berwick-on- 
Tweed, in 1839. He na< ^ a music shop in Falkirk, where he 
also had a good connection as a teacher of the violin. He 
was a pupil of Robert Harvie and James Thompson, and 
made about seventy instruments. 

CARROLL, JAMES & SON, Manchester. I am not 
sure whether the father is living and working, but father 
and son were working some years ago in Great Jackson 
Street, Hulme, and had made up to that time about five 
hundred instruments of one sort and another. I have seen 
only two or three violins bearing their label, but I have seen 
several of their make bearing forged labels of third-rate old 
Italian makers. Who inserted the spurious labels into these 
fiddles I cannot say. The workmanship of the instruments 
I have seen was good, and ^ the tone large and respon- 

Facsimile label : 

James Carroll, Maker, 

Manchester, Anno 

CARTER, JOHN, London : 1780-90. He worked 
mostly for John Betts, and only occasionally on his own 
account. He was an excellent maker, and helped consider- 
ably to swell the. fame of Betts. I have seen one violin of 
his make, on the Amati model, which had a moderately 
powerful but beautifully sweet and responsive tone. The 



varnish is usually of a golden brown tint, thinly laid on. 
Label : 




LONDON, 1785. 

CARTWRIGHT, W. J., Yeadon, Leeds. 

CHALLONER, THOMAS, London. Some time in the 
eighteenth century. 

works at present at 54 Wells Street, Oxford Street, as a 
professional maker and repairer, but up to about two years 
ago he lived in Plymouth, where he had been established for 
many years as a professional maker. He was born at Totnes, 
in 1862, and apprenticed in early life as a cabinet maker. 
He made such rapid progress at his trade that at the age of 
twenty-one he became foreman of one of the largest cabinet 
shops in Devonport, with about thirty men and apprentices 
under his charge. At the age of twenty-five he commenced 
business on his own account, and he was appointed at the 
same time technical instructor in carving and carpentry to 
a local institution. 

He commenced to make violins in 1887, first as a hobby, 
and during spare time : in a year or two he resolved to give 
up all other work and devote the whole of his time and energy 
to the art of constructing and repairing violins. That he 
decided wisely is abundantly proved by the very beautiful 
work he now produces. He is in the foremost rank of 
present day makers, and it is a pity that so much of his time 
is taken up with repairs. 

Repairing is, of course, of great importance, demanding 
intelligence and skill, but it is a loss that craftsmen with a 


To face p. 118. 


special gift for designing and making have to devote the best 
energy of their life to it. 

In his earlier work Mr. Channon adhered strictly to the 
grand Strad model, but latterly he has worked on a model of 
his own, the principal measurements of which are I3f f , 6-f , 
4if > 8 i ( the three last Actions may, of course, be expressed 
in 32nds.). The sound-holes are 3 inches, and the C's 3^- 
inch long. The thickness of the back is T 3 ^ diminishing to 
J, and the table is J all over. The outline of this model is 
simple and graceful, the curves of the C's as they approach 
the corners being not quite so pronounced as in the Strad 
model, and the linear difference in the width across the upper 
and lower bouts is not so great as in the grand Strad. Viewed 
as a whole the outline is well balanced, and the curves easy 
and proportionate. The scroll and sound-holes are of 
Stradivarian character, beautifully designed and placed, 
and the corners are full without being obtrusive. There is 
a sense of gentle restraint about the model that is very 
pleasing to the trained eye. Violin makers, especially 
beginners, frequently break out into original models, and 
where the hand and the eye have not been severely trained, 
there is little control over the curves. To produce a perfect 
model (using the word model here to include outline and 
arching) due regard must be paid to five cardinal principles : 
unity, repose, symmetry, purity, moderation. Only he who 
is able to combine these five principles and to express them 
in forms can design a perfect violin model. Symmetry and 
moderation are often lacking in the corners of modern 
fiddles. There was much solidity and withal moderation 
and repose in the quaint and quiet corners of old Maggini. 
When Stradivari waked those corners out of their slumber 
in his own work, he did all that pure art dare do. Many of 
his imitators have added two pairs of miniature wings to 
their instruments, and the result is grotesque. 

Mr. Channon has not only succeeded in producing a 
beautiful model : he also produces a fine tone. After all, 
the tone is the chief thing, and all the skill and care lavished 


on the workmanship would be energy wasted if the tone did 
not come out rightly. Artists who use his instruments say 
that the tone is rich and mellow, easy to get, and equal on 
all the strings. The following facsimile is that of the label 
used by the maker while working in Plymouth ; the word 
" London " being substituted for " Plymouth " in the one 
now used. 



H A N N ON. 


CHANOT, G. A., Manchester. This artist has been long 
established as a professional maker and repairer in Man- 
chester, and is justly esteemed for his integrity and affability 
in business and for his ability as a craftsman. The Chanots 
are Anglo-French, but have been so long settled in this 
country as to become regarded as almost pure-bred Britons. 
Their better class work is of a high order (I am speaking of 
the Chanots generally), and 1 have seen violins made by 
Georges Chanot (" Old " Chanot, as he was familiarly called) 
of London, that could with truth be described as modern 
" classics." I have also seen instruments with the label 
of one or other of the Chanots in them which were hardly of 
more than average merit. The disparity is due to the vary- 
ing ability and experience of the workmen who made them, 
for they were not all made by the Chanots themselves. All 
the principal firms of the country employ workmen to make 
instruments for them, and they put their trade labels in 
these instruments. This may not be a practice which has 
much in it to recommend it, but such are the business 
methods of to-day, and it availeth naught to quarrel with 


To face p. 1 20. 


The Chanots have a lineage reaching back to the middle 
of the eighteenth century, probably earlier, for there was 
one of that name, an instrument maker, living and working 
in Vignon, Provence, towards the end of the seventeenth 
century, who may not unreasonably be supposed to have 
some connection with the Chanots of Mirecourt of a genera- 
tion or two later. Franc, ois Chanot, who was born at 
Mirecourt in 1788, was the first to experiment scientifically 
with" the view of learning something of the acoustics of the 
violin, and he it was that paved the way for the researches 
of Dr. Felix Savart. Georges Chanot, of Paris, grandfather 
of the present Chanot of Manchester, and of London, was a 
maker, expert, and dealer of European repute. His instru- 
ments are rising in value annually, and will probably reach 
a considerable figure in the future. Obviously, the Chanot 
tradition is of some importance to the student of violin 
literature, and to neglect it is to leave out one of the most 
fascinating chapters in the history of violin progress in this 
country. For, be it remembered, the Chanots have exerted 
an influence upon other violin makers of their time to an 
extent which is not, perhaps, realized by the rising genera- 
tion of professional and amateur makers. To begin with, 
they were the trainers of quite a number of men who became 
first-class artists, but of more importance still is the indirect 
yet wider influence they wielded through their work. For 
a considerable slice of the second half of last century, 
Georges Chanot was almost the only really first-class and 
properly trained violin maker in this country. William 
Elsworth Hill and George Hart (senior) made few new 
instruments, and there were only the Withers (father and 
sons) and some two or three besides. Chanot came to 
London to work under Maucotel in 1851, full of enthusiasm 
for his art ; in 1858 he started business on his own account, 
and it was not long before he was recognized as facile 
princeps of the small band of fiddle makers in this country. 
For many years before he became a dealer of some importance 
he was a maker of really great importance. His new fiddles 

- ? 


were bought, played upon, and appreciated. I do not think 
I am over-estimating his influence when 1 say it was great. 
Whether his abilities were of such high order as to stamp 
him as a genius may very well be questioned, but he was 
industrious, and it has been well said that : "If you have 
great talents, industry will improve them ; if you have but 
moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency. 
Nothing is denied to well-directed labour : nothing is to be 
obtained without it." (Sir Joshua Rynolds, Discourse on 

The revival of violin making in England dates from about 
the time when Chanot (plre) had reached his high water 
mark. In 1882 Mr. Heron-Allen became his pupil, and 
shortly after gave to the readers of Amateur Work Illustrated 
that brilliant series of articles which has been reproduced 
in book form under the title of Violin Making : As it Was 
and Is. Various influences gathered into one force at this 
juncture, and these articles (which embodied the Chanot 
tradition) acting like a telegraph wire conducted them in the 
right direction, so that the art was " fanned into a flame out 
of the embers of its dead self." 

This is a most interesting period in the history of violin 
making in Britain. All real revivals are interesting, whether 
in art, literature, or religion. We have watched the flowers 
of winter wither and die, but behold ! out of their mould 
comes the crop of another spring, flower by flower at first 
a laughing primrose or a timid violet by-and-by a joyous 
chorus of purple heather : that is what we see in the English 
violin world in the eighties of last century, and the fiddle 
fancier looks back admiringly upon it. 

A large number of instruments have been turned out by 
the Manchester firm. Mr. Chanot may not be the actual 
maker of all of them, because some years ago he employed 
several skilful craftsmen, but all the work reaches a high 
standard of excellence. Some of the violins are quite equal 
to the best work of " Old " Chanot. I tried one last year 
which had been made about ten years ago, and it had a 

(" Old " Chanct.) 

To face p. 122. 


large, clear, and mellow tone, with an unmistakable Italian 
ring about it. The instrument was on the grand Strad 
model, varnished golden red. 

Another member of the family has a business in London, 
but I have not seen any of his work. Facsimile label : 

Z X A i 0. i A A A A A. A A. .1 Ail' 

G.A*C D HA 8 NOT. 


MANCHESTER, A.D. \QQb.. 5SR3ffl 

>fi^g^:_^ ^r.. 


CHRISTIE, JAMES, Dundee. Born at Arbroath in 
1857. He nas made a good number of violins on the models 
of Stradivari and Guarneri, considerably modified according 
to his own ideas. The workmanship is good, and the tone 
large and bright. 

CHRISTIE, JOHN, Kincardine-on-Forth. He died 
about 1859. He made a large number of instruments on 
the Amati and some on the Strad models. The workmanship 
and tone are very good. His work would be excellent if he 
had used oil varnish. 

CLARK, JAMES, London : 1770-95. A pupil of 
Matthew Furber. He worked in Turmill Street, Clerkenwell. 
Average work and tone. 

COLE, JAMES, Manchester : nineteenth century. He 
was a pupil of William Tarr, and worked afterwards with 
George Craske. I have not seen any of his work and 
cannot say anything about it, but old Tarr did not entertain 
a very high opinion of his abilities. He used a label in his 
early work, but for his later work he used a punch stamp. 

COLE, THOMAS, London : 1670-90. He made lutes 
and viols chiefly, and it is not certain that he made any 
violins. One or two tenors have been seen. 


COLLIER AND DA VIES, London : about 1770-80. 

COLLIER, SAMUEL, London : 1740-60. He worked 
at " Corelli's Head/' London Bridge. I have seen one 
violin of his make, on the Stainer model, varnished dark 
yellow, with a small, husky tone. 

COLLIER, THOMAS, London : about 1775. Perhaps 
the partner of Davies (Collier and Da vies), or a son. 

COLLINS, WILLIAM HENRY, London. He was born 
in the parish of Marylebone in 1860, and he works (or did 
work ten years ago) at 21 Poland Street, W. He has made 
a good number of violins on the Strad and Guarneri models, 
and he also repairs a good deal, but I am not aware whether 
he has adopted violin making and repairing as a profession. 
The work is beautifully finished throughout, and the tone 
is of a very good quality. Facsimile label :- 


COLVILLE, DAVID, Cupar : 1845-85. He made many 
instruments on the models of Amati and Stradivari. I saw 
and tried one of his Amati copies years ago : it was well made, 
of beautifully figured wood, and had a pure and sweet 
tone. He was a born artist, and had he led a less chequered 
career would have produced still better work. He visited 
New Zealand, Australia, Canada by turns, and never settled 
down in one place or at one thing long. No label, but written 
in pencil across the back : 


COLVIN, GAVIN, Sunderland : 1841-1910. A native 
of Lerwick, Shetland. He made a number of violins on 
various models. 



CONNOR, ANTHONY, Newcastle. Now living I 

CONWAY, WILLIAM, London : 1740-50. 

COOPER, HUGH WILLIAM, Glasgow. Born 1848, 
and as far as I know, is still living. Up to ten years ago he 
had made fifty violins, or thereabouts some on the Strad 
and some on the Joseph model. The later ones were of 
excellent workmanship and tone. Facsimile label : 




CORSBY, , Northampton : 1780. Double-basses 


CORSBY, GEORGE, London : 1785-1800. Principally 
a dealer, but made a few violins on the Amati model, of 
average merit. Probably a brother of the Corsby of 

CRAIG, JOHN, Edinburgh. Born at Myreside, Forfar- 
shire, in 1860, and is probably still living and working. He 
is a joiner by trade, and only makes violins during spare 
time, but his work is excellent. The model is original and 
shows that the designer is gifted with the artistic instinct. 
It is a pity he does not take up the craft professionally. 
He produces a good tone, and his work will improve with 
age and good use. Facsimile label : 




A.D. /.f.ff.O 


CRAMOND, CHARLES, Aberdeen : 1800-33. A pro- 
lific maker, much of whose work is of considerable merit. 
He worked on an original model, the outline of which differs 
only slightly from that of Amati, but which has the arching 
considerably increased. The wood is usually of good 
quality, but it is often of a plain figure. The varnish is 
a spirit one ; colour, yellow to dark brown. The tone is 
rather small, but clear, sweet, and responsive. He left 
many of his instruments too thin in wood, and these have not 
improved with age and use. Label printed : - 


ABERDEEN, 1815. 

CRASKE, GEORGE, Bath, Birmingham, Stockport, 
and elsewhere : about 1791-1889. Craske's father is 
supposed to have been of foreign extraction, if he was not 
actually a foreigner. Out of the three thousand odd instru- 
ments that he is said to have made, 1 have seen about a 
score that I knew for certain to be his work. Doubtless I 
have seen a good many more which were made by him, but 
which are now ascribed to somebody else. The material of 
very many of his instruments is beautiful, and the work- 
manship fine, but the tone is often disappointing. He was 
a pupil of " Old " Forster, and he made many instruments 
for dementi, and for Dodd, the bow maker. Besides 
copying Guarnerius his usual model he made several 
clever copies of Amati and Stradivari, from templets and 
measurements taken from a Strad and an Amati owned by 
Sir Patrick Blake, of Langlam Hall, Suffolk. Whilst in 
Birmingham, he is said to have been once engaged by 
Paganini to do some repairs to his violin. 

Craske worked in Salford, amongst other places, for about 
twenty years, and lived the life of a recluse during the whole 
of that period, allowing no one to enter his workshop except 
Mr. George Crompton, his friend, who became his successor 
in business. He lived retired at Bath for many years before 


he died, in affluent circumstances. He died in November, 
1889, at the advanced age of ninety-eight. He was a man of 
striking appearance and unique personality. " His head 
was exactly the same shape and measure as Shakespeare's " 
so writes Mr. George Crompton. How he knew I cannot 

CROSS, NATHANIEL, London : 1700-51. Some 
suppose that he was a pupil of Stainer, but that is mere 
conjecture. His instruments, although made on the 
Stainer model, are sufficient proof, one would think, that he 
never received a day's training in the great atelier at Absam. 
From 1700 to 1720 (before he entered into partnership with 
Barak Norman) they are rather plain and tasteless, large and 
highly arched, with short, blunt corners, and an exaggerated 
fluting round the edge, forming the purfling bed. From 1720 
on the work improves very much, greater attention being 
paid to accuracy of detail, and both outline and arching 
being considerably modified, but he never got rid of the 
acute fluting round the edge. He cut some excellent scrolls. 
He used a soft, elastic varnish, varying in colour from light 
yellow to light brown. The tone although frequently small 
is usually firm, clear, and mellow. He marked his instru- 
ments on the back inside with his initials and a ^ above. 
After he entered into partnership with Norman the label 


CROSTON, J., Leigh, Lancashire. An amateur maker 
now living. 

CROWTHER, JOHN, London : 1750-1810. He worked 
in Haughton Street, Clare Market, and occasionally for 
John Kennedy. Stainer and Amati models. Work of 
average merit. 

CUMMING, ANDREW, Portpatrick. Poor work. 


CUTHBERT, , London : seventeenth century. 

He was chiefly a maker of viols, and is not supposed to have 
made many violins. I have never seen any of his work. 

CUTHBERT, JAMES, Hownam, N.B. A school- 
master, now living, who has made a few instruments en 

CUTTER, EDWIN, East Compton, near Bristol. Born 
at Kingsland, Herefordshire, in 1866. He is a wheelwright 
by trade, but has made a considerable number of violins 
during spare time. The outline is original, a little bold and 
squarish in appearance. He uses native sycamore for the 
back and ribs. The workmanship is very good, and the 
tone is powerful. With a better model and material he 
would doubtless produce very good work. 

DALGARNO, THOMAS, Aberdeen : 1860-70. Work- 
manship and tone fairly good. He left the majority of his 
instruments thin in the wood, and the tone will not therefore 
continue to improve. 

DALTON, B., Leeds. I know nothing of him. 

DARBEY, GEORGE, Bristol. He lives at Cremona 
House, Perry Road, where he has a music warehouse, and a 
large, well-appointed atelier. He is one of the best pro- 
fessional makers and repairers in Great Britain at the present 
time. He was born at Taunton, in 1849, and came to 
Bristol in early life with his father, who established a cabinet 
factory there. As soon as he had completed his education, 
he was put to the bench, and trained as a wood carver and 
cabinet maker a splendid foundation for the career he was 
to adopt later, when left to the exercise of his own free will. 
He has been established in Bristol as a maker and repairer of 


To face p. 128. 


stringed instruments and bows for nearly forty years, and 
his long, and in many respects unique experience, joined to 
his extraordinary skill as a craftsman, has won for him a 
reputation which extends as far as Britain itself, and prob- 
ably further. Speaking of his skill as a repairer Fleming 
says : " there is probably no man in this country with a 
more complete knowledge or a higher reputation in the art 
of restoring old instruments. Some of his work that I have 
seen I do not hesitate to place in line with the finest efforts 
of modern French artists and that is saying not a little " 
(Vide " The Bazaar, The Exchange and Mart," May 25 : 

Judging by what I have seen of Mr. Darbey's work, I 
thoroughly concur with this verdict. I regret that my 
acquaintance with this maker's new work is so limited that 
it does not enable me to form a proper estimate of his 
abilities and of the qualities of his instruments. 1 cannot 
therefore do better than again to quote from Fleming, who 
says : " Nothing that has passed through my hands for 
many years approaches this specimen [one of Darbey's 
violins] in regard to beauty of workmanship or quality of 
tone. In both respects it is difficult to speak too highly 
of it. The purity and responsiveness of the tone are alto- 
gether remarkable. With the lightest touch it leaves the 
instrument as freely as with a full stroke, and as that may 
be called the ideal of tone production no more need be said 
on that point." 

Mr. Darbey has made a few instruments on the models of 
Amati, Gagliano, and Guarneri, but his favourite model is 
the grand Strad, and to this he has strictly adhered for 
many years. 

He has made a large number of bows. Of these I have 
seen not a few, and need only say that I consider them 
superb. In this branch of his art, Mr. Darbey has succeeded 
in giving unqualified satisfaction to such players as Sarasate 
and Wilhelmj. He employs no assistance of any kind : he 
has no pupils and no workmen. All the work, including the 


making of the purfling, the fittings for the bows, etc., is made 
by his own hands, so that instrument and bow alike, from 
start to finish, are the handiwork of George Darbey. 

He uses a beautiful oil varnish of his own make, the colour 
of which is mostly orange red. Facsimile label : 

George Darbey, Cremona House, 
Bristol. Anno 100 (GDj 

^-*n^>^. C&ks*j<4rtS' M ^^^^^ X 

DAVIDSON, KAY, Huntly : 1860-75. Rather poor 
work, with a loud, harsh tone. 

DAVIDSON, PETER, Forres : 1834-86. Born at 
Speyside, and went to the United States some years ago, 
He was only an amateur, but made a number of very fair 
instruments. He wrote " The Violin : Its Construction 
Theoretically and Practically Treated," a very interesting 
but wholly unreliable work. He was an excise officer, and a 

DAVIDSON, WILLIAM, Edinburgh: 1827-1902. Made 
a large number of instruments of fairly good workmanship 
and tone. 

DAVIS, RICHARD, London : 1775-1836. He was for 
some time in the employ of Norris & Barnes, and in 1816, at 
the death of Norris, he succeeded to the business. He did 
not make many instruments himself, but employed others 
to work for him. The few instruments he made are not on 
any particular model, are indifferently made, and have a 
rather loud, piercing tone. He carried on a very consider- 
able trade in old instruments. He retired towards the end 
of his life, leaving the business to William Davis. He died 
at Bussage in 1836, and was buried in Bisley Churchyard. 


DAVIS, WILLIAM, London : about 1790-1850. Cousin 
to the preceding Richard Davis, and his successor in busi- 
ness. He did not make many instruments, but employed 
Charles Maucotel and others to work for him. He sold his 
business in 1846 to Edward Withers, and retired to Bussage. 

DAY, JOHN, London : eighteenth century. He copied 
old Italian instruments closely, and sometimes turned out 
very good work. 

DIJARLOVE, MARK, Leeds: 1810-20. He made a 
few copies of a Stradivari violin which came into his posses- 

FRYER, Leeds : 1828-65. Dearlove employed others to 
work for him, such as Gough, Absam, Fryer, etc. Fryer 
he eventually took into partnership, and the instruments 
which have their joint label are fairly well made, on various 
models, but mostly on that of Stradivari. Label printed : 




DEIGHTON, J. R., Newcastle-on-Tyne. Living and 
working now, I believe, but I am not certain, and I know 
nothing of his work. 

DELANY, JOHN, Dublin : 1795-1810. He followed 
the Amati model, and was very successful in producing a 
good tone. I saw one of his violins many years ago in 
Waterford, which was well made, rather small, and had 
a clear and sweet tone. The back was of plain wood, cut 
on the slab. It had rather wide sound-holes, and corners 
that were a trifle blunt. There is a fine example of his work 
in the National Museum of Science and Art, Dublin. The 
Rev. Father Greaven, who knows more about Irish violin 
makers than anybody else, says that he " was a fine maker 


and a very erratic genius. He was by trade a cabinet maker, 
and showed the true artist in wood work." The Republican 
spirit was strong in Delaney, as in most Irishmen at that 
time, and he gave expression to it in his label, which ran : 


DUBLIN, 1808. 

DENNIS, JESSE, London : 1795-1860. Pupil of John 
Crowther, and for some time workman to Matthew Furber. 
Very few instruments of his are known, but Mr. P. Pettitt, 
musical instrument dealer, of Iden, Sussex, reports that he 
has seen a well-made violoncello of his make. 

DEVEREUX, JOHN, Melbourne : nineteenth century. 
Before he emigrated he worked for some time with B. Simon 

DEVONEY, FRANK, Blackpool and Canada. He made 
many instruments before he emigrated, which were on an 
original model, strongly built but rather roughly made. 
They were covered with a reddish amber oil varnish of his 
own make. They have a powerful but rather harsh tone. 

DEWARS, WILLIAM, Brechin, N.B., but now of 

Minneapolis. He is a native of Brechin, and was born in 
1878. The instruments he made before he emigrated were 
very promising. 

DICKENSON, EDWARD, London: 1750-90. He 
worked at the " Harp and Crown/' in the Strand. Inferior 
work on the Stainer model. 

DICKESON, JOHN, London and Cambridge : 1750-80. 
An instrument of his make, on the Amati model, was owned 
by a Mr. Jenner, of Bath, a few years ago. It had very 
pretty wood, light brown varnish, and a small, silvery tone. 
Label : 



DICKIE, WILLIAM, Rotherham. He died about 
twelve or fifteen years ago. I have not seen any of his 
instruments, but the late Mr. James Smith, of Ashcroft 
House, Wentworth, near Rotherham, formerly well-known 
in musical circles, thought rather highly of them, and said 
they have a good tone. 

DICKSON, GEORGE, Edinburgh. A doctor, a clever 
amateur, and the maker of a beautiful amber oil varnish. 
He died about seven years ago, at an advanced age. 

DICKSON, JOHN, London : 1725-60. Possibly the 
same as the John Dickeson noticed above. 

DITTON, , London : about 1700. Mention is made 

of a violin by him in the list of musical instruments in the 
collection of Tom Britton. 

DODD, EDWARD, Sheffield and London : 1705-1810. 
He died in London at the advanced age of 105. He lived in 
Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, and was buried in St. Bride's 
Churchyard. He considerably improved the form of violin 

DODD, JOHN, London : 1752-1839. He was born in 
Stirling ; he died in Richmond workhouse, and was buried 
at Kew. He has been styled the English " Tourte," and 
much of his work justifies the application of that title to him. 
But a great deal of his work, it must be admitted, is not for 
a moment to be classed with the work of the great Francois 
Tourte. Had he lived a more virtuous life he probably 
would have made bows of more uniform excellence. Many 
of his bows were made in haste, and sold for a few shillings, 
to replenish an empty larder and to quench a great thirst. 
His frequent bacchanalia brought many troubles on his own 
head, and much annoyance to those who interested them- 
selves on his behalf. He came nigh unto utter destitution 
many a time, and had it not been for the kindness of Dr. 
Selle and Mr. Richard Platt, of Richmond, he would have 


prematurely ended his days on the roadside. He ended 
them in the workhouse as it was. 

He was a pupil of his father, the Edward Dodd previously 
noticed, and he improved so much upon the work of his 
father, and upon the work of everybody else in England in 
those days, that his bows have maintained an undiminished 
reputation down to the present time. His method of cutting 
his bows was primitive, and it has not been adopted by any 
great bow maker since his time. He cut the bow in a curve 
out of a block, and thus dispensed with the usual plan of 
cutting it straight and bending by heat. In his case, a 
roundabout way became a shorter cut. I have seen a fair 
number of Dodd bows, and I am convinced that all I have 
seen were cut in this manner. 

Dodd's name was stamped on all sorts of bows some of 
them wretched enough in the middle of last century, and 
his fame has suffered much in consequence. But his work 
has suffered more than his fame, for there are hundreds of 
mongrel " Dodds " about, some with genuine heels, others 
with genuine heads, and not a few patched up in divers ways. 
The owner of a genuine Dodd bow, of anything like full 
length, made in his best style, and in good preservation, has 
a treasure he can well be proud of. 

DODD, EDWARD & THOMAS, London : 1830-43. 
Pupils of Bernhard Fendt. Thomas died at an early age, and 
Edward was accidentally drowned, in 1843. 

DODD, THOMAS, London : 1786-1823. He was a son 
of Edward Dodd, of Sheffield, previously noticed. He did 
not make many instruments himself, but employed very 
clever workmen to do so for him. He was first of all a bow 
maker in Blue Bell Alley, Mint Street, South wark, and 
became a violin maker and dealer in 1798, opening a shop 
in New Street, Covent Garden, which he removed in 1809 
to St. Martin's Lane. Later on he added another sail to his 
craft, and became a harp and pianoforte maker. The 
instruments which have his label are mostly the work of 


John Lott and Bernhard Fendt. These were excellent 
enough workmen in themselves, but the spirit of Dodd 
brooded over them whilst fashioning these magnificent 
instruments. Dodd was an enthusiastic connoisseur, with 
a mind steeped in Italian lore, and he brought his knowledge 
to bear upon the work at every turn. It is impossible to 
say how much of the work beyond the varnishing was 
actually his own, probably very little. With two such clever 
men to carry out his instructions, there was no occasion for 
him to handle the gouge and chisel. When the instruments 
were completed " in the white," Dodd overhauled them 
carefully and then varnished them himself. His varnish is 
excellent. It is quite equal to that of Benjamin Banks, and 
he applied it more skilfully than Banks was sometimes wont 
to do. It ranges in colour from golden amber to deep 
golden red, and it is rich and transparent. He kept its 
composition as a great secret, and was careful to let no one 
see him make or apply it. The ingredients were, however, 
only the ordinary and well-known gums and resins, mixed 
in better proportions and more methodically than was 
customary then. Most of the varnishes of the early part of 
the nineteenth century were hard, inelastic, and lustreless 
enough, and Dodd's oil varnish showed to great advantage 
by contrast with them. 

Instruments bearing Dodd's labels are of various models : 
Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, Bergonzi, Stainer, etc., but are 
of uniform excellence as regards finish and tone. He used 
two kinds of labels : 






Perfect copies of Stradivari, Amati, Stainer, &c. Note. The only 
possessor of the recipe for preparing the original Cremona oil varnish. 


DODDS, EDWARD, Edinburgh : 1817 till about 1890. 
He worked at i Charlotte Place, as a professional maker 
and repairer, and made about three hundred instruments. 
I have not been fortunate enough to see one instrument 
of his make, but I was assured by the late Dr. Dickson that 
they are of excellent workmanship and tone. 

DOLLARD, , Dublin. Mentioned by Father Grea- 

ven as a contemporary and follower of Thomas Perry. 

DORANT, WILLIAM, London : 1800-20. He worked 
at 63 Winfield Street, Brick Lane, Spitalfields. Average 

DUFF, WILLIAM, Dunkeld : 1810-82. A gamekeeper 
on the Athole estate, and an amateur fiddle maker. Rather 
poor work and varnish, but the tone is sometimes of fair 

DUGHLEY, JOHN, Leicester : 1850-70. Poor work. 

DUKE, RICHARD, London : 1750-80. There are no 
reliable biographical particulars of this great artist. I have 
searched numerous records, registers, and transcripts for 
the dates of his birth, marriage, and death, but could dis- 
cover nothing that I was quite sure referred to him. A 
Richard Duke, son of Richard and Catherine Duke was 
baptized in the parish of S. Giles, Cripplegate, on June 10, 
1709, and the entry may, or may not, refer to him. The 
name of Duke I found to be common enough in the registers 
and diocesan transcripts of old London parishes appertaining 
to the eighteenth century, and it was quite hopeless in the 
absence of some definite clue to look for the information 1 

Duke adopted the Stainer and Amati models, and one or 
two writers say that he made a few violins on the Strad 
model, but these are so few in number that they may be 
considered a, negligible quantity. Jt has been said that 


" imitation is the sincerest form of flattery " ; if that is so, 
then Duke is the most sincerely flattered of all the old 
English makers. His fame in the eighteenth century was 
greater even than the fame of Banks. The reason for this 
is not far to seek : he made the best copies of Stainer that 
were ever produced in this country, and as Stainer was the 
ruling idol, naturally the instruments which most nearly 
approached his model would have the preference. In this 
way Duke won his laurels. The Duke cult was at the 
heyday of its popularity when Banks and Forster were 
turning out their best Amati copies. For some reason or 
another Richard was strongly prepossessed in favour of the 
German model, and he did not copy the Italian model as 
often nor as felicitously as he might have done. For 
example, the soundholes of his Amati copies differ very little 
from those of his Stainer copies. Not that he put inferior 
work into his Amati copies, as Banks was doing when 
copying Stainer ; on the other hand, his workmanship is 
always fine, whatever he did or whomsoever he copied, but 
he had drunk more deeply of the German than of the Italian 
spirit. In the opinion of connoisseurs to-day the Amati 
copies may be the more valuable, but there is not the 
slightest doubt in my mind that Duke and his patrons did 
not share in the same view. His patrons were mostly 
rich and well-to-do people. Many Duke violins are in the 
possession of county people at the present time : I know 
several. Fleming expresses the opunion that genuine Duke 
instruments are extremely rare. I am of the opinion that 
there exists a larger number of genuine Duke fiddles than 
there does of Banks and Forster ("Old") fiddles put 
together ; but they are not to be found in dealers' shops, 
they are fossilizing in dust heaps in the garrets of country 
mansions. There were hundreds of fine amateur players 
among the gentlefolk of those days, when the facilities for 
attending music halls, opera houses, etc, were so few and far 
between. Vivid sidelights are thrown on the manners and 
customs of society by the gossipy diary of old Samuel 


Pepys : these are concerned with a century earlier, it is 
true, but the habits of the people had not materially changed 
in the middle of the eighteenth century. Pepys enters in 
his Diary under November 21, 1660 : "At night to my 
violin (the first time that I have played on it since I came to 
this house) in my dining-room, and afterwards to my lute 
there, and I took much pleasure to have the neighbours come 
forth into the yard to hear me." 

It will be admitted, 1 think, with regard to the workman- 
ship of Duke, that it evinces consummate ability and skill. 
The finest examples of this artist are not a whit inferior to 
those of Banks, except as regards model and varnish, and 
in one particular, at least, they are superior, viz., in the 
carving of the scroll, but this remark applies to only the 
very finest of them. Duke was a busy man and did not 
always have the time at his command to make his best. 
Banks and Forster worked more at leisure, and the former 
was helping to create a taste for better things a task which 
generally has a modifying effect on the relation between 
demand and supply. I do not understand why it is thought 
that Duke's Stainer copies are not quite so good as his 
Amati copies. I submit that they are as good intrinsically, 
and better copies. Duke was too thoroughly imbued with 
Stainer ideas to allow room in his mind for anything else. 
There is no perceptible difference in the tone, be the work 
German or Italian in character. It is a responsive, silvery, 
mellow tone in either case. 

Duke's varnish is elastic, tender, and transparent, but it 
lacks " fire." If I were asked to give an imaginary pen- 
picture of the man, I should describe him as thick-set, 
broad-browed, keen-eyed, and dignified-looking, and as one 
who had a very correct but somewhat cold taste in matters 
artistic. That is the sort of man I see in my mind's eye 
hard at work fashioning these chaste, sober, broad-chested 

Fine specimens of Duke's work rarely come into the 
market ; when they do, they fetch a fair price. Violins 


in good condition sell at anything between 25 and 35. 
Needless to say, the market is flooded with counterfeit 
" Dukes." With the exception of the great Stradivari I 
do not think anybody has been counterfeited so often ; 
certainly not in this country. 

As far as is known, Duke had only three pupils, his son 
Richard, John Betts, and Edward Betts. He often branded 
his instruments under the button " Duke, London/' 

Labels : 





ANNO 1768. 

Both of these were usually hand-written, but No. 2 was 
sometimes printed. The following was always printed : 






DUKE, RICHARD, London: about 1770-85. Son 
and pupil of the preceding. The few instruments of his 
make which remain show that he was greatly inferior to his 
father as a craftsman. He branded his violins similarly to 
his father, and usually left them unlabelled. 

DUNCAN, , Aberdeen : about 1760. 

DUNCAN, GEORGE, Glasgow: 1855-92. He was 
born in 1855, an ^ left this country for America in 1892. 


There appears to be little doubt that he has made some 
magnificent instruments, on the models of Stradivari and 
Guarneri, and varnished with a beautiful oil varnish of a 
golden red or orange red tint. He was awarded a gold 
medal for a case of violins at the London Exhibition of 
Inventions and Music in 1885. The tone of his instruments 
is large, rich, and beautifully clear and responsive. He had 
made about forty violins before he left this country, all of 
them of the highest standard of excellence. 

DYKER, GEORGE, Drumduan, Forres, N.B. An 
amateur now living who has made several beautiful violins 
on the Strad model. He uses excellent wood, and the 
workmanship is faultless. The artist hand is seen in every 
detail of the work, and the tone is fine. I have never seen 
better work by an amateur. Scotland is peculiarly for- 
tunate in possessing a large number of talented craftsmen 
who employ their spare hours in " moulding ribs, carving 
heads, and shaping fiddles." 

DYKES, GEORGE LANGTON, London, contemporary. 
He is a son of the well-known violin collector and 
expert, Mr. Harry Dykes, of 61 New Bond Street, and was 
born in Leeds, October n, 1884. After receiving a sound 
education, which included a working knowledge of French 
and German, he became a pupil in violin making of the late 
Paul Bailly, of Mirecourt and Paris, and was early initiated 
into the mysteries of the craft. His rare gifts enabled him 
in a short time to master the science and art of fiddle con- 
struction, and although he is still a comparatively young 
man, it is doubtful whether any one in this country, even 
among his seniors, possesses a profounder knowledge of the 
subject in all its branches than he does. Apart from a 
regular apprenticeship, served under a master, he has had 
the immense additional advantage of the sound expert 
knowledge and long experience of his father to draw upon. 
His opportunities, moreover, have been almost unique, for 


To face p. 140. 


some of the finest instruments in existence have passed 
through the hands of the Messrs. Dyl^es and Sons, whose 
establishment is of world-wide reputation. 

Mr. Dykes made his first violin in his early teens, and he 
had completed quite a considerable number of instruments 
by the time he had attained his majority. The workman- 
ship, as was naturally to be expected, is of a high order, and 
the tone of a very fine quality. Latterly, he has turned his 
attention to antique instruments of the viol tribe, being 
specially interested in the viol d'amour, which instrument he 
thinks is likely to be revived in the near future, both for 
orchestral and chamber purposes. Most of his time, how- 
ever, is taken up with the business of the establishment, 
more especially in superintending the important work carried 
out in the repairing and making department. 

Mr. Dykes is a born artist ; he lives, moves, and has his 
being in an atmosphere of art, and he venerates art for its 
own sake. Fine art, Ruskin tells us, " is that in which the 
hand, the head, and the heart of man go together " : if so, 
I know of no one who can lay better claim to-day to the title 
of High-Priest of Fine Art than this enthusiastic devotee of 
the fiddle cult. 


EADIE, J., Glasgow : nineteenth century. I have not 
seen any of his instruments, but the late Dr. Dickson, of 
Edinburgh, had seen a number of them, and said they were 
very well made and had a good tone. 

EGLINGTON, ; about 1800. 

ELLIOT, WILLIAM, Hawick : contemporary. He was 
born at Kirton, in the parish of Cavers, about four miles 
from Hawick, in 1862. After receiving a sound elementary 
education as most Scottish children do he was appren- 
ticed to the joinery trade. His forbears, as far back as their 



history goes, were all connected with the joinery, carpentry, 
or wood-carving trades, so that heredity may be said to 
count for much of the penchant which Elliot showed early 
in life for chisel, gouge, and calipers. He made his first 
violin in 1885, and since then he has been steadily making, 
having completed up to date just over a hundred instru- 
ments. A great deal of his time is taken up with repairs, 
and he is consequently unable to make as rapidly as he 
would like to. The greater number of his violins are on the 
Strad and Joseph models, but latterly he has been making 
on an adapted model of his own. All his work reaches a 
high standard of excellence, and his later instruments are 
exceedingly fine. The work, both inside and outside, is 
finished with a degree of precision and delicacy which it is 
not possible to surpass. He is remarkably successful in 
producing a fine tone. It has all the characteristics of the 
old Italian tone, saving only the mellowness which comes 
with age and judicious use. The work of this artist is 
bound to come to the front. Fascimile label : 

ERVINE, ROBERT, Belfast : contemporary. One of 
the small band of present day makers who is doing all it 
can to maintain worthily the fine traditions of Ireland for 
art and craft work. I have not seen any of his work, but 
I have it on the best authority possible that of the Rev. 
Father Greaven that it reaches a high standard of excel- 
lence. Father Greaven in a letter to me describes it thus : 
" Ervine submitted one of his latest violins to me for my 
inspection, and I have it now by me. It was made for Mr. 
Crymble's firm, Musical Instrument and Music Dealers, of 
Wellington Place, Belfast. It is a beautifully constructed 


instrument ; the workmanship both inside and outside 
being faultless. The model is that of the Betts' Strad, and 
may be described as being more graceful than massive. The 
scroll is of moderate proportions, and is beautifully cut. 
The instrument is covered with a transparent, warm light- 
brown varnish. The tone is sweet and penetrating, with 
just a suspicion of newness which will naturally mellow down 
with age and use. The violin is a most creditable and 
artistic piece of work. 

Mr. Ervine has made a large number of instruments, and 
also repairs extensively. Facsimile label : 

EVANS, RICHARD, Anglesey and London : 1730-65. 
While he was in Wales he made several crythau (plural of 
crwth) and a few violins. He removed to London about 
1750 , and made only violins thereafter. Vide also Appendix 

EWAN, DAVID, Cowdenbeath. Born in 1838. He has 
made a large number of instruments of good average merit 
on the Strad model. 

EYLES, CHARLES, Bedford : contemporary. He was 
born in London in the early fifties. He received a good 
education, at the completion of which he was articled to a 
pianoforte maker. Later, he studied art in London and 
Paris, and he exhibited pictures for several years at the 
Royal Academy and other important exhibitions. He took 
up the study of violins as a hobby about the year 1886, and 
has made a hundred instruments up to the present time, 
several of which are owned by well-known players. The 


outline is that of Stradivari or Guarneri, but nothing more 
than the outline is copied, the maker being of the opinion 
" that no copyist can ever excel or even equal the original," 
and that it is better therefore he should allow his inventive- 
ness and imagination to work unfettered. I have seen only 
one of his instruments, and do not therefore know his work 
well enough to be able to give a description of it in general. 
The violin I saw and tried was beautifully made, and had a 
wonderfully bright, sweet, and pleasing tone. It appears 
from press notices and the opinions of several eminent 
artistes that Mr. Eyles has made quite a number of violins 
which have an extraordinarily clear and mellow tone for 
new instruments. He is particularly careful in the choice 
of his wood, and he patiently covers the instruments with 
thin coats of tender, elastic, and transparent oil varnish. 

EYLING, THOMAS, Gloucester: 1800-20. Fairly 
good work on the Amati model. Tone small but pleasing. 

FENDT, BERNHARD, London : 1756-1832. He was 
born at Innsbruck, in the Tyrol, died in Aylesbury Street, 
Clerkenwell, and was buried in Clerkenwell Churchyard. 
An exceedingly clever craftsman who entered the employ of 
Thomas Dodd, q.v. 

FENDT, BERNARD SIMON, London : 1800-52. He 
was a pupil of his father, and learnt his trade in the workshop 
of John Betts. He worked with Farn for some time, and 
later became a partner of George Purdy. Other biographical 
particulars are given in the various books on the subject ; 
it suffices to say here that he was as clever and ingenious a 
workman as ever handled gouge and calipers in this country, 
and, in my opinion, as unscrupulous as he was clever. He 
made scores of counterfeited " Strads " and " Josephs." 
Hart says that he made some hundreds of copies of Guarneri 


alone. These were not all " fakes/' it is true, but very 
many of them were, and they have been sold time and again 
as the genuine work of the masters whose forged labels they 

All the Fendts were counterfeiters, more or less generally 
more, not less and in so far as they departed from the paths 
of " righteous dealing," they deserve nothing but the 
execration of posterity and the contempt of the historian, 
their cleverness notwithstanding. Cleverness does not atone 
for fraud. I have seen it stated somewhere that the Fendts 
were the creatures of circumstances, and could not very well 
help themselves : a species of apology which, doubtless, 
every utter er of counterfeit coin in our own day could 
advance with equal plausibility. Fiddle-makers, like every- 
body else, are all creatures of circumstances for who is 
complete master of his environment ? but they are not all 
forgers all the same. The clever forgeries of the Fendts, 
more especially those of Bernard Simon and of Jacob, have 
deceived hundreds of fiddle fanciers from time to time : they 
have deceived even experienced experts. For example, to 
name one instance out of a large number of cases which 1 
could cite, the very clever counterfeit " Strad " owned by 
the late James Smith, Esq., of Ashcroft House, Wentworth, 
and which was the work of Jacob Fendt, had been certified 
by two experts to be genuine so the owner informed me in 
a letter under date of May 7, 1904 ! When I review in my 
mind the work of the Fendts, I cannot but wail with Scott : 

" Oh what a tangled web we weave 
When first we practise to deceive ! " 

FENDT, FRANCIS, London and Liverpool. Fourth 
son of Bernhard Fendt. 

FENDT, JACOB, London : 1815-49. Third son of 
Bernhard Fendt, and in some respects the best maker of 
the family. What I have said above of the work of Bernhard 
Simon applies equally to the work of this maker. It is 


matter of profound regret that enthusiasm for the instru- 
ments of these artists is held in check by the knowledge that 
" they ever dissemble and often deceive." 

FENDT, MARTIN, London. Son of Bernhard Fendt. 
He worked for Betts. 

FENDT, WILLIAM, London: 1833-1852. Son of 
Bernard Simon, and a very clever workman. His violas 
and double basses were celebrated. 

FENWIGK, - , Leith. His instruments are occa- 
sionally advertised for sale, but I have never seen one. 

FERGUSON, DONALD, Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Work 
of average merit. 

FERGUSON, WILLIAM, Edinburgh: 1790-1820. 
Fairly good work and tone. 

FERRIER, WILLIAM, Dundee : contemporary. Fairly 
good work. 

FINDLAY, JAMES, Padanaram : 1815-96. He was 
born at a farm near Brechin, in Forfarshire. He made about 
five hundred instruments, mostly on the Guarneri model. 
His wood as a rule is plain, and the varnish a spirit one, 
thinly laid on, but the tone is frequently very good. 

FINGLAND, S., : contemporary, apparently. 

FIRTH, G., Leeds : 1830-40. Ordinary work. 

FLECK, WILLIAM, High Wycombe : 1852-1914. A 
doctor of medicine, and a very clever amateur violin maker 
and player. He was born at Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Ire- 
land, and died at High Wycombe early in 1914, where he 
had been in practice for thirty years, and where he had 
filled important positions, such as town councillor, Justice 


of the Peace, etc. He made a number of instruments, 
including violins, violas, and one violoncello, on the Stradi- 
vari and Guarneri models, all of very beautiful workman- 
ship. Dr. Fleck was a keen connoisseur, and a man of wide 
reading and very refined artistic tastes. 

FLECK, ETHEL, High Wycombe : contemporary. 
She was the wife of the Dr. Fleck previously mentioned, and 
not only assisted him with the varnishing of his instruments, 
but has made several violins herself, all the work from the 
fashioning of the rough blocks to the last finishing touches 
being her own unaided effort. She continues to make, and 
to take a deep interest in the violin, and in other branches 
of art. She follows the Stradivari model, and the work- 
manship is beautifully and delicately finished. 

FLEMING, J., : nineteenth century. 

FORD, JACOB, London : 1780-95. He worked on a 
model which very closely resembles that of Stainer. He 
evidently had Stainer in his mind, but he had also seen and 
handled Amati copies, or perhaps he had seen genuine 
" Amatis," and had been somewhat influenced by them, so 
that he had become unsettled in his ideals. The workman- 
ship is excellent, and the wood very carefully chosen. The 
varnish is an oil one, of light or deep amber colour. His 
margins are wider than is usual in Stainer copies, and the 
edges are nicely rounded and solid looking. The tone is not 
a large one, but is of a very good quality. Altogether Ford 
was a superior maker, and the few examples of his art which 
remain to-day should be more highly valued than they are. 
Label : 


LONDON, 1792. 

FORSTER, JOHN, Brampton : 1688-1781. The first 
member of this celebrated family to make fiddles. Messrs. 


Sandys and Forster in their History of the Violin give a 
somewhat lengthy account of various Forsters, Foresters, or 
Fosters who were anciently connected with the northern 
counties, but whether these were ancestors of John Forster 
they are not prepared to say. It is not very material 
whether they were or not. This first Forster to come 
across the path of the violin historian made only an occa- 
sional instrument, on the Stainer model, of rather rough and 
unfinished workmanship. 

FORSTER, SIMON ANDREW, London: 1801-70. 
He was a son of William Forster (1764-1824), born May 13, 
1801, and died February 2, 1870. He worked at Frith 
Street, and also at Macclesfield Street, Soho. He is more 
famous as the collaborator with William Sandys of the work 
referred to above than as a violin maker. All his work that 
I have seen reflects little or no credit upon the great name of 
Forster. He was a pupil of his father, of his brother, and 
of Samuel Gilkes. He worked sometimes on the Stradivari 
and sometimes on the Stainer model, but always arched his 
instruments in a grotesque manner. I am not sure that he 
did not sometimes bake his wood, as the tone is often of a 
wretched character. 

Label :- 



FORSTER, WILLIAM, Brampton : 1714-1801. He 
was a son of John Forster, and, like his father, made and 
repaired an occasional fiddle. The workmanship is a little 
better than his father's, but the tone is about the same. His 
instruments are unpurfled, and spirit varnished. 

FORSTER, WILLIAM, Brampton and London : 1739- 
1808. He is known as " Old Forster," and is the greatest 
maker of the family, and one of the greatest of all the old 
British makers. Haweis says he was " the greatest maker 


in all England " (Old Violins, p. 126), but I cannot concur 
with his opinion. He was born in 1739, baptized on May 5 
of that year, and died on the I4th December, 1808. He may 
be described as the British counterpart of the great French 
maker, Vuillaume, since like him he was characterised by a 
degree of shrewdness, versatility, and worldly wisdom above 
his compeers. When French players wanted a Stradivari 
or a Guarneri fiddle, Vuillaume met their demands and 
sold them those new-old instruments which set the Seine 
on fire : similarly Forster, when the British public wanted 
Stainer copies, or Amati copies, immediately supplied them 
with their requirements : he was always equal to the occasion 
and never disappointed his customers. Where the analogy 
fails is that Forster, in addition to his versatility, possessed 
that other and sometimes inconvenient gift called conscience. 
Forster never " faked," and never attempted to pass his 
new instruments as " Old Masters." 

Had Forster lived among more discerning people, that 
would demand Stradivari copies, his work would rank to-day 
beside that of Vuillaume. He was a " Jack of all trades," 
and master of more than one. By turns a spinning-wheel 
maker, gun-stock maker, cattle driver, publisher, fiddler 
he could manage to eke out a living at any one of them. As 
a violin maker he rose from being a humble Cumberland 
repairer to the rank of instrument maker to the Court. He 
ought to have been England's greatest maker, and would 
have been but for this many-sidedness, and the indiscrimina- 
tion of his countrymen. His artistic work at Brampton was 
confined to the repairing of old instruments, and the making 
of a fiddle now and again on the Stainer model. In 1759 he 
came to London, and after meeting with some reverses, 
entered the shop of one Beck, of Tower Hill, where he 
remained for about two years making fiddles. In 1762 he 
set up on his own account at Duke's Court, whence he 
removed to St. Martin's Lane. From this place he again 
removed to 348 Strand, where he remained for the rest of his 


He followed three models : Stainer, A. & H. Amati, and 
Nicolas Amati. 

He appears to have followed Stainer exclusively from 
1762 to 1772, but at the latter date he put aside that model, 
never to take it up again. From 1760 to 1790 the influence 
of Banks was felt far and near, and British players were 
awaking to the superior merits of the Amati model. Forster 
was still a young man of only thirty-three, and had the 
better and longer half of his life before him. When he 
turned his back on the German he was in possession of his 
full strength and able to swim fast with the flowing tide. 
It was not so with Duke, who had less than a third of his 
life to live when the star of Nicolas Amati appeared on the 
horizon. Now was Forster's chance. 

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, 
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." 

Forster might have reached the broad sea of artistic 
fame had he not paused by the way. He dallied with the 
model of A. and H. Amati, and gave up much time to 
musical enterprise of one kind and another, which, although 
profitable enough both to him and to the public, kept him 
from looking steadily on. If Forster had been a man of one 
ideal, and had kept that ideal steadily in view, posterity 
would have rewarded him by conferring upon him the title 
which has been given to Banks. As matters stand, he must 
rest content with perhaps a third place on the list at least 
that is my opinion. His Stainer copies are very good, but 
do not compare for finished workmanship and tone with the 
instruments of Duke. The Amati copies are on an alto- 
gether higher level. When copying A. and H. Amati he 
was at his very best, and the result shows what he was 
capable of when at his best. But the tone of these copies 
is rather small and glassy. One beautiful specimen 1 have 
seen and tried : it was made of fine wood, with maple of 
narrow, regular, and well-defined curl, very pretty to look 


To face p. 150. 


at, and varnished with dark, golden-amber oil varnish of 
excellent quality. Its principal dimensions were 

Length of body . . . . . 13 H inches. 
Width across upper bouts . . . 


Width of C's . . ; 4 -> . 

Length of fs . . \, f >^ f > , 2f 

Depth of lower ribs , V t .' , ij 

upper . I& , ; 

His Nicolas Amati copies are very faithful, but I do not 
think they could be palmed off as " originals." The violon- 
cellos are finer than the smaller instruments. Here delicacy 
of detail is not so necessary, and solidity and rugged grandeur 
show to better advantage. His larger work is of moderately 
full proportions, not usually so large as the larger-sized 
violoncellos of Banks. But he varied his model a great 
deal, sometimes widening the waist, sometimes flattening 
the upper bouts, narrowing the width all over, lengthening 
the body, or even modifying the arching. The departure 
from the lines of N. Amati is occasionally so considerable as 
to almost constitute a different model. 

The tone of the violoncellos is excellent, and was greatly 
appreciated in England before the finer Italian instruments 
had been brought here. It will yet be appreciated, and to a 
far greater extent, when we think it worth our while to 
coax the old veterans out of the sullen silence into which 
they have been obliged to retire. There are not many 
fraudulent " Forsters " about : I have not seen any, but 
have heard of one or two. Of the number of " Old Forster " 
instruments still in existence it is difficult to form an esti- 
mate : one thing is certain, they are becoming fewer every 
year. Quite a number of them found their way to America 
during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The 
average price for the violoncellos from 1890 to 1900 was 23, 
but it is higher now, and will be very much higher a few years 


Those varnished dark amber were preferred a hundred 
years ago, but the red ones are more in favour to-day. The 
amber ones which I have seen were not so well stocked with 
wood as the red ones. Probably the greater thickness of the 
latter placed them at a slight disadvantage when new, which 
is the very reason why they are the better sort to-day. He 
is said to have used fossil amber for the basis of his varnish 
on his later instruments, in the solution of which he was 
assisted by the chemist, Delaporte. There is a close resem- 
blance between the said varnish and that made some time 
back by the Messrs. Caffyn, of London. Forster made only 
four double basses, three of which were for the private band 
of King George III. Labels : 





N.B. The above instruments are made in the best manner, and finished 
with the original varnish ; and a copy of every capital instrument in 
England may be had. 

FORSTER, WILLIAM, London : 1764-1824. " Young 
Forster " was a son of the great Forster. He was born 
January 7, 1764, and died July 24, 1824. He maintained 
to some extent the traditions and reputation of his father, 
but failed, or did not try, to maintain the same standard of 
excellence throughout. His work varies more in quality 
than does that of any maker, past or present, that I am 
acquainted with : some of it is no better than factory work, 
and some is fully as good as the best of his father's. 

Haweis says there was an erratic vein in the Forster 
family, which in the great Forster took the shape of " amaz- 
ing versatility," but in the younger members of the family 


degenerated into " speculative eccentricity." Be that as it 
may, it is certain " Young Forster " was capable of great 
things, and it is equally certain that he made but indifferent 
use of his capability. 

One of the finest instruments by this maker that I have 
seen is a violin owned by Charles Bartlett, Esq., of Woodhill, 
Portishead, near Bristol. It is made of beautiful wood, on 
the N. Amati model, and covered with a brownish red 
varnish of excellent pate ; and of perfect transparency and 
lustre. It has a clear, sweet, and responsive tone. 

The following is a facsimile of the label in Mr. Bartlett's 
violin : 

Violin Violoncello Teror df" BcwinaJter 

FORSTER, WILLIAM, London : 1788-1824. He was 
the eldest son of the previous Forster, and his work (the 
little there is of it) has much the same characteristics. He 
was a pupil of his father, and of his grandfather. 

FRANKLAND, , London : 1780-90. He was prob- 
ably a pupil of one of the Forsters, and he worked for 
' Young Forster " for some time. Ordinary work. 

FRYER, CHARLES, London and Leeds : 1820-40. He 
was for some time partner with W. M. Dearlove, of Leeds. 
Very little of his work appears to be known. 

FURBER, DAVID, London. Period unknown, but 
probably about 1760-80. He was a pupil of John Johnson, 
and made many instruments of pretty much the same 
characteristics, on the Stainer model. He was the first 
fiddle maker of the rather long line of Furbers, 


FURBER, HENRY JOHN, London : about 1825-68. 
He was a son and pupil of John Furber. He made a large 
number of instruments, on different models, but mostly on 
that of Stradivari. Hart says that he was an excellent 
workman, but I cannot say that I like his instruments very 
much : perhaps it has not been my fortune to see the best 
of them. 

FURBER, JAMES, London. Eldest son of Matthew 
Furber, senior. I doubt whether he was an actual maker, 
and not merely a dealer. I have never seen any instruments 
which were supposed to be his work, and I do not know of 
any one who has. 

FURBER, JOHN, London : about 1810-45. He was 
the third son of Matthew Furber, senior, and a pupil of his 
father and of John Betts. He made a large number of 
instruments on the grand Amati model, and a few copies of 
the " Betts " Stradivari, when that famous masterpiece 
was in the possession of Betts. His work is excellent in 
every respect. I have seen a great deal of his best copies, 
and I must say that I considered some of them superb 
examples of the copyist's art. A specially fine specimen had 
the wood of the back of broad " flame," with the curl 
slanting very slightly towards the lower end of the instru- 
ment. The varnish was golden red, mellow, tender, and 
not too thickly laid on. The tone was particularly fine. 
Some of his Amati copies are a little too much grooved near 
the edge, but they are very fine nevertheless. His violins, 
when in fine condition, realize as much as 25 to-day, and 
will sell at a higher figure at no distant date. Furber 
worked for John Betts at the Royal Exchange, and many of 
the fine instruments which have the label of Betts were his 
work. His own label ran : 





FURBER, MATTHEW, London : 1730-90. Son and 
pupil of David Furber. Very little of his work is known. 
He died in 1770, and was buried in Clerkenwell Churchyard. 

FURBER, MATTHEW, London: 1780-1831. Son 
and pupil of the preceding, He made a large number of 
instruments, some of which are very good. His violins are 
frequently advertised in catalogues of old instruments. 

FURBER, WILLIAM, London : about 1820-40. 1 
have seen only one violin with his label, which was very well 
made, but had a rather harsh tone. 

FURLOUGH, HENRY, Bath: 1800-20. Very fair 
work, on the Amati model. 

FURNOW, WALTER, Cheltenham : about 1800. 
Stainer model, with a much exaggerated arch. 


GARDEN, JAMES, Edinburgh: nineteenth century. 
An amateur who made a few violins. 

GARDENER, , Stokescroft. Violins of his make 

have been advertised in the papers, but I know nothing of 
him or his work. 

GASKIN, G. H., . 

GASKING, G. K., Shortlands : contemporary. Pos- 
sibly there is an error here, and " Gaskin " and " Gasking " 
may be one and the same individual. I know nothing of 
their, or his, work. 

GAY, WILFRED, Bristol: contemporary. A clever 
amateur who lives at 37 Brynland Avenue, and a pupil of 
Mr. Henry Lye, the veteran violin maker of Camerton. He 
has made several excellent instruments. 


GIBBS, JAMES, London : 1800-45. It is not certain 
that he made any instruments on his own account, but he 
worked for J. Morrison, G. Corsby, and S. Gilkes. 

GILBERT, JEFFERY JAMES, Peterborough : con- 
temporary. He was born at New Romney, August 16, 1850, 
and is a son of Jeffery and Eleanor Langley Gilbert. He is 
a lineal descendant of an old Kentish family, one of the most 
notable members of which, in recent times, was Sir Jeffery 
Gilbert, " The accomplished exchequer baron." He was 
educated at Crockley Green Grammar School. Mr. Gilbert 
is a professional maker, and belongs to the very elite of the 
craft, the workmanship, varnish, and tone of his instruments 
giving him a place among the few who occupy the innermost 
circle of present day makers. 

Although of a musical and artistic turn of mind, he had 
reached manhood before he had entertained any thoughts 
of becoming a violin maker. The thought that he could 
construct an instrument had no sooner entered his mind, 
however, than he found himself fast in the grip of the 
" fiddle disease." The purely mechanical part of the work 
never gave him any trouble, but he soon recognized that it 
required something more than an expert use of carving tools 
to fashion a great violin. Fortunately for him, he made the 
acquaintance about this time of several eminent connois- 
seurs and experts, notably that of the late Charles Reade, 
the late George Hart, Dr. John Day, and Mr. George Withers, 
all of whom took an interest in him and gave him useful 
advice from time to time. Charles Reade was specially 
kind, and not only imparted to him valuable knowledge, 
but kept in touch with him down to the time of his death. 

Mr. Gilbert has made, up to date, about three hundred 
instruments, including violins, violas, violoncellos, and 
" viola -altas." He is not a rapid worker, and has not made 
more than about eight instruments in any single year, but 
the amount of patient attention he devotes to each instru- 
ment is extraordinary indeed. " Every instrument that is 


To face p. 156. 


worthy the name," he remarked to me, " has individuality 
and a temper all its own, and must be studied as you would 
a child, if you would form a thing of beauty, that will sing 
with the voice of melody." 

He works on original models, the principal measurements 
of which are : 



Length of body . " < . . '. 14 inches. 

Width across upper bouts . . . ^ 6J 

middle ' * . ' . 4$ 

lower . . 8 

Depth of lower ribs . . . ij 

top .... i& 

Length of fs . 3* 

Length of body . . . . . 14 

Width across upper bouts . . , 6f 

middle . . 4^ 

lower . . . 8J 

Ribs and /'s same as (a) 


Length of body . . . . .16, 

Width across upper bouts . . 7f 

middle 5j > 

lower . . . 9 

Depth of lower ribs . . . . ij 

upper . if , 


Length of body . . . . . 17 
Width across upper bouts . . 8J , 

middle 5f , 

lower . . 9^ 

Depth of ribs ^ inch more all over than in those of viola. 
Length of sound-holes for viola and viola-alta is 3$ inch. 



Length of body ..... 29! inches. 

Width across upper bouts . . . I3f 
middle . 9! 

lower I7J 

Depth of ribs 4$- 

Length of /'s . . 5ft 

The outline of each of these models is very pure. The 
scroll is a masterly bit of carving, and is in the best Italian 
style. The width from boss-edge to boss-edge is i-ft- inch, 
and the depth of the peg-box at the deepest part is | inch, 
diminishing to | inch at the throat. The scollop is nicely 
rounded and projects only just enough to give piquancy to 
its outer line. The curves of the volute are most delicately 
scooped at the base, and the fluting at the back of the box 
gives the correct balance in lines of subdued boldness. The 
button is nearly semicircular, strong, and in keeping with 
the contour of the instrument. The edges are fairly full, 
being neither too rounded nor yet in relief, but turned in a 
manner that gives " definity " to the outline of the fiddle. 
The sound-holes are Stradivarian in character, and are cut 
with extreme delicacy, even the little notches coming in for 
an artistic " touch." 

The varnish on Mr. Gilbert's later instruments is of the 
finest quality : it is brilliant, elastic, and transparent, the 
colours ranging from light amber to a very deep and rich 
red. It is, of course, an oil varnish, but " not linseed, nor 
any other heavy oil, which destroys all that is good in 
colour," so Mr. Gilbert informs me. 

The tone is of a beautiful quality : it is large, clear, rich, 
and responsive. 

Mr. Gilbert's instruments have gained the following 
awards : International Exhibition, Crystal Palace, 1884, 
Silver Medal, being the highest award ; International 
Inventions Exhibition, London, 1885, Silver Medal ; Inter- 
national Exhibition, Edinburgh, 1890, Gold Medal. 


Facsimile label : 

Fecit. Anno MDCCCXCIX. 

GILGHRIST, JAMES, Glasgow : 1832-94. An ama- 
teur maker who was by trade a philosophical instrument 
maker. He made eighty-six instruments of every descrip- 
tion, of very good workmanship and very fair tone. 

GILKES, SAMUEL, London : 1787-1827. He was a 
native of Morton Pinkney, Northamptonshire. His work 
is greatly appreciated by the best judges. There is not a 
great deal of it, but what there is justifies the opinion that 
if Gilkes had lived a few years longer he would be accounted 
to-day one of England's greatest violin makers. He died a 
comparatively young man, just as he was beginning to give 
the world the fruit of ripened talent. The Amati and 
Stradivari copies he made from about 1820 to the time of his 
death are excellent in every way. He was a pupil of Charles 
Harris, to whom he was also related, and he worked for a 
few years with William Forster. Label : 






GILKES, WILLIAM, London: 1811-75. He was a 
pupil of his father, whom he succeeded in business. He 
made many double-basses and other instruments, which 
are of about average merit. 

GIRVAN, THOMAS, Edinburgh : nineteenth century. 
Average work. 


GLENDAY, JAMES, Padanaram : nineteenth century. 

GLENISTER, WILLIAM, London : contemporary. 
He was born at Chenies, Bucks, in 1850, and lives at 23 
Beak Street, Regent Street, W. Although only an amateur, 
he has made a large number of violins, violas, and violon- 
cellos, which he advertises for sale in the music papers. 
He has made violins on the models of N. Amati, Guarneri, 
and Stradivari, but latterly makes on the Strad model 
exclusively. Mr. Towry Piper in reviewing his work in 
the issue of " The Strad " for June 1915, says that " so far 
a-s tone is concerned these instruments [i.e. Glenister'sJ will 
bear comparison with any new fiiddles I have tested in recent 
years, one of the white examples, made in 1914, being quite 
remarkable for the beauty and quality of its tone." I 
examined about twenty of Mr. Glenister's instruments at 
his shop quite recently, and must say that I consider both 
workmanship and tone to be excellent. Facsimile label : 

GLENNIE, WILLIAM, Aberdeen: contemporary. He 
works with Mr. John Marshall (q.v.), whose business he has 
practically managed for the last few years. He is an excel- 
lent craftsman. 

GLOAG, JOHN, Galston : contemporary. An amateur 
who has made a number of good violins. 

GOODMAN, JAMES, Brentford : nineteenth century. 

GORDON, , Stoneyford, Ireland: nineteenth cent- 
ury. The Rev. Father Greaven mentions him in the 


following brief statement : " well-known about the North 
are violins by the philanthropist Gordon, of Stoneyford. 
They possess a good strong English tone, though the work- 
manship is rough." 

GORDON, , about 1830-40. Dr. Richard Hum- 
phreys, of 6 Cressington Park, Liverpool, has a violin of his 
make, dated 1838, with his name stamped on the back under 
the button, and the date written in ink inside. He says it 
is a well-made instrument. 

GORRIE, J., : nineteenth century. Instruments 

of his make have been advertised in catalogues of old violins. 

GOTHARD, P., Huddersfield : nineteenth century. 

GOUGH, JOHN, Leeds : about 1820. He worked for 
Mark William Dearlove. 

GOUGH, JOHN, Thornbury, Glos. : 1803 till about 1870. 
He is mentioned in a booklet by Mr. J. Spencer Palmer, of 
Thornbury, who says that he had the reputation of being a 
fine maker. The Messrs. Hill have a copy of his label. I 
have made a careful but fruitless search in Bristol and its 
neighbourhood for information respecting him. Mr. C. 
Benson, of Cardiff, has a fine example of his work. 

GOUGH, WALTER, Leeds : about 1820-40. Related, 
perhaps, to John Gough, of Leeds. Indifferent work. 

GOULDING, , London : about 1800. Fairly good 


GRAY, JOHN, Fochabers, N.B. : 1860-75. He did 
not make many instruments. 

GREGSON, ROBERT, : contemporary. Ten 

years ago he worked in Blackburn as a professional maker 
and repairer, but I do not know his present whereabouts, nor 
have I seen any of his more recent work. I have heard that 
his later work is very good, 

GRIME, HAROLD, Accrington : contemporary. 

GUITON, R., Cork : contemporary. An excellent 
amateur who has made several beautiful violins on the 
models of Stradivari and Guarneri. The quality of his 
workmanship and the tone of his instruments are of so fine 
a description that it is a pity he does not devote the whole 
of his time to the craft. 

GWYTHER, HENRY, Gloucester: 1830-50. Rather 
rough work, but tone very fair. 


HALL, WILLIAM H., Oldham : contemporary. He 
has made a number of beautiful instruments on the models 
of Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari. The tone of the only 
violin of his make which I have tried was not large, but it 
was bright, responsive, and sweet. 

HAMBLETON, JOSEPH, Salford : about 1850. Fair 

HAMILTON, WILLIAM, Uddingston : contemporary. 
A consulting engineer by profession, who makes violins en 
amateur, and who has produced some excellent copies of 
Gasparo da Salo. 

HAMILTON, W. T. R., Edinburgh : contemporary. 

HANDLEY, HENRY, Worcester. I do not know 
whether he is alive, but he was carrying on business a few 
years since as a professional maker and repairer. He has 
made a large number of instruments on the Guarneri model. 
Those I have seen were carefully made, and had a good tone. 

HARBOUR, , London: 1780-90. He lived in 
Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn, and later in Southampton 
Buildings, Holborn. Very ordinary work, 


HARDIE, ALEXANDER, Maxwelltown : 1797-1855. 
He did not make very many violins, but the few there are 
left show that he was a skilled workman. 

HARDIE, ALEXANDER, Galashiels : 1811-90. He 
made violins on his father's (the Hardie previously men- 
tioned) model, which is a sort of cross between the models 
of Stainer and Amati. Fair work. 

HARDIE, JAMES, Edinburgh : 1800-56. This Hardie 
was not related to any of the other makers of the same name. 
Amati and Strad models considerably modified. Very good 

HARDIE, JAMES & SON, Edinburgh : contemporary. 
Mr. Hardie, senior, was born at Aquhedley, in the parish of 
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, January i, 1836, and is probably the 
oldest professional maker and repairer now living and 
working in the country. He is a son of William and Mary 
Hardie, and is one of thirteen children. His mother died 
only a few years since, at the advanced age of 103. Hardie 
comes of a good stock, and is himself hale and hearty, 
although bordering on eighty. I saw him in his workshop at 
99 Nicolson Street only a short time ago, when he was busy 
at work over a difficult and delicate bit of repair. He must 
have been a powerful man in his day. He is tall, well- 
built, and in spite of his years, stands erect, and looks good 
for another ten or fifteen years' work. He is a shrewd man, 
genial and kind-hearted, with a fund of anecdote and quaint 
humour ready at his command. He looks at you over his 
spectacles as you enter his shop with a half-enquiring, half- 
doubtful smile, and a twinkle in his eye : the smile broadens 
and the twinkle becomes a flash as some waggish remark of 
yours evokes a smart repartee. You pull out of your case 
a fine fiddle, and instantly the humour is metamorphosed 
into eagerftess, and the face is lit up with excited admiration. 
Such is James Hardie. There are not many fiddle makers 
of his stamp left. He belongs to a past generation, and his 
old-time ideas, his trustfulness, and his kindliness sometimes 
place him rather out of joint with the age. 


Hardie had the advantage of a first-class education, and 
was probably intended for the scholastic profession, since 
he. went through a course of training at the Normal College, 
Edinburgh. But his grandfather's workshop at Dunkeld 
had greater attractions than Normal College, and fiddle 
heads were prettier than algebraic symbols. He played at 
fiddle making at the age of nine : he made a complete 
instrument at the age of fifteen. Vacations found him, not 
at his books, but behind the bench at old Peter Hardie's 
workshop, with sleeves tucked up, " shooting " joints. 
Before he was twenty-one he had made a number of violins, 
and a few violoncellos. In 1862 he was married to Elsie 
Milne Davidson, and he shortly afterwards went to Edin- 
burgh, where he started business as a professional maker 
and repairer. Here he has been for upwards of half-a- 
century, wedded to art and toiling for a livelihood. The 
lot of the professional maker is not an easy one in modern 
times, and it happens but rarely that his lines are fallen in 
pleasant places. There have been periods of his life when 
Hardie had to struggle hard for bare existence, and the bur- 
den he had to carry was not a light one there were thirteen 
children to feed, clothe, and educate. But he worked hard 
and struggled on. For many years he produced two new 
instruments every week, and there were repairs in addition. 
It had to be done, for otherwise the wolf would be at the 
door. Naturally these fiddles were not of a very high order, 
many of them were, as he expressed it, " rattled up in haste, 
and sold for a few shillings, to keep the pot boiling." But 
there came better days and better work. From about the 
year 1880 to 1900 Hardie produced on the average only about 
a dozen new instruments per year, and the quality of the 
work reaches a much higher standard. There are fiddles of 
his make which for excellence of material, workmanhip, 
and tone are unsurpassed. This is saying much, I know, 
but not too much. I have a violin of his make now before 
me, completed in 1895, on the Maggini model, which for 
grandeur and purity of tone is rarely equalled and never 


excelled. Mr. Honeyman in his Scottish Violin Makers 
remarks that " Har die's best work will bear comparison 
with that of any living Scottish maker/' and further that 
Hardie " has the rare power of producing violins which have 
a large and telling tone," and that " the mantle of Matthew 
Hardie has fallen upon his shoulders," and I thoroughly 
agree with him. According to the strictest account Hardie 
has made in all well over two thousand instruments, includ- 
ing violins, violas, 'cellos, and basses. About two hundred 
of these are of the best material and in his best style. The 
models are Stradivari, Guarneri, and Maggini. He has a 
decided preference for the Maggini model, and as far as my 
experience of his work goes, nearly all his best instruments 
are on that model. These are double purfled, and in some 
instances ornamented on the back as well. 

One or two of his sons hav*e assisted him from time to 
time with certain minor parts of the work, but not one of 
them is actually a maker. Mr. William Hardie made one 
violin some years ago, but he never took the tools in hand 
again. The varnish is of his own make, and has fossil 
amber for its basis : it is of two colours, golden amber, and 
golden red. 

He has exhibited instruments on several occasions. At 
the Edinburgh International Exhibition, 1886, he gained a 
bronze medal ; at the Glasgow Exhibition, 1886-7, an 
honourable mention ; and at the International Exhibition, 
Edinburgh, 1890, a gold medal. Facsimile label : 


3ames 1bart>te & Sons, 



HARDIE, MATTHEW, Edinburgh : ^755-1826. He 
was born in Edinburgh in the year 1755, he died in St. 
Cuthbert's Poorhouse, August 30, 1826, and was buried in 
Greyfriars* Churchyard. His remains were laid to rest in 
the portion of the churchyard allotted to paupers. I 
visited this celebrated churchyard a year ago, and the exact 
spot of Matthew Har die's grave was pointed out to me by 
one of the keepers : it is in one of the corners of the first 
enclosed block in the portion of ground known as the 
Covenanters' Prison. There is not a stone nor a brick to 
mark it. " Modern Athens," that is justly proud of its 
famous sons, and that has erected a hundred-and-one 
monuments to their memory, cannot afford to put up a 
plain head-stone over the remains of Scotland's greatest 
violin maker ! The neglect need not concern us very much, 
for it may be that if the shade of old Matthew were con- 
sulted on the matter it would exclaim with Cato : "I had 
rather it should be asked why I had not a statue than why I 
had one/' That would be quite in keeping with the manner 
of the old humorist when he tabernacled in the flesh. 

Matthew Har die has been named the " Scottish Stradi- 
vari," and not without justice. His work is excellent, and 
deserves much more attention than has been given it by 
English connoisseurs and writers. It has been said that he 
copied the Stradivari model exclusively, but that is wrong, 
he copied Amati too. I have both seen and handled numer- 
ous genuine examples of his Amati copies. It is quite 
possible that he had abandoned Amati during the last few 
years of his life, for I do not remember seeing any copies of 
this model that were made after about 1810. Except as 
regards varnish the Amati copies will compare very favour- 
ably with the work of Benjamin Banks. His tone is larger 
than that of Banks, but what it gains in quantity it some- 
times loses in quality. 

He must have been a prolific maker, and his fame had 
spread far in his own day. His instruments found their way 
to the south of England, to South Wales, and even to the 


west of Ireland early in last century. A beautiful violin 
on the Amati model was for over fifty years in the possession 
of the Barham family, at Trecwn, in far away Pembroke- 
shire. I saw this fiddle many years ago, and have a vivid 
recollection of its beautiful workmanship and fine tone. 
In my time I have seen about thirty violins of this maker, 
the majority of which were, so far as my memory serves me, 
on the grand Amati model. I do not think his Stradivari 
copies show better work, but they are of course more 
valuable to-day by reason of their greater volume and finer 
quality of tone. 

Matthew Hardie made no attempt at creating an original 
model, as far as I am aware : he endeavoured to copy Amati 
and Stradivari as faithfully as possible, but he sometimes 
bordered on originality in spite of himself. His strong 
personality refused to be altogether tied down to curves and 
figures. Look, e.g., at the sound-holes of the Amati copies, 
and the scrolls of the Strad copies. The quaintness of the 
one and the sauciness of the other are evidence of a mind 
that did as it listed. It has been said that Hardie made 
many cheap instruments, into which he put poor wood, and 
which he did not purfle, in his early days. It is quite 
possible, though I have never seen a poor instrument of his 
make. Most great makers have turned out indifferent work 
at one period or another of their life. Art is very much the 
creature of circumstances. There are artists living to-day 
who are capable of great things, did circumstances but 
allow them to procure the best material and devote time to 
the fashioning of their fiddle idols. Like Michael Angelo, 
who saw his " David " in the rough block of marble, they 
see " Strads " in the unhewn timber, but have not the 
means to buy the tree. Hardie must have been sometimes 
badly off for timber, if it be true that he used to work up odd 
pieces of wood, old, weather-beaten, half-decayed paling 
slabs, and such like material. 

It is true that much of his maple is of plain figure, but it 
is not necessarily inferior wood on that account. Some old 


Italian fiddles with a grand tone have backs that are almost 

In his best instruments the workmanship is very fine. 
The scrolls, as I have remarked, although copies, have 
the stamp of genius upon them. The buttons are usually 
longer and more oval than those of Amati and Stradivari. 
The sound-holes in the Strad copies are just a fraction short, 
but are of good outline and clean-cut. The margins are 
moderately full, but the edges might be slightly stronger 
than they are. The modern taste has improved upon that 
of the old makers in respect to the strength of the edges. 

Hardie's varnish is a spirit one, thinly laid on, varying in 
colour from pale amber to yellow-brown or yellow-red. 

He was a great artist, and a great enthusiast. His 
enthusiasm was of the contagious sort : quite a coterie of 
cultured men gathered around him, who became in time 
infected with the fiddle fever. Among them were Peter 
Hardie, of Dunkeld, his cousin, and a student at the Edin- 
burgh University ; David Stirrat, John Blair, George 
M' George, Alexander Yoole, a solicitor, and others. Matthew 
Hardie was himself an educated man, and his society 
was sought by these men as much on account of his cultured 
humour as on account of his ability as an artist. Many a 
congenial hour did these men of like passions pass together 
in the little atelier in Low Calton. What a pity a Sir 
Joshua was not there to delineate on canvas with his sym- 
pathetic brush those faces radiant with the joy of the fiddle, 
or a Boswell with his faithful pen to draw for posterity 
word-pictures of those unique personalities ! 
Labels : 












The last two figures of the date are handwritten. 

HARDIE, PETER, Dunkeld : 1775-1863. He was a 
son of Dr. Hardie, an army surgeon, and was probably born 
abroad. He died in November 1863, and was buried in 
Dowally Churchyard, Perthshire. He was known in the 
north as " Highland Hardie," and was a man of powerful 
physique and striking appearance. His model was a cross 
between that of Stainer and of Amati. The tone of his 
instruments is usually good. 

HARDIE, THOMAS, Edinburgh : 1800-58. A son of 
the great Matthew Hardie. He followed the model of his 
father, but resorted to the deleterious method of baking his 
wood, and his instruments, although beautifully made, have 
a very poor tone. 

HARE, JOHN, London : about 1700. Work resembles 
that of Urquhart. 

HARE, JOSEPH, London : 1700-40. He made a good 
number of instruments on the Stainer model. The work is 
good, and the varnish of excellent quality. 

HARKHAM, , London : about 1760-90. 

HARRIS, CHARLES, London and Adderbury : 1770 
till about 1830, but there is no certainty. While in London 
he worked in Cannon Street Road, Ratcliffe Highway. 
He is one of our fine old makers, but there is comparatively 
little of his work left, that is to say, of work bearing his 
own label. He foolishly sold his birthright for a mess of 
pottage, in other words, he sold his instruments unlabelled 


to the trade, and thus deprived himself of the credit which he 
ought to have got for excellent work. He made instruments 
chiefly on the Amati and Stradivari models. His 'cellos 
were highly prized and eagerly bought during his lifetime, 
and are very much valued to-day. I have recently seen 
some half-a-dozen of his violins, all Strad copies, the work- 
manship of which I considered excellent and the tone very 
fine. Charles Close, Esq., of Leeds, owns a magriificent 
viola of his make, and Mr. R. Waters, of Penarth a fine 
Labels : 


LONDON, 1791.* 






HARRIS, CHARLES, London : 1795 to about 1840. 
Son and pupil of the above. He worked for John Hart for 
some time. Very good work, but it bears no comparison 
to that of his father. 

HARRIS, GRIFFITH, Swansea: 1810-40. 1 have 
seen only one violin of his make, which was fairly well made. 

HARRIS, JOHN EDWARD, Gateshead-on-Tyne : con- 
temporary. He was born at Wednesbury, near Birmingham, 
in 1862, and commenced violin making in 1894. He is at 
present established in the music business at 37 and 41 Nile 
Street, Gateshead-on-Tyne, and is a professional maker, 
repairer, and manufacturer of amber oil varnish. He has 
made about forty instruments up to date, on various models. 
I have seen only one violin of his make, which was on the 

To face p. i?i. 


Strad model, of handsome wood, well made and beautifully 
finished. Those who are better acquainted with his work 
say he is a very careful maker, and that his instruments are 
well liked. 

HARROD, ROBERT, London and Oxford : about 
1810-30. High model, dark varnish, workmanship good. 
I recently saw a viola of his make, which was evidently 
copied from one of Duke's violas ; it was made in St. Peter's 
Churchyard, Oxon, 1812. It had a very fair tone. 

HART, JOHN THOMAS, London: 1805-74. A pupil 
of Samuel Gilkes. He did not make many instruments, but 
attained great reputation as repairer and connoisseur. He 
brought together many remarkable collections of Italian 
instruments, such as the Coding, the Plowden, and a large 
part of the Gillot, etc. I have never seen an instrument 
bearing his label, and cannot say what his work was like. 
Label : 




HART, GEORGE & SON, London: contemporary. 
Mr. George Hart, who is established at 28 War dour Street, 
as a violin maker, bow maker, repairer, dealer, and expert, 
is a son of the late George Hart, the well-known expert, and 
author of various works on the violin, and was born near 
Warwick on January 4, 1860. He was educated at Grove 
House School, Highgate, at which the Rev. Mr. Tough was 
then headmaster (who was a pupil of the great Dr. Chalmers, 
of Disruption fame) and after completing the usual course 
here he was sent to Paris to finish his studies. On June 17, 
1882, he was married to Miss Katherine Jepson de Betham, 
daughter of John de Betham, Esq. He has three children 
two daughters and a son, named Katherine, Irene, and 



Mr. Hart is not, of course, an actual maker, but he employs 
a large number of skilful and experienced English and 
French workmen, and the firm turns out a very considerable 
number of instruments annually. These instruments, 
naturally, like all work produced by these large firms, are 
of various kinds and qualities, but the better class instru- 
ments reach a high standard of excellence, and will bear 
comparison with the finest work of some of the more famous 
workshops of the Continent. The personal supervision and 
genius of Mr. Hart is evident in every department of the 
work, especially in the choice of material for the more expen- 
sive class of instrument. 

The Messrs. Hart make a special feature of their facsimile 
copies of old Italian masterpieces. Some years ago I had 
one of these " new-old " violins down for inspection : it was 
an exact copy of the famous " D'Egville " Joseph, and so 
close an imitation that it was almost impossible to distin- 
guish it from the original. The skill and patience which 
had produced this facsimile were not of the ordinary kind. 
The tone of the fiddle was remarkably clear, rich, and 
resonant, for a new instrument. The following is a facsimile 
of the label put into it : 



-e**e53 MAKERS. o-e^>- 
2.Wardour Street, W 

Messrs. Hart have made a special feature also in recent 
years of case making. Many of the violin cases they have 
made are extraordinarily elaborate and costly, and are 
beautifully designed and finished. Some are of satin wood, 


inlaid with silver filigree work, others are richly carved and 
silver mounted. The makers themselves have spent as 
much as 70 or So on a single case, exclusive of the time 
and labour devoted to the making of it. 

Quite recently they also commenced to specialize in bows, 
and their work in this department is now recognized as being 
of exceptional merit. 

It is pretty generally known that Mr. George Hart is a 
connoisseur and expert of undoubted ability. His oppor- 
tunities, of course, have been great. Nearly all the famous 
instruments of the world have passed through his hands, 
such as the " Dolphin," " Belts," " Emperor/' and " Pagan- 
ini " Stradivaris ; the " Leduc," " Vieuxtemps " Guarneris, 
etc. His present collection of instruments is a very large 
one, containing several fine specimens of the work of the 
old masters. In addition to the knowledge he has gained 
from personal connoisseurship extending over a period of 
nearly forty years, he reaped the benefit in early life of his 
father's vast knowledge and experience. The late George 
Hart was without a doubt one of the greatest authorities 
on the violin in all Europe. His works : " The Violin : Its 
Famous Makers and their Imitators," and " The Violin and 
its Music," will remain classics for all time. Facsimile 
label : 

HARVEY, ERNEST, Penarth, Cardiff : contemporary. 
An amateur who has made several instruments on the Stradi- 
vari and Guarneri models, of very good workmanship and 


HARVIE, ROBERT, : nineteenth century. 

HAWKES, , Coventry : eighteenth century. 

HAYNES & CO., London: contemporary. Chiefly 

HAYNES, JACOB, London: c. 1750. He made 
fairly good copies of Stainer. 

HEAPS, ALFRED WALTER, Sydney N.S.W. : 1854 
to about 1906. He was a son of John Knowles Heaps, of 
Leeds, and was apprenticed to Handel Pickard, of Leeds, in 
1869, with whom he remained till 1874. In 1876 he obtained 
an appointment in Sydney as manager of the musical 
department of a wholesale house. He soon relinquished 
this post, and devoted the rest of his life to violin making 
and repairing. His work is said to be very fine. 

HEAPS, JOHN KNOWLES, Leeds : nineteenth cen- 
tury. He made very good instruments. 

HEARNSHAW, FRANCIS, Nottingham: contem- 
porary. I have not seen his work. 

HEATON, WILLIAM, Gomersal, near Leeds : 1827 to 
about 1906. He made a large number of instruments on the 
Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari models, some of which 
reached a high standard of excellence. Mr. Arthur Broadley 
thought very highly of his violoncellos, and gave him a great 
deal of work from time to time. A 'cello built specially to 
his order was said to be a very fine instrument, with a large 
and telling tone. Facsimile label : 



Mr. Leedc. 


HEESOM, EDWARD, London : 1745-55. Stainer 
model ; indifferent work. 

HENDERSON, DAVID, Aberdeen : nineteenth cen- 
tury. Very poor work. 

HESKETH, THOMAS EARLE, Manchester : contem- 
porary. He was born in Manchester, August 14, 1866, and 
was apprenticed to Mr. G. A. Chanot in 1885, for five years. 
In 1891 he commenced business on his own account as a 
professional maker and repairer, and he worked for many 
years in Lower Mosley Street. I believe he is still working 
in Manchester, but am not certain of his whereabouts. He 
is one of the best of our modern makers, and his instruments 
are in great demand and highly appreciated by orchestral 
and other professional players. He has made a large 
number of instruments on the following models : Amati, 
Stainer, Ruggeri, Maggini, Guarneri, and Stradivari, the 
greater number being on the two last models. 

He also works on an original model, the principal measure- 
ments of which are : 

Length of body . . . * " . 14 inches. 

Width across upper bouts . -. , 6JJ 

middle ? . . ' v 4^ 

lower . , . 83** 

Length of C's . . ... f .. . 

f's >..- . . - ;.. . 

Distance between f's at upper turns . if 

Depth of ribs ij inch diminishing to . i^V 

He has made several magnificent violas on a model closely 
approximating to that of A. and H. Amati, one was to the 
order of Mr. Rawdon Biggs, of Halle's, the Brodsky, and 
other quartettes, and is considered by its owner a superb 
instrument. Its principal dimensions are : 


Length . . . . 4 / ;-T3fr i6f inches. 

Width, tOp . . . . ., ;..-. ?.,.: 7J 

centre . 5j 

bottom . . . ,<;.>; > 9f 
Depth of ribs I-& diminishing to . . i^- 

He has made excellent violas on the Strad model, I5| in., 
and a few on the Ruggeri model, i6J in., and on one the 
Maggini model, 15 J in. 

The violas of this maker are much valued for their excel- 
lent qualities, the tone having the depth and richness of 
colour which distinguish the best tenors of the old masters, 
and being wonderfully free from the nasality which too often 
characterises modern work. His wood, workmanship, and 
varnish are faultless. He has a considerable store of wood 
which was once the property of Craske, who is said to have 
bought it at Forster's sale. Much of the maple is of rather 
plain figure, but its tonal properties are of the best. A 
Vuillaume-Strad model violin which I once tried had a 
beautiful tone. It had a back cut on the quarter, made of 
wood with a fairly wide and very well marked curl. The 
varnish was a tender and elastic oil one, of rich, dark golden 
amber, which lit up the " flame " of the wood so that it 
appeared like watered silk seen through a sheet of stained 
glass. The fiddle was the work of an artist. Facsimile 
label : 

Thomas Earle Hesketh 
Manchester Fecit I900 1 

HIGSON, DANIEL, Ashton-on-Ribble : 1849 to about 
1906. He made many instruments on an original model. 

HILL, HENRY LOCKEY, London : 1774-1835. He 
was a son of Lockey Hill, a grandson of Joseph Hill, and 


the father of William Ebsworth Hill. He was a pupil of 
his father, and worked for some time with John Betts. Later 
he became partner with his father and brothers, and con- 
tributed largely by his excellent work to make the name of 
Hill one of the greatest in the history of violin making in this 
country. The workmanship and tone are generally mag- 
nificent sufficiently so in a number of his best instruments 
to furnish the forger with an excuse for extracting the 
maker's label (if there was one) and substituting another 
bearing a more honoured name. I have seen several 
Lockey Hill violoncellos with an Italian " passport/' A 
renowned 'cello player uses one at the present time, with a 
" Stradivari " label. It is of the same measurements as the 
Strad 'cello sent by Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia to John 
Betts in 1810, to be sold in this country, and is in all respects, 
except as regards the varnish and purfling, a perfect copy 
of that celebrated instrument. The varnish, although of 
excellent quality, is not to be compared with that of Stradi- 
vari, and the purfling, which is carefully inlaid, is not in 
the manner of the master. Any one carefully examining 
the mitring at the corners will perceive the difference. 
Careful comparison will reveal the similarity of this speci- 
men with the known Lockey Hill violoncellos. Some years 
ago I saw a violin by this maker, made on the N. Amati 
model, with a slab back of beautiful figure, which had 
a moderately powerful and very sweet tone. The 
colour of its varnish resembled the brownish-purple tint of 
the bark of birch in autumn. Hill frequently used a light- 
coloured varnish, which is perfectly transparent and elastic. 
I have seen only one of his violas, which was on a modified 
Amati model, with a widened waist, and not over-pronounced 
arching. The tone of this instrument was large and sonor- 
ous on the lower strings, but not quite so full and clear on 
the upper strings. The scroll was in the best Italian style, 
and the sound-holes well designed and carefully cut. Alto- 
gether the work of Lockey HiJl is very fine, and it is a pity 
there is not more of it, 


HILL, JOHN, London : c. 1794. Nothing known of 
him except that he apparently worked in Red Lion Street, 

HILL, JOSEPH, London: 1715-1784. He worked 
at "Ye Harp and Hautboy," in Piccadilly, under Peter 
Wamsley, where he was a fellow-apprentice with Benjamin 
Banks : he worked also in various other places, and was 
assisted by his sons William, Joseph, Lockey, and Benjamin. 
Haweis says that he " was proud to trace his descent from 
the Mr. Hill mentioned in Pepys' Diary as being employed 
to alter his lute and viall " (Old Violins, p. 137). It is 
rather curious that I cannot discover in my copy of this 
celebrated Diary any reference at all to any " Mr. Hill " as 
having been employed by Pepys to repair his instruments. 
The " Mr. Hill " referred to so frequently by Pepys was a 
merchant, and not a musical instrument maker. I have 
read the Diary very carefully, and have marked all the 
references to the " Mr. Hill " in question, but have not 
happened on the information given by Haweis. I 
should much like to have the particular entry where Haweis 
got his " facts " from pointed out. Albeit it is not very 
important whether Joseph Hill was descended from the 
" Mr. Hill " mentioned in the Diary or not, his fame rests 
not on his descent but on his fiddles. That he was a very 
capable craftsman does not admit of doubt. I have quite 
recently seen three instruments of his make one 'cello and 
two violins which were of beautiful workmanship and tone. 
One of the violins, on the Amati model, is now with me, and 
is made of excellent wood and varnished pale amber. It 
is rather on the small side, its length being I3|| -, but it has 
a round, clear and beautifully sweet tone. It would be 
difficult to find a fiddle with a tone more suitable for drawing- 
room purposes. 

Joseph Hill's violoncellos and double basses have been 
long admired for their excellent tone. 


To face p. i?9- 


HILL, WILLIAM, London : 1740-80. Son of the 
above Joseph Hill. His work is said to be very good, but 
I have not seen any instruments which could with certainty 
be ascribed to him, and cannot therefore say what they are 

HILL, W. E., & SONS, London : contemporary. The 
period of Willim Ebsworth Hill is 1817-95 ; the present 
members of the firm are : William Henry, born June 3, 
1857 ; Arthur Frederick, born January 25, 1860 ; Alfred 
Ebsworth, born February, 1862 ; and Walter Edgar, born 
November 4, 1871. The name of William Ebsworth Hill 
is almost as well known in the violin world as that of the 
great Stradivari himself. There is nothing extraordinary 
about this, for next in importance to the greatest maker is 
the greatest restorer, and it will be readily admitted, I 
think, that William Ebsworth was the greatest restorer this 
country has ever produced, and one of the greatest in all 
Europe. He was a pupil of his elder brother, Joseph, and 
he worked for a time with Charles Harris, at Oxford, whom 
he left in 1838, returning in that year to London and settling 
down, first in Southwark, then in Wardour Street, and 
finally in New Bond Street. I cannot discover that he made 
very many new instruments, but such work as he did make 
was of a high order of merit. Miss Stainer in her Dictionary 
of Violin Makers says that " he exhibited some very beauti- 
ful violins of carefully finished work and an excellent viola 
of large pattern, with full round tone, in London, in 1862, 
obtaining special commendation and a prize medal." But 
if he was not a prolific maker, he was the most indefatigably 
industrious restorer of old instruments that has ever been 
known, and his skill, patience, and trustworthiness in this 
branch of the art deserve to be, and will be, ever held in the 
greatest esteem by all lovers of the " King of instruments." 
Violin repairing in his hands became violin restoration, and 
he raised what had hitherto been regarded in this country as 
a humble craft to the dignity of fine art. 

I have already said something of violin restoration in the 


Introduction, but I really only touched the fringe of the 
subject. It is a topic on which another volume might be 
written, and it might be written not only with advantage 
but with a touch of the " human " about it, by making 
William Ebsworth Hill the pivot on which the information 
turned. In addition to possessing a vast knowledge of 
violins, and unsurpassed skill in their restoration, he had an 
interesting personality. The Rev. H. R. Haweis, who knew 
him intimately, has given us a vivid pen picture of the old 
craftsman under the appropriate heading of " A Vignette of 
W. E. Hill " in his Old Violins (pp. 133-145). I have not 
the slightest doubt that the picture he draws is a. faithful 
one, and that Hill was very different from ordinary mortals 
that he was, in fact, cast in a mould by himself, and strangely 
unique. The description given by Beatrice Harraden of 
Paul Stilling is in many respects applicable to him. " Paul," 
she says, " was one of those strange beings born aloof, and 
with no mental approach to a normal condition of thought 
or circumstance. He had a rare gift, the passion of which 
had absorbed him from his earliest years. He knew the 
whole subtle secret of violin-making ; and they said at 
Mirecourt, where he was sent to have his training, that he 
was a born fiddle-maker of unerring instinct. His birth in 
the nineteenth century was an injustice to him. He should 
have been born in the seventeenth century and taken his 
place at the luthier's bench side by side with Stradivari 
or Guarneri. But his spirit held undoubted communion 
with them ; and life, which had denied him many privileges, 
had conceded to him the joy of knowing that he was indeed 
their fellow-craftsman and belonged by birthright to their 
order " (Interplay, p. 21). 

The distinguishing trait of his personality seems to have 
been his extraordinary intuition " unerring instinct " is 
the right term for it. He knew the work of the masters, 
and knew it with the infallibility of direct vision. He 
remarked once to Haweis that there were days when he 
could not tell. But they were not many, and the fact that 


there were any such days at all is proof that his knowledge 
was intuitional rather than intellective, for had it been of 
the demonstrative the two and two make four order, he 
would always have been able to tell, or, at least, to pretend 
to tell. And had it been of the intellective order he would 
have differed little or nothing, perhaps, from the crowd of 
fiddle experts who rely more on the mathematics of their 
trade than on its psychology. 

Hill had all the qualifications of a great restorer : he had 
a perfect knowledge of violin construction, skill, patience, 
ingenuity, reverence, and the " artistic sense." It is not 
necessary to dwell at length on each of these qualifications, 
but I would point out as an instance of his profound reverence 
for the work of the masters the fact that he appreciated the 
absence of precision in an old instrument, and never at- 
tempted to rectify it, as an ordinary repairer would certainly 
do, for the sake of appearances. Some of the old makers, it 
seems certain, built their instruments without a mould, with 
the result that the curves are not always true, and the halves 
of the instrument (on either side of the longitudinal axis) not 
in exact contra-facsimile. This absence of precision in old 
art and craft work often imparts a pleasing tone to the 
general effect, but it requires the artistic sense to appreciate 
it. Hill both appreciated and reverenced it. 

His reverence is further shown by his very sparing use of 
fresh material in his restorations. No artist ever deplored 
more deeply the necessary renewal of parts which could not 
be re-set. He restored faithfully because he preserved 
faithfully. And this is the essence of all true restoration of 
art work. Imitation of old work may be tolerably faithful, 
but it is not old work, and it cannot be referred to as such ; 
it is like the lifeless body, the spirit has taken its flight, and 
has left but the vague semblance of what it once was. And 
if haply any life-like spirit is infused into the reproduction, 
it is not the spirit of the old, but the spirit of a new life ; 
and bears the impress of the mind, not of the ancient artist, 
but of the modern. 


There are two virtues which a restorer must possess they 
are the background of reverence, as it were these are 
self-control and self-denial. A writer on Christian Art 
observes that " not only political but aesthetical regenera- 
tion is inseparably dependent on self-denial and self-con- 
trol." This is literally true of the art of restoring violins. 
There are hundreds of old instruments in existence which 
have been repaired, or rather impaired, by bunglers who 
could not resist the temptation of " trying on " some of 
their " patents," or of discarding an old rib or two, or even 
the table, and substituting brand new work of more " scienti- 
fic " construction. It can with truth be said of these old 
wrecks as Ruskin said of Fra Giocondo's loggia that they 
" have been daubed and damned by the modern restorer." 

1 had not the privilege of knowing the great William 
Ebsworth in the flesh, but I know him in the spirit, and I 
know him in his works. There is no name in fiddle lore for 
which I feel a profounder respect, and there is nothing in 
fiddle craft that I admire more than his beautiful restora- 

The Messrs. Hill i.e. the present firm are makers, 
repairers, experts, and authors of several works on cele- 
brated violin makers and violins. Naturally, they have a 
great reputation. To say that they are worthily maintain- 
ing the reputation of their father is at once to say too much 
and too little. It is saying too much because no individual, 
or combination of individuals, can, in my opinion, ever 
equal the wonderful work which William Ebsworth Hill 
accomplished as a restorer of classical instruments. That 
work, whether viewed from the point of view of quantity or 
quality, stands unrivalled. Nor can any individual, or 
combination of individuals, ever again have the same 
opportunity of learning the mind of the great Italian masters 
as he had. The opportunity he enjoyed has visited the 
world only two or three times. It came once when Tarisio 
trudged the dusty roads of Italy : it came again when the 
pedlar sold his ill-gotten ware to the luthiers of Paris : it 


came the way of William Ebsworth when the husky veterans 
needed doctoring. Whoever says the same opportunity is 
now, or will come again, knows little of history, and is more 
sanguine than wise. 

It is saying too little because the sons are more business- 
like than their father. By all accounts the father was as 
notable an example as might be found anywhere of the man 
who " took no thought for the morrow." He was not a 
spendthrift, nor a waster, nor an epicure, but merely an 
artist who was so absorbed in his work that he had not room 
in his mind for pounds, shillings, and pence. 

The present establishment is thoroughly up-to-date in its 
business methods, and is, without a doubt, the most success- 
ful first-class violin concern in all the world to-day. The 
advertisement at the end of their volume Antonio Stradivari 
is a fair indication of the nature and extent of the business 
carried on by the enterprising sons of the king of British 
violin restorers. It runs : " Messrs. William E. Hill & Sons 
come of a family who for generations have been engaged in 
the making of violins and kindred instruments. Carrying 
on the traditions they have inherited, they have devoted 
their attention to the improvement and perfection in this 
country of their art in its various departments ; with the 
result that they have now at their service a highly trained 
and skilled staff, while at the same time they have organized 
and brought up their works at Hanwell to such a degree of 
completeness and efficiency as enables them effectively to 
meet the demands which have been so long pressing upon 
them, and to deal promptly with all calls which may hence- 
forth be made upon them. In their endeavours to revive 
a craft in the exercise of which England once held a position 
of repute and distinction, Messrs. W. E. Hill & Sons have 
been aided by one salient advantage. They have had 
through their hands nearly all the most famous violins of 
the world ; and they have not failed to avail themselves 
of their unique opportunities of studying, with a view to 
reproduction, the characteristics and details of these instru- 


ments. They can therefore offer copies of the most cele- 
brated Stradivaris, such as the ' Messie/ the ' Tuscan,' 
the ' Betts,' the ' Alard,' the ' Rode/ the ' Viotti, 1 etc. 
The price of these instruments is 35." There is nothing of 
the ordinary trade " puff " about this, and the business is 
exactly such as it is described. Haweis concludes his 
account of the present establishment by saying that it is 
" when considered in all its branches, the largest individual 
violin-dealing industry in the world." 

The firm also make fine bows, cases, and all fiddle acces- 
sories " on a scale hitherto unattempted in this country." 
Their bows have a great reputation, and are used by many 
distinguished players. They are violin and bow makers by 
royal appointment to H.M. the King, H.M. the King of 
Italy, H.M. the King of Portugal, H.M. the Ex-Queen 
Regent of Spain, H.M. Queen Maria Pia of Portugal. They 
have won the following awards for exhibits of instruments 
and bows : Prize Medal, London, 1862 ; Sole Gold Medal, 
Society of Arts, 1885 > Gold Medal, Inventions Exhibition, 
London, 1885 ; Gold Medal, Paris Universal Exhibition, 
1889 ; Diplome d'Honneur, Brussels International Exhibi- 
tion, 1897. 

They have one of the largest and finest collections of 
stringed instruments in the world, the collection embracing 
some of the best of our old British fiddles. I was very 
courteously allowed to inspect the collection a short while 
ago, and was greatly impressed by the wonderful wealth of 
art it displayed. The Messrs. Hill are the authors of several 
important works, a list of which will be found in the Appen- 

HILTON, THOMAS JAMES, Gorleston : contem- 
porary. A professional maker, repairer, and player. He 
was born in 1868, and commenced violin making about 
twenty years ago, since when he has completed forty-seven 
violins, some on the Strad, and some on the Bergonzi model. 
A great deal of his time is taken up with repairs, and he 


makes only three or four new instruments in the year. The 
work is carefully finished, and the tone is excellent. 

HIRCUT, , London : c. 1600. 

HOLLARD, GEORGE, Compton-Dundon : 1812-94. 
Made a few fiddles, and did a little rustic repairing. He 
played the fiddle at the local parish church for many years, 
and was a " character " in his way. 

HOLLOWAY, JOHN, London : 1775-95. He worked 
at 31 Gerard Street, Soho. Indifferent work. 

HOPKINS, , Worcester : nineteenth century. 

Fairly good work, but he artificially seasoned his wood. 

temporary. Born in York, March 2, 1875. An amateur 
who makes lovely violins on the Strad model. He is a 
professional wood carver, and his skill in the use of keen 
edged tools is manifest in the beautiful workmanship of his 
instruments. He is a pupil of Mr. A. L. Scholes, of Rushden. 

HOSBORN, THOMAS ALFRED, London : c. 1630. 
A maker of lutes and viols. 

HOSKINS, JAMES, Camerton, Somerset : early nine- 
teenth century. Average work, of no particular model. 
There is a fairly well made 'cello of his still in use in the 
little village of Camerton. 

HOWARD, H. H., . I have seen his name as a 

violin maker somewhere, but cannot trace it. 

HOXBY, THOMAS, York : nineteenth century. 

HUDSON, GEORGE, Skegness : contemporary. A 
son of Richard Hudson, well-known in parts of Lancashire as 
" Dick o' New-laith," a famous country fiddler. He has 


made over a hundred instruments, on various models, of 
good and careful workmanship. 

HUME, A., Peterborough : contemporary. A pro- 
fessional maker and player. I have not seen any of his 

HUME, CHARLES DAVID, Hawthorne, Melbourne : 
contemporary. A native of Liverpool, who emigrated to 
Australia about twenty years ago, and who is said to be a 
very good maker. He obtained a Diploma of Merit for a case 
of violins at the Bendigo Exhibition in 1903. 

HUME, RICHARD, Edinburgh: c. 1530. A famous 
viol and lute maker. 

HUMPHREYS, RICHARD, Carnarvon: c. 1760. A 
repairer of crythau (plural of cribth) and the maker of rustic 

HURLEY, ARTHUR, Tondu, Glamorgan: contem- 
porary. Has made a few violins on an original model. 

INGRAM, DAVID, Edinburgh: 1800-10. Average 

INGRAM, HENRY, Durham : c. 1820. Very few of his 
instruments have been seen. 

INGRAM, WALTER, Bristol: c. 1830. Very neat 
work, but baked wood, and poor tone. 

IRESON, FRANK HERBERT, Bishop Auckland: 
contemporary. An amateur who has made a number of 
nice violins on the model of Walter H. Mayson. 



JAMES, STEPHEN, Bristol : c. 1800. Average work. 

JAMIESON, THOMAS, Aberdeen: 1830-45. Fair 
work and tone. 

JAY, HENRY, London : c. 1640-60. A maker of 
viols. His work was considered excellent. Mace's refer- 
ences to it are well known. 

JAY, HENRY, London : 1746-68. A maker of kits 
chiefly. His work was very neat, and the varnish of good 
quality. The tone of one of these kits which I tried some 
years ago was clear and sweet. He is said to have got 5 
for a kit a remarkable figure, equivalent to about 10 
to-day. He made violoncellos for Longman & Broderip. 
Label : 



JAY, THOMAS, London : c. 1690-1720. He made a 
number of instruments of superior workmanship, which had 
a rather small but pleasing tone. 

JENKINS, THOMAS, Haverfordwest : 1819-90. He 
made a number of instruments on various models, of good 
workmanship and tone. He played the 'cello regularly for 
many years in S. Martin's church, and he possessed a clear 
alto voice of wonderful compass. 

JOHNSON, JOHN, London : 1750-60. Fair work- 
manship. The tone although not large is clear and pene- 
trating. A very high-arched violin, with thin, dry, yellow 
varnish had the following label : 


17 LONDON 55. 


JOHNSTON, JAMES, Pollokshields : nineteenth cen- 
tury. Alexander Murdoch, in a little work entitled : " The 
Fiddle in Scotland," has the following note on his work : 
" An amateur who has turned out some of the best speci- 
mens of recent violin making in Scotland. Mr. Johnston has 
a fine taste for, and a genuine admiration of, the fiddle, as 
well as a superior practical genius for its construction. He 
is the possessor of a very valuable Strad violin.'' 

JONES, , Barnstaple : contemporary. 

JONES, DAVID, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan : 1760- 
1840. A most ingenious man who made clocks, mechanical 
toys, artificial teeth, and fiddles, and other curious things. 
A full account of him and his numerous inventions appeared 
in the " Merthyr Express " some years ago. 

JONES, JOHN, Port Dinorwic,N. Wales: 1833-1906. 
An amateur who made a few fiddles of no particular model. 
The workmanship was rough, but the tone was not so bad. 
He played the 'cello for many years at the parish church of 

KELMAN, JAMES, Aberchirder, N.B. : nineteenth 
century. Commonplace work and tone. 

KENDAL, GEORGE, : contemporary. 

KENDLE, PHILLIP, Hereford: c. 1820. Average 

KENNEDY, ALEXANDER, London : 1695-1785. Very 
fair work on the Stainer model. 

KENNEDY, JOHN, London : 1730-1816. A nephew 
of Alexander Kennedy. Indifferent work. 


KENNEDY, THOMAS, London: 1784-1870. He 
was a prolific maker, and it is said that he made at least 
two thousand instruments of all sizes. The workmanship 
is good, but the tone is not of equal merit, being often harsh 
and metallic. A violin with a birch back and yellow varnish 
had the following label : 

LONDINI, 1860. 

KIRKWOOD, ROBERT, Edinburgh : nineteenth cen- 
tury. A goldsmith, and a clever amateur who made a 
number of lovely violins. 

KNAPTON, , London : c. 1830. 

KNIGHT, ALFRED, Worcester : 1800-10. Ordinary 

shire : contemporary. He was born at Bishop Auckland in 
1869, and works now at 5 Smith Street, Colne, as a pro- 
fessional maker and repairer. He has made a number of 
violins, a few 'cellos, and one double bass, on the Stradivari 
and Guarneri models. The workmanship is beautiful, and 
the tone bright, sweet, and responsive. A violin made to 
the memory of the late W. Hartley, band master to the 
ill-fated Titanic, was made of very fine wood, carefully 
finished in every detail, and covered with oil varnish of 
excellent quality. It had a large and telling tone. Hartley 
and Lancaster at one time played first violins in the Colne 
Orchestra, and Lancaster played the violin at his friend's 
funeral. The work of this maker is bound to come to the 


LAUGHER, WILLIAM, Redditch : 1830 to about 1906. 
A manufacturer of steel and plated pins by trade, who made 
a number of violins as a hobby. 

LEWIS, EDWARD, London: 1695-1730. A magni- 
ficent old maker, whose work is, unfortunately, very rare. 
I have seen only three violins of his make, one of which was 
on a model approximating to that of Maggini, the wood, 
workmanship, and tone being very fine indeed. The 
varnish was an oil one, of a rich golden-red colour, perfectly 
transparent, and elastic. No label of his is known. 

LIGHT, EDWARD, London : 1780-1805. A lute and 
harp maker chiefly : he made very few violins. 

LINDSAY, , Newcastle-on-Tyne : contemporary. 

LINDSAY, DAVID, Edzell, N.B. : contemporary. An 
amateur who has made about forty violins of good work- 
manship, on the models of Stradivari and Guarneri. 

LINDSAY, MICHAEL, H., Stockton-on-Tees : 1837 
to about 1906. He was a professional maker and repairer, 
and made a large number of instruments, chiefly violins, 
on the Strad model. He used excellent wood, and a very 
fine amber oil varnish of his own make. The work is care- 
fully finished all over, and the scroll especially is well carved 
in the best Italian style. The tone is not very powerful, 
but is of a very pleasing quality. Lindsay had a paralytic 
seizure in 1902, which put a period to his making, and 
during the few remaining years of his life he was unable to 
do anything beyond a little repairing. He won a medal for 
an exhibit of violins at the Liverpool Exhibition some years 
ago. He was a real artist, and his instruments will improve 
with age and careful use. Facsimile label : 




LISTER, JOHN, Leeds : 1720-30. Very ordinary work 
on the Stainer model. 

LOGAN, JOHN, Biggar, N.B. : contemporary. An 
excellent amateur maker and repairer. He has made a 
considerable number between fifty and sixty I think 
of violins on the Joseph, Strad, and Maggini models. His 
work is beautifully finished, and it is a pity he is not able to 
devote his whole time to the craft. Label : 



AB1NCTON, N.B., 1895. 

LOMAX, JACOB, Bolton : contemporary. He worked 
at ii Durham Street, where he also carried on the business 
of pawnbroking, but I have an idea that he has left Bolton 
and that I saw him in London recently. 

LONGMAN & BRODERIP, London : 1750-73. They 
were dealers, and not actual makers. They bought all sorts 
of instruments, into which they put their trade label. 

LONGSON, , London. 

LOTT, GEORGE FREDERICK, London : 1800-68. 
He was the eldest son of John Frederick Lott. A very 
clever workman, and a very clever imitator too clever, 
indeed. He worked for many years with Davies, of Coven- 
try Street. 

LOTT, JOHN FREDERICK, London : c. 1800-1871. 
He was the second son of John Frederick Lott, senior, and 
was born in London about the year 1800. He is the hero of 
Charles Reade's " Jack of all Trades : A Matter-of-fact 
Romance." He was an exceedingly clever craftsman, and 
a man, as Hart says, of " strangely varied talents." There 
is no doubt about it, and among the variety of talent he 
displayed was one for brilliant forgery. Some of his skilful 


counterfeits have deceived the ablest judges. I can only 
reiterate what I have said before that all the talent and skill 
a craftsman of this sort has will not atone for a life of fraud. 

LOTT, JOHN FREDERICK, London : c. 1795-1853. 
He was born in Germany in 1775, and it is supposed that he 
came to London about 1795. He died there in 1853, and 
was buried in the Churchyard of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. 
He was a cabinet maker at first, but under the influence of 
Fendt he before long discarded that trade for the more 
congenial one of violin making. In 1798 he obtained work 
with Dodd, for whom he made those violoncellos and double 
basses which helped to swell the fame and fortune of the 
Englishman. The work of Lott, more especially his basses, 
was of the highest order, and it is the unanimous verdict of 
experts that it will bear comparison with the best Italian 
work. Hart sums up his merits briefly by saying that " he 
was certainly the king of the English double-bass makers/' 

LUTON, GEORGE, Leicester, c. 1840. Fairly good 

LYE, HENRY, Camerton, Somerset : contemporary. 
He was born at Camerton in 1832, and has lived there all his 
life. He was for fifty-six years employed as carpenter on 
the Camerton Court Estate, and during these long years he 
devoted all his spare time to the construction of violins. 
An article on " Camerton Court and its History," which 
appeared in The Bristol Times and Mirror for June 6, 
1914, contained the following reference to Lye : " Camerton 
Court, a mansion built and occupied by Mr. John Jarrett, 
and after his death by the Misses Jarrett . . . Miss A. M. 
Jarrett found great pleasure in wood carving, while Miss 
Emily Jarrett, who was more musically inclined, was an 
accomplished organist and violinist. Several violins and 
violas were made and supplied to her by Mr. Henry Lye. . . . 
This remarkable old gentleman, although over eighty-two 
years of age, can still see to read without glasses. His work 


at the Court ended about three years ago, but he is still 
busy at his favourite hobby, and has a number of his violins 
waiting for purchasers." Mr. Lye is now in his eighty- 
fourth year, but (thanks to splendid health, a steady nerve, 
and keen sight) is still able to wield the gouge. He has 
made a large number of violins, and a considerable number 
of violas and violoncellos. The instruments are solidly 
built, the workmanship of uniform excellence, and the 
tone large, bright, and responsive. 


MACGREGOR, , Glasgow: nineteenth century. 

Said to have been a good maker. 

M'GILL, JAMES CAMPBELL, Arran : nineteenth 
century. Fairly good work. 

M'INTOSH, JAMES, Blairgowrie : 1801-73. Good 
work. He used spirit varnish, but it is put on so thin 
that the tone is not materially injured. A Mr. Case, of 14 
Park Avenue, Handsworth, Birmingham, owns the finest 
specimen of his work that I have seen. It has a back cut 
on the slab, with a rather thick neck and sound holes that 
are rather straight and stiff : the model approximates to 
that of Amati. There is a character about the work which 
is rather striking, and the tone of this fiddle is certainly good. 
He made about two hundred and fifty instruments, including 
violins, violas, and violoncellos. 

MACINTOSH, JOHN, Galston, N.B. : contemporary. 
An artist and antiquary who makes violins en amateur. 

M'INTOSH, WILLIAM, Dundee : contemporary. Very 
good work. 

MACKINTOSH, , Dublin. 

M'GEE, , Belfast : nineteenth century. 

M'GEORGE, GEORGE, Edinburgh : 1796-1820. A 
pupil and follower of Matthew Hardie who made excellent 
instruments. He used a spirit varnish which is of a slightly 
better quality than that of Hardie. There does not appear 
to be much of his work left. 

M'KENZIE, MALCOLM, Dumbarton, N.B. : 1828 
to about 1904. Made many instruments, of average merit. 

M'LAY, WILLIAM, Kincardine-on-Forth : 1815 to 
about 1890. Very poor work. 

M'NEILL, JOHN, Edinburgh : contemporary. 
M'NEILL, , Dublin : early nineteenth century. 

M'NICOLL, ALEXANDER, Padanaram : nineteenth 
century. Indifferent work. 

M'SWAN, JOHN, Partick : contemporary. An ama- 
teur who has made a number of violins of about average 

MAGHIE, JOHN FISHER, Dalston : contemporary. 
Said to be a good maker, but I cannot say, as I have not seen 
his work. 

MALLAS, ALEXANDER, Leith : 1826-91. Mr. Honey- 
man says his violins are well made, with a good tone. 

MANN, JOHN ALEXANDER, Glasgow: 1810-89. 
It appears from the numerous letters that I have received 
in reference to my remarks upon this maker's work that I 
have very much under-estimated the ability of Mann and the 
merits of his instruments. It may be that I have, and 
that the following remarks which I cull from " The Fiddle 


in Scotland," by Alexander G. Murdoch, give a more just 
estimate of his work : " Mr. Mann settled in Glasgow as a 
musical instrument maker and machinist. This would be 
about the year 1845, at which date his direct professional 
connection with fiddle making and repairing first began. 
In this fine field Mr. Mann found excellent scope for the 
exercise of his superior genius and taste. A mind of so 
much vigour and wealth of invention would not long remain 
a mere copyist in the make and repair of violins. Impelled 
by sincere artistic instincts, he made a long, patient, and 
careful study of the delicate construction and complex 
acoustics of the instrument, and his previous knowledge of 
chemistry which had been a study of his youth had made 
him perfectly acquainted with all the gums and solvents 
used in the manufacture of violin varnish. In this way Mr. 
Mann soon became a deft worker, . . . and as years in- 
creased, his fame spread, till latterly he has come to be 
recognised as one of the most distinguished of our present- 
day fiddle makers. Widely known as a maker, he is equally 
celebrated as a repairer of valuable old violins. In this 
respect he has had an unsurpassed experience. In the 
course of his professional career, some of the finest and most 
valuable of our old historic violins have from time to time 
been submitted to his judgment and inspection, or left in 
his skilful hands for repair.'* Mann was a personal friend of 
J. B. Vuillaume, whom he used to visit regularly at Paris 
once a year. The fact is, if I must give expression to my 
honest conviction, these visits were more than friendly 
visits, and had for their primary object business of a definite 
nature. I believe many of the instruments bearing Mann's 
labels were supplied him " in the white " by Vuillaume, 
Charles Jacquot, or some other Parisian makers whom he 
used to meet at Vuillaume 's table. Some of Mann's work 
has a very striking resemblance to some of Vuillaume's. 
Albeit, I have not the slightest doubt that Mann was 
singularly gifted, and that he has made many violins of the 
highest merit. 


MANN, T. H., Cardiff and Bedford : contemporary. 
A very gifted civil engineer who has made about thirty 
instruments, of very beautiful workmanship and good tone. 
Hie has given much time and thought to the theory of the 
construction of stringed instruments, and is a keen art 

MANUEL, EVAN, Merthyr Tydfil : early nineteenth 
century. He made many fiddles and a few Welsh harps. 
I have seen only one violin of his make, which was on the 
Stainer model, high-arched, rather well made, but with a 
tone inclined to be harsh and shrill. 

teenth century. Very fair work. 

MARNIE, JOHN, Padanaram : nineteenth century. 
Poor work. 

MARSHALL, JOHN, London : 1750-60. Fairly 
good work on the Stainer model. 

MARSHALL, JOHN, Aberdeen : contemporary. He 
was born in the parish of Methlick, Aberdeenshire, in 1844, 
and has been established in Aberdeen nearly half-a-century 
as a professional maker and repairer. He has made upwards 
of three hundred instruments, including violins, violas, 
and violoncellos, of excellent workmanship and tone. He 
has followed the Amati, Guarneri, Stradivari, and Gagliano 
models. For many years now he has worked on the model 
of a beautiful Alessandro Gagliano which he had through his 
hands for repair, and of which he took careful measurements. 
I examined quite a number of these at his workshop in 
Woolman Street, about a year ago, and thought them 
solidly constructed and well finished instruments. Mr. 
Marshall is highly respected throughout the north of Scot- 
land as a skilful repairer and conscientious man, and the 
practical evidence of this respect is the abundance of work 



which he always has in hand. For the past nine years he 
has been assisted by Mr. William Glennie, a maker and 
repairer of undoubted ability. Facsimile label : 

John Marshall, 


Marshall died on March 16, 1919. 

MARTIN, , London. Little or nothing is known of 


MARTIN, HENRY, Nottingham: c. 1800. Fairly 
good work, which would be better but for the exaggerated 

MAYSON,STANSFIELD, Manchester : contemporary. 
Son, pupil, and successor of Walter H. Mayson. He has 
made about twenty instruments on his father's model, 
which are of good workmanship and tone. It is too soon 
to predict whether he will attain the excellence of his father, 
but he has undoubted abilities. 

MAYSON, WALTER HENRY, Manchester: 1835- 
1904. He was born at Cheetwood, near Manchester, on 
November 8, 1835, an d was tne fourth son of Mark and 
Elizabeth Mayson. His father was a descendant of an ancient 
Cumberland family, and in the days of his prosperity owned 
considerable property in Keswick. His mother's maiden 
name was Green, and she was a daughter of William Green, 
the painter, whose work was so highly esteemed by Professor 
Wilson ("Christopher North"), Hartley, Coleridge, and 
William Wordsworth, the poet. 


Mayson was educated at the celebrated school of Thomas 
Whalley, where he early gained distinction at English com- 
position, his essays being often selected by the headmaster 
for public reading before the school. At the age of seventeen 
he was apprenticed to a firm of merchants in Manchester, 
with whom he served five years. During this time he 
devoted his spare hours to the pursuit of music and litera- 
ture, and he contributed verses and occasional essays to the 
periodicals and local press. He made his first fiddle in 1873, 
and very shortly afterwards he resolved to give up his post 
(he was now in a good position with a large firm of mer- 
chants) and to devote his life to the art and craft of violin 
making. From this time to the end of his life he steadily 
made at the rate of about two instruments per month. The 
total number he made reached the high figure of eight 
hundred and eleven, all entirely made by himself, with the 
exception of the last instrument, which was only half 
finished when the hand of death was laid upon him. Of 
these, twenty-seven were violas, twenty-one violoncellos, 
and the rest violins. As far as I can gather from Mayson 's 
correspondence, and from my own observation, about one- 
fourth of the total number of instruments made by him are 
of his better class, the rest being of a lower some of them 
of a much lower grade of excellence. It is very unfortu- 
nate that this fine artist was during the greater part of his 
life entirely at the mercy of circumstances circumstances 
over which he could possibly have no control, and for which 
he was not at all responsible. I am morally certain of one 
thing, that Mayson never turned out a poor instrument 
from his hands by choice or by neglect. But he was poor, 
and at times very poor, so that he was often obliged to put 
inferior material into his instruments, and often inferior (or 
less finished) work too, and thus to sacrifice to the need 
of the moment much of his fame with posterity. It is 
when we contemplate the cruel lot of a genius like May- 
son that the truth is borne in upon us that poverty is a 


To face p. ic 


But Mayson's best work is magnificent. It will bear 
comparison with the finest work produced in modern times 
by any maker in this or any other country. In his earlier 
days he made a number of instruments on the models of 
Stradivari and Guarneri, but his strong mind refused to bend 
for long to the mind of another artist, even though he were 
a Stradivari, and he struck out on original lines. The 
principal measurements of his original model for violins 
are : 

Length of body . * " ./ . ^ 14^ inches. 

Width across upper bouts . 6| ,, 

middle . . V 4$ 

lower . '. , 8i 

Depth of ribs at lower bouts . ? . ij 

upper . ,.-. ii 

Length of sound-holes . . 3 

Distance between /'s at upper turn . if 

The arching is slightly more pronounced than it is in instru- 
ments of the grand Strad pattern. 

Mayson made about a dozen instruments with carved 
backs, that is, with landscapes, flowers, or figures carved 
thereon in bas-relief. The relief is only one-fortieth of an 
inch, and the effect is wonderful in so slight a cutting. 
Fine as these are, however, as works of art, I do not think 
they represent the finest success of Mayson for tone, probably 
the inequality of thicknessing due to the carving affected 
the tone detrimentally it certainly could not improve it. 

Mayson worked at various places, first at " The Polygon," 
Lower Broughton, next in Burton Arcade, Deansgate, 
Manchester, where he remained for some time, and made 
many instruments ; he removed thence to Croft House, 
Newby Bridge, at the foot of Winder mere, where he remained 
for six years, and made much of his best work. From 
Newby Bridge he went back to Manchester, opening a shop 
at 62 Oxford Street : here he worked for several years. 


In 1899 he opened a workshop at 256 High Holborn, London, 
but this venture turned out a disastrous failure, and he was 
obliged once more to turn his face towards Manchester. 
Broken in fortune and bruised in spirit the poor artist's 
health gradually gave way, and a paralytic seizure at the 
close of the year 1904 completed a work already commenced 
by adversity. He died in his seventieth year. Facsimile 
label : 

Each instrument was named, and the label was worded 
accordingly. Mayson was awarded medals at Cork, in 
1883 ; Inventions, London, 1885 ; and Melbourne, in 1888. 
Many tributes were paid to his genius in his lifetime by men 
who knew his work well, and the press was lavish in its 
praise of the old craftsman when he had laid by for ever his 
gouge and calipers. 

Mayson published several works, including " Colazzi," 
"The Heir of Dalton," "The Stolen Fiddle," "Violin 
Making," etc., and he left a number of others in manuscript. 

MEARES, RICHARD, London : 1660-80. A maker of 
lutes and viols. 

MEARES, RICHARD, London : 1675-90. Son of the 
preceding. He made a few violins, but left the trade soon 
after the death of his father. 

MEEK, JAMES, Carlisle :> contemporary. He was 
born at Cleator, Cumberland, in 1862, and has been working 


as a professional maker and repairer at 15 Tait Street, 
Carlisle, for twenty years. He has made fifty- three instru- 
ments up to date, nearly all violins, some on the A. and H. 
Amati model, but the majority on the Strad and Guarneri 
models. Most of his time is taken up with repairs, and he 
can make only two or three violins in the course of a year. 
His work is beautifully finished, and his material selected 
with scrupulous care. A violin of his make on the A. and 
H. Amati model which I saw and tried some years ago was 
one of the most delicately and exquisitely finished objects 
I have ever handled. The wood of its back was of narrow 
but definite and perfectly regular curl, and the instrument 
was covered with a golden amber varnish of wonderful 
" fire." The tone was not large, but it was sweet and 
responsive. Mr. Meek has a high reputation as a repairer 
of all kinds of stringed instruments. Facsimile label : 


MEIKLE, ROBERT, Lesmahagow : 1817-97. Ordinary 

MEGGISON, ALFRED: Manchester: c. 1800. 
Workmanship very fair, but high arching. 

contemporary. An amateur maker and repairer of con- 
siderable ability and skill. He has made a large number of 
violins, some on the Strad model, but the majority on an 
original model, which is of rather l^rge dimensions, with 
somewhat peculiar sound-holes. The tone is very good. 

MENZIES, JOHN, Falkirk : 1820-31. His work is 
said to be fairly good. 


MEREDITH, L., London: c. 1720-50. Mr. W. M. 
Groundwater, of Salford, Manchester, had a fiddle through 
his hands in 1910 labelled : " L. Meredith, St. Paul's 
Churchyard, London, 1734," which he described as being 
rather large and somewhat on the lines of Maggini, with 
deep ribs, and covered with brown varnish, rather thick in 
pate. The tone was fairly good. 

MERLIN, JOSEPH, London : 1765-80. Stainer 
model, fairly good work, but rather poor tone. The varnish 
is mostly dirty yellow or brown of an inferior quality. His 
mechanical pegs for violins and 'cellos were in demand at 
one time. Label : 


NO. 104, LONDINI, 1779, IMPROVED. 


MIER, , London : c. 1780. 

MILLER, , London : c. 1750. Little or nothing is 

known of him. 

MILLER, or MILLAR, Belfast : contemporary appar- 
ently. The Rev. Father Greaven gives his name in his list. 

MILLER, ALEXANDER, St. Andrews : 1813-77. A 
pupil of Thomas Hardie. The work is very good, but the 
tone often disappointing. At his death Miller left a large 
stock of excellent wood, which was bought by Mr. John 
Logan, of Biggar. 

MILLER, JOHN, Dundee : contemporary. His work 
is said to be very good. 

MILNE, PATRICK G., Aberdeen : contemporary. He 
was born at Aberdeen in 1873, and works there now at 16 
Guild Street as a professional maker and repairer. He is 
one of the best of present day Scottish makers. He has 


made a few violins on the Guarneri model, but nearly all his 
later work is on the grand Strad pattern. He is very par- 
ticular about the material he uses, and only puts wood into 
his instruments which thoroughly satisfies him as to its 
proper seasoning and acoustical qualities. All the work is 
executed by Mr. Milne personally, and every detail is 
scrupulously attended to and beautifully finished. The 
varnish is an oil one, the colour varying from light orange 
to dark red : it is of excellent quality and perfectly trans- 
parent. He has made about fifty violins and a few violas 
and violoncellos. His instruments are well liked by pro- 
fessional players. Much of his time is taken up with repairs. 
Facsimile label : 



MINER, D. BROWN, Dunfermline : contemporary. 

MITCHELL, GEORGE, Edzell : 1823-97. Average 

MITCHELL, JOHN, Dunfermline : contemporary. 

MITCHELL, , Captain, Toronto, Canada : con- 
temporary. Very glowing accounts of his work have 
appeared in the Canadian press. 

MOFFATT, W. J., . His violins are occasionally 

advertised in catalogues of old instruments, but I cannot 
say when or where he worked. 

MOLYNEUX, , Dublin: c. 1800. A very fine 

violin of his make is in the Dublin Museum, which is quite 
Italian in character. Father Greaven thinks he was a 
foreigner who had settled down in Dublin in early life. 



MONK, JOHN KING, Lewisham, and Blackheath : 
contemporary. He was born in 1846, and is a descendant 
in the direct line of General Monk, of Commonwealth fame. 
He has carried on business for many years as a professional 
maker and repairer, and is considered a clever and con- 
scientious craftsman. He has made a large number of 
violins on a model which closely approximates to that of 
the grand Strad. He uses excellent material, and a lustrous 
oil varnish of fine quality, ranging m colour from pale amber 
to deep golden red. He is of an inventive turn of mind, and 
has introduced and put on the market, I believe, some 
" patent improvements," such as the " triple bar system/' 
the " Maggini bass bar," etc. All lovers of classical methods, 
and adherents to the old traditions, look with suspicion 
upon these innovations, and not without very good reasons. 
Mr. Monk, however, makes instruments of the orthodox 
type, and his best work is excellent in every way. Facsimile 
label : 

. MoniC, 

McnTOK* Suftact. 8.W 


MORGAN, JAMES, Edinburgh : 1839 to about 1906. 
A cabinet maker who made a number of excellent violins 
and other stringed instruments during spare time. 

MORGAN, WILLIAM, Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven : 
contemporary. He was born in 1844, and has been keeper 
of the celebrated castle of Dunnottar for many years, and a 
professional violin maker for the last ten or dozen years. 
He has fitted up a workshop in a part of the romantic old 
ruins of the castle by the sea, and there, to the wild music 


of the waves, he muses and carves and fashions his fiddles. 
Morgan is a " character " of an old-world type, with a mind 
steeped in ancient lore, and a memory packed with reminis- 
cences and quaint anecdote. The old ruins are to him a 
palace, and fiddle making a golden dream. He has made 
about a hundred violins, some of which are on the Stradivari 
and Guarneri models, but the majority on that of Alessandro 
Gagliano, with the arch slightly reduced. The workmanship 
is characterised by masculine strength and a kind of pleasing 
ruggedness rather than by delicacy and finesse. The 
remarkable thing about his work is the fine tone he obtains. 
All his instruments that I have tried have a large, brilliant, 
and sonorous tone. There is no mistaking its quality it 
is such as we always associate with the name " Italian." 
When time and use have had their mellowing effect upon it, 
nothing better will be desired nothing better will be 
Facsimile label : 

Dunnottar* Castle. 

MOORE, ANTHONY JOHN, Sunderland : contem- 
porary. An artist by profession, who has taken up violin 
making as a hobby. I have not seen any of his recent work, 
but some of his instruments are said to have a beautiful tone. 

MORRIS, J., BATH: nineteenth century. I know 
nothing of him or his work. A violin of his make was sold 


at Messrs. Puttick & Simpson's sale on June 8, 1906, which 
was well made and had a good tone. 

MORRISON, ARCHIBALD, Glasgow : 1820-95. He 
worked in Great Hamilton Street, where he had a music 
shop, and where he made a large number of fiddles of all 
sorts. His shop was a rendezvous of fiddle enthusiasts and 
players, who were known about Glasgow as " Morrison's 

MORRISON, JAMES, Dunfermline : nineteenth cen- 

MORRISON, JOHN, London : 1760-1^827. He worked 
mostly for the trade. 

MORTIMER, JOHN WILLIAM, Cardiff: contem- 
porary. Born at Gomersal, near Leeds, in 1857. He is a 
pupil of William Heaton, Gomersal, and he received some 
instruction also from W. J. Cartwright, of Yeadon. He has 
been established in Cardiff for about fifteen years as a 
professional maker, repairer, and double bass player. Mr. 
Mortimer is unique amongst violin makers : he has seven 
sons, all professional players, each of whom plays upon an 
instrument of his father's make. This surely constitutes 
a record, and it is worthy of remark that every member of 
this wonderful family is a musician and an artist of un- 
doubted ability. Mr. Mortimer has made a considerable 
number of instruments, including violins, violas, 'cellos, 
and double basses. His larger instruments are noted for 
their full, sonorous, and responsive tone. One double bass 
which I have seen was made of exceptionally fine and beau- 
tifully figured wood : it had an immense tone of excellent 
quality. His smaller instruments, which are on an original 
model, are very carefully constructed, and have a large and 
telling tone. The violas are made in two sizes, the larger 
one being i6J inches long, with widths of 8, 5|, and 10 
inches. , He has used various varnishes, such as Whitelaw's, 


Briggs', and on some of his larger instruments an amber 
varnish of his own make. 

Having been trained originally as a cabinet maker and 
wood carver he is very skilful in the use of keen-edged tools, 
and his repairs show the practised hand of the qualified 
craftsman. Being the only properly trained repairer within 
a radius of thirty or forty miles, and living as he does in a 
populous centre and in a very musical city, nearly all his 
time is taken up with repairs. He is an intelligent and 
conscientious man, an ardent musician, an excellent 
bassist, and a painstaking and capable craftsman. 

MURDOCH, ALEXANDER, Aberdeen : 1815-91. Said 
to have made a large number of instruments. 

MURPHY, BARTHOLOMEW, Cork : 1780-1830. 

MURPHY, JOHN, Cork : c. 1820-50. Possibly a son 
of the preceding. 

MURPHY, DENNIS, Dublin : c. 1830. 

MURRAY, DAVID, Gorebridge : contemporary. An 
amateur of considerable ability, who has made several 
beautiful violins. 

MURRAY, JAMES, Dumfries : contemporary. 

MURRAY, JOHN BROWN, Clarebrand : contem- 
porary. An amateur who has made several good violins. 

MUST, FREDERICK, Shrewsbury : c. 1800. Amati 
model with a much exaggerated arch. 

MYERS, CHARLES, Hereford : c. 1820. I have seen 
his name in a catalogue of old instruments. 

MYLES, FRANCIS, Cardiff: c. 1840. Rather poor 



NAYLOR, ISAAC, Headingly, Leeds : 1775-90. A 
pupil of Richard Duke, many of whose characteristics he 
reproduced in his work. 

NEWCOMBE, GEORGE, Leicester : nineteenth cen- 

NEWTON, ISAAC, London: 1775-1825. He made 
mostly for the trade, particularly for Betts. Fairly good 

NICHOLAS, EDWARD, Bristol : c. 1800. I have seen 
his name in a catalogue of old instruments. 

NICOL, THOMAS, Glasterlaw : 1840 to about 1910. 
He made about seventy or eighty violins on the models of 
Stradivari and Guarneri. Careful work. 

NICOLSON, JAMES, Stirling : 1770-90. His name 
appeared in a Scottish catalogue some years ago. 

NISBET, WILLIAM, Lint Mill, Prestonkirk : 1828- 
1902. An extraordinarily versatile man, of whom the Rev. 
G. Marjoribanks, Vicar of Stenton, wrote as follows in the 
Haddington Courier : " It is not too much to say that in 
whatever direction Nisbet has turned his energies he has 
always excelled . . . he is a man possessed not only of rare 
technical skill, but of such accurate and extensive informa- 
tion, gathered mainly from personal observation and study 
in the fields of natural history and science, whether as 
photographer, wood-carver, carpenter, basket maker, violin 
maker, the productions of his genius and labour have been 
equally appreciated, etc." He made a hundred and 
twenty violins, some on the Maggini and some on the Amati 
model. The workmanship is excellent, and the tone very 
good. He was awarded two bronze medals for an exhibit 


of instruments at the Edinburgh International Exhibition 
in 1886. 

NOBLE, HUGH, Dundee : contemporary. An amateur. 

NOLTON, CHRISTOPHER, Bristol: c. 1810. His 
name has appeared in catalogues. 

NORBORN, JOHN, London : c. 1720. 

NORDEN, RICHARD, Crewe : 1830-50. Average 

NORMAN, BARAK, London: 1688-1740. He was 
a pupil of Thomas Urquhart, and worked first in Bishopsgate 
and afterwards in St. Paul's Churchyard He worked on 
the Maggini model, which he however modified in some 
respects. No violins of his are known. He is supposed to 
have been the second violoncello maker in this country. His 
instruments are of very full proportions, and the work is, as 
a rule, beautifully finished. The varnish is usually dark 
brown or dark amber, and is of excellent quality. The 
tone is powerful and sonorous. He became partner to 
Nathaniel Cross about the year 1715, and both worked at 
the sign of the " Bass- Viol." 

NORRIS, JOHN, London : 1739-1818. A pupil of 
Thomas Smith, and for some time partner with Barnes. 


OLDHAM, THOMAS, Tewkesbury : c. 1820. 

OLIVER, JAMES, Reading : 1810-40. He used baked 

O'MAHONY, JAMES, Mitchelstown, Ireland: con- 
temporary. A contractor and builder by trade who has 


made about sixty violins during spare time. His work is 
nicely finished and his instruments have a good tone. 

OMOND, JAMES, Kirbuster, Stromness : 1833 to 
about 1907. He was originally a schoolmaster, but had to 
give up that profession through a break-down in health. He 
picked up watchmaking and repairing, and a few years later 
violin making and repairing, and to the latter craft he 
adhered to the end of his days, eventually becoming a 
professional maker of some importance. He made in all 
about three hundred instruments, including violins, violas, 
and violoncellos. He worked on the Stradivari and Guarneri 
models, but these models in a number of his instruments 
were considerably modified. Some of his Joseph " copies " 
could hardly be described as copies at all. The work is 
very carefully finished throughout, and the tone is moder- 
ately powerful and of a good quality. He would have 
obtained a larger tone if he had given his plates a greater 
taper. His fiddles are overstocked with wood. It is a wise 
provision to leave plenty of wood in a new instrument, but 
a great error to leave too much almost as great as leaving 
too little. Omond obtained four diplomas of merit and 
bronze medals at various Exhibitions. 

ORCHARD, JOSEPH, Worcester: 1840-50. His 
name has appeared in old catalogues. 

ORTON, PHILLIP, Hereford: 1845-60. Ordinary 
work of no particular model. 

OSBORNE, HENRY, Sherborne, Dorset: c. 1860. 
Poor work. 

OSMOND, WILLIAM, Evesham : 1810-35. He made 
a few fairly good instruments, and a good number, appar- 
ently, that can only be described as rough, amateurish work. 


OTTLEY, JACOB, Bristol : c. 1800. I have seen his 
name in catalogues of old instruments more than once. 
One instrument advertised was described as having a large 
and fine tone. 

OUTRAM, FREDERICK, : early nineteenth 

century, apparently. I saw a violin with his name written 
in ink on the wood, a few years back, which was a well-made 
instrument with a good tone. 

OWEN, JOHN WILLIAM, Leeds: contemporary. 
He was born in Leeds, May 28, 1852, and is the only son of 
William and Hannah Owen. His mother, whose maiden 
name was Rimmer, was a professional designer of fancy 
work, and was considered to be without a rival in the 
northern counties in that department of art and craft. 
Owen received early education at an elementary school in 
his native town, but it was discontinued at a stage which 
made it necessary for him to supplement it by attendance 
at technical classes in the evenings later on in life. He was 
apprenticed to the engineering profession, but his health 
giving way he was obliged to relinquish that profession and 
to seek lighter work. During a long illness he had attempted 
violin making as a means of whiling away the idle hours, 
and succeeding beyond his expectation he resolved to adopt 
the craft as a profession as soon as health permitted. He 
acquired a theoretical knowledge of violin construction from 
books, and a practical knowledge from expert workmen, and 
from an extended visit to one of the larger workshops in 

He commenced as a professional violin maker and 
repairer in 1884, and since then he has completed about two 
hundred instruments, including violins, violas, and violon- 
cellos, and his list of repairs (of which he keeps a strict 
record) is an extraordinary one, standing at just over five 
thousand instruments. 

He works on the Stradivari and Guarneri models, also on 


an original one, the principal measurements of which are : 

Length of body . . . . .14? inches. 

Width across upper bouts . . 6f 

middle . 4! 

lower . 8J 

Length of C's ..... 3 

>t / * . . .3 > 

Depth of ribs i J inch diminishing to. . 

The outline of this model is very pure, and every individual 
part is in perfect keeping with the whole. The margins are 
full and the edges strong, slightly raised, and beautifully 
rounded. The scroll is an exquisite piece of carving, and in 
the best Italian style. Every detail of the work, both inside 
and outside, is finished with scrupulous care. The mitres 
of the ribs were geometrically true in all the instruments 
examined by me, having facets of nearly a millimetre in 
width a mode of finishing this little detail which I con- 
sidered to be more suitable to the model than the " knife- 
edge " facet. The sound-holes were clean cut, but there was 
nothing mechanical about them, as there is, e.g., about many 
of the better class modern French work, in which the sound- 
holes appear as though they had been cut or punched out 
with one blow with an f-shaped tool. 

Mr. Owen is particularly successful in obtaining a fine 
tone. A violin of his make which I have, and which has 
been in regular use for the last fifteen years, has developed 
a very responsive, broad, and brilliant tone, and it is a tone 
which is improving steadily every year. 

His violoncellos are specially liked. The late Mr. Van 
Biene, Mr. Arthur Broadley, Mr. David Dixon, and other 
well-known 'cellists have written in the highest terms of 
their merits. Mr. Owen is an enthusiast in and for his art. 
To an outsider he would doubtless appear as one that has 
no room in his soul for anything save fiddles. He lives in 
his workshop all the year round, and every day of the year, 


To face p. 212. 



except Sundays, when he seeks a little relaxation in the 
form of long walks during the day and some music in the 
evening. He is not an enthusiast of the kind Matthew 
Arnold had in his mind when he wrote that " unfortunately 
few people who feel a passion think of learning anything 
from it " : Mr. Owen has learnt a great deal he has learnt 
that there is much in life worth living for, and that in art, 
especially, the good, the true, and the beautiful are worth 
possessing for their own sake. There can be little doubt 
that his instruments will be much valued in time to come. 
Facsimile label : 

The date is not on the label, but" is inscribed on the bare 
wood after the maker's autograph. 

OXLEY, JOSEPH, Cambridge : c. 1800. His name 
appears in an old list (1884) of instruments for sale. 

PAMPHILON, EDWARD, London : 1670-90. A fine 
old maker in many respects, and if he had worked on a 
better model his work would rank higher than it does. His 
model is a sort of cross between the Brescian and Tyrolese 
types, the outline, scroll, double purfling, being Brescian, 
but the arching distinctly Tyrolese, and often an exaggera- 
tion of even that pattern. He used an oil varnish of good 


quality, ranging in colour from pale amber to light brown. 
The tone of his instruments is not large, but it is clear, 
sweet, and responsive. 

PANORMO, EDWARD, London : nineteenth century. 
He was a son or grandson (it is not certain which) of Vin- 
cenzo Panormo. He worked in London and in Ireland. 

PANORMO, GEORGE, London : nineteenth century. 

PANORMO, GEORGE LEWIS, London : c. 1810-40. 
He was the second son of Vincenzo Panormo, and worked 
in Oxford Street, and afterwards in High Street, St. Giles- 
in-the-Fields. He was an excellent bow maker, but did 
not reach the same high standard in violin making as his 

PANORMO, JOSEPH, London : c. 1800-30. He was 
the eldest son of Vincenzo Panormo, and worked in New 
Compton Street, and later in King Street, Soho. He was an 
excellent craftsman, and his violoncellos had a high reputa- 
tion at one time. Very few of his instruments are left, or 
(which would be nearer the mark) very few of them are 
now known as his work. 

PARKER, DANIEL, London : 1700-45. The informa- 
tion which is usually given about this maker is misleading, 
and most writers content themselves with repeating early 
errors in almost the same words. Hart, Haweis, and Miss 
Stainer, give his period as 1740-85, and Fleming as 1715-85. 
As a matter of fact there are undoubtedly genuine examples 
of his work still in existence bearing the dates 1700, 1708, 
1712, 1719, 1726, and 1732. The earliest which I have 
actually seen and tried is dated 1712, a specimen which has 
been pronounced genuine by the Messrs. Hill, and the 
Messrs. Hart, and which I also think genuine, all except the 
scroll. Mr. Richard Hilton, of Derby House, Matlock 
Bridge, is (or was, ten years ago) the owner of this interesting 


To face p. 215. 


and early example of Parker's art. I have in my possession 
a very beautiful violin of his make, on the Strad model, and 
in his best style, bearing a label dated 1719. This is genuine 
in all its parts, and is of excellent workmanship and tone. 
What is considered to be the finest Parker violin in existence 
is owned by Clarkson Close, Esq., The Poplars, Newton Park, 
Leeds. This is on the " Long Strad " model, with rich 
golden red oil varnish, of fine pate and lustre. This instru- 
ment is considered by the Messrs. Hill to belong to the year 
1700, or thereabouts. It is not dated, and it is impossible 
to be certain when it was made, but I certainly think it 
resembles the instruments made in 1726 and 1732 much 
more than it does the instruments made in 1712 and 1719. 

It has been surmised that Parker was a pupil of Pamphilon, 
or of Urquhart, or of both, but on what grounds I quite fail 
to understand, as there is not the remotest similarity between 
his work and the work of either of these makers. It is 
not necessary to suppose that he was a pupil of anybody, 
for he was a born artist, and endowed by nature with a 
special aptitude for the use of fine-edged tools. 

His work is thoroughly British in character : it is solid, 
chaste, and very " correct " i.e. correct in the sense in 
which the word is used when it is applied to the poetry 
of the classical school. I do not think the work of any of 
our old makers reflects so clearly the spirit of the eighteenth 
century as does that of Daniel Parker. I may be rather 
fanciful, but I look upon him as the Pope of old British 
fiddle makers, that is to say, what Alexander Pope was to 
the rest of the poets, that was Daniel Parker to the rest of 
the old fiddle makers. Pope is not our greatest poet, nor 
is Parker our greatest luthier. There is not one of our old 
makers whose work has interested me more, and I have been 
at pains to seek out his instruments and to carefully examine 
them when I have come across them. Art, to my mind, 
reveals the spirit of an age quite as fully and clearly as 
literature does. Who that is familiar with the works of 
Hogarth will deny that they tell us quite as much about 


the state of society in the eighteenth century as the writings 
of Johnson, Addison, Steele, Lamb, Swift, etc., do ? An old 
fiddle is certainly not expected to tell as much as an old 
picture or an old book does, but it tells a lot to the man who 
knows how to interpret its language. Old William Ebs- 
worth Hill used to say that he could tell from the internal 
organism of the fiddle the kind of tool that had been used in 
fashioning it. And the connoisseur imagines that he can 
see in the contour, curves, and style of a fiddle the reflection 
of the face of the age in which it was constructed : that is, 
if the instrument is a good example of the work of a typical 

I see in Parker's work that " correctness " which I see in 
the poetry of the " classical " school. There is about it the 
same sense of solidity, sanity, and mathematical exactness 
that is observable in the writings of Pope and his numerous 
satellites and imitators. We know nothing about the man 
except what is recorded in his work, but that is enough to 
inform us that he was an artist of great ability, with tastes 
(moulded and regulated in the manner of the age) that were 
strictly chaste and coldly " correct." 

He copied Stainer, N. Amati, and Stradivari, but his Strad 
copies are far and away his best work. The tone is always 
fine, and in some instances almost equal to the tone of 
Bank's best Amati copies. The plates of the violins are well 
stocked with wood, and with due care the instruments may 
be expected to last in first-class condition another hundred 
years at least. Comparatively few of his instruments have 
his own label in them : he made principally for the trade, 
and it is not improbable that he sometimes sold his fiddles 
" in the white." It does not matter whose labels these fine 
old instruments carry, they are easily recognized by the 
expert who has made a study of the work of the old English 

PATERSON, JAMES, Edinburgh: 1834-98. A 
cabinet maker by trade, who made a number of violins on 
the Guarneri model, and a few on the " Count Cessol " 


To face p. 216. 


Strad model. He obtained a bronze medal for a case of 
violins at the Edinburgh Exhibition, 1890. 

PATRICK, WILLIAM, St. Andrews : contemporary. 
PAYNE, R., South Shields : contemporary. 

PEARCE, GEORGE, London : 1820-56. He worked 
for S. A. Forster. 

PEARGE, JAMES & THOMAS, London : 1780-1810. 
They were brothers, and had their workshop in Peter Street, 
Saffron Hill. Indifferent work. 

PEARGE, WILLIAM, London : nineteenth century. 
Average ability, but he managed to obtain a bronze medal at 
the International Exhibition, London, 1885. 

PEMBERTON, EDWARD, London : c. 1660. Little 
or nothing is really known of him. The legend of the " Earl 
of Leicester " violin has been laid to rest, and it would be 
of no interest to revive it again. 

PERRY, JAMES, Kilkenny : c. 1780-1800. He was 
a cousin of Thomas Perry, of Dublin, and a protege of the 
Ormonde family, of Kilkenny Castle, so Father Greaven 
informs us. He made a large number of instruments, of 
rather rough workmanship, but of excellent tone. 

PERRY, JOSEPH, Dublin : c. 1800. Probably another 
cousin of Thomas Perry. He is said to have made a large 
number of instruments of excellent workmanship and tone. 
The Rev. Father Greaven says that some of his violins are 
almost on a level with the work of Benjamin Banks. This 
is saying a very great lot, and it deepens my regret that I 
have not seen any of his work. 

PERRY, THOMAS, Dublin : c. 1757-1818. A new 
light is thrown on the life and work of this celebrated old 


maker in an interesting article published in the " Museum 
Bulletin " of the National Museum of Science and Art, 
Dublin, for July, 1911, by one of the Assistant Keepers, 
Mr. A. McGoogan. The article is the result of a very 
painstaking research, and the violin world is greatly indebted 
to Mr. McGoogan for this timely and valuable contribution 
to the literature of the leading instrument. I reproduce 
here a large portion of the article for the benefit of those who 
take more than a passing interest in the history of British 
violin makers : that will be more satisfactory and more honest 
than if I were to paraphrase or condense it and claim any 
credit for myself. Mr. McGoogan writes : " It is a pity 
that research, which has done so much towards illuminating 
the history of the Irish harpsichord and pianoforte makers 
of the eighteenth century, has done so little to place the 
life-story of Thomas Perry, the great violin maker of the 
same period, on a firm foundation. At present there is 
nothing better to rely upon than the unscientific records of 
tradition. Even the country of Perry's origin is not known 
for certain. Guesswork has assigned his birth to the year 
1767, but circumstances show that he must have been born 
at least ten years earlier. It is said that, like Molyneux, 
his Dublin predecessor in the art of violin making, he was of 
Huguenot descent. It is also stated that he was related to 
Claude Pierray, a noted violin maker who flourished in 
Paris. . . . Allied with the tradition that associates him 
with Claude Pierray of Paris is another of a contradictory 
order which would have us believe that Thomas Perry was 
originally a pupil of Duke, the London marker. The only 
foundation for this assertion lies in the fact that Perry's 
earlier violins, the instruments he made before coming to 
Ireland, are distinctly of the contemporary English type. 
According to the traditional account (which is unassociated 
with any particular date), Thomas Perry, on first coming to 
Dublin, set up in business in a house near Christ Churchyard, 
in a locality long since altered beyond recognition. Be that 
as it may, the first definite trace of Perry in Ireland at a 


To faceup. jzi8. 


specific address occurs in 1787, when his name is recorded 
in Wilson's Dublin Directory as a musical instrument maker, 
of No. 6 Anglesea Street. Year after year his residence is 
given at that address until 1803, when he removed to No. 4 
in the same street, and there remained until the period of his 

" Tradition accounts for the great difference between the 
riddles made in England by Thomas Perry and those after- 
wards made by him in Ireland by the plausible assertion 
that his Dublin-made instruments were modelled on a rare 
old Italian violin lent him by the Duke of Leinster. There 
can be little doubt that he followed here the Amati model, 
but, even if we accept the Leinster story it does not account 
for his knowledge of that mysterious, rich, golden amber 
varnish he employed, and to which much (but of course not 
all) of the fine quality of his violins was due. Accustomed 
to receive a good price for his instruments, sometimes as 
much as 20, he was particularly careful in the selection and 
seasoning of the wood. For the belly of his violins he 
usually chose a delicately-grained Swiss pine wood, making 
the back and sides of maple. Although he now ranks as one 
of the best of the later eighteenth century instrument 
makers, his reputation is wholly posthumous, and of com- 
paratively recent date. Connoisseurs have awakened to his 
merits, and his violins, already valuable, are found to 
command a steadily-increasing price, more particularly as 
comparatively few of them appear to be extant. The 
National Museum is in possession of five notable examples 
of his work' ; a quartet, formerly the property of Sir Francis 
Cruise, and a double bass viol, whose value may be esti- 
mated when it is said that no other Perry instrument of that 
class can now be traced. 

" It has been occasionally stated that the firm of Thomas 
Perry was altered during his lifetime to Perry & Wilkinson, 
that Perry took into partnership a quondam apprentice of 
his named William Wilkinson, who had married his daughter 
Elizabeth. This is not the case, the firm remained ' Thomas 


Perry ' till his death, which took place, as a transcript of 
his will in the Public Record Office shows, in 1818, and not 
in 1830, as is frequently stated. From the period of his 
death until at least 1831 (according to the evidence of 
Wilson's Dublin Directory) the business was carried on at No. 
4 Anglesea Street, under the name of ' Perry & Wilkinson.' 
From 1831 to 1834 the same Directory gives only the name 
of William Wilkinson in connexion with that establishment. 
But, on referring to Pettigrew and Dalton's Dublin Directory 
for the next few years, we find that from 1834 till 1838 the 
firm was known again (if indeed any change had previously 
taken place) as ' Perry & Wilkinson/ In 1839 the business 
disappears altogether from Anglesea Street, but in that, 
and the following year, we find a William Wilkinson, musical 
instrument maker, trading at No. 5 Essex Quay, and residing 
at No. 5 Rosanna Place, Portobello. Tradition, however, 
says this was not Thomas Perry's son-in-law. Connoisseurs 
have frequently noted the bewildering inequality in Perry's 
violins without ever divining the reason. The whole thing 
is due to a lack of historical knowledge and to a bunching 
together of violins made by Thomas Perry before 1818 with 
violins by Wilkinson, trading as ' Perry & Wilkinson/ after 
that date. There can be little doubt that after Perry's death 
the standard of quality was seldom, if ever, maintained. 
. . . The fact is, Perry and Wilkinson were never in actual 
partnership. The terms of Perry's will clearly demonstrates 
this. Here we have at once the secret of the inequality of 
maKe, of ' the considerable diversity in the style of copying 
the model ' [noticed by Fleming], and of the difference in 
the varnish. Responsibility for the inferiority of Perry & 
Wilkinson's violins must not therefore be saddled upon 
Thomas Perry. Wilkinson was apparently more artisan 
than artist, and after Perry's death there was a painful 
lowering of the standard. Once these facts are grasped 
there will be a notable appreciation of Perry violins and a 
corresponding depreciation of those manufactured by Perry 
& Wilkinson." 


The importance of Mr. McGoogan's discoveries will be 
appreciated at its true worth by all admirers of real Perry 
instruments. Owners of old violins labelled " Perry & 
Wilkinson " will, however, have a rude shock, for many of 
them will now learn with painful surprise that the great 
Perry had absolutely nothing to do with the construction 
of their treasures. It was high time the truth was dis- 
covered, and the artist receive his due, for there can be no 
two opinions as to the merits of Perry's instruments, they 
are in the first rank of British violins of the old school. 
My knowledge of his work is, unfortunately, not very 
extensive it is limited to some half-a-dozen violins -but it 
carries me to a point where I must accept without hesitation 
the verdict of the Rev. Father Greaven, that Perry was " an 
artist of the first order/' This learned Priest and keen 
connoisseur has made a special study of Perry's work, and 
he declares it to be of " careful construction and beautiful 
finish," and he says the tone of nearly every fiddle he has 
tried is " wonderfully responsive, sweet, and mellow." We 
are glad to learn on the same reliable authority that " there 
is a large number of Perry violins scattered through Ireland/' 
It is to be hoped they are in safe hands. 

PETRIE, THOMAS, Brixton : c. 1890. Principally 
a double bass maker. 

PHILIP, WILLIAM, Westfield, Bathgate, N.B. : con- 
temporary. A beginner who already makes a very nice 
instrument, and who, if he persevere, will probably become a 
first class craftsman. 

PHILIPS, DAVID, Haverfordwest : 1745-1815. A 
pupil of Henry Whiteside. Amati model, with an exagger- 
ated arch and scoop. 

PHILLIPS, JOHN, Ynysybwl, Glamorgan: contem- 
porary. He was born in the parish of Llanpumpsaint, 
Carmarthenshire, in 1863, and is a joiner and wood carver 


by trade. He commenced to make violins in 1898 as a 
hobby, and latterly he has turned his attention seriously to 
the craft, and contemplates taking violin making and 
repairing up as a profession. He has great natural abilities, 
is an adept at all kinds of wood carving, and has strict tastes 
in all matters artistic. He has made a number of violins 
on the Strad model, which are of excellent construction, and 
have a good tone. He will make a splendid addition to the 
small band of Welsh violin makers. 

PHILLIPSON, EDWARD, Norton, Grosmont, Here- 
ford : contemporary. He was born in Alvingham, Lin- 
colnshire, in 18*59, an d i s a Wesleyan evangelist by calling. 
He has made about twenty violins en amateur. He takes a 
keen interest in every branch of art, is very skilful in the 
use of keen-edged tools, and makes beautiful instruments. 

PICKARD, HANDEL, Leeds : nineteenth century. 
PINE, , London : nineteenth century. 

PLANE, WALTER, Glasgow : 1804-79. Strad model. 
The workmanship is good, but the varnish is a hard spirit 
one, and the tone loud and metallic. He is said to have 
made a few superior instruments, but I have not seen 
anything by him which could be described as " superior." 

1800. They were brothers who did most of their work for 
William Forster & Son. Careful work, but rather weak tone. 

PRESTON, , London : c. 1720. 

PRESTON, JAMES, - - : 1 have seen his name in 
catalogues, but know nothing of him. 

PRESTON, JOHN, York : 1780-1800. He was capable 
of good work, but most of his instruments show carelessness. 
The tone is often very good. 


PRICE, , London : contemporary. Said to be an 

excellent bow maker. A pupil of Tubbs. 

PRIESTLEY, A. W., Leeds : nineteenth century. 

PRIESTNALL, JOHN, Rochdale : 1819-99. Origin- 
ally a joiner and pattern maker, he became a good maker 
and a very skilful repairer. He made altogether three 
hundred violins, thirty violas, six 'cellos, and eight double 
basses, all of good workmanship and very fair tone. His 
work has one serious drawback, the varnish is too soft, and 
has never dried properly at least it has not dried on a 
specimen which I see occasionally, and which was made 
thirty years ago. He stamped his name on the back of his 
instruments under the button, and the number is punched 
on the button itself a very tasteless method. 

PYGROFT, ERNEST, Manchester: c. 1874. His 
fiddles have been advertised from time to time, but I have 
not seen any of them. 


RAE, JOHN, Battersea : contemporary. He was born 
at Macduff, N.B., October 31, 1847, and is the eldest son of 
James Rae, and a grandson of John Rae, of Forglen, Turriff, 
a famous maker of bagpipes. He is employed in the Natural 
History department of the British Museum, and makes 
violins during spare time. He made his first fiddle as long 
ago as 1869, and since 1883, when he got his present appoint- 
ment, he has made two or three new instruments every year. 
His work is solidly constructed and beautifully finished. 
Some of his violins are of rather massive proportions, and 
their plates left rather thick in wood, but the quality of the 
tone is exceedingly good notwithstanding: I think its 
quality would be still better if the thickness of the plates 
were slightly reduced, and the taper slightly increased. Mr. 


Rae's instruments have a handsome appearance, and there 
is a striking boldness of character about them which is very 
refreshing and pleasing. His wood is magnificent. He has 
used Calif ornian pine (Sequoia gigantea] for the tables of a 
number of his violins. The blocks were cut from a tree 
which had reached the height of 276 feet, and which was over 
thirteen hundred years old when it was cut down in 1872. 
The " reed " of this pine is very narrow, and of great regu- 
larity, and its acoustical qualities are surprisingly good. 
Facsimile label : 

JOHN RAE, Maker, 

RAEBURN, ALEXANDER, Leven, Fife: contem- 
porary. Very good work. 

RAEBURN, GEORGE R., West Calder : contemporary. 
He was born at Largoward, near St. Andrews, in 1846. He 
has made about seventy instruments on the Strad and 
Joseph models. The work is good. 

RAEBURN, JOHN, Largoward : nineteenth century. 
He was born in the parish of Carnbee, in 1833, and was the 
eldest brother of the Raeburns previously mentioned. He 
made over a hundred violins on various models, of fairly 
good workmanship and tone. 

RAMSAY, WILLIAM, Biggar : contemporary. He 
has made a few violins on the Strad model. 

RAYMAN, JACOB, London : c. 1620-50. He was 
born in the Tyrol, and came to England about 1620, and 
worked first in Blackman Street (London), then at Bell 
Yard, Southwark. In all probability he was the first maker 


of violins in this country, at any rate, he was the first of 
whom we have any account. His violins were quaint 
looking, but the workmanship was very neat (with the 
exception of the inlaying of the purfling) and the tone was 
clear, responsive, and silvery. 

RAWLINS, , London : c. 1770-80. 

REED, B., Durham : contemporary. 

RICHARDS, EDWIN, London : nineteenth century. 

RILEY, HENRY, Birmingham : contemporary. I have 
not seen his work, but it is said to be very good. 

RIMBAULT, H. E., Cardiff : contemporary. A gentle- 
man amateur who has just commenced to make violins. 
His wide knowledge and skill will doubtless enable him to 
make beautiful instruments. 

nineteenth century. Principally dealers, I think, who 
employed others to make for them. 

RITCHIE, ARCHIBALD, Dundee: 1833-1902. He 
made about a hundred and fifty violins on the model of 
Joseph Guarnerius, slightly enlarged. The instruments 
look heavy, although the workmanship is beautifully 
finished. His instruments have been much praised in certain 
quarters, but I am not struck with them. If fine cabinet 
work were all that is necessary to make a fine fiddle, then 
nothing better than these instruments could be desired. 
But there is too much body and too little " soul " about 

ROBERTS, ALEXANDER, Luthermuir, Laurencekirk, 
N.B., contemporary. Born at Primrosehill, Fettercairn, in 
1873. He is a maker of reeds for Highland bagpipes by 
trade, and a maker of violins during spare time only. He 


has made about twenty violins, which are beautifully 
finished, and have a large and telling tone. 

ROBERTS, JOHN, Shrewsbury : c. 1690. A rather 
small violin, on the Stainer model, with very dark varnish, 
and a small, sweet tone, bearing his label, was through my 
hands a few years ago. 

ROBERTS, LEWIS, Morriston, Swansea. He was 
born at Morriston in 1868, and died there in 1917. He was 
the only Welshman whose efforts in violin making have 
assumed any very definite proportions. The Welsh are a 
very musical nation, and it is often a puzzle to outsiders 
why they have so sadly neglected the orchestra and the study 
of the violin. The explanation probably is that* they have 
devoted all their time to and concentrated all their efforts 
on the development of vocal music. But a better day has 
already dawned upon Wales, and the rising generation of 
Welsh musicians is now turning its attention to instrumenta- 

Roberts made a large number of violins, and executed 
some rather important repairs from time to time. Most 
of his instruments are on an original model, but for the last 
two or three years of his life he worked on the Strad model 
exclusively. In his earlier work he evinced too strong a 
tendency to depart from the traditional methods, but 
latterly he had abandoned all eccentricities, and had settled 
down to serious work. The instruments of the last three 
years of his life are excellent in every way. Wood, work- 
manship, varnish, and tone give them a place in the front 
rank of modern British work. Roberts was of an inventive 
turn of mind, and had made a very ingenious calipers-drill 
a tool which at once drills the plates and determines the 
graduation of their thicknesses. All the tools specially 
required for the craft he had made for himself. He was an 
" original " in every way, and a dreamer of dreams. Whilst 
working for the future he lived in the past. In spirit he 
belonged to the days when artists cut their own timber, 


made their own varnish, and sat on three-legged stools 
producing tone-poems for all time. He won the gold medal 
in the violin making competition at the Royal National 
Eisteddfod of Wales held in Neath in 1918. He was without 
doubt a genius, and his early loss is much to be deplored. 

ROGERS, , Ballymacarett, Ireland: contemporary. 

He is mentioned in Father Greaven's list. 

ROMNEY, GEORGE, Dalton and London : 1734-1802. 
This was the celebrated artist, who ranks third in the roll 
of England's great portrait painters. In early life he was a 
cabinet maker and wood carver, and he made a number of 
violins, which he ornamented with carved figures. It 
would be beside the purpose to give biographical particulars 
here : these are too well known, but the following facts 
relative to his violin making will be interesting, and perhaps 
new to many. They are taken from George Romney, by 
Arthur B. Chamberlain. " To some extent," observes this 
biographer, " Romney retained his love of the sister art 
throughout his life. Up to the last he kept a violin of his 
own making in his studio, and now and then played upon 
it when thinking out the design for a picture, finding in 
music, as others have done, a stimulus to his imagination." 
Mr. Chamberlain also quotes the following paragraph from 
Cumberland, one of Romney's earlier biographers, with the 
caution, however, that the tale is an exaggeration. " Smit- 
ten also with an embryo passion for the concord of sweet 
sounds, which he had probably never heard but in his dreams, 
he conceived the idea of transplanting the arts of Cremona 
to his native town of Dalton, and began a manufactory of 
violins, which he disposed of to the rural amateurs, who 
were, perhaps, as little instructed in the use of these instru- 
ments as he had been in the formation of them" (p. 15). 

ROOK, JOSEPH, Carlisle : c. 1770-1852. He did not 
make many instruments. He was appointed vicar-choral 
at the cathedral, Carlisle, in 1807, which post he held till 


1840, when a retiring pension was given to him. A Mr. 
Herbert Hodson, of 26 Barclay Road, Croydon, Surrey, 
owned a 'cello of his make in 1912, which he said was well 
made and had a good tone. 

ROSS, DONALD, Edinburgh : 1817 till about 1905. 
He made about fifty violins on the Maggini model. 

ROSS, JOHN, London : c. 1560-1600. A maker of 
lutes and viols. 

ROWLEY, A. G., Cardiff : contemporary. He is not 
actually a maker, but he has varnished many instruments 
for other makers with a very beautiful varnish of his own 
make He has studied the varnish problem for many years, 
and though he may not have solved the " riddle of Cre- 
mona/' he has certainly succeeded in producing a varnish of 
wonderful lustre and transparency. 

RUDDIMAN, JOSEPH, Aberdeen: 1760-1800. I 
have not seen any of his work. Mr. Alexander Wilson, 
advocate, of Aberdeen, has a violin of his make, which is said 
to be of good workmanship and tone. 

RYLANDS, JOHN, Bristol : c. 1800. His name has 
appeared in lists of old instruments. 

SABY, H. H., Cape Town, S. Africa : contemporary. 
He was born at Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, in 1860, 
and emigrated to South Africa in 1890. He is a pupil of 
the late W. Calow, the violin maker, of Nottingham, with 
whom he remained for five years. He is established as a 
professional maker and repairer at 75 Plein Street, Cape 
Town, where he has worked up a fine business connection 
and won for himself a great reputation as a first-class maker 
and repairer. His violins are said to be beautifully made, 
and to possess a large, brilliant, and responsive tone. At 


the Industrial Exhibition held in Cape Town in 1904-5, he 
was awarded a gold medal for general excellence and for 
repairs. 1 have not seen any of his violins, but judging 
from numerous press and other reports they are of great 

SAUNDERS, S., Twickenham : 1840. He was alive 
and working a few years ago, but I do not know whether he 
is alive now. He was an amateur who made a large number 
of violins of considerable merit, some of which were on the 
" Long Strad " model. He was awarded a silver medal for 
an exhibit of four violins at the Surbiton Industrial Exhibi- 
tion, held in li 

SAXON, JOHN, Stockport : nineteenth century. 

SCHOLES, ARTHUR, L., Rushden, Northants : con- 
temporary. A maker, repairer, and dealer, who was born 
at Stamford, Lincolnshire, in 1870, and whose earlier years 
were spent in journalistic work. He made his first instru- 
ment in 1888, and shortly after adopted violin making as a 
profession. He has not made a large number of instruments, 
his time being mostly occupied with repairs, of which he 
always has an abundance in hand. He follows the Strad 
(Dolphin) and Guarneri patterns, and he has made a few 
violins on an original model. His work is excellent in every 
way material, varnish, and workmanship evincing a 
thorough knowledge of the craft, and perfect skill in the 
handling of tools. I have tried only one violin of his make, 
which was a fine instrument, with a large and brilliant tone. 
This maker has undoubted abilities, and ought to produce 
important work. Facsimile label : 


RUSHDEN, England 



SHAW, JOHN, London: c. 1650. A viol maker. 
SHAW, J., Manchester : contemporary. 

SHAW, THOMAS, Cove, Scotland : contemporary. 
An amateur of good average ability. 

SHEPHERD, H. G., Brighton : contemporary. 
SHEPLEY, GEORGE, Bristol : 1830-40. Poor work. 

SHERDON, DANIEL, Gloucester: 1845-60. High 
arch, and poor work. 

tralia : contemporary. He was born in London in 1858, and 
followed a seafaring life from 1872 to 1880, voyaging to 
Adelaide for the second time in the latter year, when he 
entered the service of Sir E. T. Smith, with whom he 
remained till his retirement from business. Shortly after, 
he took up violin making and repairing. Judging from 
various notices which have appeared in the Australian press 
from time to time, and from many private letters which I 
have received, in reference to his work, there can be no 
doubt that Mr. Shrosbree's instruments reach a very high 
standard of excellence. It has not been my good fortune to 
see any of these instruments, and I therefore can express no 
opinion as to their merits. The editor of Music (Adelaide), 
referring to this maker's success at the Century Exhibition, 
held in Adelaide, in 1900, remarks thus : " The commenda- 
tory references we have from time to time made to Mr. H. J. 
Shrosbree's skill as a luthier, have been very amply confirmed 
by the judges for musical instruments . . . the exhibit 
comprised his Nos. 7 and 8 violins, his recently constructed 
viola, and some assorted bridges. With their brilliant 
coatings of oil amber varnish the instruments certainly make 
a splendid show, and the awards given are as follows : first 


for violins, first for viola, first for musical appliances (bridges, 
etc.), and a special prize for the best exhibit of its group." 
Facsimile label : 

James Sjjr0&lrm. fariebal 
Sk tttslrafis; touj 18 

SIMPSON, JAMES & SON, London: 1780-1800. 
Probably not actual makers, but merely dealers who 
employed others to make for them. 

SIMPSON, THOMAS, Birmingham: contemporary. 
Born at Burnley in 1866. He worked at Handsworth for a 
few years, but is now settled at Birmingham as a professional 
maker and repairer. He has made a number of violins on 
an original model, but his later instruments are on the Strad 
model, and show much better work. The wood is of fine 
quality, and the workmanship is carefully and beautifully 
finished. One of his violins which I tried recently had a 
particularly full and brilliant tone. 

SINCLAIR, WILLIAM, New Pitsligo. An amateur 
who was living a few years ago, and possibly is still living, 
who had made a good number of violins of fairly good work- 

contemporary. Average merit. 

SMILLIE, ALEXANDER, Glasgow: contemporary. 
Born at Hallside, Cambuslang, in 1847. He has worked at 
various places in Glasgow as a professional maker, repairer, 
and dealer. He has made a large number of violins, violas, 
and violoncellos, on the Stradivari and Guarneri models. I 
have not seen any of his more recently made instruments, 
but they are said to be superior in every way to his work of 


ten years ago : if that is so, they must be exceptionally 
fine. His instruments many years ago ranked, in my 
opinion, with the best that are made in Great Britain to-day. 
The wood was of the very best description, and the crafts- 
manship in every part of the work showed the mind and skill 
of a born artist. The tone of all his violins which I have 
tried is very sonorous and brilliant, possessing that subtle 
something which we call the Italian quality. 

Mr. Smillie has never exhibited any of his instruments, 
the spirit of rivalry being quite foreign to his genial nature 
and unassuming manner. 

Facsimile label : 


SMITH, , Wetherby : contemporary. 

SMITH, ALBERT, Tomalosset, Enniscorthy, Ireland : 
contemporary. An amateur who is said to have made some 
good instruments. 

SMITH, A. E., Maldon : contemporary. 1 have not 
seen his later work, but it is said to be very good. 

SMITH, ALEX. ROWLAND, Edinburgh : nineteenth 
century. Stradivari and Guarneri models. Good tone. 

SMITH, HENRY, London : c. 1630. A maker of viols. 
SMITH, JASPER, London : nineteenth century. 

SMITH, JOHN, Glasgow: contemporary. Born at 
Fauldhouse, Linlithgowshire, in 1859. He worked for some 
years at Falkirk, and he has lived in different parts of 
Glasgow, and elsewhere. He works on various models, but 
chiefly on an original one, which is of very full proportions 


and rather massive in appearance. The work is beautifully 
finished and the varnish carefully laid on and well polished. 
His scrolls are magnificently carved. The tone is large and 
incisive, and will no doubt be of excellent quality when age 
and use have mellowed it. 

SMITH, JOHN HEY, Burnley : contemporary. 

SMITH, JOHN, Whitchurch, Salop : nineteenth cen- 

SMITH, JOHN, Teddington, Middlesex : contemporary. 
An amateur who has made a few violins of very good work- 
manship and tone. He is capable of important work. 

SMITH, NATHANIEL, Bristol : 1830-40. Indifferen 

SMITH, PYE, Hereford: c. 1850. Model and work- 
manship very good, but tone very thin. 

SMITH, THOMAS, London : 1745-90. A pupil and 
successor of Peter Wamsley. Some writers have bestowed 
great praise on his violoncellos, but I am of opinion they 
have never tried them. Such as I have tried had a hard, 
rasping tone. The workmanship is not bad, although the 
varnish is rather poor stuff, of a dirty amber, or brownish 
yellow colour. He used various labels. 

SMITH, W. F., Edinburgh : contemporary. Average 

SMITH, WILLIAM, Hedon : 1780-1805. Poor work. 

SMITH, WILLIAM, Leeds : contemporary. Rough 

SPIERS, STEWART, Ayr : 1805-70. Fair work and 


SPIGER, JOHN, London : c. 1667. It is not at all 

certain that he was a violin maker. 

SPIGER, WILLIAM, London : c. 1860-70. 

STANLEY, ROBERT A., Manchester : contemporary. 
I am not certain whether he works in Manchester at present, 
but he was there a few years ago. He is a pupil of James 
Barrow, of Salford, and of James Cole, of Manchester. He 
has made over two hundred instruments, including violins, 
violas, 'cellos, and double basses. I have not seen his work 
of the last ten years, and have no information as to what it is 

STEPHENS, G. B., Bristol : c. 1780. Very fair work. 

STIRRAT, DAVID, Edinburgh : c. 1810-20. This is a 
magnificent old maker. His work is quite equal to that of 
Matthew Hardie, and had he lived a few years longer and 
produced anything like the number of instruments Hardie 
did, I have little hesitation in saying that the title of 
" Scottish Stradivari " would have been his and not Har die's. 
Mr. Honeyman says that Stirrat followed the model of 
Stradivari : this may be generally true, but in three instru- 
ments which I have seen, the model only approximated to 
that of the grand Strad. The finest Stirrat fiddle in exist- 
ence, I think, is owned by Dr. George Raimondi Young, late 
of 784 Park Avenue, New York, and now of Vevey, Switzer- 
land. The outline of this instrument is pure, and the 
curves well balanced and very graceful. The principal 
measurements are : 

Length of body 14 inches. 

Width across upper bouts . . 6J 

middle . 4& 

Length of sound-holes . . . 


Depth of ribs i J inch diminishing to , 


The workmanship is finished with extreme care and 
delicacy, and if the fiddle had been covered with the right 
varnish it would easily pass as an old " Italian." The 
varnish is evidently a spirit one, very thinly laid on, of a 
dark reddish-brown tint : it has not penetrated any distance 
into the wood, and it is not in sufficient thickness to materi- 
ally affect the tone. The tone is moderately powerful, and 
wonderfully clear, bright, and mellow, very suitable for 
solo work in small halls and drawing-rooms. Mr. Honeyman 
says that Stirrat was " described as a delicate-looking man, 
with curly hair and thin white hands," and that he died 
" at an early age, just when he promised to become a greater 
maker than his master" (Matthew Hardie). That nature 
had endowed him with some of her choicest gifts is very 
evident from the few instruments of his make that still 
remain. It is not certain that he used a label. In the 
violins 1 have seen he inscribed his name, place, and date on 
the bare wood with a hard pencil. I am indebted to the 
courtesy of Dr. Raimondi Young for the following facsimile 
of the inscription in his violin. 

STONEMAN, H., Exeter : contemporary. Born in the 
parish of Zeal Monachorum, in the county of Devon, March 
27, 1856, and now working as a professional maker, repairer, 
and dealer, at 3 Union Terrace, St. Sidwells, Exeter. He 
was apprenticed to the joinery trade, and worked for an 
ecclesiastical building firm in Exeter for about twenty-four 
years, for the last five of which he was their foreman. During 


spare time he studied the construction of the violin, and did 
some repairing now and again. He gradually acquired a 
thorough knowledge of the craft, and resolved to give up his 
post as foreman joiner and become a violin maker and 
repairer. This was fifteen years ago. By diligent applica- 
tion he has now reached a high degree of proficiency in his 
art, and is recognized as the best repairer in the South- West 
of England. He is undoubtedly a very clever and skilful 
craftsman. I have seen some of his restorations, and con- 
sider them equal to anything done by the most skilled 
repairers of London or Paris : they are not mere clever 
joinery work, but restorations in the true sense of the word. 
He has not made many new instruments, his time being 
almost entirely occupied with the sister branch of the craft. 
The few he has made are on the Stradivari model, and are 
carefully constructed and beautifully finished. Mr. Stone- 
man is highly respected for the transparency of his character 
and for his uprightness as a man of business. 

STOTT, GEORGE T., Liverpool : contemporary. I 
have not seen any of his work. 

STREETS, JAMES, Sunderland : contemporary. An 
amateur who produces excellent work. A viola of his make 
which I saw and tried some years ago might pass for the 
work of an experienced professional maker. 

STRONG, JOHN, Somersetshire : c. 1650. An old 
viol maker, who is thought to have lived somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of Bristol. 

STRONG, MATTHEW, Huddersfield : nineteenth 

STURGE, H., Bristol and Huddersfield : 1800-60. A 


TARR, WILLIAM, Manchester: 1808-91. Born in 
Manchester February 21, 1808 ; died there July 10, 1891, 
and was buried (with secular rights) in the Southern Ceme- 
tery, on St. Swithun's day. He was apprenticed when about 
sixteen to a cabinet carver, and made such rapid progress 
and became so expert a workman that at the age of eighteen 
he purchased his indentures from his employer for 100, and 
at once commenced work as a journeyman. He commenced 
violin making as a hobby, but gradually relinquished joinery 
and took up the craft as a profession. He made double- 
basses principally, but devoted a great deal of his time also 
to repairing. He worked till he was about eighty years of 
age, and completed two hundred and six basses, besides a 
number of violins, violas, and 'cellos. His eldest son 
assisted him in the business till his eighteenth year, when he 
left home. Another son, Joseph, was also a violin maker, 
and assisted his father for a time. His youngest son, 
Shelley, who is in business in Manchester, was a skilful 
maker, and helped the old man for many years. Tarr, it is 
said, built a number of organs, and took out several patents 
for his inventions in the organ line. 

On the occasion of a certain musical festival held in 
Dublin, where Tarr was one of the performers, all of the nine 
basses in the orchestra were of his make. He was an 
excellent musician, and was for twelve years one of the 
bassists at the " Gentlemen's Concerts," Manchester. He 
was for some time organist of a church in New Orleans, where 
he lived during a few years' stay in the United States. 
During the latter part of his life he became a prominent 
socialist, secularist, and anti-vaccinator. 

He was a conscientious and a diligent worker, and for 
the long stretch of sixty years was devoted uninterruptedly 
and whole-heartedly to his art. He certainly was the most 
prolific double bass maker we have had in this country. 

TAYLOR, B., London : c. 1750. Very fair work. 

TAYLOR, EDWARD, Hull : nineteenth century. 

TENNANT, JAMES, Lesmahagow : nineteenth cen- 

THOMAS, WATKIN, Swansea : 1849 to about 1908. 
He made about sixty or seventy violins, a few violas, and 
one or two 'cellos. He was capable of good work, and some 
of his instruments have a very good tone. He was very 
erratic, and would never settle down to steady work. 

THOMPSON, , Manchester : nineteenth century. 

THOMPSON, ROBERT, London: 1749-64. He 
worked at the sign of the " Bass- violin," in St. Paul's 
Churchyard. Rather ordinary work on the Stainer model. 

1780. Sons of the preceding, and his successors in business. 
Chiefly dealers. 

THORLEY, N., Failsworth, Manchester : c. 1800-30 or 
later. He made several very good 'cellos, besides other 
instruments. He was a member of Halle's orchestra. 

THORLEY, T., Manchester: nineteenth century. A 
son of the preceding. He made a number of violins and a 
few 'cellos. Fairly good work. 

THORNE, W. H., Tottenham : contemporary. An 
amateur who has made only a few violins, some with very 
peculiar sound holes. 

THORNLEY, , Oldham : nineteenth century. 

THOROWGOOD, HENRY, London: c. 1760. No 
instruments of his are known. 

TIFFIN, MILLER, Carlisle : contemporary. 


To face p. 239. 

TILLEY, THOMAS, London : c. 1770. 

TOBIN, RICHARD, Dublin and London : 1777-1841. 
A pupil of Thomas Perry, and an artist every whit as great 
as his master, if only he had his full due. Nearly all his 
finest instruments, however, are either without labels, or 
(as is oftener the case) have somebody else's labels in them, 
so that the poor maker has been robbed of the credit that 
justly belongs to him. Tobin never was, apparently, in a 
position to set up business on his own account, and he was 
often in very straitened circumstances, whether through his 
own neglect and folly, or through lack of patronage, or what, 
it is impossible now to say. He was employed by Perry, by 
Betts, and by others, and when not so employed made a few 
instruments which he disposed of to the trade. He became 
an apprentice of Perry somewhere about 1800-2, and 
remained with him about eleven years. He went to London 
in 1813, and found his way to the workshop of " Old " 
Betts, with whom he remained for most of the time till his 
(Betts') death in 1823. Betts discovered in Tobin a 
craftsman after his own heart, and both acknowledged and 
recompensed his superior abilities. 

The few instruments which have been recognized as the 
undoubted work of Tobin are acknowledged to be of a 
very high order of merit i.e. " very high " relatively to the 
work of the old English school. I know of three Tobin 
violins, of the grand Strad model, which I consider to be 
superior in point of workmanship to anything ever made in 
this country. These have had very little playing, and their 
tone is consequently somewhat undeveloped : with careful 
handling for a few years, I am confident they would reveal 
tonal qualities of exceptional beauty. In all matters except 
the varnish I consider these instruments to be entitled to a 
place beside the old Italian violins. The varnish also is very 
good, particularly good for that period (1820-40), but of 
course it has not the " fire " of the old Italian varnish. No 
varnish of the old English period ever has that suffused, 


golden glow that limpid fire of amber which the Cremonese 
varnish has, and it was hardly to be expected that one 
British artist should succeed where every other British artist 
had failed. I am not sure that Tobin's varnish was always 
of his own making, it varies both in colour and pate. While 
working for others he would naturally use his employer's 

Hart said very many years ago that " in cutting a scroll 
[Tobin] was unequalled amongst English makers." The 
observation is perfectly just, but it has possibly taken the 
eye of the connoisseur away from other beautiful features of 
Tobin's work, and the more so since every subsequent writer 
on old British violins has repeated the remark parrot-like. 

Tobin's scrolls are not finer than his outline, his curves, 
or his sound-holes. Any one who has carefully examined a 
fine example of his art, and who has the capacity to appre- 
ciate subtle differences of style, will have observed how the 
curves of the plates " melt " and " flow " into the gentle 
channel near the edges. I saw quite recently a fine orange- 
red " Tobin," and when I looked at its surfaces through its 
beautiful varnish I could not but think that Hogarth's 
" line of beauty " and Burns' " lily dipped in wine " were 
both in the back of that fiddle the one in the form, and the 
other in the colour. 

Sandys and Forster say that Tobin during the latter part 
of his life kept a shop in West Street, Soho. I have searched 
old directories and records in vain for any evidence of this, 
and I do not think it is correct. If he had a shop at all, it 
was evidently of so modest a pretence as to altogether escape 
the attention of directory compilers. He possibly sold a few 
fiddle oddments, and exposed one or two of his instruments 
in the window for sale, but that could hardly be called 
" keeping a shop." Whatever it was that he " kept," it 
failed to keep him, poor man, for he ended his days in the 
Shoreditch poorhouse. Like the great John Dodd and 
Matthew Hardie, he found rest and peace in a pauper's 


To face p. 241. 


TOLMIE, G., Hanwell : contemporary. A gentleman 
amateur who has made a few violins of excellent workman- 
ship and tone. One of his instruments which I tried about 
a year ago had a beautiful tone. 

TORRING, J., London : 1800-10. He repaired chiefly. 

1840-1904. Average ability. 

TRINGHAM, HENRY, Shrewsbury : 1835-1860. 
Model and workmanship very fair, but tone hard and 

TROTMAN, WILLIAM, Hereford : c. 1850. Small 
Amati model. 

TRUEMAN, RICHARD, Bath: 1820-30. A pretty 
little instrument of his make on the A. and H. Amati model, 
which I saw a few years ago, had a sweet tone. 

TUBES, JAMES & SON, London : contemporary. 
James Tubbs is a son of William Tubbs, a bow maker, and 
was born in Rupert Court, March 25, 1835. His name has 
been a " household " word among artists and bow collectors 
for a generation or more, and Tubbs has long won for himself 
the title of " the Modern British Tourte." He is a pupil of 
his father, with whom he remained working till about 1860, 
in which year he commenced business on his own account 
in Church Street , Soho, where he remained till 1864. From 
Church Street he removed to High Street, Marylebone, and 
from there to King Street, Soho, where he worked for a few 
years. In 1872 he removed to his present address, 94 
Wardour Street, and here he has " laboured and toiled " for 
upwards of forty years, producing those gems of the bow 
maker's art for which the name of Tubbs has so long been 
famous. He is in his eighty-fifth year, but still hale and 
hearty in spite of his great age, and in the full possession of 
all his faculties. He was busy at work on a violin bow when 


I called upon him on August 5, last year (1919), and seemed 
to be almost as active and as keen as he was twenty-five years 
ago, when I first made his acquaintance. He certainly 
looks good for another ten years' work. He is a man of 
medium height, of rather spare but wiry figure, very shrewd 
and somewhat reticent and incommunicative in his manner. 
He seldom speaks except when spoken to, and his answers 
are usually brief and categorical. The enthusiast or scribbler 
who enters the little shop at 94 Wardour Street, with the 
intention of " drawing " its occupant is certain to go away 
a disappointed man. Tubbs is invulnerable, and criticism 
or praise are equally lost upon him. On one point only is it 
possible to rouse his susceptibility : if you confuse his name 
with that of any other bow maker of the name of Tubbs, you 
are likely to drop in for a warm time of it. He is a " charac- 
ter," is James Tubbs. He is a man of the good old school, 
plain, simple, straightforward, with a rather crusty exterior, 
but with a solid heart and plenty of sober sense. He is very 
different from the typical business man of to-day, who is 
essentially a man of the world, with often a slice of the flesh 
and the devil thrown in. 

' Up to about six or seven years ago, Mr. Tubbs made at the 
rate of seven to ten new bows per month. He must therefore 
have made altogether between four and five thousand bows, 
of one sort and another. These are all of uniform excel- 
lence as regards workmanship and finish, though they 
possibly may not be of the same excellence as regards 
material. In so large a number it would be extraordinary 
if the wood were absolutely of the same high standard of 
perfection. But the best of these bows (and a large per- 
centage of them have the very finest material) are, in my 
opinion, equal to the bows of Francois Tourte, Voirin, 
Peccate, Henry, or any other great bow maker, past or 
present. Opinions differ, of course, but that is my honest 
opinion. To appreciate the fine qualities of a Tubbs bow 
one must be accustomed to the use of it. One who has used 
a French bow for a number of years does not take kindly to 


a " Tubbs " at first : there is something about the " feel " 
of it (as the expression goes) which puzzles him, and he 
loses, or imagines that he loses, perfect control over the 
movements of his bow arm. When 1 read (or heard some 
artist or other remark) something to this effect years ago I 
thought it could hardly be possible, but when I tried the 
experiment for myself I found it was possible enough. The 
fact is, the balance of a Tubbs bow is rather different from 
that of any other bow, and therefore affects the muscular 
action of the arm differently. 

But there is not the slightest doubt about it, the balance 
of a " Tubbs " is scientifically arranged that is to say, it 
is the correct balance for an arm of good average strength, 
and whose muscles have developed normally. Mr. Tubbs 
makes his bows on the principle of proportion and balance 
laid down by the late W. S. B. Woolhouse, the eminent 
mathematician and well-known musical enthusiast, who held 
that the primary essential of a perfect bow is that its weight 
and proportions (diameters) are so arranged that the stick 
vibrates with absolute uniformity throughout its whole 
length. Woolhouse's contribution to the science of bow 
making is very valuable, but I am rather inclined to think 
that it tended to obscure the importance of another great 
factor in the making of a good bow, viz. the putting in of the 
" spring " or cambre. To determine the depth and sweep 
of the curve is a much more difficult problem than to deter- 
mine and arrange the graduation of diameters. A gauge will 
help to obtain the correct proportions, but the eye and the 
feeling of resistance alone must fix upon the quantity and 
sweep of the curve. 

Mr. Tubbs was assisted for many years by his son Alfred, 
a very skilful workman and an excellent repairer, who died 
in November, 1912. He has no assistant now, and is there- 
fore not able to make many new bows, and he is obliged to 
curtail the amount of repairs he undertakes. He obtained 
a gold medal for an exhibit of bows at the Inventions Exhibi- 
tion, London, 1885. 


TUBES, WILLIAM, London : c. 1814-1878. Father 
of the preceding. He made many bows, principally for the 
dealers, and his work was said to be very good. He was a 
son of Thomas Tubbs, also a bow maker. There were, and 
there are to-day, several other members of the Tubbs 
family connected with the bow-making branch of the craft, 
but I know nothing of them or their work. 

TURNER, WILLIAM, London : c. 1650. A maker of 

TUSON, ROBERT, Gravestown : contemporary. 

TWEEDALE, CHARLES L., Weston, Otley, Yorks : 
contemporary. He is the vicar of Weston, but since he 
advertises his violins for sale he is treated here as a quasi- 
professional maker, and not as a mere amateur. He was 
born at Stainland, near Halifax, and is a son of Dr. Thomas 
Tweedale, surgeon, and of Mary, daughter of Charles Gates, 
an engineer, of Cranshawborth, Rossendale. Both his 
grandsires were amateur violin makers, and one of them, Mr. 
feenjamin Tweedale, made several violins of excellent 
workmanship and tone, and was an enthusiastic devotee of 
the violin and the leader of all the oratorios and concerts in 
his neighbourhood. Mr. Tweedale has been interested 
from his youth in the arts, crafts, and sciences, and it was 
his father's intention to make an engineer of him. Mr. 
Tweedale senior died in 1885, an d Yung Tweedale turned 
his energies into another channel. At that time he became 
deeply interested in astronomy, and he ground and polished 
the specula for his own reflecting telescopes up to ten 
inches in diameter. With these instruments he did a good 
deal of work, and independently discovered the triple tailed 
comet of 1886 (comet /). Just about this period one of 
Benjamin Tweedale's violins came into his possession, and 
he taught himself to play upon it. He soon became more 
interested in its construction than in playing, and he pro- 
cured Heron-Allen's book, and under the charm of that 
work commenced to make a fiddle, and he did not rest 


satisfied till he had finished two. All scientific and research 
work was now laid aside, for it was suddenly resolved that 
he should enter Durham University and study for the 
Church. In due course he graduated at Durham, and was 
ordained to the curacy of Hyson Green, Nottingham, in 1891. 
In 1901 he became vicar of Weston, Otley, and in 1908 he 
re-commenced his violin researches, which, however, he had 
never completely relinquished. The varnish problem came 
in for a large share of attention, and Mr. Tweedale claims 
to have discovered an oil varnish " which is equal in all 
respects to that of the great Cremonese luthiers." 

He has had in his hands for the purpose of study and 
comparison several fine " Strads," such as the " Tuscan," 
" Cessol," " Amherst," " Prince," " Paganini," and a 
number of " Josephs," and he claims that he is " now able 
to make instruments which are worthy to compare with these 
in tone, and equal to the very best of them in varnish." 
Whether Mr. Tweedale's varnish is " equal in all respects " 
to the Cremonese varnish is a matter upon which there may 
be more than one opinion, but there can be no differences of 
opinion, 1 think, as to the quality of his more recent varnish : 
it is of excellent pate and of wonderful " fire " and trans- 
parency. The varnish he made some years ago is not for a 
moment to be compared with it. 

He has made a large number of violins some on the 
Strad, Joseph, and Maggini lines, but the greater number on 
an original model. The outline of the original model is full, 
and bold, suggestive rather of masculine strength than of 
feminine gracefulness and delicacy. The scroll and sound- 
holes are also very original in design, and are evidence (if 
evidence were wanting) of the strong, clear-thinking brain, 
and of the skilful hand which is able to carry out the dictates 
of that brain. All the work is beautifully finished, both 
inside and outside, even to the minutest detail. The tone 
of his later instruments is of a very fine quality : it is large, 
responsive, and brilliant, and perfectly equal on all the 


In addition to his artistic work, and the care of a country 
parish, Mr. Tweedale has contributed many articles on 
scientific and psychical subjects to various magazines and 
papers. He has made a notable contribution to psychical 
research in his book : " Man's Survival after Death " a 
work which has run into several editions, and has had a 
wide circulation. 

Facsimile label : 


^^J^M3*JO___. mM 

TWEEDY, J., Acklington : contemporary. 

TWEMLOW, S. P., Sandbach, Cheshire : contemporary. 
An amateur who has made a number of violins of beautiful 
workmanship and tone. He is well-to-do, and therefore 
able to procure the very best material, and to devote an 
abundance of time to the construction of each instrument. 
He is preparing for the press a work on violin making. 



URQUHART, ALEXANDER, Invergordon : contem- 
porary. An amateur who turns out an occasional violin 
of good workmanship and tone. 

URQUHART, DONALD, Tain, N.B., contemporary. 
Born at Balblair, near Invergordon, in 1859. He has made 
a considerable number of violins on the grand Strad model, 
which are of very beautiful construction, with a moderately 
powerful, sweet, and responsive tone. He is the maker of a 
fine oil varnish, a large stock of which he has recently dis- 
posed of to Mr. William Glenister, of London. 

URQUHART, THOMAS, London: 1650-80. One 
of our early old makers, the best part of whose work is the 
varnish, which very closely resembles the Italian varnish. 
I have seen one violin of his make, which was much arched, 
and had a sweet but small tone. 

VAUGHAN, DAVID ROBERT, Chester: contem- 
porary. Strad model ; fairly good work. 

VIGKERS, RICHARD, Bath: c. 1870. Very fair 
workmanship, but poor model. 

VIOLIN MAKERS' GUILD. This is a Guild or school 
of violin making established at 35 South End Road, Hamp- 
stead, London, N.W. Its full title is " The British Violin- 
Makers' Guild," and it is described in the pamphlet explana- 
tory of its object as " The only all British manufactory 
producing violins, violas, violoncellos, and basses at com- 
petitive Continental prices." Its managing director, Mr. 
Albert J. Roberts, in a letter in the press writes that 
" arrangements are being made for the employment of 


disabled soldiers and sailors," and that " there are also 
vacancies for improvers and a few articled pupils desirous of 
learning the art of violin-making under the guidance of a 
skilled staff of English, French, and Russian instructors, now 
engaged." I visited this institution, or factory, in August 
of the year 1915, when the managing director was 
good enough to take me over the workshop, and to explain 
to me that the Guild had two definite objects in view : (i) 
to teach violin making, and (2) to produce a high-class 
factory violin at a price that would enable them (the Guild) 
to compete successfully with the foreigner. Every patriot 
will agree that the objects are very sensible and praise- 
worthy. There is not a shadow of doubt about it, the 
factory fiddle has come to stay. The connoisseur may 
fling his scorn and utter his malediction, but the British 
public will smile at him and purchase its thirty shilling fiddle. 
Well, since there must be factory fiddles, let those used in 
Britain, I say, be of British manufacture. I express myself 
thus in all sincerity, firm believer in universal brotherhood 
though I be, for my sense of brotherhood does not bid me 
love my neighbour (the foreigner) better than myself (i.e. my 
own nation). 

The time is propitious for the founding of an industry of 
this description, and all its promoters need to make it a 
success is organization, concentration, co-operation, and a 
reasonable belief in themselves. 

VOYLE, BENJAMIN, Swansea : 1860-70. Average 

VOYSEY, HUBERT, Hereford: c. 1840. I quite 
recently saw a kit with his label in it. 


WADE, JOSEPH, Leeds : nineteenth century. 
WADE, WILLIAM, Leeds : nineteenth century. 


WALKER, H. J., Whitby : contemporary. His work 
is said to be fairly good. 

WALKER, HECTOR M., Liverpool : contemporary. 
Some years ago he made a few violins experimentally, for 
the purpose of testing certain theories, but I do not know 
whether he makes now. 

WALKER, J., Birmingham : contemporary. Born at 
Brailsford, in 1876. He works at 8 Broomfields, Solihull, 
as a professional maker and repairer. He has not made a 
large number of instruments, most of his time being occupied 
with repairs. His instruments are carefully finished, and 
covered with a beautiful amber oil varnish of his own make. 
He is said to be an excellent repairer. 

WALKER, WILLIAM, Mid-Calder : contemporary. 
An amateur who has made a good number of violins of 
excellent workmanship and beautiful tone. He follows the 
Stradivari and Guarneri models, and shows such great 
ability and skill that it is a pity he does not devote his whole 
time to the craft. 

WALTON, WILLIAM, Preston : contemporary. Born 
at Longton in 1860. He follows the Stradivari and Guarneri 
models, and has also made a number of violins on an original 
model. His work is of a high order, and finished with 
extraordinary care. His scrolls are of a vigorous design and 
carved very beautifully. The tone is large, brilliant, and 
perfectly equal and responsive. His work places him in line 
with our first-class professional makers. 

WAMSLEY, PETER, London: 1715-51. An old 
maker whose work has been much praised by some, and 
whose violoncellos at one time were held in considerable 
esteem. 1 cannot say that I particularly like his work, 
nearly all the instruments of his make (especially the violins) 
that I have seen being worked much too thin in the plates. 


The finest " Wamsley " that 1 am acquainted with is a viola, 
dated 1734, owned by the Messrs. George Withers and Sons. 

WARD, - , Dublin : c. 1750-1800. A fine violin of 
his make, on a model closely approximating to that of the 
grand Strad, is in the Dublin museum. He was an artist 
of undoubted ability, and it is a pity that little or nothing is 
known of him. Father Greaven mentions him, but is unable 
to give any particulars. 

WARDLAW, RICHARD, Cardiff: 1890-1900. An 
amateur of average ability. 

WARRIGK, A., Leeds : contemporary. Born at Read- 
ing in 1863. He is a pupil of Mr. G. A. Chanot, of Manchester, 
with whom he served an apprenticeship of six years, from 
1884 to 1890. He works on various models, but chiefly on 
the two principal classical ones. He has made a large 
number of instruments of all sizes, and he has an extensive 
repairing business. He uses excellent material, and the work 
is beautifully finished throughout. The varnish is of his 
own make, and has much the same characteristics as the 
varnish traditionally associated with the house of Chanot. 
It is made in four colours : yellow, reddish-yellow, brown- 
red, and ruby. He was awarded the sole gold medal for a 
case of violins at the Leeds International Exhibition in 1895. 

JL Marttdi. 


WARRICK, REGINALD, Northampton: 1880-1902. 
An amateur of average ability. 

WATSON, FRANK, Rochdale : contemporary. Born 
at Rochdale in 1866, where he has been established for about 


twenty-five years as a professional maker and repairer. He 
has made about a hundred and fifty violins, and a few violas 
and violoncellos. The work is carefully finished throughout, 
and the tone is powerful, and very good for orchestral 
purposes. He is said to be a very skilful repairer. 

WATSON, JOHN, Lerwick, Shetland : contemporary. 
A Presbyterian clergyman who has made about fifty violins 
of good workmanship and tone. The outline of his instru- 
ments is rather quaint, otherwise the work is faultless. Mr. 
Watson was obliged to retire from the active work of the 
ministry last year through failing health. 

WATT, ALEXANDER STOCKS, Inverkeithing : 1859 
to about 1906, or a little later. He made a few instruments 
of beautiful workmanship. A copy of the " Cessol " Strad 
was a wonderfully faithful facsimile of the original. He was 
a man of an ingenious and inventive turn of mind. 

WEAVER, SAMUEL, London : 1780-1800. Ordinary 

WHITAKER, HENRY, Plymouth : c. 1875. 

WHITE, JOHN, Camerton, Somerset : c. 1840-50. He 
made a number of violins and violoncellos of good average 
merit, some of which were in use in village churches in the 
neighbourhood of Camerton before the advent of the har- 
monium or small organ. 

WHITEHEAD, , Cork : c. 1800-30. A maker of 


WHITELAW, JAMES, Glasgow: 1852-1904. The 
celebrated discoverer of the amber oil varnish which bears 
his name. (Vide Introduction.) 

WHITESIDE, HENRY, Liverpool and Solva, Pem- 
brokeshire : 1749-1824. He was the builder of the first 


Smalls lighthouse, and made a large number of musical 
instruments, including spinets, harpsichords, and violins. 
One of his violins, which is on a model approaching to that 
of Stradivari, is in my possession : it has a beech back, and 
a powerful but rather hard tone. He was a remarkable 
man and a clever craftsman. He died at Solva in 1824, and 
was buried at Whitchurch, Pembrokeshire. 

WHITMARSH, EMMANUEL, London: nineteenth 
century. A prolific maker. There is, or was very recently, 
a maker of this name in London, but I do not think he is the 
Whitmarsh whose work was largely advertised many years 

WHITTAKER, BUTTON &, Leeds: 1805-30. Chiefly 

WIGAN, DAVID, Shrewsbury : 1890-1904. An ama- 

WIGHTMAN, GEORGE, London : c. 1760. 
WILKIN, G. H., Hull : contemporary. An amateur. 

WILKINSON, S. B., Leeds. I am not certain whether 
he is now living : I have come across his name somewhere, 
but can give no particulars. 

WILKINSON, WILLIAM, Dublin : c. 1818 to about 
1839. He was a son-in-law of Thomas Perry, and carried 
on business under the name of " Perry and Wilkinson," 
although Perry had absolutely no hand in the making of the 
instruments which bear the dual name (vide " Thomas 
Perry "). The instruments which are labelled " Perry and 
Wilkinson," and which were really the work of Wilkinson 
or of his assistants, are much inferior to the work of Thomas 

WILKS, ALFRED, Manchester : 1890-1904. An ama- 

To face p. 253. 


WILLIAMS, ALFRED, Cheltenham : 1840 till about 
1910, or a little later. He made a large number of violins 
on various models. 

WILLIAMS, BENJAMIN, Aberavon : 1768-1839. He 
made about eighty violins on the Duke-Amati model. Very 
good workmanship. Tone rather small but of good quality. 

WILLIAMS, O. R., Manchester. 
WILSON, , Whitby : c. 1820. 

WILSON, J. J. T., London : contemporary. A bow 
maker, who works principally for the trade. He worked 
for some time with James Tubbs, and later with C. E. Tubbs. 
I do not know that I have seen any of his bows, but they are 
said to be very good. 

WILSON, JAMES L., Greenock : contemporary. An 
amateur who has produced excellent work. He won a gold 
medal for an exhibit of violins at the Greenock Exhibition 
held in 1893. His instruments have a beautiful tone. 

WILTON, JAMES, Whitby. I do not know whether 
he is alive, but he was working up to eight or ten years ago. 

WISE, CHRISTOPHER, London : c. 1656. Chiefly a 
maker of viols. 

WITHERS, EDWARD, London: 1808-75. He was 
born in London, December 23, 1808, and died there Decem- 
ber 19, 1875. He bought the business of R. & W. Davis, 
31 Coventry Street, Haymarket, in 1843, and set up in that 
year as a professional maker and repairer, although he had 
had little previous training. He soon became an expert 
craftsman, and long before the end of his career was recog- 
nized as one of the best makers England had produced in 
the nineteenth century up to that time. He followed the 
Stradivari and Guarneri models exclusively, and made a 


large number of instruments, including violins, violas, and 
violoncellos. The set of instruments known as the " Wither 's 
quartet," now in the possession of the Messrs. Withers, of 
Wardour Street, are among the finest instruments ever made 
in this country. One of the violins of this set has been sold 
and re-sold twice for the sum of 50 : its purchaser on one 
occasion being Mr. L. d'Egville, who presented it to Wil- 
helmj. Its companion violin was sold at first for 30, but 
it realised later no less than 120 so the late Mr. E. Withers 
informed me. That seems an enormous sum for an English 
fiddle of the nineteenth century. The tenor was sold for 
40, and the violoncello for 150. 

Maucotel and Boullangier worked under Edward Withers 
at one time : these were clever workmen, and were of great 
assistance to the Englishman at a time when the fame of 
his instruments had created a greater demand for his work 
than he, working alone, could supply. Withers died at the 
age of sixty-seven, and was buried in Brompton Cemetery. 
Facsimile label : 

Edward Withers. 

Edward Withers, the father, was born in London, October 
22, 1844, and died there, May 10, 1915. He was the eldest 
son of the preceding Edward Withers, and was trained by 
his father, and by Jack Lott. He commenced business at 
31 Coventry Street, in 1856, which he removed a few years 
later to the present address of the firm, 22 Wardour Street. 
He worked with his father for about twenty-five years, 

To face p. 254. 


during which time he made a large number of new instru- 
ments, and executed nearly all the principal repairs that 
were entrusted to the firm. Like his father, he copied 
exclusively the two principal models, and never attempted 
in any way to modify the measurements, outline, and curves 
of Stradivari and Guarneri, believing that the evolution of 
violin models had reached its culminating point with these 
two masters. He made altogether about three hundred 
instruments, including violins, violas, and violoncellos. 
All these are made of very choice wood, and constructed 
with the utmost care. The work is beautifully finished, and 
the varnish is of excellent quality and rich appearance. 
On June i, 1893, he was appointed by Royal Warrant 
violin maker to H.R.H. the late Duke of Saxe-Coburg- 
Gotha, then Duke of Edinburgh. 

Mr. Withers played the violin, viola, and 'cello, and was 
passionately devoted to classical music. He frequently 
had quartet and symphony parties at his private residence, 
" Elm wood," Atkins Road, Clapham Park. His sons, who 
now carry on the business, are : Edward Sidney Munns, 
born in 1870, Sidney Bernard, born in 1873, and Douglas 
Sidney, born in 1879. The three have received a thorough 
grounding and practical training in their art, and are clever 
craftsmen. Facsimile label : 

Edward Withers. 
22,Wardour Street 
L on d on. 

temporary. Mr. George Withers is a son of Edward Withers/ 
senior, and a brother of the late Edward Withers, of Wardour 


Street. He and his sons are dealers in a large way of busi- 
ness, whose establishment at 22 Leicester Square is familiar 
to every connoisseur and virtuoso in the country. All of 
them are practical violin makers, but Mr. Withers, senior, 
has neither made nor repaired any instruments these many 
years, the business occupying the whole of his time. His 
two sons (who assist him in the business) received their 
training in Mirecourt, and one of them, Mr. Guarnerius 
Withers, is an excellent craftsman, and has made a few 
violins quite recently. 

This firm is justly celebrated for its long, honorable, and 
successful record : its reputation is second to none. To have 
business dealings with the Messrs. Withers once is to esteem 
them for ever after as men who are actuated by the highest 

WINRAM, JAMES, Edinburgh : contemporary. A 
clever amateur maker and professional teacher of the violin 
who has made a number of beautiful instruments. He is a 
born artist, and would doubtless make his mark as a pro- 
fessional maker. 

WOOD, G, F., London : nineteenth century. Very 
good work. 

WOODING, J. T., Swansea: contemporary. He is 
said to be a good maker and an excellent repairer. I have 
not seen any of his work, and cannot express an opinion as to 
its merits. 

WOODNEY, H., Manchester : nineteenth century. 

WOODWARD, - , Birmingham : c. 1820. I am not 
certain, however, as to his period, and I know nothing about 
his work. 

WORDEN, JAMES, Preston : 1839 to about 1908, or 
a year or two later. He was a descendant of the Wordens 
of old Worden Hall, and his mother was descended from the 


Plessingtons, of the Dimples, an old Lancashire family, who 
gave to the Roman Catholics their last British martyr the 
Rev. J. Plessington, who was executed in the year 1678. 

He made about sixty instruments, on various models. 
The work is good and careful all over, and the tone of a 
quality which makes it very suitable for orchestral purposes. 

WORNUM, , London : c. 1794. Nothing is known 

of him. 

WRIGHT, DANIEL, London : c. 1745. 

WRIGHT, EBENEZER, South Shields: nineteenth 
century. Average ability. 

YATES, RICHARD. He worked in Manchester ten 
years ago, but I do not know whether he is still there, or 
whether he is still making violins. The only violins of his 
make which I have seen were early efforts, but they showed 
much ability. 

YOOLE, WILLIAM, St. Andrews: 1806-68. He 
received some instructions from Matthew Hardie, and was 
at one time a sort of collaborator with Tom Hardie, but 
only as an amateur. He was Town Clerk of St. Andrews. 

YOUNG, JAMES, Edinburgh : c. 1880-1904. 

YOUNG, JOHN, London : c. 1700. No instruments 
of his have been seen, but we learn from the curious 
verses of Purcell that he was a maker. 

YOUNG, G. RAIMONDI, Vevey, Switzerland. A 
well-known scientist and medical doctor who has made 
about a dozen violins of beautiful workmanship and tone. 
He is a keen connoisseur, and an enthusiast in all matters 



appertaining to the violin. He hopes to devote a great 
deal of time in Switzerland to his beloved hobby of violin 
making. His knowledge and wonderful skill are a sufficient 
guarantee of the excellence of his future work. 

YOUNGMAN, M., Halifax. He worked there ten years 
ago, but 1 do not know whether he is there now. His work 
was carefully finished, and one of his violins which I tried 
had a very good tone. 



A List of Present-Day Makers, and a few Old Makers recently 



ALLWOOD, , Sheffield; c. 1800. He is said to 

have been an excellent craftsman. 

ANGELL, S. E. He lived at 29 Gillingham Road, 
Cricklewood, London, N.W., and died there November 26, 
1918. He made a number of instruments, and was con- 
sidered a good workman. 

AUBREY, PHILIP, Gloucester; c. 1830-50. Poor 
material and very ordinary work. 

BARRETT, KERSHAW, Oxenhope, Yorks. Uses ex- 
cellent material and follows the Strad model mostly. Good 
workmanship : varnish of a light golden brown colour of 
good quality. He is particularly successful in obtaining a 
large, responsive, and mellow tone. 

BEAMISH, JOHN, London. An excellent amateur, 
who is working for the Peasant Arts Guild, which has its 
headquarters at 17 Duke Street, Manchester Square. He 
commenced to make violins as a hobby only a year or two 
ago, but intends to devote much time to it in future, and 
ought to succeed well, since he is an adept in the use of 
keen-edged tools. 

BEE, F, C, f Shiremoor, Northumberland. Contem- 

W 6 


BERRY, PETER, Kirkcaldy, N.B., where he was born 
in 1879. He works on an original model, and has made a 
number of instruments of beautiful workmanship. The 
design of his scroll is original, and the button is cut in the 
form of a shoe. The material is excellent, and the varnish, 
which is an oil one of a dark golden brown tint, is of good 
quality. The tone is moderately powerful, of a reedy 
quality, even, and very responsive. The maker is a talented 

BIRCH, THOMAS, Hereford; c. 1850. Average 

BIRD , RICHMOND HENRY, Liverpool. He was born 
at Walsall, Staffordshire, in 1869, and has been employed 
for the last six years by the Messrs. Rush worth and Dreaper 
to do their violin repairs, and to make their high-class 
instruments to order. Up to the present (1919) he has made 
a hundred violins, nine violas, and eighteen violoncellos, 
following usually the Stradivari or Guarneri model. The 
workmanship is beautiful, every detail of the work both 
inside and outside being finished with the utmost accuracy, 
and pointing unmistakably to the master mind and the 
cunning hand. Particular attention is paid to the gradua- 
tion of the thicknesses of the plates, the maker being of the 
opinion that the secret of the Italian masters lies in that 
part of the work. Mr. Bird maintains that after long 
meditation and innumerable experiments he has finally 
unravelled the mystery of the Italian tone, and affirms 
confidently that he can reproduce accurately the tone of 
any particular instrument of the classical period. That is 
a bold claim to advance, and will probably evoke rebuke if 
not ridicule from the critics. But whatever theory (or 
" fad," as some would call it) this maker may hold, and 
whatever the critics may say, it is certain that he is in the 
front rank of modern British violin makers 1 , and that his 
work will bear comparison with the best that has been pro- 
duced in modern times. He is certainly right in his funda- 


mental principle that the best modern work is that which 
most accurately reproduces the salient features of the best 
work of the Italian masters. Acting on this principle, Mr. 
Bird sets out to copy as accurately as his knowledge and skill 
enable him, the grand instruments of Joseph and Antonio. 
And well does he accomplish the task. I recently examined 
two violins of his make, one varnished and one " in the 
white," which were exact reproductions, as far as wood and 
workmanship went, of a Strad of the grand period, and it 
must be admitted that they were instruments which I think 
the white-aproned master himself would have readily 
admitted to the fellowship of his own. The tone was 
powerful, brilliant, even, and reedy. It had fine carrying 
power, and an inexhaustible reserve, since it did not give 
out or " break " even with the vigorous use of a 'cello bow. 

BLIGHT, R., Exeter : c. 1830. Very good work. 

BROWN, J., West Marsh, near Great Grimsby. He was 
alive and working a few years since. 

BUXTON, HENRY, Chester : c. 1845. Stainer model ; 
poor work. 

BUXTON, JAMES, Bristol : c. 1830. A repairer, and 
probably a maker of no particular repute. A few years ago 
I saw an old violin bearing a partially obliterated label 
which had a name like Buxton, or something similar, of 

BYRON, HUMPHRY, Oxford : c. 1800-20. A violin 
recently seen bore the label : " Humphry Byron, fecit in 
Oxon. 1810," and was on the Amati model, varnished golden 
brown. It was well made and had a sweet tone. 

BYRTH, WALTER, Nottingham : c. 1800. Whether 
he was a maker or only a repairer it is impossible to say. 


BYTTLE, J., Swansea : c. 1850. Probably only a 

BYWATER, HENRY, Bristol : c. 1800. A rather nice 
looking violin was recently picked up in a curiosity shop 
bearing the label : " Made by Henry By water, in Bristol," 
without a date. The maker had evidently the work of 
Richard Duke in his mind, and the varnish was very similar 
to and quite as good as that used by Duke, but the tone was 
not equal to the workmanship, and certainly not to be 
compared with that of the old English maker. 

GOAD, ALBERT, Redruth, Cornwall : contemporary. 
He was born at Camborne, Cornwall, in 1884, and is now 
established at Mount Pleasant, Redruth Highway, Redruth, 
as a professional maker. As far as I am aware he is the only 
Cornish maker now living and working in his native county. 
Cornishmen like their first cousins the Welsh are by instinct 
and temperament an art-loving people, but like them also 
have neglected to a great extent the art of violin making. 
How to account for this neglect a neglect which amounts 
to aberrancy is more than I care to attempt. The efforts 
of this maker (if they meet with the success they deserve) 
will go a long way towards supplying the short-comings of 
Cornwall. Mr. Coad is a disciple of the late Walter H. 
Mayson, of Manchester, and has adopted that celebrated 
maker's outline, arching, and thicknesses, and his work 
shows that " the spirit of the master doth rest on the dis- 
ciple." He uses handsome wood of the finest quality, and 
makes only four or five instruments per year, devoting much 
time and the greatest care to the construction of each one. 
The work is beautifully finished, every detail evincing the 
good taste of the born artist and the perfect skill of the 
trained craftsman. Some connoisseurs would perhaps find 
fault with this maker's work on the score of excessive 
thickness in the plates, and I have no doubt the thickness 
might be very slightly reduced without injury to the robust- 
ness ancj brilliancy of the tone, But it is always safer to 


err on the side of excess of thickness than otherwise : there 
is a remedy for that, but there is no remedy for deficiency 
of timber. Many instruments of the modern French 
school are too thin in the plates ; they sound clear and 
responsive now, but these qualities are obtained at the 
expense of " stamina," and the instruments will have been 
played out a hundred years hence. Mr. Coad is particularly 
successful in obtaining fine tonal results. The tone of one 
of his violins which I tried recently was large, brilliant, and 
very easy to produce : it had the clear " ring " of a first- 
class old instrument, and was exceptionally free from the 
harshness which usually mars the tone of a new fiddle. 
Work of the description produced by this maker is bound 
to come to the front and to win recognition. 

The label is hand-written, and each instrument has an 
inscription written on the back on the bare wood. 

CLARK, WILLIAM, Exeter: c. 1800-20. Several 
violins of his make have been seen, bearing a written label. 
They were unpurfled, but were otherwise well made, and 
had a good tone. 

COCKGROFT, - -, Rochdale : c. 1860. 

GOCKMAN, F. G., London : contemporary. He works 
at 31 Springcroft Avenue, East Finchley, but whether as 
an amateur or a professional maker I cannot say. 

COLLINGWOOD, JOSEPH, London: 1725-1750. 
He worked at the " Golden Spectacles," London Bridge, and 
labelled his instruments : " Joseph Collingwood, Londini," 
adding the date. He made a large number of instruments 
on the Stainer, Strad, Amati, and a few on the Joseph 
models. This is another old maker who has received scant 
justice, or no justice at all, at the hands of connoisseurs 
and writers on the violin. The reason is not far to seek : 
Collingwood' s labels have been extracted wholesale from his 
violins, and other labels, bearing more imposing names, have 


been inserted in their place. Collingwood's best work is in 
every way worthy of a place beside the finest work of 
Banks, Forster, Duke, and Parker. 

Charles Challenger, Esq., of Tiverton, St. Andrew's Park, 
Bristol, had an Amati copy by Collingwood, covered with an 
orange-coloured oil varnish of great lustre and transparency, 
and with a beautiful tone, which equalled, if it did not sur- 
pass, the very best work which ever came from the hands of 
Benjamin Banks. 

" One swallow does not make a summer/' and perhaps to 
have made one fine violin does not constitute a man a violin 
maker, but it certainly shows what he is capable of. But 
the fame of Collingwood does not rest on the merit of the 
solitary example just named ; there are other fine specimens 
of his handiwork in the country. Dr. Broad, of Almons- 
bury, Gloucestershire, has, or had, one. This gentleman, 
who is a keen connoisseur, has seen several of Collingwood's 
fiddles from time to time, and says they were all beautifully 
made, possessing a remarkably sweet and mellow tone. A 
few years back a fine Amati copy, with golden brown 
varnish, was knocked down at Puttick & Simpson's for 35. 
This specimen was in Collingwood's best style, and it had all 
the characteristics of Italian work. More than likely by now 
it has had its legitimate label removed, and one bearing a 
clarum et venemUle nomen inserted instead. 

CONKERTON, E. R., Newark : contemporary. Has 
made some excellent violins and violas. 

DA VIES, VINCENT, Erwood : contemporary. Accord- 
ing to reliable report, he has made several beautiful instru- 
ments, but I have not seen any of his work. 

DAVY, WILLIAM, Bolton, Lancashire. A litterateur 
who devotes his spare moments to the making of violins and 
violas, and has produced some instruments with a wonder- 
fully fine tone. His outline and model are original, showing 
a marked divergence from the traditional type, but there is 


nothing outre or grotesque about them. Mr. Davy does not 
aim at a high degree of finish, but concentrates his knowledge 
and skill on producing instruments with a grand, rich, and 
mellow tone. 

DIXON, - ALFRED T., London : contemporary. A 
violinist who makes violins en amateur. I have not seen any 
of his work, but it is said to be excellent. 

DUNCAN, JAMES, Cluny, Aberdeenshire, where he 
was born, in 1871. He has made up to date twenty-nine 
violins and one double-bass. A violin which I examined 
recently was on an original model, but most of his instru- 
ments are on the Joseph model, after Honeyman's drawings. 
The workmanship is much above the average, and the 
material used is selected with great care. He uses varnish 
of his own make, which is an oil one, of good quality, and 
perfectly transparent. The tone of the instrument I tried 
was large, rich, and free. 

DUNLOP, ALEXANDER, Broxham, Linlithgowshire : 
contemporary. Strad model slightly modified. Good 
material, varnish, and workmanship. I have seen only one 
specimen of his work, and this had a beautiful tone. 

EVANS, ISAAC PROBYN, Merthyr Tydfil : con- 
temporary. He has made a few violins on the Amati and 
Guarneri models. He is a keen connoisseur and a good 

FARRELL, WILLIAM JAMES, London: contem- 
porary. He was born in South Shields in 1870 ; and he now 
works at 181 Caledonian Road, where he carries on the 
business of making and repairing, and trades as Farrell & 
Co., dealing in violin wood, accessories, etc. As a youth 
he showed aptitude for the use of keen-edged tools, and a 
predilection for wood carving, so that when he decided later 
on to take up violin making as a hobby, he found that he 


required very little instruction in the technical part of the 
craft. He has a sound, practical knowledge of timber, 
which he has gleaned during his travels abroad, and more 
especially during a sojourn in the forests of West Africa, for 
which he paid dearly, having four times contracted malaria 
fever. He works principally on the Strad and Guarneri 
models, but his instruments cannot be described as " copies " 
in the strict sense of the word, since they show departures 
from the classical models in several little matters of detail, 
such as, e.g., the scroll, which is of an entirely different 
pattern from the classical scroll, and, indeed, from any scroll 
I have ever seen before. The wood used by Mr. Farrell, as 
was naturally to be expected, is of the finest description, and 
the varnish, which is of orange tint, is also of excellent 
quality. The tone of the violin I tried was robust, respon- 
sive, even, and carried well. Mr. Farrell is a keen artist, 
and has in preparation a work on violin construction, in 
which he deals principally with the vexed question of 
" How to reproduce the Italian tone.' 1 

FEAR, HARRY, Handsworth, Birmingham : contem- 
porary. He was born at Brixton in 1878, and commenced 
to make violins en amateur in 1912, since when he has com- 
pleted about a dozen instruments. He is particularly 
successful in obtaining a rich, mellow tone. 

FISHER, GEORGE, Cheltenham : c. 1820. 1 saw 
recently a violin bearing this name and date, which had 
rather a good tone. 

FLETCHER, JOSEPH, Hitchin, Herts : 1810-25. A 
violin bearing this label was fairly well made and had a good 

FOUCHER, FELIX, London: 1888-1917. Son and 
pupil of Mons. Georges Foucher, a French maker and expert 
who has been resident in London for many years. He lived 
at 25 Wingate Road, Ravenscourt Park, W. On March 20, 


To face p. 269. 



1916, he enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment, and was sent 
to France ten weeks later, where he was killed in action on 
August 24, 1917. He made two hundred and fifty violins 
and two violoncellos. The workmanship, more especially 
of his later instruments, is beautiful, evincing the artist mind 
and the trained hand in every turn of the chisel and gouge. 
The number of instruments he completed is very large for 
one so young, but there is not the slightest evidence of 
hurry in any of the violins of his make that I have seen. He 
was a born artist, and by his early death Britain has lost 
one who would have greatly helped to bring lutherie to the 
highest degree of perfection in this country. I recently had 
the opportunity of seeing and trying three of his violins ; 
one was a magnificent copy of a Gagliano, and another an 
exact copy of a B. S. Fendt, but not (I observed with 
satisfaction) bearing a fraudulent label. The imitation was 
clever enough in the case of the latter to deceive (had such 
been its intention) an experienced connoisseur. Wood and 
varnish had been matched to perfection, and marks of wear 
reproduced most minutely. To my mind the time and 
energy expended on a facsimile reproduction of this kind are 
wasted, and the result serves no purpose other than as a 
demonstration of cleverness. Extremely clever young 
Foucher was without a doubt, and it is gratifying to think 
that he did not spend many of his precious moments 
(moments that were all-too-brief, alas) in wanton exhibitions 
of mere cleverness, but that he consecrated the best part of 
his time to the production of genuinely artistic and unsophis- 
ticated work. 

Facsimile of label : 




FOUCHER, GEORGES, London : contemporary. 
Brother of the preceding. I have not seen any of his work, 
but he is said to be a promising young artist. 

FOX, ISAAC, Canterbury : contemporary. He was 
born in Loath, Lincolnshire, in 1856, and is established at 
4 Upper Bridge Street, Canterbury, as a gun, rifle, and 
cartridge manufacturer. He has made violins and violas 
for many years, as a hobby, and his work reaches a high 
standard of excellence. He uses very beautiful wood, and 
the workmanship and tone are exceedingly good. 

FOX, RICHARD, EnfieldTown, London : contemporary. 
He is established at 10 Fyfield Road as a pianoforte dealer 
and tuner, and makes violins during leisure time. His 
instruments are said to be excellent, both as regards work- 
manship and tone. I have not seen any of his work, but I 
have seen specimens of his varnish, which is beautifully 
brilliant, and of the very finest quality. He has experi- 
mented in violin varnish for a long number of years, and he 
has certainly succeeded in producing a mixture of rare 

FULTON, HENRY, Liverpool : c. 1800. A very well 
made violoncello with this label was recently for sale in a 
second-hand shop in one of the arcades in Liverpool. 

GOFTON, ROBERT, Whitby Bay: 1844-90. He 
made about thirty violins and a number of banjos. He was 
a clever craftsman, and some of his instruments show 
beautiful work. He was a cabinet maker by trade, and made 
instruments during spare time. One who knew him describes 
his work in a quaint manner thus : "He could make a 
lovely fiddle, and when he had finished it you would just 
think it had grown on a tree." 

GRAHAM, R., Cadoxton, Barry : contemporary. He 
is a native of Brompton, Cumberland, and a pupil of James 


Meek, of Carlisle. He has made only a few violins, which 
show excellent workmanship, and evince undoubted talent 
for the craft. 

GRAY, JOHN, Sunderland : contemporary. I have 
not seen any of his work, but it is said to be excellent. 

GREENWOOD, G. W., Rochdale : contemporary. He 
was born in Rochdale on March 4, 1885. He is a professional 
maker, and a pupil of T. E. Hesketh, the well-known violin 
maker of Manchester, with whom he served a five years' 
apprenticeship. He has not made many instruments as 
yet, his time being taken up with repairs, but he hopes to 
devote himself to the more interesting (if less profitable) 
side of the craft in future. The workmanship of the one ex- 
ample of his work which I have seen was magnificent, every 
part of the instrument being beautifully finished. The tone 
was firm, responsive, and of the reedy quality which is only 
found in high-class fiddles. This maker ought to produce 
work that will help materially to enhance the fame of the 
rising generation of British violin makers. 

GRIFFITHS, A. V., London : contemporary. He is 
said to have made some excellent instruments. 

GUNTER, HENRY, Scarborough: c. 1850. Fair 
work, but poor wood and harsh tone. 

HANCOCK, GEORGE, Stoke-on-Trent : contemporary. 
He was born in Hanley, Staffordshire, in the year 1851. He 
commenced as a professional repairer in 1886, but did not 
make his first violin till 1909, since when he has completed 
about a dozen instruments. He follows the Strad and 
Joseph models, and a specimen of his work which I saw and 
tried recently was of beautiful workmanship and had a very 
fine tone. This maker is a born artist, and it is a pity that 
his other business does not allow him to devote more time 
to that of making. 


HARROD, ROBERT, Exeter : c. 1784. A violin was 
recently seen bearing his label : " Made and sold by Robert 
Harrod from London. In St. Peter's Churchyard, Exon. 

HARVEY, E. VICTOR, Dinas Powis : contemporary. 
He is a son of Mr. E. Harvey, the violin maker, of Penarth, 
and a very promising beginner. 

HARVEY, EUGENE, Dinas Powis : contemporary. A 
brother of the preceding, and a talented and promising 

HAY, JAMES, Guildford, Surrey : contemporary. He 
was born at Farm of Hilton, Forfarshire, April 23, 1869, and 
has been trained as an electrical and mechanical engineer, 
in which profession he is now acting as a consultant. An 
amateur of great ability and skill, who has made several 
lovely instruments on an original model. 

HAYNES, H. C., Southsea : contemporary. He was 
born at Great Malvern, in 1867, and is now established at 
" Bonniecot," Goldsmith Avenue, Southsea, as a professional 
maker and restorer. He comes of a musical stock, and has 
taken a keen interest in music, musicians and instruments, 
from his youth up. He is a brother to the well-known 
Prof. Battison Haynes, sometime examiner to the Royal 
College of Music, and the Royal Academy of Music, and a 
nephew of William Haynes, the widely known organ recital- 
ist. He has worked professionally as a violin maker and 
restorer for twenty-five years, and has made a considerable 
number of violins, but his time is principally taken up with 
repairs. His model is original, approximating to that of 
Joseph Guarnerius. The workmanship is good, but Mr. 
Haynes' chief aim is perfection of tone rather than elegance 
of construction, and it must be admitted that he is remark- 
ably successful in obtaining a large, even, responsive, and 
sweet tone. 


HAXTON, GEORGE, Glasgow: contemporary. He 
was born at Kingskettle, Fifeshire, October 19, 1878, and 
began to make violins about ten years ago, following the 
Strad and Joseph models. Up to the present he has 
completed thirty-five instruments, of excellent workman- 
ship and tone. A Joseph copy recently seen by me was 
beautifully finished, and had a large, rich, and mellow tone. 
This maker is a born artist, and in the front rank of Scotland's 
present day luthiers. 

HENDERSON, JOHN, Broxburn, Linlithgowshire : 
contemporary. He was born at Dundas, in the parish of 
Dalmeny, Linlithgowshire, on November 13, 1842, and has 
been established at Janefield Cottage, Broxburn, for a long 
period as a professional maker and repairer. He is a man of 
unique personality, and possessed of astonishing versatility. 
A literary friend has furnished me with the following account 
of him : " His first connection with craftsmanship was as a 
blacksmith's apprentice, but about nine months sufficed to 
quench his aspirations in that direction. He next tried 
farming, and became an expert ploughman. In the year 
1861 he won the second prize at the Mid and West Lothian 
ploughing competition, and in the same year he won the 
first prize at a similar competition at Currie. His next 
venture was as a pit engineman, and after about eight years 
at this work he obtained employment with the Oakland Oil 
Co. as engineer. Afterwards he served with the Broxburn 
Oil Co. for thirty-two years, but becoming possessed of 
extensive property he retired some years ago, since when he 
has devoted the greater part of his time to violin making 
and repairing : but not all, for he is also an expert florist. 
His violins are noted more for their wonderful tone than for 
their workmanship. They have obtained first honours at 
various industrial exhibitions held in Edinburgh and Glas- 
gow for their tone. Mackenzie Murdoch, the ' Scottish 
Paganini,' Mr. Will Findlay, Mr. Andrew Bartholomew, and 
other celebrated Scottish artists, have played upon them, and 
pronounced them to be equal to the best modern instruments 


for tone. Although advanced in years he is surprisingly 
youthful, and brimming over with pawky humour, good 
sense, and the milk of human kindness." 

HODGSON, , Alverstone : c. 1877. His name has 

appeared recently in advertisements. 

HOYLE, EDWARD, Todmorden, Yorkshire : contem- 
porary. He was born at Carr-house Fold, Cross-stone, 
Todmorden, April 17, 1841. He was trained as a cabinet 
maker, and began to make violins in 1881, since when he has 
completed seventy-three, following various models according 
to the dictates of his fancy. He uses a varnish of his own 
make, which is an oil one, of various shades, but mostly of 
dark brown, and of good quality. The workmanship, as was 
naturally to be expected in the case of one who had been 
trained in the use of edged tools, shows nothing of the 'pren- 
tice hand, but is highly finished throughout. The tone is 
powerful, and of good quality even, free, bright, and 

HUMPHREYS, ROBERT, Timberland, near Lincoln : 
contemporary. He was born in the year 1859, an d began to 
make violins in 1888. He follows the Strad and Joseph 
models, and turns out three or four instruments every year, 
which are of excellent workmanship and have a large and 
telling tone. He is very careful in the selection of his 
material, and every detail of the work is accurately finished. 
Age and careful use will greatly improve his instruments. 

IRWIN, E. J., Bradford, Yorkshire : contemporary. 
He was born in Bradford in 1875, and commenced to make 
violins in 1913. He has made about twenty instruments, 
all of good, honest, solid workmanship, and varnished with 
Anderson's amber oil varnish. The tone is very good. 

Manchester : c. 1840-75, or a little later, perhaps. Unfor- 
tunately, there is no certainty as to when and where he was 


born, nor as to his period of work, date and place of death, 
etc. In some books he is said to have learnt his craft from 
William Booth, junior, on what authority I do not know. 
It does not matter much where he learnt or from whom, 
since he was undoubtedly an extremely clever artist, if not 
a genius, and would have shaped his destiny under almost 
any circumstances. The great man, be he philosopher, poet, 
artist, or what not, moulds his environment and develops 
even by antagonism : he can say with Topsy : "I 'spect I 
growed. Don't think nobody never made me." There can 
be no doubt as to the ability of J'anson, the instruments 
that still have his label in them (few though they be in 
number) bear abundant testimony to his consummate skill. 
Mr. Charles Holt, of Leicester, a keen and an experienced 
connoisseur, who owns a fine example of his art, writes : 
" The most perfect J'anson fiddle I have ever seen, and 
certainly one of the finest instruments I have seen in my life 
(and I have seen not a few) was that sold at a sale at Puttick 
& Simpson's in 1908. It was dated ' Leeds 1854,' and was 
knocked down to a dealer at a very high figure. I dare 
assert that that fiddle was the grandest that English art has 
ever produced." And with regard to the specimen that he 
himself owns, Mr. Holt writes : " It is beautifully made, 
and its tone is extraordinarily large and at the same time 
ravishingly sweet. I recently bought what is probably the 
finest Gennaro Gagliano in existence, in immaculate condi- 
tion, and gave two hundred pounds for it, but the J'anson 
puts it absolutely out of court. I have examples of Maggini, 
Grancino, Andreas Guarnerius, Ceruti, etc., and have been a 
fiddle fancier for upwards of thirty years, yet saw I never a 
fiddle (except the very best of Stradivari or Giuseppe 
Guarneri) to come up to the J'anson for grandeur and purity 
of tone." Mr. Holt was good enough to send this violin 
down for my inspection a little while ago, and I certainly 
am obliged to confess myself in agreement with him. The 
conviction has been growing upon me of late that if we only 
possessed as many examples of the work of Tobin, J'anson, 


Collingwood, and one or two others, as we do of the work of 
Banks, Duke, Forster, Parker, etc., that we should have to 
revise our estimate of the relative merits of our English 
makers. Doubtless there are a goodly number of Tobins, 
J'ansons, etc, in existence, but they have lost their identity, 
and are " sailing about under the Italian flag." Once upon 
a time it was said that " the poor ye have always with you " : 
to the devotees of the fiddle it would be more appropriate 
to say, " the rogue ye have always with you." Of course, it 
must not be forgotten that the majority of the instruments 
of such men as Tobin have borne false labels from the start, 
that is to say, they have carried a trade label, or the 
employer's label, and not that of the actual maker. Misap- 
propriation is another besetting sin of the fiddle trade. 
Some of the finest of our present day artists are lost to their 
own generation and to posterity because in the struggle for 
existence they have " to knuckle to," and sell their birth- 
right for a mess of pottage to their more fortunate brethren ; 
in plain words, they are obliged to sell their instruments 
unlabelled to the trade. 

The label in Mr. Holt's violin runs : 

Edward P, I'aitso-a . Fecit. 
MaotcKester Anno 

The two last figures are filled in with a pen. 

JERMY, ARTHUR, Kingsland, London : contempor- 
ary. He is a professional maker and repairer, and is said 
to be a clever artist. I regret I cannot say anything about 
his work, as I have not seen any of his instruments. He 
was born at Old Ford, London, in 1867, and has been 
established at 6 Crossway, Kingsland, for a number of years. 

JERVIS, FRANK, Belfast : c. 1800. This is another 
old maker about whom little or nothing is known, Two 


To face p. 277. 


violins bearing his label have been recently seen, one of 
which was on the Amati model, very well made, and with a 
beautiful tone. The varnish was of excellent quality, and 
of a dark golden brown colour, lustrous and transparent. 
It was evidently the work of one who was a master of the 

KEENAN, EDWARD, Dublin : contemporary. He was, 
born in the village of Clonolvy, in the parish of Ardcath, 
Meath, Ireland, on the i8th of July, 1876, but his parents 
belonged to Dublin, where Keenan has also lived from his 
infancy. He lives at 5 Spencer Street, North Strand, and is 
a professional maker and repairer. At the age of sixteen he 
was apprenticed to a large firm of coach builders, and he 
progressed so rapidly that at twenty-four he was appointed 
foreman wheeler to the Messrs. Potter & Co., North Wall, 
Dublin, who have a large export trade in wheels of every 
description. He was married at the age of twenty, and has 
seven children living. He commenced to make violins as a 
hobby at an early age, and the mysteries of the craft exercised 
so weird an influence over him that he felt irresistibly drawn 
more and more towards violin making as a profession. He 
read all the literature on the subject that he could get hold 
of, and made a point of " interviewing " every fine fiddle 
inside or that passed through Dublin, so that he gradually 
stored up a mass of information that enabled him, by-and- 
by, to wield gouge and callipers to some purpose. He 
succeeded in producing a passable instrument almost from 
the start. In his studies he has received material assistance 
from Robert Cathcart, Esq., of Lurganbrae, Shankill, Co. 
Dublin, whose profound knowledge of the subject, and wide 
experience as a connoisseur, have proved a good substitute 
for a regular apprenticeship at an atelier. Mr. Cathcart had 
in his keeping during the period of the war a fine Strad, of 
the golden period, and he was good enough to furnish Mr. 
Keenan with an accurate set of tracings of this instrument a 
few years ago, from which he (Keenan) now makes all his 


beautiful Strad copies. The owner of this particular Strad 
is Captain Joshua Watson, of Herbert Park, Dublin, who 
entrusted it to the care of Mr. Cathcart till the end of the 
war. Three years ago Mr. Keenan made a copy of the 
Strad for Captain Watson, and concerning this fiddle Mr. 
Cathcart writes me : "It has the best tone of all that he 
has ever made. I had it for a couple of weeks before Captain 
Watson was demobilised, and I found I could pick it up 
immediately after playing on the Strad for some time, and 
play on it with pleasure, and I think that a very severe 
test, especially as the Strad (called the ' Vieuxtemps- 
Hause ' in one of the old documents connected with it) is a 
magnificent instrument and in perfect condition." I 
recently had here for inspection another copy of this Strad, 
made by Mr. Keenan for Captain Oakley, of S. Africa, and 
in my honest opinion the instrument summed up in itself all 
the excellent qualities that a copy can ever claim to possess. 
The art of the copyist cannot possibly, I think, reach greater 
perfection than it has reached in this instance. Material, 
varnish, finish, and tone proclaimed it to be ne plus ultra. 
This is not extravagant, but just praise. The luthier's art 
has been under a cloud in Ireland for well-nigh a century, 
but the strong rays of the sun have been piercing through the 
cloud during the last few years, and already the art is 
shaking her wings and preparing for another flight. The 
home of Celtic art, the land of the Perrys, of Tobin, Delaney, 
Dollard, Molyneux, etc., is yet capable of noble things. 
There is even now a considerable number of native violin 
makers, some of them men of great talent and skill, and it is 
not hazardous to prophesy that the Emerald Isle will have 
her own school of violin making before many more decades 
have passed. 

Mr. Keenan has made a few violins on the Joseph model, 
and several on an original model, and he won the first prize 
with one of these at an exhibition held in 1913 in connection 
with the Royal Dublin Society. But it is since he adopted 
the Strad model that he has made the great strides which 


have brought him so far towards the summit of his ambition, 
and he will be well advised if he adheres to this model to the 
end of his journey. It is to be hoped that he will be patron- 
ised sufficiently well in his native land to enable him to 
dispense with repairing and devote the whole of his time to 

Facsimile of label : 




ANNO \9/#. 

KNIGHT, FRANK R., Reigate : contemporary. He 
was born in 1870, and commenced to make violins in 1917. 
A violin I recently examined showed that he had made 
wonderful progress in the art in a short space of time. The 
instrument had a fine tone, due principally, I think, to the 
very choice quality of the pine in the table. 

LAMB, JOHN, Shiremoor, Newcastle-on-Tyne : 1823- 
1903. He made a considerable number of violins, of various 
models. Some of his better class work is not without merit. 

LAMB, JOHN, Shiremoor : contemporary. Son of the 
preceding John Lamb, born in 1855. He has made about 
thirty violins and two violas, on no particular model. 

LEADER, JAMES HENRY, Bristol : c. 1830-40. I 
recently saw a quaint-looking old fiddle bearing this label : 
it was well made, of good material, and had a very fair tone. 

LEAKE, H., Huntley : c. 1820. A rather crude look- 
ing old fiddle, with a very good tone, had his MS. label 
in it. The material was excellent, a fact which probably 
accounted for the good tone, 


LEE, PERCY, London : contemporary. He is estab- 
lished at 6 Ashford House, Ashford Road, N.W., as a 
professional maker, and viola player, and is considered by 
some of the principal London dealers to be one of the ablest 
representatives of the modern British school of violin 
making. He was born in Huddersfield in the year 1871, 
and is the fourth son of the late Mr. Joseph Lee, woollen 
merchant, and sometime organist and choirmaster of St. 
John's Church, of that town. He was educated at the 
private academy of Mr. W. E. Thomas, a Welshman, whose 
school at that time enjoyed a high reputation in the district. 
He came to London at the age of seventeen, when he was 
apprenticed to the firm of Messrs. George Rogers and Sons, 
pianoforte makers, where he got his first insight into the 
mysteries of fiddle construction, and became interested in 
the study of acoustics. Soon after he had served his 
apprenticeship he joined the ranks of the musical profession 
as a viola player, and discarded pianoforte making. He 
next took a course of instruction in violin making at the 
warehouse of Messrs. Haynes, of Grays Inn Road, and soon 
acquired a high degree of proficiency in the craft. His 
output of instruments is not great : having more than one 
string to his bow he is not entirely dependent on making, and 
is able to devote extra time and care to the construction of 
each fiddle. The bulk of his production consists of violas, 
for the making of which he (as a viola player) considers he 
has special aptitude and fitness. 

In the opinion of artistes who play upon Mr. Lee's violas 
the instruments possess a remarkably fine tone, and are 
magnificently made and beautifully finished. 

Mr. Lee has recently turned his attention to mediaeval 
and pre-renaissance instruments. A viol d'amour which he 
finished about six months ago, and which is figured here, is 
worthy in every way to be placed beside the finest example 
extant of the old viol maker's art. Mr. Henry Saint-George, 
who was perhaps our greatest living authority on these old 
instruments, spoke very highly of it. 


To lace p. ^o. 


It may be remarked here that an effort has been made 
within these last few years to revive certain mediaeval and 
post-mediaeval types of stringed instruments, but the 
effort, I think, is only a passing whim, and can result in no 
real advantage. Crazes of the kind break our every now 
and again. In Wales we have tried hard to revive interest 
in the triple harp, and we have even tried to revive the 
clumsy crwth, but what availeth it, the hand of the clock 
will not be put back ! Haweis very pertinently remarks 
that " there is something inexorable about the consensus 
of posterity. Individuals may chafe under it, and writers 
may try to reverse its verdict. You even have crazes for 
the revival of neglected poets, painters, and musicians, but 
you will never succeed in pushing from their pedestals the 
great gods whom posterity has once decided to bow down 
to." And if this is true of individual men and things, how 
much more true is it of types, which Represent the maximum 
effort of nature and art, and which are being eternally 
evolved from the less to the more perfect ? Violin makers 
should not take a plunge back into mediaevalism, but should 
endeavour to catch a glimpse of the age to come and see 
visions of the fiddle that is to be unless, indeed, they think 
the fiddle type is already perfect. That Mr. Lee is an artist 
of exceptional talent is manifest, and posterity will thank 
him if he devotes his time and energy to the construction of 
high-class violas. He has ample scope in this direction for 
his powers. To begin with he might profitably devote some 
time to the study of the problem of dimension and cubic 
capacity, for, strange as it may seem, there is yet a diversity 
of opinion among the best makers as to what the length, 
widths, and depth of the perfect viola should be. The 
matter has been settled long ago as far as the other instru- 
ments are concerned, but both makers and players are in as 
fidgetty a mood as ever about the viola. 

LIGHT, GEORGE, Exeter. Period probably the last 
quarter of the eighteenth century. Only one or two violins 


bearing his label have been seen, but these showed very 
careful work, and had a sweet and mellow tone, lacking in 

LINDSAY, WILLIAM HENRY, Cardiff : contemporary. 
He has made only one or two instruments. 

LOCK, GEORGE HERBERT, M.A., Shrewsbury: 
contemporary. He was born at Dorchester in 1850, was 
at Cambridge from 1869 to 1873, and since that date has 
lived in Shrewsbury, where he was mathematical master 
(at the well-known Shrewsbury School) from 1873 to 1904, 
when he retired. 

He has made violins as a hobby for many years, and has 
completed fifty-one instruments altogether, including two 
violas and three 'cellos. The workmanship is excellent, and 
the tone large, brilliant, and remarkably responsive. He is 
a very clever amateur. 

LONSDALE, W. P., Preston : early part of the nine- 
teenth century. 

MARDON, J. C., Exeter : c. 1850. It is not certain 
whether he was a maker, or only a repairer. 

MATHER, - , Swan wick : early part of the eighteenth 
century. A 'cello of his make has been seen, which was of 
handsome wood, well made, and had a very fine tone. 

M'NEILL, JOHN, Edinburgh : contemporary. He was 
born at Tranent, Haddingtonshire, in 1848, and made his 
first violin about twenty years ago, since when he has 
completed twenty- two instruments. His time is principally 
taken up with repairs, and he greatly regrets that he has not 
had the opportunity to perfect himself in the art of making, 
albeit he has made some good fiddles, which have a powerful 
and responsive tone, very useful for orchestral purposes. 
M'Neill is said to be a skilful repairer. 


MILLINGTON, ERNEST, Borrowash : contemporary. 
A clever amateur who has made a few instruments by way 
of experiment, with the object of discovering, if possible, the 
secret of the Italian tone. 

MOWBRAY, DAVID G., Leith : contemporary. Born 
at Melrose in 1868. Commenced to make violins eight years 
ago, and has completed several on the Strad and Joseph 
models, but devotes most of his time to repairing. An 
excellent craftsman, that would eventually produce import- 
ant work if he devoted all his time to making. 

MURRAY, ALEXANDER, Morpeth. Period, about 
the middle of the nineteenth century. He made a con- 
siderable number of violins, one of which is owned by 
Councillor Lawson, of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, which is said 
to have a good tone. 

NANCE, S. E., Penarth, Glamorgan : contemporary. 
A native of Padstow, Cornwall, who settled down in business 
in Wales many years ago. He is keenly interested in the 
theory of violin making, and has made about forty instru- 
ments on an altogether original pattern. 

NELSON, GEORGE, North Seaton, near Blyth, in 
Northumberland : contemporary. I have not seen any of 
his work, but 1 have reliable evidence that it is of consider- 
able merit, and that some of his violins have a remarkably 
fine tone. Unfortunately he has been an invalid for a long 
time and unable to work. 

NOON, T. M., Cardiff : contemporary. An amateur 
who has made a splendid beginning. 

OPIE, A. J., Portsmouth : contemporary. This very 
clever amateur is by training a scientist, but by nature an 
artist, and is the first of the name who for the last five 
generations has not been trained as an artist. He is em- 
ployed by the Admiralty as a specialist in testing and 


designing the various forms of fighting ships, both above and 
below the water, and by the greatest good fortune he has 
been trained under Froude, the first and leading authority 
in the world on the mathematics of naval architecture. He 
has made a number of violins on an original model, which are 
of beautiful workmanship and have a very fine tone. 

PAGE, ARTHUR LEWIS, Uxbridge : contemporary. 
He was born at Midhurst, W. Sussex, in 1879, and com- 
menced to make violins in 1912. He follows the " grand " 
Strad model, using material of excellent quality, and a 
varnish which looks like Whitelaw's, of golden or orange 
red colour. He has made only a few violins as yet, but 
hopes to produce them more rapidly in future. The work 
is excellent, and the tone large, brilliant, and responsive. 

RICHARDSON, ARTHUR, Crediton, Devon: con- 
temporary. He was born at Stavely, Derbyshire, in 1882, 
and he now lives and works as a professional maker at 
Butts Park Cottage, Park Road, Crediton. After receiving 
a good education he was apprenticed to the wood-carving 
and pattern-making trade, and when he had finished his 
training he was acknowledged to be an exceptionally intelli- 
gent and clever craftsman. Before he settled down at 
Crediton a few years ago, he travelled about a great deal, 
in the pursuit of his calling, and he made it a point to study 
works of art of every description, wherever he went, includ- 
ing painting, sculpture, architecture, and especially wood 
carvings. He had rare opportunities, and made the fullest 
use of them. In addition to being an expert wood carver, 
he has displayed great talent as a wax modeller, and some 
of his original designs are works of art. Needless to say, 
he is also a good draughtsman. 

This kind of early training, based upon a sound general 
education, is, I verily believe, the best possible introduction 
to the art and craft of violin making. I consider it to be 
superior to a regular apprenticeship served in an atelier, after 
the Continental fashion, which usually begins at the age of 


fourteen, or even earlier in many instances, with the scantiest 
knowledge of even the rudiments of science, and with barely 
the skill to draw straight lines and simple curves. Violin 
making, it should be borne in mind, is a science and an art 
combined. A science teaches us to know, and an art to do. 
It is a science in so far as it investigates the necessary prin- 
ciples and forms of construction, and thus teaches us to 
understand how the principles are discovered and the 
knowledge of them applied : it is an art when it is occupied 
in framing a number of practical rules, and in giving to 
material certain definite forms. It is a delusion to think 
that violin making is only a kind of glorified carpentry or 
cabinet making. Many violin makers regard it as such, 
with the result that they never (except perhaps by accident) 
produce a great violin a violin which is at once a work of 
art and a great musical instrument. When a violin maker 
tells me that his chief ambition is to make a fiddle that is 
beautiful to look at, I cannot help thinking that his know- 
ledge of the craft is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 
zero. Another tells me that he simply works for tone, and 
cares nothing for appearance, and I hear something whisper 
to me : " He has not the skill to make a thing of beauty, 
but he would if he could." The conclusion of the whole 
matter, and my apology for this digression, is this : let him 
who aspires to be the Stradivari or the Guarneri of the future 
train his brain to think, his eye to see, and his hands to do. 
Mr. Richardson went through a long course of rigorous 
training, and the result is manifest both in the fine tone and 
in the graceful lines of his instruments. As to tone, the 
result of the Cobbett competition, in which Mr. Richardson's 
violin won the first prize, is sufficient guarantee of excellence. 
And the workmanship is equal to the tone. One notable 
feature of the construction is the careful graduation of the 
thicknesses of the plates. Another is the discrimination 
shown as to the proper quantity of wood that should be 
left in the plates. Mr. Richardson works his plates neither 
too thin nor too thick. To work them too thin is, of course, 


a fatal mistake, but there is a school of violin makers to-day 
which apparently thinks it impossible to err on the side of 
thickness. It cannot be too strongly insisted upon that it 
is a big mistake to leave too much wood. A well-known 
writer on the violin has been preaching the thick plate 
doctrine so indefatigably that he has converted a host of 
makers to his views, many of them against their reason, 
but he has won no converts among the cognoscenti, and the 
error of the doctrine is sufficiently demonstrated in its 
practice. Reason and experience abundantly confirm the 
verdict pronounced by Hyacinth Abele long ago : "If the 
wood is too thick, the tone will be poor and without any 
ringing quality ; if the wood is too thin, the tone will be 
hollow and tubby " [" The Violin and its Story," in " The 
Strad " Library, p. 98]. 

Mr. Richardson has two models : the grand Strad, and a 
model of his own, which may be described as the grand Strad 
slightly modified in outline. Every detail of his work is 
finished with elaborate care, and there is that grandeur, 
refinement, and what the French call etat de repos, about the 
completed instrument, which gives it a distinct individuality, 
and is very pleasing to the eye of the connoisseur. 

This maker is on the sunny side of forty, and therefore a 
comparatively young man, and I venture to predict that, 
given health and a little encouragement, he will produce 
work that will not only contribute to maintain the traditions, 
but will raise the status of the craft in Britain. 

RITCHIE, ALEXANDER, London : contemporary 
An amateur who has made only a few instruments, but whose 
work shows such extraordinary talent that it commands 
attention. I recently examined a specimen of it, and 
entered the following remarks in my notebook : " A most 
faithful and accurate copy of the grand Strad model. Excel- 
lent material, beautiful workmanship, varnish a soft, elastic, 
transparent, and brilliant mixture very similar to Urqu- 
hart's varnish. Tone large, reedy, responsive and ringing. 
A born artist, and as dexterous a craftsman as any now 


living/ 1 He was born of Scottish parents in the year 1888, 
at Battersea, in the county of London, and now resides at 
34 Surrey Lane, Battersea Park, S.W. He is an engineer by 
profession, a clever draughtsman, a violinist of repute, and 
a man of solid learning. It is to be hoped he will make many 

ROBINSON, WILLIAM, London : contemporary. He 
works as a professional maker, and violin case maker, at 
68 Rochdale Road, Plumstead, S.E. His life story, related 
in his own words, has a touch of pathos and quaintness about 
it that makes it interesting. He says : "I was born in the 
village of Avebury, Wiltshire, in the year 1873, but am much 
younger than my years would suggest. My father died when 
I was two years of age, leaving a widow and four children to 
fend for themselves. We were poor, so that I had to labour 
on a farm at an early age : sometimes I was sent to mind the 
sheep on the downs, but never went without pieces of wood 
and my pocket knife, to make toys with, and nicknacks. I 
spent my coppers, not on sweets, but on the empty boxes 
which had contained them : these 1 converted into rustic 
fiddles, for the country lads to play on. I toiled through 
weary years up to manhood, and dreamed of the time when 
I should make a real fiddle, and I am happy that I have lived 
to see my dreams come true." Mr. Robinson was appren- 
ticed to the saddlery trade, and he followed this occupation 
till recently. He has designed and makes a speciality of a 
beautiful kind of solid leather violin case, for which he gets 
more orders than he can execute. His violins (of which 
there is not a large number as yet) are beautifully con- 
structed, and players think highly of their tonal qualities. 
Mr. Towry Piper, in an article devoted to him in The Strad 
for April, 1919, concludes his remarks thus : "I cannot 
help regarding this maker as quite unusually gifted. He is 
still in the prime of life, and if he continues to produce work 
of this class he should go far, and obtain wide recognition 
in the fiddle maker's calling." I thoroughly agree with 
this eminent expert. 


ROGERS, GEORGE, Conlig, Co. Down, Ireland : con- 
temporary. An excellent member of the small but growing 
band of modern Irish makers. He has made a number of 
fine instruments on the Stradivari model. It is worthy of 
remark that the majority of Irish makers have a decided 
preference for the Strad model, whereas Scottish makers 
have a penchant for the Joseph model. Perhaps the national 
temperament has something to do with the respective choice. 
The Irish are fervid, sympathetic, and responsive ; the 
Scotch dour, persistent, and practical. With the exception 
of Italy there is no soil in the world more rich in art pro- 
ductibility than Ireland. The country which produced the 
fine old artists of a century ago is capable of even greater 
things, and when the Emerald Isle is regenerated and its 
sorrows forgotten, the melody of fiddles that are yet unmade 
will gladden the land. Artists of the type of Mr. Rogers 
will hasten the coming of the new age. 

contemporary. Born in the parish of Great Saling, Essex, 
in 1887. He works on the Strad model, also on an original 
model, with flat arching, and other differentiating charac- 
teristics. He is particularly careful in the selection of his 
material, and has had the rare good fortune to pick up 
choice bits of maple and pine where, it is difficult to 
imagine, in these days of timber famine. The thicknesses 
are very carefully graduated, and the work is carefully 
finished and beautifully varnished. The tone is large and 
telling. He is a very capable craftsman, and if he were to 
adhere to the Strad model, and to copy every detail scrupu- 
lously, he would produce fine work. 

SOWERBY, A. L., Manchester : contemporary. He 
has made violins en amateur for a number of years, and has 
lately opened business at 87 Fitz George Street, as a pro- 
fessional maker and repairer. I have not seen any of his 
more recent work, but his earlier work evinced a very special 
aptitude for the craft, and augured well for a successful 


career. Mr. Sowerby has a thorough knowledge of the 
history of the craft, and of the principles of riddle construc- 
tion, and there is no reason why he should not make his 

STEDMAN, ROYSTON, Leyton, Essex : period, about 
the middle of last century. Mr. Charles Holt, of Leicester, 
reports having seen a viola of his make, which was of 
excellent workmanship, and had a very fine tone. 

STOCKDALE, WILLIAM, Acklington, Northumber- 
land : contemporary. He has made a number of violins 
on various models, the later ones being on that of Guarneri. 
I have not seen any of them. 

STURDY, ALFRED. An old fiddle, ascribed to the 
middle of last century, had this name on a label, without 
date or name of place. 

TAYLOR, STEPHEN OLIVER, Leicester: contem- 
porary. I am indebted to Mr. Charles Holt, the violin 
connoisseur, of Leicester, for particulars respecting this 
maker, and I take the opportunity here of thanking him for 
his valuable assistance. Mr. Holt writes : " Regarding 
Stephen Oliver Taylor, I must first of all say that he is the 
son of Mr. Stephen Taylor, the well-known organ builder, 
and that he is himself an organ builder first, and a violoncello 
maker after. But he is, nevertheless, a consummate artist. 
He has been brought up from childhood among fiddles, and 
all kinds of woods, etc. His 'cellos are really the finest 
things in the way of new instruments that I have seen or 
heard. They are built on the lines of Giuseppe Guarneri's 
violins, with the long Gothic sound-holes, and the effect is 
very striking, altogether harmonious, and pleasing to the 
eye. I have played on several of these 'cellos. They are 
all made of beautifully figured wood in fact, it is extremely 
handsome in the back and ribs and their appearance is 


grand and majestic. The tone is all that could be desired 
full, round, and as mellow as that of any old instrument I 
have met with. The scrolls, too, are quite remarkable for 
their bold, yet exquisite carving ; in fine, the conception of 
the whole design is the quintessence of vigour and ele- 

Mr. Taylor has secured a large stock of extremely old wood, 
of the finest acoustical qualities, figure, and grain, and he 
husbands it with the greatest care, and values it above 
rubies. It seems that he does not make to sell, nor can he 
be prevailed upon to part with any of his work : he loves the 
art for its own sake. 

TAYLOR, ROBERT, Leicester : contemporary. He 
is a professional maker and repairer, and has his workshop 
at 5 Ann Street. Mr. Holt writes respecting him : "He is 
not related to Mr. Stephen Oliver Taylor, mentioned above, 
and has not had the same advantage of being trained to 
woodwork, albeit he is a splendid craftsman, and is turning 
out some excellent fiddles. He pays special attention to 
that very important part of fiddle construction, viz., the 
graduation of the thicknesses of the plates, and his success 
in obtaining a good tone is to be attributed largely to his 
sound knowledge of timber, and of the principles of acoustics. 
I have been able to offer him advice, from time to time, 
during the various stages of the work, and I must say that 
I have found him to be a most intelligent, diligent, and 
patient worker. He is full of enthusiasm for his art, and I 
certainly think he ought to reach a high standard of excel- 

Mr. Taylor submitted a violin for my inspection some time 
ago, and a careful trial of this instrument enables me to 
endorse the foregoing remarks. There was very little in 
the workmanship to justify criticism, and the tone was 
exceptionally good. 

THOMPSON, , Felkington, Northumberland, 


TILLER, C. W., Boscombe, Bournemouth : contem- 
porary. An exceptionally clever amateur, who has made 
several violins, the last of which, finished a year ago, was of 
very fine workmanship and tone. He is a joiner by trade, 
but he shows such talent that it is a pity he is not a pro- 
fessional maker. 

TYE, J., London : period, about the middle of last 
century. A decent workman, but his sound-holes are the 
most absurdly grotesque of all that I have ever seen. His 
label runs : " Made by J. Tye, 37 Agnes Street, York Road, 
Lambeth, London." 

WALKER, HENRY, Stoke-on-Trent : contemporary. 
Born in Leeds, in 1876. A modeller by profession, and he 
has made a 'cello, a viola, and several violins as a hobby, 
which are said to be good. 

WILD, FRANK, Rochdale, Lancashire : contemporary. 
He was born in Rochdale in 1869, and is a tool maker by 
trade, and makes and repairs violins only during spare time. 
He has completed about a dozen instruments on the Amati- 
Strad, and grand Strad models, the later ones of which are 
of excellent workmanship, with a large, bright, even, and 
responsive tone. He is a very enthusiastic and capable 

WILLIAMS, R. J., Llandudno, N. Wales : contemporary. 
A very clever amateur who has made about thirty instru- 
ments, including violins, violas, and one 'cello. He won 
the silver medal for the second best violin at the Royal 
National Eisteddfod of Wales, held in Neath in 1918. 

WILSON, FRED, Chelmsford : contemporary. A well- 
to-do, enthusiastic amateur who has made a number of 
violins of exquisite workmanship and beautiful tone. 

WILSON, JAMES, Belkington, Scottish Borders. 
Towards the end of last century. He made several violins 
on the long Strad model. 


WILLIAMS, THOMAS, Edgbaston, Birmingham : con- 
temporary. He was born at Langley Green, Worcestershire, 
in 1864, and lives now at 93 Lee Bank Road, Edgbaston. 
Although he considers himself only an amateur maker, his 
work reaches a high standard of excellence, and would bring 
no discredit to the best professional maker in the country. 
His last effort is a facsimile of a Lorenzo and Tommaso 
Carcassi, and is a very clever bit of work. He is a born 
artist, and it is a pity he does not take up the work pro- 

WITHERS, JOSEPH, London: contemporary. The 
life story of this " Grand Old Man of the Gouge " should 
be given as it is related by himself in a letter to me, dated 
March 18, 1919. He says : " I was born at Poplar, London 
East, on the 28th of May, 1838, and was the only boy in a 
family of seven children. My father and mother were born 
in London, as were also my grandfather, grandmother, and 
great-grandmother, on my father's side. My mother's 
people were Scotch, hailing from Aberdeen, At the age 
of seven I was sent to a day school, which I attended till I 
was fourteen, when I was apprenticed to my father, who was 
a shipwright, working for Messrs. Green at their shipbuilding 
yard at Blackwall. I worked at first on gunboats which 
were being built for the government at the time of the 
Crimean war, and I also worked on the first armour-plated 
vessels ever constructed. On August i, 1860, my father 
met with a fatal accident, and my mother and young sister 
then had no one to look to for support but me, so I had to 
take my father's place in the home. I kept on working at 
my trade in the shipyard till 1879. I commenced to make 
violins as a hobby at the age of eighteen, and received some 
instruction from a maker named Lambert, who had worked 
with James Brown, of Spitalfields. In the year just named 
I exhibited a violin at the Westminster Industrial Exhibi- 
tion, and was awarded the first prize for musical instruments. 
This Exhibition was on a large scale, and was held in a 


temporary building in Queen Victoria Street, Westminster, 
from May i till September. The judges spoke so highly of 
my violin that I thought it afforded me a favourable oppor- 
tunity to start as a professional maker. I acted on the 
impulse, and set up business at 158 Caledonian Road, N., 
and I am pleased to say I have never had cause to regret it. 
From the time 1 started my career as a professional maker I 
never missed an opportunity to improve my knowledge of 
the violin, and I diligently applied myself to the acquiring 
of perfect skill in the use of the tools peculiar to the craft. 
I was a regular visitor at the great Exhibition of stringed 
instruments held at South Kensington in 1872, and paid 
the closest attention to the famous riddles gathered together 
there. The ' Messie ' Strad fascinated me above all the 
other instruments ; it held me spell-bound, and it was with 
difficulty that I could tear myself away from it. That 
fiddle has pursued me all through my life since I first saw 
it, and haunted me in all my dreams. I have worked at my 
fiddles under its spell, and have tried to catch some of its 
spirit in order to imprison it in my work. Up to the present 
I have made about a hundred and fifty violins, twelve 
violas, and a few violoncellos. I am now nearly eighty-one 
years of age, but my sight is as clear, and my hand as steady, 
as they were fifty years ago, thanks to the life I have lived, 
without alcohol or tobacco in any shape or form. The 
number of instruments I have made is small, considering the 
long years I have laboured, but that is because I have been 
busily occupied with repairs all the time. I shall not make 
many more fiddles : my material has been used up, and my 
work has been done/' 

The last violin made by Mr. Withers is on the table before 
me now, and as I look at its pure outline and graceful curves 
I can but admire and wonder. The scroll is of bold design, 
symmetrical, with easy flowing lines, and justly proportioned 
to the body of the instrument, whilst the purfling is inlaid 
v /pnbrokenly and evenly without a tremor. One looks in 
vain for the slightest evidence of old age in any little detail 



of the work. The tone has a rich reedy quality that is not 
often heard in a new instrument, and it is sweet, even, and 
perfectly responsive. 
Facsimile of label : 

Made by 

Aged 80 Years 
London, A. D. 1918 . 

WORTHINGTON, JOHN, Hereford : c. 1820. Exag- 
gerated Stainer model ; fair workmanship and tone. 

WOULDHAVE, - -, North Shields : c. 1870. I am 
not certain whether he was an actual maker, or merely a 
dealer. Some of the instruments which have his label are 
well made. 

WRIGHT, PETER, Gloucester : c. 1840-50. Probably 
only a repairer. 


Appendix A 

The magnificent quartet of old English instruments 
shown in the frontispiece is owned by J. E. Smith, Esq., of 
BaySwater, London. The violins are by Daniel Parker and 
Richard Duke, the viola by Benjamin Banks, and the 
violoncello by " Old " William Forster. The instruments 
are typical examples of the old English school, and in excel- 
lent condition. The Parker violin is, I think, one of the most 
superb specimens of this fine old maker's work in existence. 
I have seen altogether about twenty of his fiddles, but none 
that would quite match this one. It is of the Long Strad 
model, with a lovely orange-red varnish of excellent quality. 
It has the quaint droop of the upper corners so characteristic 
of Parker in his happy moments. It is figured here by itself 
as an example of the " craft-poetry " of British genius. 
The other instruments of this set are also each notable in 
its own way, but space will not allow of a detailed description. 
The quartet must be seen before its excellence can be fully 


Appendix B 

The following is a list of some of the more important 
English books on the violin, and is intended as a guide to the 
student who is desirous of acquiring a fairly wide and 
accurate knowledge of the instrument and its literature. 
The author has in preparation, and hopes to publish shortly, 
A Complete Bibliography of the Violin, including British and 
Foreign works, as well as " Violin Schools " and books of 

BROADHOUSE, JOHN. Facts about Fiddles. Vio- 
lins old and new. London, n.d. (1879) : W. Reeves. 8vo. 

DAVIDSON, PETER. The Violin : Its Construction 
theoretically and practically treated, etc. London : F. 
Pitman. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, 1881. Small 8vo. 

[There were four editions of this work, the first of which 
was published in 1871. It is now very scarce.] 

ENGEL, CARL. Researches into the Early History of 
the Violin Family. London, 1883 : Novello, Ewer & Co. 

F&TIS, FRANCOIS JOSEPH. Notice of Anthony 
Stradivari the celebrated Violin-maker, known by the name 
of Stradivarius. Preceded by Historical and Critical 
Researches on the Origin and Transformations of Bow 
Instruments, and followed by a Theoretical Analysis of the 



Bow, and remarks on Frangois Tourte, the author of its 
final improvements. Translated by John Bishop, of Chelten- 
ham. London, 1864 : R. Cocks. Large 8vo. 

FLEMING, JAMES M. Old Violins and their Makers : 
Including some References to those of Modern Times. 
Illustrated with facsimile of tickets, sound-holes, etc. 
London, 1883 : L. Upcott GiU. Cr. 8vo. 

FLEMING, JAMES M. The Fiddle Fancier's Guide : 
A Manual of Information regarding Violins, Violas, Basses, 
and Bows of Classical and Modern Times ; together with 
Biographical Notices and Portraits of the most famous 
Performers on these Instruments. London, 1892. Haynes, 
Foucher & Co. 8vo. 

GROVE, SIR GEORGE. A Dictionary of Music and 
Musicians. Edition 1912, edited by J. A. Fuller Maitland, 
M.A., F.S.A. London, Macmillan & Co., 5 volumes. 
[There are several important articles on the violin, violin 
makers, violin literature, etc.] 

HART, GEORGE. The Violin : Its Famous Makers 
and their Imitators. With numerous wood engravings from 
photographs of the works of Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, and 
others. London, 1875 : Dulan & Schott. Large post 4to. 

Second edition, greatly enlarged, 1884. 

New edition, 1909. Large post 4to. 

There are also four Popular Editions of this work : Cr. 8vo. 
[This is the most important and reliable of all the books 
treating on the violins of the various schools of the classical 
period, but it scarcely touches on modern work.] 

HAWEIS, REV. H. R. Old Violins. In the " Collector 
Series." London, 1898 : George Red way. [A very instruc- 
tive and interesting book.] 


HERON-ALLEN, EDWARD. Violin-Making, as it 
Was and Is : being a Historical, Theoretical, and Practical 
Treatise on the Science and Art of Violin-Making, for the 
use of Violin Makers and Players, Amateur and Professional. 
With upwards of 200 Illustrations by the Author. Pre- 
ceded by an Essay on the Violin and its Position as a Musical 
Instrument. London, 1885 : Ward, Lock, Bowden, & Co. 
Demy 8vo. [This is the best book on violin-making that 
has ever appeared in any language.] 

HILL, W. E. & SONS. Antonio Stradivari : His Life 
and Work. London, 1902. 4to. 

Second edition, 1909, 8vo. 

[This fine monograph will remain for all time the Standard 
work on Stradivari.] 

HILL, W. E. & SONS. Gio. Paolo Maggini : His Life 
and Work. London, 1892. 4to. 

HONEYMAN, WM. C. The Violin : How to Choose 
One. Edinburgh, 1893 : E. Kohler & Son. Cr. 8vo. 

HONEYMAN, WM. C. Scottish Violin Makers : Past 
and Present. Edinburgh, 1899 : E. Kohler & Son. Cr. 

READE, CHARLES. A Lost Art Revived. Cremona 
Violin and Varnish. Four letters descriptive of those 
exhibited in 1872 at the South Kensington Museum, also 
giving the data for producing the true varnishes used by the 
great Cremonese makers. Reprinted from the Pall Mall 
Gazette by George H. M. Muntz, Birchfield. 

Gloucester, 1873 : John Bellowes. Large 8vo pamphlet. 

ANDREW. The History of the Violin and other Instru- 
ments played on with the Bow, from the remotest times to 
the present. Also an account of the principal makers, 


English and Foreign, with numerous illustrations. London, 
1864 : J. R. Smith, Addison and Lucas. Demy 8vo. 

STOEVING, PAUL. The Story of the Violin. London, 
1904 : The Walter Scott Publishing Co., Ltd. 

" THE STRAD " LIBRARY. About a dozen or more 
exceptionally useful handbooks have been issued in this 
series. London : " The Strad " office. 

Appendix C 


That the crwth (crwth proper, as distinguished from 
crwth trithant, or three-stringed crwth} was a popular instru- 
ment in Wales for hundreds of years is abundantly evident 
from the numerous references to it in the Welsh bardic 
remains. The bulk of these references belong to the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, a good number to the seventeenth, 
and a few to the first half of the eighteenth century. I have 
made a long and diligent search for references to the crwth 
in the literature and unpublished manuscripts of the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, and I hope before long to 
publish the result of this interesting labour in a volume on 
the Musical Instruments of the Welsh. Mr. Heron-Allen is 
correct in his statement that " the crwth existed in Wales 
to comparatively recent times," but is in error when he says 
that it disappeared about the year 1801. There was a 
family of crwth players in the Gwaun valley, near Fishguard, 
living down to 1827. The last member of the family, who 
was called Shams y Crwthwr (Demetian dialect James the 
crwth player) died at an advanced age in the year named, 
and was buried in the churchyard of Llanuchllwydog. There 
was a crwth player, bearing the bardic name of y Crwthwr 
Mwyn (the meek crwth player) at Carmarthen in 1810. 
There were several eminent crwth players scattered about 
Wales back in the middle of the eighteenth century. Here 
is a list of crwth makers, most of whom were also performers 
upon the instrument : 

Dafydd ap Sh6n Forus, Trefnewydd, c. 1690. 



Dafydd Sion, Gwrecsam, c. 1700. 

Dafydd ap Roberts, Trallwm, c. 1675. 

Dafydd Emwnt, Melin If an Dda, c. 1680. 

Dafydd If an, Trefriw, c. 1700. 

Shon Offeiriad, Aberhonddu (John the Priest, Brecon), 
c. 1670. 

William Rhys, Llanymddyfri, c. 1680. 

Shon Grythor, Abertawy, c. 1690. 

Tomos Morgan, Caerfyrddin, c. 1675. 

I have discovered the names of only two makers of the 
eighteenth century, Richard Williams, and Richard Evans, 
both of Anglesey, but probably some of the above lived on 
through its first quarter, if not longer. Gradually the " wee 
fiddle " found its way to the Welsh hills, and drove out its 
quaint but cumbersome cousin, the crwth. It was a case of 
the survival of the fitter. The native instrument had 
disappeared completely by about 1830. Most of the 
crythau in use in the eighteenth century were probably made 
in the previous century, and many of them were possibly 
much older, so that it is not surprising to find that only a 
few of them are now extant. One of these is in the South 
Kensington Museum, another is owned by Sir John Williams, 
Bart., M.D., a third was the proprety of the late Colonel 
C. Wynn-Finch, and is at Voelas Hall, North Wales, and a 
fourth is in the Municipal Museum at Warrington. Of 
these by far the most perfect and interesting specimen is the 
one at Voelas Hall. The late Alderman Edward Samuelson, 
of Liverpool, in a little pamphlet which he printed for private 
distribution in 1892, gives an interesting account of it. He 
says : "On closely examining it, I arrived at the conclusion 
that it had originally been strung with wire, judging from 
the minuteness of the holes in the tailpiece and the iron 
string-wrests resembling those of a lyre or harp. It seems 
probable that it had been manipulated in a manner similar 
to the latter instrument, for it was at first designed to carry 
twelve strings, though some subsequent owner had modified 
it by filling up the holes of half-a-dozen of the string- 


wrests. Further evidence is found in the bridge, con- 
structed to carry twelve strings, nearly level and very low. 
The tail-piece and finger-board appear to have been intro- 
duced after the strings were reduced in number. There is 
a traditional record of a certain Crwthyr [sic : it should be 
crythor] named Morgan, who is said to have played on this 
instrument, in Carnarvon or at Newborough, early in the 
present century, but there is no record of how he played it, 
and, in the absence of any mark showing friction at the 
part where the chin usually rests, I am disposed to think 
that, if used as a bowed instrument, it was played from the 
knee, after the manner of the viol da gamba or viol d'amour, 
and in that case there would be no difficulty in playing 
pizzicato passages on the two harp strings appended at the 
side of the finger-board, and about which there seems to be 
much mystery. The available information is, however, so 
slight that I am not disposed to dogmatise, and it is quite 
possible to hold either that it was played in the way I 
describe, or that it was played in a manner resembling the 
guitar an instrument which we will do well to remember 
was immensely popular throughout England early in last 
century, and indeed, until the all-devouring pianoforte drove 
it from the field. One thing I am pretty sure of is, that the 
crwth, in its original form, was not held and played in the 
same way as the modern violin." 

The Voelas Hall crwth is figured in " Musical Instruments : 
Historique, Rare, and Unique/' by A. J. Hipkins. 

An instrument somewhat resembling the crwth is still in 
use among the Basques of the Pyrenees. The late T. H. 
Thomas, the well-known artist and antiquarian, of Cardiff, 
saw a strolling minstrel boy in the streets of Mentone in the 
summer of 1880 playing upon what looked like a crwth, but 
minus the wings. The minstrel played the accompaniment 
to a quaint, plaintive melody which was sung by a little girl 
with a lovely voice. 

A serious attempt was made years ago by Alderman 
Samuelson (already referred to) and others who were 


interested in Welsh musical instruments, to revive the 
crwth. The Alderman gives an account of his efforts in the 
pamphlet just quoted from : " It seemed to me," he writes, 
" after my study of the ancient crwth, that it possessed 
features which it would be worth my while to attempt to 
reproduce in such a modified form as would render it suitable 
to modern use. So I commissioned a practical violin maker, 
in the person of my young friend John Byrom, of Liverpool, 
a former pupil of G. A. Chanot, a musical instrument maker 
of some eminence, to construct for me an instrument on the 
lines of yr hen grwth Cymreig, less rude in outward form, yet 
in essentials the same. He has carried out his instructions 
skilfully, and here is the result. It has a compass equal to 
the violin and the tenor combined, and has a tone which 
may be described as approximating to that of the viol 
d'amour or viol da gamba. It is capable of great range of 
style and effect, and lends itself admirably, for example, to 
such compositions as Stradella's ' Chanson d'Eglise ' (Pieta 
Signore), already arranged for violin, harp, and organ ; 
etc. . . . and many other compositions of a similar charac- 
ter. In short, here is one of our old national musical 
instruments reconstructed, capable of effective use in modern 
music, and only wanting enthusiastic young Welsh musicians 
to make it their own. I hope sincerely that some such may 
be led by my experiment to give it a trial." 

This hope, earnestly and confidently expressed, was never 
realized, and the strenuous effort to revive one of the old 
national instruments of Wales came to nothing. 

Appendix D 


Keltic legends about the origin and development of 
stringed instruments have escaped the attention of writers 
on the violin, and yet they are as interesting in themselves, 
and as valuable to the antiquarian, as are the legends of 
ancient Greece, Egypt, or India. In addition to the mytholo- 
gical stories given in chapter V the following are note- 
worthy : they are taken from the " History of Down and 
Connor/' by the Rev. Father James O'Laverty, P.P., 

(1) " There once lived a man, Cuil, and his wife, Canoch- 
lach Wor, and the wife conceived a hatred to him, and she 
was fleeing from him through woods and wildernesses, and 
he was always following her. One day the woman came to 
the seashore of Camus [Professor O 'Curry thinks this is the 
mouth of the Bann], and she heard the wind making music 
through the sinews of a whale's skeleton, and the sweet 
sounds lulled her into a deep sleep. Her husband, per- 
ceiving the effect of sweet sounds, cut a tree in the woods and 
formed from it a musical instrument (emit or clairseach) 
and put strings on it, in imitation of the sinews of the whale's 
skeleton. Thus he formed an instrument to calm the angry 
temper of his wife, and that, says the legend, was the origin 
of stringed instruments. 

(2) " The emit, or clairseach, was invented, as saith the 
legend, by Daghda, the great King or demi-god of the 



Tuatha-de-Danaan, who ruled about eighteen hundred years 
before the Incarnation. This instrument was capable of 
giving forth three classes of music one sort which would 
put the audience to cry, lament, and shed tears ; another 
sort which caused them to laugh with their mouths so wide 
open that all but their lungs were visible ; and the third 
cast them into a deep sleep from that hour till the same 
hour next day." 

The following is a characteristic legend, which, according 
to Professor O'Curry, belongs to the earliest Gaelic mytho- 

(3) " And it came to pass that Fraech went to solicit the 

hand of the princess Findaber, the daughter of the queen 
Maev, of Connaught. He obtained from his fairy aunt a 
retinue, among whom were three players of the emit (or 
clairseach), each with the appearance of a king, both as to 
his dress and his arms and steed. And this was the condi- 
tion of these musical instruments : there were bags of the 
skins of otters about them, ornamented with coral (partaing), 
with an ornamentation of gold and silver over that, lined 
with snow-white roebuck skins, and these again overlaid 
with black-grey strips of skin and linen cloths as white as the 
swan's coat, wrapped around the strings. The cruits (or 
clairseachs) were of gold, and silver, and bronze, with 
figures of serpents, and birds, and greyhounds upon them." 

(4) There is a legend of an Irish saint who made a stringed 
instrument, to which he added a string at every new moon, 
till he had obtained a perfect instrument of thirteen strings, 
upon which " he made sweet sounds and gave praise unto 

This is the legendary way of accounting for the develop- 
ment of stringed instruments. There are two or three 
similar stories relative to the saints in Welsh folk-lore. 

(5) Here is a characteristic story, of a different type, from 
the folk-lore of South Pembrokeshire (" Little England 
beyond Wales"). There lived an old couple at a place 
called Sudden Pits, who rose from the depth of poverty to a 


high degree of affluence in one night, and this is how the 
happy change came about. At a late hour one winter night, 
when the goodman of the house had retired to rest, his wife 
heard somebody approach the door and suddenly strike up 
on a fiddle. The music was sad and weird, like the soughing 
of the wind in the chimney : it gradually grew louder and 
louder, till the very house shook with the storm of sounds. 
The old man came down and timidly opened the door. 
There, a few paces away, stood a minstrel, a small man with 
long hair and beard as white as wool, playing upon a very 
large fiddle, and tearing away at the strings with a monstrous 
bow, as though he were bent upon waking the dead that 
slept in the churchyard near by. At last he stopped, and 
beckoned to the goodman to fetch a mattock, making 
motions with his bow to convey his meaning. The goodman, 
with fear in his heart and trembling in every limb, brought 
the mattock and proceeded to dig at a spot indicated by the 
strange little man, who stood by, occasionally grinning and 
showing a mouthful of large, phosphorescent teeth. After 
digging hard for an hour or more, he came upon a large iron 
chest, which, upon being opened, was found to be filled with 
gold coin and precious stones. The little man, no sooner 
than he beheld the treasure, whipped his fiddle to his chin 
and struck up a martial strain, which increased in volume 
and velocity till the very bell in the church tower rang, and 
the trees shook, and doors and windows rattled. The 
commotion had not lasted a minute when, tearing down the 
hill, there came a carriage drawn by two huge boars, and 
driven by two monster greyhounds : into this the minstrel 
jumped and galloped away, leaving the mystified old couple 
to the enjoyment of their wealth. 

There are several versions of this fairy tale, all differing 
in detail, but relating practically the same thing, about the 

Appendix E 

In my remarks on the preservation of instruments I have 
laid stress on the importance of giving valuable old violins 
periods of rest. The question has been discussed time and 
again whether old fiddles ever get " played out," and it has 
been answered with equal confidence affirmatively and 
negatively. The question is really one which can be deter- 
mined tentatively. The Messrs. Hill (whose unrivalled 
opportunities for the study of old instruments claim for 
them a respectful hearing at all times), asseverate that it is 
possible to wear out the tone of old violins. I will again 
quote their words : " To close one most earnest word. 
Instruments by continual use are apt to become weary. 
They may even virtually be killed. Give them rests. We 
feel it a duty to urge most strongly that fine instruments 
should not be brought to premature death by ceaseless use/' 
(Antonio Stradivari: His Life and Work, p. 239). 

The Rev. H. R. Haweis appears to hold the same view. 
He says : " The witchery of the violin for collectors is 
perhaps more difficult to explain. Very often these fanciers 
don't play, and still more often they seem to have an 
objection to other people stringing up their treasures and 
playing on them. It is the construction, not so much the 
sound of the violin, that deprives the collector of his senses ; 
but we ought to be very thankful to these monomaniacs, for 
without them there would be few masterpieces still extant ; 
through them the violin goes into a period of Devachan, or 
enforced rest." (Old Violins, p. n.) 

309 X 


Mr. Paul Stoeving is emphatic on the matter ; he says : 
" I should like in this connection to vindicate the rich ama- 
teur and violin collector, who is commonly chidden because 
of his withholding such priceless treasures from the hands of 
the professional, who can put them to better viz., their 
proper use. Save for such temporary confinement, consider 
how few of these old instruments would have stood the 
continual, merciless strain and strife of professional life to 
which they are now subjected. I do not know whether it 
is a real fact, but it is affirmed that some of the best Stradi- 
vari violins have already been played out, worked to death, 
left a mere wreck of their former self as far as tone is con- 
cerned. I can almost believe it, for I know from experience 
that a violin, when played on for hours at a stretch, will get 
tired, and the voice husky like an over-worked singer ; only 
rest will restore the tone to its usual brightness and respon- 
siveness." The late Dr. Joseph Joachim in a letter to me 
dated from Gastein, August 13, 1898, writes : " It is an 
undoubted fact that old violins if over-played become 
fatigued. I find it necessary to keep three or four in use, so 
as to give my favourite instrument periodical rests. Why 
continual playing should produce fatigue is more than I can 
say ; there are many theories about the mystery, but no 
satisfactory solution." 

I have corresponded with several eminent professors and 
virtuosi on the subject, and one and all are agreed that old 
violins become weary if over-worked. Experience seems, 
therefore, to leave no doubt at all about the matter. 

Now, here are some very difficult and interesting problems 
to solve. Why should over-work produce fatigue in dead 
matter ? Why, indeed, should it be called over-work, if the 
instrument with which it is produced, or on which it is 
performed, is dead ? What are the determining factors 
of fatigue ? Where is the boundary line of reasonable 
work ? Why does rest restore the tone i.e., where the 
harm is not irreparable ? At what point of over-work 
does the injury to the tone become irreparable ? What is 


it that happens at that point ? And, finally, why is restora- 
tion impossible when a certain stage of fatigue has been 
reached ? 

These, and many more such problems, are awaiting 

It would be well if, in tackling these questions, scientists 
endeavoured to satisfy themselves first on the most vital of 
them, viz., Why should over- work produce fatigue or 
weariness in dead matter (violins) ? 

In current theories it seems to be taken for granted that 
thereis a fundamental difference between living and " dead " 
cells, and that, therefore, the question of violin fatigue is 
not one of exhausted vitality or of subtle electrical condi- 
tions, but one of purely physical change. But may it not 
be that too much has been taken for granted, and that, 
consequently, enquirers after the truth have set off on the 
wrong track ? Is there really a fundamental distinction 
between what we term " living " and " dead " matter, or, 
if you prefer, between matter and mind ? Is not the 
hylozoistic view more rational " that mind of some kind 
exists not only in man and the higher and lower animals, 
not only in the protists present and past, not only in the 
colloids, crystalloids and chemical compounds antecedent 
to the latter, but in the very molecules and atoms them- 
selves ? " Perhaps the poet who sang that 

"Winds, waves, and flames, trees, reeds, and rocks 
All live ; all are instinct with soul " 

had a truer conception of the constitution of the universe 
than he who regards mind and matter as antitheses. 

There are innumerable facts which suggest that the 
difference between living and non-living matter is not one 
of kind but merely of degree, such as e.g., the affinity in 
chemical composition between haemoglobin and chlorophyll, 
the uniform effect of actinic rays in the so-called three 
kingdoms of nature, etc, 

There would be no harm done if theorists tried another 



track. If for " cellular incohesion " they substitute " decen- 
tralization of mind " they might arrive at some sort of 
agreement, and bring us at least a little nearer to a solution 
of the mystery. As bearing on this fascinating subject, I 
would refer the reader to a very lucid article in the pages of 
The Hibbert Journal, vol. xiii, No 3 " Mind and Matter : 
A hylozoistic view/' by Fleet-Surgeon C. Marsh Beadnell, 
R.N., where he will find a long passage on memory in the 
inorganic world. 

Appendix F 


It is remarkable how little we know about the tone 
qualities of various kinds of wood. Hundreds of thousands 
of experiments have been conducted with a view to (a) a 
re-discovery of the Italian varnish, or (b) the discovery of a 
good substitute ; but comparatively few with the object 
of arriving at a fuller and more accurate knowledge of the 
sound properties of timber. For a generation or more it 
has been taken for granted that the only suitable kinds of 
wood for violin making are maple and pine. Not a few 
luthiers, I suspect, appear to be oblivious of so elementary 
a fact as that the names " maple " and " pine " are species 
terms, each including a large number of varieties. There 
are between fifty and sixty varieties of maple (acer), and 
quite a long list of varieties of pine (pinus) twenty-eight in 
the United States alone and if we add the firs (abies) the 
number is very considerable indeed. 

Which variety of maple, and which of pine, did the 
Italian masters use ? I do not think the question, simple 
though it appear, can be answered with anything like cer- 
tainty. M. Mangin observes that the old masters used a 
kind of pine called " azarole " (which another French 
writer, M. Simontre, identifies with pinus epicea), but where 
does he get his information from ? 

In standard theoretical works the whole subject is dis- 
missed summarily by saying that the best maple for violin 
making grows on the southern slopes of the Carpathians and 
in some parts of the Eastern Alps, and that the best pine 



comes from Silesia, La Valteline, Les Orisons, Le Simmen- 
thal, etc. 

The fact is, nobody knows where the best varieties of 
maple and pine grow, nor even what are the best varieties. 
Indeed, I do not think sufficient is known on the subject of 
violin acoustics to warrant even the belief that maple and 
pine are the best possible woods for tone. We have fallen 
into the pernicious habit of taking too many things for 
granted, whereas in strict scientific inquiry nothing should 
be taken for granted. Within the area covered by this 
subject there remains an unknown region, waiting the advent 
of a curious explorer. Dr. Felix Savant did splendid work, 
but he only just entered the borderland. 

I am well aware that violin makers have from time to 
time tried various kinds of wood, and that experiments have 
been made with different metals, glass, leather, etc., but 
sporadic tests and experiments by unlettered men are not 
likely to' lead to any great discovery. The subject demands 
a deep and persistent scientific study, extending over many 
years and over many countries. Woods from all parts of 
the world, from different soils, of different varieties, and 
of different species, ought to be tried in endless combina- 
tions, the results being carefully tabulated, to enable us to 
arrive at definite results. This is, of course, largely a 
question of time and money, but an abundance of both has 
been sacrificed in the pursuit of that ignis fatuus, the Italian 

Appendix G 


Within recent years the word fiddle has fallen almost 
completely out of use in polite speech, and writers also show 
a tendency to discard it. Some people use the word to 
designate instruments of an inferior class, reserving the word 
violin for those of the better sort, or for classical instruments. 
Fiddler and violinist are treated in the same way, except 
that the former appears to have even a greater stigma 
attached to it than has the word fiddle. There is a fashion 
in the use of words even as there is in ladies' hats, but in 
the case of the names under discussion it signifies nothing 
really to the historian and etymologist, for both words mean 
precisely the same thing. In all probability they come 
from the same root. 

Fiddle is the modern form of the O.E. fidele andfithele ; 
A.S. fiftele, and sometimes viftele. The word is akin to the 
Danish vedel, O.H.G. fiedel, M.G. fiedel, and Icel. fiftdla. All 
these forms appear to be ultimately connected with the late 
Latin vitula, which is of uncertain origin, but which in all 
probability comes from the early Latin vitulari, to celebrate 
a festival, originally to sacrifice a calf. [Vitulus a bull- 
calf ; vitula a cow-calf]. Vitula was the goddess among 
the Romans who presided over festivals and rejoicings. 
Violin (with all its Romance equivalents) is the Italian 
diminutive of viola, derived from viol, which (according to 
the accepted etymology) is also derived from vitula, just like 



fiddle. Veal [O.E. veel, O.F. veel, M.F. veaii] and vellum, 
vituline, are, of course, cognate words. 

The disappearance of t in viol (viola and viula] is in 
accordance with one of the sound-laws which govern the 
passage of popular spoken Latin into the Romance dialects, 
whereby a medial consonant between two vowels is gener- 
ally syncopated, as, e.g., magistrum in modern French 
becomes maitre ; securum = sur ; rotundum = rond, etc. 

If the above be the correct etymology of the words fiddle 
and violin (and the weight of scholarship is in its favour), it 
seems a hard fate which has overtaken the former name. 
There is no reason why fiddle should fall into disfavour. 
Let us hope that another generation will have a truer appre- 
ciation of history and a keener sense of the fitness of things. 

The poor word crowd has had to go by the board long ago, 
but it was quite a respectable word, being related to the 
Gaelic cruit and the Welsh crwth. 

It is remarkable how, in the growth of language, names 
and words which once were considered fitting and polite 
have come to indicate something which is offensive ; take 
e.g., the words gossip, vulgar, clown, pagan, silly, etc. If 
to the list of degraded words must eventually be added the 
word fiddle, that will be when ignorance is allowed to sit in 
judgment at the gates of elegance. 

Appendix H 


That climate has a great deal to do with the quality of the 
tone of violins is a fact that does not appear to need demon- 
stration, nevertheless it has been questioned. My own 
observations, extending over a quarter of a century, and the 
testimony of others who have interested themselves in the 
subject, enable me to say very explicitly that the fiddle 
(unlike the great Samuel Johnson) is much affected by the 
weather. Two things establish the fact : (i) A damp or 
variable climate affects detrimentally the tone of old 
instruments. There is nothing (unless it be accident or 
theft) that artistes who own fine old fiddles so much dread 
as damp, murky weather, and the foul, over-heated atmo- 
sphere of a concert room. Dr. Joachim once told me that his 
Strad positively refused to sing in a humid room. The more 
perfect the constitution of the fiddle, and the sweeter its 
voice, the more is it affected by climatic changes. For 
this reason it is probable that we rarely or never in this 
country hear the great Strad and Joseph at their best. 

(2) A warm climate helps to mature new instruments. 
I have seen instruments that were made by British makers 
twenty to twenty-five years ago, which had been for a 
number of years in a warm climate some in India, some in 
British East Africa, Egypt, and Italy the tone of which 
had matured wonderfully. It will suffice to name one 
instance. In the year 1895 the late James Hardie, of 
Edinburgh, made specially to my order a fine violin on the 
Maggini model : he made also a similar instrument to the 



order of a gentleman who went in that year to East Africa, 
taking the fiddle with him. Some time ago this latter 
instrument came into my possession, and I had the oppor- 
tunity to judge of the effect of nearly twenty years of 
tropical heat on the constitution and tone of the fiddle. It 
was very marked : the wood had aged in appearance, the 
glint of the varnish had been much softened, and the tone 
had developed a maturity which an existence of fifty years 
in England would not have given it. There is now a vast 
difference in the tone of these two Hardie fiddles. 

Can we in this country, is the question, with our grey 
sky and grumpy climate, ever hope to impart to our new 
fiddles a full and perfect maturity ? I fear not. We can 
import wood from Alpine hill and Croatian dale ; we can 
reproduce the graceful lines of Strad or Joseph ; we may 
yet succeed in adorning our work with Cremona ruby ; but 
one thing remains for ever beyond our grasp the maturing 
warmth of the generous climate of the fair land of Italy. 

Printed in Grtat Britain for ROBBBT SCOTT, PublitJier, PATKKNOSTER Row, LONDON, B.C. 




Morris, W Meredith 

British violin makers 
2d ed. rev. and enl. 



FORM 121