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The instruments and bows below have at some stage been on offer on this site through this dealership. They have either been sold or have been withdrawn from sale. This archive was created as a reference to many of those instruments and their associated photos and information.
Wherever the price of an instrument is not given, it is usually by request of either the buyer or the seller, or out of consideration for insurance companies who may have conditionally insured the instrument and who require that the value not be known.

This page is by no means exhaustive. I have sold a large number of instruments and bows which never made it onto this website. Furthermore, the prices reflected in this archive are not an absolute yardstick for local prices. Prices of stringed instruments, as with everything else, are largely influenced by price histories, by demand and supply, and to an extent by personal taste.


 

   

Violins

AIRETON Edmund
ALBANELLI Franco
BEKKER Albertus
BERGONZI Michel-Angelo (labelled)
BERNARDEL Léon
BERNARDEL Léon
BILMARK Amon
BOTTESONI (labelled)
BRETON J. F.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. Fils.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. J.B.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. J.B.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. J.B.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. J.B.
COLLIN-MÉZIN Ch. J.B.
Conservatory Violin (Stamped on scroll)
CRASKE George
CUYPERS Johannes
DARNTON Michael
DEGANI Eugenio
DERAZEY Honoré
DERAZEY Honoré
DERAZEY Justin. c. 1880
DICKIE William
DIMITROV Mitio
DOSI L. C. C.
DUKE Richard
DUKE Richard
ETTERSHANK Joseph
ETTERSHANK Joseph
FARINA Erminio
FEYZEAU
FÜRST Johann (Hans)
GAGLIANO Joannes (Lab.)
GALLIARD Charles. Paris, 1858
GALEA Alfredo G. 1971
GALEA Alfredo G. 1957
GALEA Alfredo G. 1955
GALEA Alfredo G. 1948
GALEA Alfredo G. 1961
GERMAN Copy of Amati Brothers
GERMAN Labelled Josef Klotz c. 1870
GERMAN 7/8th Lady's violin
HART & SON
Interesting Fine Violin c. 1880
Interesting Violin, German, c 1900
Interesting Fine Violin, French. Early 17th century
Interesting Fine Violin c. 1880
Interesting Fine Violin c. 1880
Interesting Fine Violin c. 1740
Interesting Fine Violin c. 1685
Interesting Child Violin c. 1880
JAEGER Johann Georg
KLOTZ Matthias
Laberte Humbert Frères. 1890
LABERTE & MAGNIE. c. 1925
LEEB Joannes Georgius
LEWIS Edward
LIEN David
LIPPOLD Carl Friedrich
LUCA Joan
LUCCI Giuseppe
MAGGINI Petrus Sanctus (Attr.)
MARUCCHI Luigi
MARUCCHI Luigi
MAYSON Walter
MOITESSIER Louis
MOUGENOT Léon c. 1930
NEUNER Mathias
NICOLAS Joseph fils
PALMER Ralph
PALMER Ralph
PFRETZSCHNER Johann Gottlöb
PIQUE School
PETKOV Petko
PETKOV Petko
POSTIGLIONE Vincenzo
POTS Peter
POTS Peter
POTS Peter
REBER Franz Hermann
REDDY Pragasen
RICORDI Antonio
RINFRESCHI Rolando
RINFRESCHI Rolando
RINFRESCHI Rolando
ROTH Ernst Heinrich
RIVIERE & HAWKES. 1885
SATTLER Joseph
SCHÖNFELDER Johann Georg. c. 1790
SCHUSTER & Co
SCHUSTER & Co
SCHWEITZER J. B. (Labelled)
SILVESTRE H. C.
SMILLIE Andrew
STAUBER Antonio
STAUBER Heinrich
STRADIVARI Copy of
STRADIVARI Copy of
SVERDLIK Boris
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL lab. 'Buthod')
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL)
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL) 3/4 size
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL) 3/4 size
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL) 1/2 size
THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Jérôme (JTL) 1/2 size
TIMMERMAN G.J.
VAN DE GEEST J. J.
Viennese Fine Violin c. 1680
VOIGT Arnold
VOLLER Brothers
VUILLAUME J-B
WHITMARSH Emanuel. London, 1912
WIDHALM Leopold. 1785
ZANOLI Giovanni Battista
ZIMMERMANN J. H.
Good violin
Good violin
Good violin. German trade

Violas

Unknown origin c. 1740. 'Ex-Karl Hermann'
BELLINGHAM Thomas J. 1908
BILMARK Amon
GEORGIEV Dimitar
HADDAD Dawne
Interesting viola, prob. English c. 1730
Interesting viola c.1830
KENNEDY Thomas
KNOPF Henry Richard
Laberte-Humbert Frères (prob.) c. 1890
POSTIGLIONE Vincenzo
POTS Peter
REINER Frank. 1924
SOLAR GONZALES Fernando
VALTCHEV Vassil
VALTCHEV Vassil. 1993
Venetian School c. 1790

Cellos

AMATI Ant. et Hier. (Labelled)
Child's 3/4 cello. c. 1954
DENISOV Andrey. 2011
GLIGA Vasile
GROSSMANN Dr M.
Interesting cello, English or American c.1880
Interesting cello, English or French c. 1880
Interesting cello, unknown c. 1890
Interesting cello. Labeled Gagliano
Interesting cello. Labeled Pistucci
Interesting fine cello c. 1780
JTL. Labeled Michel Ange GARINI
LEONARDT Wilfried
NEUNER/HORNSTEINER
PAESOLD Roderich. 1991
POTS Peter
SILVESTRE & MAUCOTEL. 1902
Good cello. 2013
Good cello. 2012
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011
Good cello. 2011

Bows

American. c 1980
Baroque violin bow
BAZIN Charles N. prob.
BAZIN Louis
CLUTTERBUCK John
CUNIOT-HURY
CUNIOT-HURY
DURRSCHMIDT Wilhelm
German, stamped Bazin
German, double bass bow
HOYER C A
HOYER Hermann Albert
LEESON Albert
NÜRNBERGER Albert
NÜRNBERGER Albert
NÜRNBERGER Albert
NÜRNBERGER Albert
NÜRNBERGER Franz Albert
PENZEL E M
PFRETZSCHNER F C
PFRETZSCHNER H R
PFRETZSCHNER H R
PFRETZSCHNER H R
PFRETZSCHNER W A
SARTORY Eugène
SARTORY Eugène
SARTORY Eugène
SARTORY Eugène
SCHUSTER Adolf C.
SCHUSTER Adolf C.
SCHUSTER Adolf C
SCHUSTER Gotthard
SLAVIERO Emilio
SLAVIERO Emilio
STAGG John
TUBBS James
VAN DE GEEST J. J. By
VAN DE GEEST J. J. Stamped
VAN DE GEEST & SON, J. J. Stamped
VOIGT Arnold
W E HILL & SONS
W E HILL & SONS
W E HILL & SONS (Stamped "HILL")
WEICHOLD Richard
WEICHOLD Richard
WITHERS George
ZÖPHEL Ernst W.

 
Violins
Ref. 0240
Violin by
Vincenzo POSTIGLIONE

Naples, 1888



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Vincenzo Postiglione (1831-1916) completed 278 violins in his lifetime and this instrument, numbered 177, was made in Naples in 1888. A handwritten addition to the printed label indicates that it was copied from a violin by Guarnerius del Gesu.

The table is of medium-grained spruce and the ribs and two-piece back are of mildly-flamed maple. The varnish is an orange-brown. The violin is virtually in mint condition with no cracks or repairs apparent. Length of back: 35.9cm.

Recently discovered in Spain, this instrument has been largely unplayed for the past period of time. It has an exceptionally beautiful tone, unusually clear and big, with the kind of penetration and nobility that one would expect of a fine concert instrument.

Price Withheld: This violin was sold to a leading violin dealer in Cremona, Italy.

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Ref. 0190
Violin by
J-B Vuillaume

Paris, circa 1850
Certified


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This splendid instrument bears Vuillaume's serial number 1792, which places it around 1850. It is a copy of Stradivarius' Il Cremonese of 1715. It has a certificate issued by Tibbalds & Son of Brighton, undated, but probably from 1920 – 1930 (See photograph).

The one-piece back is of unusually attractive finely-curled maple. The selection of materials for the rest of the instrument is consistent with J-B Vuillaume's standard of excellence. The neck and fingerboard were replaced in 1962 by Werro in Berne, but the original scroll was grafted on. (The original neck is still available.) The reason for replacing the neck was that it had been thinned down by the previous owner, who had extremely small hands.

A C-bout and two corners were expertly restored by William Luff in London in 1952. A well-executed repair to a sound-post crack dates from earlier, and according to Luff is was an exceptionally professional repair. Luff viewed this violin as being in near perfect condition.

Albert Sammons, the great teacher and violinist, saw this violin in the early 1950's and was most impressed by it, feeling that it was equal to any of the Strads he had played on.

This violin comes with a case, previously owned by Richard Strauss, who presented it to Leopold Premyslav. The latter gave it to an elderly collector who left it to the present owner in his will. The case was in a very poor condition and was restored in 1990, using the original parts with new leather and velvet.

Please direct enquiries to Johan Grobbelaar. (This violin was eventually sold by auction in London.)

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Ref. 0353
A Good French Violin by
Charles GAILLARD

Paris, 1858


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Although born in Mirecourt, Charles Gaillard did his apprenticeship as violinmaker in the Parisian studio of the great French violinmaker, Charles Adolphe Gand and thereafter was active in Paris mostly between 1850 and 1880. Every detail of Gaillard’s work is of superior quality, notably on his scrolls and work on the arching. Both William Henley and the French authority, Vannes, praise his work in superlatives.

This violin by Gaillard is dated 1858 and bears the maker’s serial number 68. The label conforms to other examples and reads: “Charles Gaillard. 20 rue Notre Dame de Recouvrance. No 68, Paris 1858”. It is based on the Guarnerius pattern. The beautiful red-brown oil varnish for which Gaillard was known, is untouched and original, although somewhat worn in places. Throughout the violin is in excellent condition and has no cracks. It appears that the back may have had work done along the central seam where the two halves meet, but it appears to have been expertly repaired. Length of back – 357mm, upper bout – 169mm, inner bout – 115mm, lower bout – 209mm.

This violin has a fabulous tone. It is rich, mature, noble and strong, with a beautiful and rich E-string and a full, powerful G-string. This quality is rare and displays mastery of craft that was somewhat unique to that Parisian group of the mid-19th century. The violin has all the attributes one would want in a very good solo instrument.

Price: R 125 000

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Ref. 0431
Violin by
Antonio STAUBER
(1850-1940)

Köln, Germany. 1876


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Antonio Stauber (1850-1940) was a student of the German violinmaker, G. Tiefenbrunner and was active in Cologne from around 1874. His work is generally characterised by meticulous attention to detail.

This violin was recently loaned as instrument of choice to the Russian violinist, Elena Kerimova, for her performance of the Tschaikovsky Violin Concerto with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a superb concert violin.

Based on the Stradivari pattern it is made of unusually fine materials – the two-piece back and sides are of well-flamed maple with a distinct medium curl. The top is of superb finely grained tone spruce (in one piece!). Other than a small wingcrack at the bottom of the left f-hole (which has been repaired) the violin is totally free from cracks. The most striking feature of this instrument's appeal is the beautiful and unusually rich golden-red amber colour of the oil-based varnish, which shows the wood off to great advantage. By all standards this is a beautiful violin.

The top corner of the left inner bout (front) has been replaced, but the graft is unobtrusive (see photo). The neck and scroll are certainly not original and the neck itself was recently reworked in Italy by the violinmaker, Peter Pots. A handwritten inscription inside on the back indicates that this violin was repaired in 1926 in Cape Town by the respected English violinmaker and repairer, H H Saby, and it’s likely that the repairs and neck replacement was carried out by him.

The violin’s tone sets it in a class of its own, which makes it imminently suitable for solo work. It is a big tone, full and rich in the low register, and has clarity and brilliance in the high register. It is even across the strings and speaks easily throughout the range, with lots of carrying power.

Price: R180 000 (This violin was eventually sold in New York.)

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Ref. 0442
A French Violin by
Louis MOITESSIER

Mirecourt, circa 1810


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Although he labelled and branded his violins “à Paris” for commercial purposes, Louis Moitessier in reality spent his entire working life in Mirecourt – France’s leading violinmaking centre. He was known to be active there from at least 1780 until 1824. He was highly respected instructor – C. V. Rambaux was one of his students.

This violin bears a marking uniquely associated with Moitessier’s instruments – “Moitessier à Paris” branded into the centre on the inside of the back. This is at a distinctive angle, unique to his branding. It is undated, but the absence of a neck graft would place it some time in the early 19th century.

Everything about this violin is beautifully made and appealing. It’s most striking feature is the one-piece back of finely curled nicely flamed maple. The sides, neck and scroll are evidently of the same piece of wood with it’s distinctive curl. The top is of medium grained spruce. The pegholes have been rebushed and the ebony pegs bear gold trimmings. The scroll is slender, delicate and very elegant, perfectly balanced – truly exquisite work. The purfling on the back is more refined than the front, where at times it is ponderous. The varnish is a golden brown, which shows the wood to great advantage.

This violin is in virtual mint condition. Other than two wing cracks, which have been beautifully repaired and are virtually invisible, the instrument is totally free from cracks anywhere – rare for a violin of around 200 years old.

The tone – beautiful, responsive and mature.

Price: R150 000

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Ref. 0584
A good Italian Violin by
Amon BILMARK

Durban, 1947


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Despite having being born in Copenhagen, Amon Bilmark’s instruments are considered Italian throughout the world and in all catalogues. Bilmark (1894-1961) was a pupil of Simone Fernando Sacconi in Rome and after completing his apprenticeship he moved to South Africa in 1929 where he settled in Durban. There he established his studio and began a successful business of importing fine instruments into South Africa. Many such instruments there still bear his bridges and other signs that it had been through his hands. He served the musicians in all the major orchestras in South Africa and became established as a formidable force in violinmaking internationally. As a child I had a Bilmark violin and regret to this day no longer having it.

Bilmark's most important student was Pragasen Reddy (b. 1932) who was apprenticed to Bilmark from 1950 onward. He eventually became Bilmark’s principal craftsman and undertook all the repairs and restorations in Bilmark’s studio. It was from Sacconi that Bilmark aquired his exceptional skill in restoration and complex repairs. This he passed on to Reddy, who to this day is still one of the finest master repairers and restorers in South Africa. Upon Bilmark’s death (1961), Reddy set up his own workshop in Durban and until the present he serves musicians who bring their instruments to him from throughtout the country.

Bilmark was honored and respected as maker throughout the world. He was an excellent cellist and made many cellos and violas. Today it is truly difficult to obtain any of his instruments, and as much as his work is according to Italian traditions, he is considered to be the most important Danish violinmaker. Many Danish musicians and collectors have bought up his instruments.

The accompanying photograph shows Amon Bilmark in about 1958 with three of the instruments of a quartette he had made for the competition in Liège, Belgium.

This violin, dated 1947, is in impeccable condition. As with most of Bilmark’s instruments, the choice of wood always included well-flamed backs. The sides are possibly of different wood, less distinctly flamed, but the neck and scroll are of a wood with a finer curl – all of it very attractive. The top is of medium grained good tone spruce. The reddish brown varnish compliments the materials well. It follows the Stradivari pattern.

The tone is clear, clean and bright – a very good refined sound that pleases. It is very even over the strings and speaks easily in the high positions.

Price: R120 000.

(This violin has been sold, hence is no longer available, but is left here as reference concerning Amon Bilmark.)

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Ref. 0583
A Good Italian Violin by
Alfredo G. GALEA

Durban, 1948


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Alfredo G. Galea was accredited as Master Violin Maker by the Italian National Association of Violin Makers in Rome, an accomplishment that was merited by the high quality of his work. Every professional who owns a Galea swears it’s the best thing he’s ever played on. In the course of my work I have handled some 8 or 10 Galeas and was impressed by the superb craftmanship and finish evidenced by each instrument and particularly by the power and beauty of tone they produce.

Despite his reknown as maker, very little is known about Galea, and I have spent considerable time to find out more about him. I learnt the following: Galea was born on 2 October 1909 in Cairo, of Italian parents. The German researcher, Lütgendorff notes in his authoritative volume, Die Geigen- und Lautenmacher vom Mittelalter bis zu Gegenwart, that Galea made his first violin at the age of 11 and at the age of 15 had completed 15 violins. His teacher at that time was the Italian violinmaker, Ami care Coschiera, who had a workshop in Alexandria. Following his apprenticeship with Coschiera, he opened his own workshop in Cairo.

After the Second World War he moved to Durban, in South Africa for a position as first violinist in what was then, and still is, Africa’s leading Symphony Orchestra, in Durban. At that time Durban was home to Amon Bilmark (1894-1961), whose studio and business dominated the entire country. Bilmark (born in Denmark) had been apprenticed to Simone Sacconi (1895-1973) in Rome before Sacconi moved to the USA in 1931. Bilmark’s apprentice, Pragasen Reddy (b. 1932), knew Galea well and told me the following:

It appears that soon after his arrival in Durban in about 1946, Galea entered a business partnership with Bilmark which lasted only briefly, until 1950. Galea did much of the routine repair work in Bilmark’s studio while pursuing his own violinmaking. (Sacconi – hence also Bilmark – was famous for his expertise and method in restoration and difficult repairs, and later Galea also became known for the same skills as restorer and repairer – something he undoubtedly picked up from Bilmark).

Galea’s talent as maker and ambitions in business was bound to lead to conflict with Bilmark and it seems furthermore that his partnership with the latter was more at Galea’s insistence than otherwise. (I recently found a string envelope in a discarded violin case – the envelope bore Bilmark’s printed details, but Galea had added his name and “partner” in his own hand – an interesting relic that tells its own story (see photo)). The two men had a serious confrontation in 1950 and their ways parted. Until 1961 Galea repeated invited the young Reddy to work for him, but Reddy always declined.

Galea set up his own workshop. By the late 50s he was firmly established as a violinmaker of high order. It was over that time, during one of his concert tours to South Africa, that Yehudi Menuhin met Galea. Menuhin was impressed by Galea’s work and suggested that Galea should move to the United States. Menuhin eventually assisted him in emigrating to the US in 1962. Galea settled in Longbeach Ca. where he opened a violinmaking studio and shop. This studio was soon to dominate the violin community in that area and became noted for excellent repairs and restorations. Galea remained there for the rest of his life until his death on 28 July 1994, aged 84.

Galea commanded respect through is work. Ruggiero Ricci commissioned a violin from him in 1970. By 1979 Galea had made around 200 instruments and his life's work amounted to around 240 instruments. He made only two to four violins per year, and they are in the hands of professionals all over the world. So far I have not come across one that showed work of inferior quality or of poor tone. Being a good violinist, Galea knew what violinists wanted and didn’t sell an instrument until it conformed to the tonal properties he expected and became known for. All his violins sound really good.

This violin was made in 1948 in Durban, when Galea was at the peak of his powers. It was made at a time when Galea had ended his business relationship with Bilmark and had set up his own workhop. It is characterised by a choice of fine materials – a beautiful and nicely flamed one-piece back of distinct medium-curl maple; the sides, neck and scroll are of more plain wood, but which doesn’t distract from the beauty and finish of the scroll. The top is of good quality medium grained tone spruce. As with almost all Galea’s instruments, the varnish is of a light golden honey colour with the back a little darker. Purfling and cornerwork is very good. The violin bears Galea’s handwritten label and brand in the inside of the back.

The violin recently had a new button grafted into the back by Pragasen Reddy who himself was apprenticed by Amon Bilmark and who is a respected violinmaker. Other than two small saddle cracks in the table, which have been professionally repaired, the violin is free from other cracks and in very good condition.

LOB: 36 cm. Bouts: 16.7, 11.4, 20.5 cm.

As with almost all Galea’s instruments, this violin is characterised by an unusually big, strong and open tone with intensity and penetration – really suitable for solo work. The tone has real beauty and the instrument is rewarding and a pleasure to play on. This violin has been in professional use and has been used extensively for solo recitals, concertos and commercial recordings. It currently is my own personal instrument.

Price: R120 000 (Approx. £9 600 or US$15 700, depending on exchange rate fluctuations)

High resolution photos are available on request.

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Ref. 0582
A Good Italian Violin by
Alfredo G. GALEA

Durban, 1961


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Alfredo G. Galea was accredited as Master Violin Maker by the Italian National Association of Violin Makers in Rome, an accomplishment that was merited by the high quality of his work. Every professional who owns a Galea swears it’s the best thing he’s ever played on. In the course of my work I have handled some 8 or 10 Galeas and was impressed by the superb craftmanship and finish evidenced by each instrument and particularly by the power and beauty of tone they produce.

Despite his reknown as maker, very little is known about Galea, and I have spent considerable time to find out more about him. I learnt the following:

Galea was born on 2 October 1909 in Cairo, of Italian parents. The German researcher, Lütgendorff notes in his authoritative volume, Die Geigen- und Lautenmacher vom Mittelalter bis zu Gegenwart, that Galea made his first violin at the age of 11 and at the age of 15 had completed 15 violins. His teacher at that time was the Italian violinmaker, Ami care Coschiera, who had a workshop in Alexandria. Following his apprenticeship with Coschiera, he opened his own workshop in Cairo.

After the Second World he moved to Durban, in South Africa for a position as first violinist in what was then, and still is, Africa’s leading Symphony Orchestra, in Durban. At that time Durban was home to Amon Bilmark (1894-1961), whose studio and business dominated the entire country. Bilmark (born in Denmark) had been apprenticed to Simone Sacconi (1895-1973) in Rome before Sacconi moved to the USA in 1931. Bilmark’s apprentice, Pragasen Reddy (b. 1932), knew Galea well and told me the following:

It appears that soon after his arrival in Durban in about 1946, Galea entered a business partnership with Bilmark which lasted only briefly, until 1950. Galea did much of the routine repair work in Bilmark’s studio while pursuing his own violinmaking. (Sacconi – hence also Bilmark – was famous for his expertise and method in restoration and difficult repairs, and later Galea also became known for the same skills as restorer and repairer – something he undoubtedly picked up from Bilmark).

Galea’s talent as maker and ambitions in business was bound to lead to conflict with Bilmark and it seems furthermore that his partnership with the latter was more at Galea’s insistence than otherwise. (I recently found a string envelope in a discarded violin case – the envelope bore Bilmark’s printed details, but Galea had added his name and “partner” in his own hand – an interesting relic that tells its own story (see photo)). The two men had a serious confrontation in 1950 and their ways parted. Until 1961 Galea repeated invited the young Reddy to work for him, but Reddy always declined.

Galea set up his own workshop. By the late 50s he was firmly established as a violinmaker of high order. It was over that time, during one of his concert tours to South Africa, that Yehudi Menuhin met Galea. Menuhin was impressed by Galea’s work and suggested that Galea should move to the United States. Menuhin eventually assisted him in emigrating to the US in 1962. Galea settled in Longbeach Ca. where he opened a violinmaking studio and shop. This studio was soon to dominate the violin community in that area and became noted for excellent repairs and restorations. Galea remained there for the rest of his life until his death on 28 July 1994, aged 84.

Galea commanded respect through is work. Ruggiero Ricci commissioned a violin from him in 1970. By 1979 Galea had made around 200 instruments and his life's work amounted to around 240 instruments.

Whatever controversy surrounded Galea was based on some ill-considered and maverick comments he made about violin varnish. However, in the bigger picture this shrinks into insignificance when you handle his violins and play on them. He made only two to four violins per year, and they are in the hands of professionals all over the world. So far I have not come across one that showed work of inferior quality or of poor tone. Being a good violinist, Galea knew what violinists wanted and didn’t sell an instrument until it conformed to the tonal properties he expected and became known for. All his violins sound really good.

This violin was made in 1961 in Durban and is probably one of the last instruments he made before leaving for the US. The one-piece back, sides and scroll are of matching wood with a distinct flame of medium curl. The top is of fine tone spruce. The tracing of the purfling, the corner work and the beautifully balanced scroll truly impress. The varnish shows why Galea had reason to boast – the golden honey colour with a tinge of red amber in the back, makes this violin really attractive. The violin bears Galea’s handwritten label and is also branded inside in the back. It is in impeccable condition.

This violin is characterised by a powerful and rich tone. It speaks easily and is well balanced in all registers - eminently suited for big solo work and concertos. It has had only one owner who bought it directly from Galea and was used extensively for recitals, recordings and concerto performances.

LOB: 35.6 cm. Bouts: 16.7, 11.1, 20.9 cm.

Price: R120 000 (Approx. £9800 or US$15000, depending on exchange rate fluctuations)

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Ref. 0427
A French Violin
Unknown Origin

Ca 1750


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This violin was for many years thought to be the work of the great French luthier, Claude Pieray (early 18th cent), but recently the faint remains of another older label was discovered in the back. The current Pieray label was inserted after the older (probably original) label had been removed, and was pasted over its traces. It is extremely unlikely that Pieray would have done such a thing. Furthermore, marks in the back would suggest that the label tampering was more recent. With such evidence against it, this cannot be considered as a Pieray.

Nevertheless, the violin's fine properties remain impressive. The one-piece back is cut from a truly beautiful piece of maple with a very clear and distinct fine curl. The letter “T” is varnished on with multicoated varnish (almost resembling a wood inlay) just below the button (see photo) but the significance of this is unknown. The top is of medium-grained spruce and is absolutely free from cracks or evident repairs. The purfling is steady and very well traced throughout. The lower left corner of the inner bout on the back has been replaced and the workmanship on this repair is superb. The neck graft is excellent. The scroll is of somewhat plain wood, elegant, but could be better balanced. Whereas the back is of a lovely golden-brown with a touch of red amber, the front and scroll are of brown varnish.

When playing on this violin I liked the tone immediately – it is very mature, crisp, clear and silvery, and the instrument speaks easily. The responsive tone allows for many colour gradations to which it responds well – really a fine instrument.

High definition photos are available on request.

Price: R 110 000

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Ref. 0286
Violin, probably by
Giovanni Battista ZANOLI

Verona, circa 1740


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The label in this old violin is illegible. At first glance the instrument appears to be German, more than Italian, yet, a clue to its probable origin is in the unusual and characteristic f-hole configuration and shape, which appears to be associated with the work of Giovanni Battista Zanoli who worked in Verona, 1716-1757.

William Henley, in his famous reference book, describes Zanoli’s work in terms that exactly fit this instrument: “Although Italian, he shows distinct traces of German influence; workmanship is not very careful. The oval scroll is crushed and squeezed and the f-holes small and widely positioned; accuracy and regularity in the purfling is violated. However, his instruments are built with especially fine material and treated to a golden tinted varnish, somewhat velvety – and gleams of rich tonal quality emerge from these improperly curvatured instruments.” Photographic representations of G B Zanoli’s work bear out that this violin could be from his studio. French authority, René Vannes, adds two other characteristics of Zanoli’s which fit this violin – a flat, low arching and low ribs – and a rich tone.

The neck graft is well-done. Whatever the origin of this instrument might be, however, it has had several repairs done to it - apparently a long time ago - notably to some cracks in the top, which appear to have been the result of a blow on the edge of the lower right bout. The top has no soundpost or bassbar cracks, but the back has a soundpost crack. All these repairs appear to have been expertly done and are stable.

All the wear and use this violin has seen through the centuries has contributed to its marvelous character. It has a beautiful, rich and mature tone. The G-string is responsive and open and the high register is clear, which body and nobility. It is really a pleasure to play on and fully suitable for professional use.

Price witheld.

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Ref. 0559
A Good Violin by
Pragasen REDDY
(1932 - 2012)


Durban, 1995


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Pragasen Reddy (b. 1932) became apprenticed to the Danish violinmaker, Amon Bilmark (1894-1961) in 1950, and for 11 years, until Bilmark’s death, he was the principal craftsman in Bilmark’s studio, undertaking virtually all the complex repairs and restorations of the many instruments that found their way to Bilmark’s workshop.

Bilmark had been apprenticed to Simone Fernando Sacconi in Rome before the latter moved to the USA in 1931. Bilmark moved to South Africa in 1929 and by the time the young Pragasen Reddy started studying with him, he was the most important violinmaker and repairer in South Africa, servicing the many fine violins in about 5 major symphony orchestras in that country, as well a making a steady flow of violins, violas and cellos for an international demand. Bilmark’s master, Sacconi, was world-renowned as repairer and passed those methods on to Bilmark, who in turn passed these skills on to Reddy, who, for 11 years had exposure to a constant stream of fine violins in Bilmark’s studio. He became, under Bilmark’s tutorship, a master repairer and an excellent violinmaker. For example, Reddy did all the repairs on Alfredo Stengel’s Amati cello. (Stengel, who was an important Italian cellist living in Milan, would not let anyone other than Reddy work on his instruments.)

Upon Bilmark’s death, Reddy set up his own business and workshop in Durban. Until today Reddy undertakes most of the work on the instruments of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban – Africa’s leading orchestra, and serves violinists throught South Africa.

Inasmuch as Amon Bilmark’s own work is universally accepted and catalogued as Italian, as is that of another important student of his – Alfredo Galea (1909-1994) – Reddy’s own work as violinmaker is shaped by the Italian tradition of which Bilmark was an important exponent. Reddy had no other teacher than Bilmark and his work can rightfully be referred to as Italian. As violinmaker his instruments have been sold mostly in Austria and Germany.

This violin, begun in 1995 and finished in 2007, meticulously follows the Stradivari model. (LOB 35.5 cm; Bouts: 17, 11.3, 21 cm). The top is of excellent finely grained tone spruce. The two-piece back is of mildly flamed maple. The neck and scroll are of maple with a distinct fine curl and the sides are nicely flamed in a medium curl. The purfling is an interesting type with the centre line consisting of small alternating black and white squares – difficult to work with and to trace successfully without breakages, but in this case done with reasonble success. The oil varnish is truly beautiful and shows mastery – a golden honey colour with a tinge of red – excellent work. This is a very attractive violin.

The tone is unmistakably Italian in quality with a rich silvery edge that adds penetration and projection. The g-string is unusually rich and satisfying and the tone balances well over the register. This violin qualifies for the designation – “a good violin”. It complies with all the requirements for professional work and should serve a good violinist well.

Price: R120 000 (Approx. £9800 or US$15000, depending on exchange rate fluctuations)

High resolution photos can be supplied on request.

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Ref. 0140
Violin by
Johannes CUYPERS

Den Haag, 1804


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It's unclear whether this is the work of Johannes Bernardus, Johannes Franciscus or of Johannes Theodorus Cuypers, since it is simply signed as Johannes Cuypers. Either way, this violin has a very pleasant tone, is responsive and easy to play on and is suitable for professional orchestral and chamber music work. It is in a very good condition, and a repair to the back, near the button, was expertly done.

Price: R110 000.

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Ref. 0490
A French Violin by
Léon BERNARDEL

Paris, 1926


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Léon Bernardel (1853-1931) studied with his father, Ernst, and with Justin Derazey, and was also closely associated with the great French violinmaker, Gand. He founded his own studio in Paris in 1900.

His own work largely follows the principles and model of Lupot. William Henley describes his work as “Perfect modelling, outline, scroll and soundholes”, all of which are evident in this beautiful violin. This instrument, bearing Bernardel’s label, is dated 1926, and would have been made when the maker was already 73, and at the height of his creative powers and experience.

The two-piece back and ribs are of excellent maple with a medium curl of mild flame. The neck and scroll, however, has a deeper, more distinct flame with a narrower, more intense curl. The scroll is truly exquisite. The top is of medium grained tone spruce. Throughout the purfling is superb with fine work in the corners. Varnish is a light golden honey of an oil-base. Throughout the instrument is in excellent condition with no cracks or evident repairs.

As could be expected, this violin is eminently suited for solo work, and had been used extensively for the performance of concertos and recitals, both on stage and on the radio. It belongs to a leading South African violinist.

Price: R100 000

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Ref. 0447
Violin by
Edward LEWIS

London, ca 1700


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Charles F. Langonet (b. 1888), who for 36 years was in the service of W.E.Hill in London, and who was considered one of the leading authorities on old instruments in England, restored this violin to its present magnificent state in 1950, and then identified it as the work of the great English violinmaker, Edward Lewis, who worked around London between 1685 and 1745. His son (Alfred Charles) sold it to its present owner in 1950.

Henley’s Dictionary describes Lewis’ work thus: “Rare violins having mighty superiority over many by native contemporaries, all having the essentials of real beauty. […] Finely carved scroll, also splendidly conceived. All intricate paths, externally and those hidden from general view, traversed with confidence. Varnish light yellow, or more frequently red with a golden ground, superbly transparent and elastic.” In this Henley may have been describing this violin.

This instrument is a superb example of English violinmaking peaking at a time when Stradivari was producing his finest work in Italy. It has come across some 306 years with very little restoration having been required. Langonet set up the period tailpiece (as can be seen in the photos), but this has since been replaced by a modern boxwood tailpiece and Guarneri-type chinrest, to match the yellowwood baroque pegs. Langonet also set up the present bridge (1950) which is still perfectly good and remains on the violin. The baroque tailpiece (with gut tailgut) will accompany the violin and can be refitted easily.

The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of matching wood – a well-flamed maple with medium curl. The top is of very finely grained spruce. The scroll is magnificent and the neckgraft one of the finest I’ve seen. Purfling is beautifully traced. The number 454 is punced into the righthand side of the scroll – a catalogue number probably by Hills. A crack in the table from the bottom of the right f-hole to the bottom edge is so well repaired as to be virutally invisible, along with a wingcrack in each f-hole. These repairs appears to have been executed by Langolet himself.

Dimensions in cm: L o b. 35.6; Upper bout 16.8; Lower bout 20.8; Inner bout 11.1.

The violin has been in professional use for many years. The tone is golden, mature and has the nobility that comes only with great age. As much as this instrument is perfect playing order, it should also been regarded as serious collector’s piece for a musician or investor who would concern himself with the appreciation and preservation of a very rare and valuable instrument.

Price: P.O.A.

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Ref. 0545
A Good Violin of
German Origin

Probably Viennese, ca 1680



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According to several European authorities (Claude Lebet in Rome, Beares, Tim Toft in London) this violin is of German origin, likely from well before 1700. Bruce Carlson (Cremona) believes it is Viennese. It is unlabelled and a handwritten inscription inside indicates that it was repaired by the Burmeister studio in 1929.

This fascinating instrument has several intriguing features: it was signed in the back by Lorenzo Storioni with the date, which seems to be 1773, but which is very faded. The authenticity of the signature is not being disputed anywhere. Although this led to the violin at some point being ascribed to Storioni, it is now understood definitely not to be his work. The only plausible explanation for Storioni’s signature in the violin, is that the instrument was in use in Cremona at some stage and was likely repaired there by Storioni.

That the violin is very old, probably from before 1700, is inferred by a very distinct sweat patch to the right of the tailpiece (see photos). This would indicate that the violin was played in the manner that the viol was commonly used (with the chin resting to the right of the tailpiece), and points to its being used well before 1700 when that style of playing was common.

This violin has been subject to repairs through the years, mainly to the top – all of it professionally done to very high standards. The pegholes have all been rebushed and reinforcements have been made to the inside walls of the pegbox. Supportive constructional inlays have been done all the way around edge of the table – a standard renovative procedure in very old instruments (see photos). This work may have been carried out by the Burmeister workshop in 1929, or else by Beares during the 50s. A number (“1761”) stamped into the rib right under the endpin hole, is not a date but a serial number which corresponds to a reference system used by Beares. According to the Beares catalogue this violin was sold from their studio in the 1950s as an “old German violin”.

This violin has fabulous character and everything about it speaks of quality. The varnish is certainly the original – the top is in a dark brown and the back was varnished in a red-brown oil varnish of which much remains. Arching is quite deep and full, contributing to the rich warmth of tone. The violin is structurally secure and in very good condition.

The violin is characterized by truly beautiful mature tone – rich in the bottom and evenly balanced over all the strings, right to the top. The high register is clear and pure – a fine match for the rich bottom end. It is a real pleasure to play on and should be in the hands of an appreciative professional musician.

High resolution photos can be sent on request.

Price: R95 000 (approximately US$ 12 000 or GBP 6 000, depending on exchange rate fluctuations)

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Ref. 0595
A French Violin labelled
H. DERAZEY

Mirecourt, 1880



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Honoré Derazey (1794-1883) is (and definitely was in his own time) considered as a very important French violinmaker. He completed his apprenticeship in Mirecourt, then spent some years working in several of the leading violin studios in Paris, perfecting his craft. He then returned to Mirecourt, where he settled for the rest of his life. He won the foremost exhibition medals– in Paris (1839, 1844, 1849 and 1855) and in London (1851 and 1862). According to the French authority, René Vannes, Derazey’s work was so highly regarded that J. B. Vuillaume (then one of France’s leading makers) acquired instruments from Derazey and sold them from his Paris studio, after fitting his own personal label into them.

From 1844 onwards, Derazey sought the more commercial avenue of a large studio and apprentices, resulting in massive output of instruments that became much in demand in England. However, Derazey’s own work always conformed to the highest standards – Henley refers to ”workmanship ‘à la finesse' in all verity”, and to ”the essence of delicacy”.

This violin – meticulously following the Stradivari pattern - is a truly beautiful instrument from every perspective. The label is undated, but it’s well-preserved condition – being virtually mint – suggests that it dates from late in Derazey’s activities, probably around 1880, or slightly before. It certainly dates from after 1855, when Derazey won a medal in the Exposition Universelle. Its back betrays his preference for one-piece backs, almost always of impressively beautiful wood. In this case it is of maple with a distinct broad flame running at a slant across the back. The ribs and scroll match the back perfectly. The top is of medium-grained tone spruce. Of Derazey’s f-holes Henley says ”Sound-holes not surpassed by any maker of any period or any school for perfect grace and curve” and he refers to the ”…artistic combination of the sound-holes with the waist curve”. The varnish is reddish brown with a tinge of red and appears to be the original.

This violin’s tone is clean and balanced, with clarity and evenness throughout. This is a good instrument.

Price: R 85 000

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Ref. 0489
Violin of
Unknown Origin

Ca. 1880


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The origin of the violin is totally unknown. Opinions vary from German to Italian, but the majority seem to gravitate to the belief that this is a German violin. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that it is not as old as it appears to be. Although it has a handwritten label naming the maker as Carlo Bergonzi and the date as 1723, from Cremona, it certainly is not the work of Bergonzi.

This violin was only recently discovered in a bad state of neglect and was rescued from obscurity. It is a truly beautiful instrument which has seduced all who have seen it or played it.

The one-piece maple back is quite plain, cut on the slab, with almost no curl or flame. Purfling and corners show a clean steady tracing without elaborate finishes, which is exactly what adds to the general feel of simplistic elegance that is the dominating characteristic of the instrument. The f-holes are straight and quite strong and broad; with the extremely narrow waist of the violin, they appear almost too close to the inner bouts, but again the overall feel is one of balance and elegance. The top is of medium to broad-grained tone spruce. As for the neck – all agree that it is unlikely that the scroll is the original: although elegant, it lacks the balance and combination of strength and elegance that is evident in the rest of the violin, and doesn’t reflect the same technical skill shown in the corners, purfling and other aspects of the violin. It simply is not by the same hand. Also, whereas materials chosen for the violin were excellent, the scroll is of somewhat plain wood. The neck graft is masterfully done, probably by the Hills studio, as is evidenced by the ebony crown on the button. The instrument has been the subject of several repairs. All the evident cracks have been professionally repaired and a thorough recent examination of the violin has shown it to be structurally secure. It is a smallish instrument with a LOB of only 35.4 cm.

What sets this violin apart from most other instruments I have encountered in recent times, is its tone. It is rich and sonorous with a distinctly Italian sound. The top is somewhat “woody” (meaning thick), resulting in a richness of overtones that adds to a sonority that is rich, rather than big or fat. It projects with power in a hall. The violin was on loan to the Russian violinist, Elena Kerimova, who used it in various solo performances. In comparison with various other high-profile concert violins which were tried out primarily for solo purposes, there was no doubting the quality of this violin as a solo instrument.

Price: Available on request. (This violin was sold in New York>)

Note: High resolution photos can be sent on request.

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Ref. 0535
A good Italian Violin by
Peter POTS

Scurano, Italy, 2008



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After completing his apprenticeship in violinmaking in Cremona, followed by several years of violin restoration in the same centre, Peter Pots settled in the small mountain village of Scurano, not far from Cremona. For the past number of years this is where he constructs his instruments, and from where he supplies instruments to leading dealers and musicians throughout Europe, notably in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and elsewhere. Today Pots commands respect and regularly has musicians travel from abroad to visit his studio to acquire an instrument from him - notably his cellos and violas are much in demand by principals in European orchestras.

Pots works within the established Italian and Cremonese traditions. He received his early schooling in Cremona, where his father (Peter Pots Sr) apprenticed and worked as violinmaker. After university studies in South Africa (in Entomology), Pots returned to Cremona to study violinmaking under maestro Vanna Zambelli. After completion of the 5-year course in 3 years, he worked for the renowned restorers Bruce Carlson, Fausto Cacciatori and Bernard Neumann, where he had daily contact with some of the world’s finest instruments.

Peter Pots generally uses his own model for most of his instruments. It was originally developed by his father, Peter Pots Sr (1944-2005), who was an important Cremonese violinmaker. (See violin no 0553 elsewhere on this page and viola 0522 on the Viola Page, as examples.) He also pursues direct contact with the musicians who would eventually use the instruments, considering their input and comment on his work. In this way he has maintained contact with some of the finest musicians in the world, such as Heinrich Schiff, Valentin Erben, Gerhard Schulz, Thabea Zimmermann, Thomas Riebl and many others who today own and perform on Peter Pots’s instruments.

With this violin Pots departs from his own individual design to closely follow the standard Stradivari model. Nevertheless, he always pays particular attention to playing comfort : the neck is shaped carefully to suit most hands. Furthermore, as with all his instruments, the back is particularly thick, ensuring that the violin will have a long period of improvement, and it adds that particular solid sound which is a characteristic of Peter Pots’s instruments.

The top is of medium to fine-grained tone spruce with straight grain. The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of maple with a medium to fine curl and clear flame. The scroll is nicely balanced and strong. Peter Pots manufactures his own purfling, which is normally quite narrow. The purfling is very well traced and the corner work neat. LOB is 35.6 cm.

A very striking aspect of this violin is the attractive deep red-brown varnish. The varnish is thickly applied but has transparancy that allows the beauty of the wood to be observed and which compiments the violin. Pots used the identical varnish formula used by Francesco Bissolotti – one of most important violinmakers.

This violin has seduced several excellent violinists with its rich and responsive tone – a satisfying g-string with good balance over the 4 strings and good response in the high positions.

The last photo shows Peter Pots in workshop in Scurano, working on a halfsize violin for his daughter.

Price: Available on application.

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Ref. 0303
Violin by
Franco ALBANELLI

Bologna, 1971



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This superb violin by Franco Albanelli was for many years the principal instrument of the Concert Master of a leading Symphony Orchestra in Italy. It has superb tonal properties and is well-suited for solo work. Albanelli was a student of the eminent Italian violinmaker, Gaetano Pollastri, and lives and works in Bologna where this instrument was made in 1971.

The top is of medium grained spruce and the one-piece back and ribs of broadly flamed maple. Everything about this violin shows a fine hand – the purfling is superbly traced and the scroll is beautifully cut, preserving Italian traditions. The varnish is an attractive amber combined with black ebony fittings. The violin is free of cracks or repairs and was set up by the Italian violin maker, Odino Puntin.

The tone is very strong and open with a lot of penetration and is very even throughout the register, right into high positions where it speaks easily and with clarity. This violin is ultimately suitable for solo work.

Price witheld on request of the new owner.

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Ref. 0346
Violin by
Michael DARNTON

Chicago, 1993

(Ex Stephan Schoeman)



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This violin, made in 1993, was in extensive professional use until recent. It was the principal instrument of the outstanding South African violinist, Stephan Schoeman, who recently died tragically at the prime of his career. It was used for all his professional work during the 20 years he lived and worked in the USA – as lecturer and as Concert Master for various orchestras in the US and South Africa. It was also his instrument of choice for his participation in the Paganini Violin Competition in Italy, and in all his concerto and recital performances.

This violin is made of superb materials. The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of mildly flamed maple of medium curl. The top is of a broad-grained spruce, but with very even configuration. The pegs are ebony, but the rest of the fittings are of rosewood. The purfling is very finely traced.

Recently, after learning of Schoeman's death, the maker, Michael Darnton, sent this information: "I was shocked and saddened to learn, via your web page, of Stephan's death. As I remember, his violin, which is on the same 1715 ex-Baron Knoop Stradivari model I still favor, was a particularly nice one, though I haven't seen it since 1993. The maple it's made of was cut several miles from where Stephan was working at the time he bought it, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, near Houghton - a tree I bought as a huge trunk at the mill and sawed into violin backs myself with a chain saw, in about 1981. - Michael Darnton, Chicago."

The violin is in superb condition. The only repair that is evident is to a wing crack in the right f-hole, which was expertly repaired in 1999 by Dale Walton. The light-golden varnish is oil-based and in this case quite well-worn as a result of constant use and demands made by Mr Schoeman’s career as soloist and teacher.

The evident wear on this violin is for a good reason – it is an extremely seductive and satisfying instrument to play on, from just about every point of view. The tone throughout is characterized by warmth and fullness on the G and D strings, and clarity and penetration on the A and E. The violin is unusually responsive and allows for great nuance and subtlety in timbre, tone and also in its response to demand for volume. It is one of those violins you don’t tire of and and once you start playing, you don’t want to stop, such is it’s tonal beauty and ease of response.

Schoeman, who was a student of Ruggiero Ricci, had access to various superb instruments in the US, but always came back to this one - it was his instrument of choice. It is suited for any serious violinist now looking out for fine vehicle of expression.

Price: Schoeman paid US$9 000 for this violin in 1993. Nine years later price is R85 000.

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Ref. 0372
Violin by
HART & SON

London, 1898


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This violin, made in 1898 and with the serial number 180, is in mint condition and a fine testimony of the excellence associated with the London based makers, Hart & Son. William Henley, in his great work, speaks of George Hart in glowing terms, describing his work as “truly harmonious, together with all possible accuracy of detail (…). Tonal quality excellent.”

An attractive feature of this violin is its one-piece maple back. The top is of finely-grained spruce and the purfling superbly traced. Golden-red varnish. Everything about it speaks of excellence of craftmanship. The reasons for the neck-graft are not clear, but is is perfectly executed, as are the rebushings of the pegs.

The best aspect of this violin is that it has all the tonal properties one would require in a concert instrument of very high order. A powerful and attractive tone with much penetration and carrying power is combined with exceptional evenness and responsiveness over the full range. The tone is produced with ease. This is the kind of instrument one would need for solo concert performance with orchestra. It is principally a solo instrument of a very high order.

The instrument was brought to South Africa only this year. Until recently it was in professional use as the main instrument of a leading soloist in England. It has received great appreciation by all who has played on it.

Price: R80 000

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Ref. 0485
Violin by
Honoré DERAZEY

Mirecourt, France
Ca. 1840


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Honoré Derazey (1794-1883) is (and was in his own time) considered as one of the leading French violinmakers of the 19th century. He completed his apprenticeship in Mirecourt and then spent some years working in several of the leading workshops in Paris, perfecting his craft. He then settled in Mirecourt, where he spent the rest of his life. He won the foremost exhibition medals– in Paris (1839, 1844, 1849 and 1855) and in London (1951 and 1862). According to the French authority, René Vannes, the great J. B. Vuillaume acquired instruments from Derazey and sold them from his Paris studio, after fitting his own personal label into them.

From 1844 onwards, Derazey sought the more commercial avenue of a large studio and apprentices, resulting in massive output of instruments that became extremely popular in England. However, Derazey’s own work always conformed to the highest standards – Henley refers to ”workmanship ‘à la finesse' in all verity”, and to ”the essence of delicacy”. He also confirms the fact that Derazey’s personal work was seldom labelled, but rather branded in a very simple manner with H D or H. Derazey.

This violin – meticulously following the Stradivari pattern - is a splendid instrument from every perspective and an excellent example of Derazey’s personal work, probably dating from before 1840. It is branded H. Derazey in the back (see photo). Its back betrays HD’s preference for one-piece backs (almost all photos I’ve seen of Derazey’s violins show a one piece back, usually of impressive wood) – it is of maple with a distinct flame and a fine curl, set straight across the back. The ribs and scroll match the back perfectly. The top is of medium-grained tone spruce. The scroll is as beautiful as one could possibly wish from a master craftsman. The neck has been replaced (with beautifully flamed wood) – probably due to wear on the original neck. The neck graft and rebushing of the pegs have all been masterfully done. Of Derazey’s f-holes, Henley says: ”Sound-holes not surpassed by any maker of any period or any school for perfect grace and curve.” and he refers to the ”…artistic combination of the sound-holes with the waist curve.” The varnish on the back, sides and scroll is reddish brown and is the original. The top has a more golden tinge to the brown, and may have been revarnished, but that is not certain.

This violin has a big tone of excellent quality, which sets it apart as principally a solo instrument. The g-string is rich and rewarding in high positions and the top register bright with penetration and carrying power. It has till now been used by a leading South African violinist for recitals, concerts and CD recordings.

Price: The price is available on demand. It can be pointed out here that Honoré Derazey’s violins have in recent years auctioned for prices ranging from £8 000 to £12 000, depending on the quality of the instrument. The price in this case is negotiable.

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Ref. 0150
Violin by
G. J. TIMMERMAN

Den Haag, 1950


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G. J. Timmerman (1878-1954) worked in Den Haag, Netherlands. He became widely known for his superb craftmanship and the beauty of his instruments, along with their excellent tonal properties.

This violin, made in 1950 (when Timmerman was 72) is no exception. It is made of beautiful materials – finely grained spruce top with beautiful fine-curled maple one piece back and ribs. It bears the small brand on the inside of the back – "Timmerman's Gravenhage" and the label is handwritten. Everything about this instrument is well done and a pleasure to look at. It is in excellent condition.

This violin's tone is big, healthy, open and responsive – even and stable throughout the register, right into high positions. This is good for solo work and is a pleasure to play on.

It was in the private collection of the legendary violin maker, J. J. van der Geest, for a long time. This violin is currently in London and the price is available on demand.

This violin was sold to a leading dealer in London, but was subsequently returned to South Africa. Sold for R70 000.

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Ref. 0371
Violin by
Andrew SMILLIE

Glasgow, Scotland, 1926


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Andrew Y. Smillie (1878-1948), was the son of Alexander Smillie, and together they are considered to be Scotland’s most important violinmakers of the 19th/20th century. Andrew Smillie made only 200 violins in his life (and also some violas and cellos). Henley says this in his Dictionary: ”Magnificent instruments, usually Strad outline and arching, with Guarnerian sound-holes and waist curves.”

This violin by Andrew Smillie is in mint condition, as if made yesterday. The one-piece back is truly stunning with a broadly flamed maple. The top is if finely-grained spruce. The workmanship throughout bears testimony to Smillie as a master craftsman. (See photos)

This violin was brought to South Africa from London only recently. It is particularly well-toned and would suit anyone now looking for a fine instrument of professional quality.

Price: R60 000

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Ref. 0444
Fine Violin of
Unknown Origin

Circa 1880


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This is a fascinating instrument, and there is no doubting its quality. It features two large black lacquer seals on the back (see photos). The meaning of the seals is unclear, and any information about them would be welcome. At first glance the violin seems to date from the 18th cent., but under closer scrutiny, it is not as old as it appears to be. It was probably made in the latter part of the 19th cent. It has a handwritten label, but this is virtually illegible.

It follows the Guarneri pattern, but not strictly. It is a large violin with LOB of 36.6 cm, upper bout of 17.3 cm and lower bout of 20.9 cm. The materials are very good – the one-piece back is of maple with a feint medium curl - along with the ribs, neck and scroll, it lacks flame and appear to be somewhat dull. This is made up for, though, by the yellow ground and lovely complimentary deep red varnish, which still remain adequately to make this a very attractive violin. The top is of medium grain spruce. This violin is in excellent condition.

The violin has been carefully crafted to antique the instrument. This was done most convincingly, but nevertheless is noticible in the “neck graft”, and in the “cracks” which are in fact carefully drawn, but doesn’t penetrate the wood much beyond the surface. In truth the violin has aboslute no cracks and is in superb condition. The “wear” of the violin was added by the maker. Also, the absence of rebushing of the pegs casts doubt on its apparent age. In itself there is nothing wrong with this artificial aging, since today the antiquing of instruments is standard practice and common procedure, even in international competitions of lutherie – so this should not be seen as distracting in any way from an excellent instrument.

This violin is characterized by it’s unusually big, rich and penetrating tone, which lends itself to solo work. This has been the instrument of choice of a professional violinist until his recent retirement, and was for many years used extensively for solo work, chamber music and concerto performances.

Price: P.O.A.

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Ref. 0495
Violin by
George CRASKE

England, 1840



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George Craske (1795 – 1888), as one of England’s foremost violinmakers, was known for several things – that he was an apprentice of William Forster, that he had a prolific output of instruments in his life (2050 violins, 300 violas and 250 cellos), that he spent most of his long life in seclusion (he died aged 93) and that he didn’t like parting with his own instruments, which he hoarded. At his death, a friend, George Crompton, acquired Craske’s remaining stock, which eventually made its way to Hill & Sons, where his instruments were put in order, relabelled and sold.

This particular violin was part of the stock taken over by Hill. It is labelled ”Made by George Craske (born 1797, died 1888), and sold by William E. Hill & Sons, London”. The date, 1840, is added to the bottom edge of the label by hand. One can safely assume that this is the date the violin was made, that this addition was made by Hill and that it was the date that Craske himself may have written on an original label that Hills had removed or covered when they inserted their own label, described above. If so (and it is a reasonable assumption), one is left to speculate why Craske hung on to this violin for around 48 years, not parting with it. It could be that he particularly liked the instrument, and there would a lot of good reason for that:

The violin is based on the Guarneri pattern (Craske’s favorite), evidenced by the overall shape and f-holes. It is exceptionally flat, making for powerful tone. The two-piece back and ribs are of fine maple, somewhat irregular in the lower third, but with a straight medium curl and distinct flame. The top is of tone spruce with a straight medium grain and an interesting small knot just off centre. The scroll, of nicely flamed maple, is truly magnificent! (See photos) – probably one if the most beautiful I have seen, and really reveals Craske’s genius and reknown as a master craftsman. The purfling is good, with nice corners, but at times is uneven and rough. The varnish – golden honey-brown – is transparent and shows the wood off beautifully. The violin is still fitted with a bridge by the great Dutch violinmaker, J J van de Geest (who died in 1974). The only evidence of repairs is two wingcracks, both secured and stable. All round this is a magnificent violin in a superb state of preservation – not only a time capsule of Craske’s work, but also a impressive legacy of his craft.

This violin’s tone is big, with penetration and carrying power. Right from a rich G string to the bright E string, it is well-balanced and even, and speaks easily. As an instrument it pleases immediately, both the player and the hearer.

Price: R90 000 (This violin was eventually withdrawn from sale.)

Note: High resolution photos can be supplied on request.

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Ref. 0246
A French Violin by
Ch. J. B. COLLIN-MÉZIN

Paris, 1893


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This is one of the finest examples of Collin-Mézin’s work I have seen in South Africa. The violin is in mint condition with no cracks or repairs evident. The label conforms to those of this great French violin maker, reading “Ch. J. B. Collin-Mézin, Luthier à Paris, Rue du Faubg. Poissonière no 10” followed by his acronym in a cirle. The date, 1893, is added by hand and the violin bears the maker’s signature in black ink across the back on the inside – very much a trade mark of Collin-Mézin's.

The top is of medium-grained spruce and the two-piece back and side of very attractively flamed maple. The scroll is particularly well-cut. The length of back is 35.8cm.

This violin has until now been professionally used.

Price: R80 000

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Ref. 0572
A good German Violin by
Johann (Hans) FÜRST

Mittenwald, 1946


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Johann (Hans) Fürst (1896-1976) was born into a long family tradition of violinmaking. There are many Fürsts listed going as far back as 1800, almost always associated with Mittenwald. For 3 years (from 1915 onwards) he was in charge of one of the largest workshops in that centre. Thereafter he worked for 4 years for Gustav Graseck in Munchen, but returned to Mittenwald in 1922, where he remained until his death.

Hans Fürst was known for careful and meticulous workmanship, which is demonstrated in this violin – everything about it is tidy and crisp. He was primarily a guitar and lute maker, and violins by him are rare. This violin is dated 1946, when Fürst was at the peak of his abilities. It is an attractive instrument, nicely crafted.

The two-piece back, sides, neck and scroll are of mildly-flamed maple with a medium but distinct curl. The top is of medium-grained tone spruce. The f-holes are sharp and nicely done, and the purfling is good throughout, showing a steady hand. All who have handled this violin commented on the beauty of the varnish – an unusually smooth velvety red-brown oil-based varnish, which impresses. Furthermore, it was a tradition of the Fürst family always to write out their labels by hand, and this violin follows the tradition. (See photo).

This violin is in excellent condition with no cracks or apparent repairs. LOB is 36 cm. It was the main instrument of an important teacher who took very good care of it. It is well-toned and suitable for professional work.

Price: R80 000.

(High resolution photos are available on request.)

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Ref. 0553
An Italian Violin by
Peter POTS

Scurano, Italy, 2005



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After completing his apprenticeship in violinmaking in Cremona, followed by several years of violin restoration in the same centre, Peter Pots settled in the small mountain village of Scurano, not far from Cremona. Pots works within the established Italian and Cremonese traditions and his instruments are rightfully considered Italian and catalogued as such. (For more information about Peter Pots, please refer to violin no 0535, further up on this page.)

With this violin, Peter Pots pursues the individualistic design originally developed by his father, Peter Pots Sr (1944-2005), who was an important Cremonese violinmaker. As with all his instruments the back is particularly thick, ensuring that the violin will have a long period of improvement, and it adds that particular solid sound which is a characteristic of Peter Pots’s instruments.

The top is of very broadly-grained tone spruce. The one-piece maple back has a very interesting pattern – the result of being cut on the slab, but not entirely so, tending towards the quarter. An attractive wild and irregular flame crosses the lower half, making the back very striking on the eye. The ribs are of a narrower curl. Peter Pots manufactures his own purfling, which is normally quite narrow. The purfling is very well traced and the corner work really neat. LOB is 35.7 cm.

Unlike the other Pots violin on this page (no 0535), the varnish is a light golden brown - thickly applied but with excellent transparency. Pots used the identical varnish formula used by Francesco Bissolotti – one of Italy’s most important violinmakers. The scroll is balanced and strong. Pots follows an old tradition by not using sandpaper to finish off his instruments – the scroll and all edges is cut by sharp tools, giving a crispness to the edges and to the workmanship in general. The scroll has an interesting aspect inasmuch as the cut marks made by the tools are visible, adding to the violin’s handmade character.

The tone is rich and an unusually big g-string sound. It is well balanced and responsive – a good violin, satisfying to play on.

Price: P.O.A..

High resolution photos are available on request.

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Ref. 0594
A Good French Violin by
Ch. J. B. COLLIN-MÉZIN

Paris, 1910


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There are two Collin-Mézins – father and the son. The father (1841-1923) was Charles Jean Baptiste and the son (b.1870) was named Charles. The father’s instruments are generally considered more desirable than those of the son who operated a large studio in Mirecourt after returning from the USA in 1900.

Ch. J. B. Collin-Mézin (the father) initially studied with his own father and later worked for Claude Francois Vuillaume in Brussels. He then started his own studio in Paris in 1867 where he remained until his death in 1923. As violinmaker he won numerous important prizes and awards and is considered as one of the important French violinmakers of his time. His instruments today are very sought-after and appreciated by professional musicians the world over.

The English authority, William Henley, states in his famous Dictionary of Violin Makers that Ch. J. B. Collin-Mézin’s instruments can only be considered as authentic when they bear the signature in the back, next to the sound post. This violin has that signature. However, that is an over-simplification of a more complex situation. Initially this maker used to sign his violins in the back by hand, but it appears from Henley’s writing that the famous signature in the back in later years in fact was a stamp bearing a copyright facsimile of the original signature. I have seen at least one Collin-Mézin violin with Ch. J. B. Collin-Mézin’s label and the signature, but made in 1924 – a year after his death, which seems to suggest that the son, or another member of the clan freely used that stamp to make it seem that the instrument was by the father. The son, Charles, had a different label and his personal work was usually signed directly on the label and not in the back.

All matters considered, the label in this violin corresponds to the father’s labels and it bears the required signature in the back. Furthermore the date hand-written on the label is authentic, since it also is stamped onto the neck block in the inside. This places the violin within the father’s lifetime, well before his death. In my view it is the father’s work.

The top is of medium-grained fine tone spruce. The two-piece back, ribs and sides, neck and scroll are of nicely flamed maple with a distinct medium curl. The varnish is chestnut brown throughout. All marks on the instrument are purely superficial and structurally the violin is in excellent condition. The only repair I could discern is to the neck button in the back, which would suggest that the neck angle may have been corrected at some stage – but very well done. The neck angle is correct.

This is a very good violin with excellent tonal properties, positively commented on by Prof. Walter Mony, a leading academic and teacher (now deceased) who at some stage used this violin. The violin has been the principal instrument of an important South African violin teacher.

Price : US$12 000 (Approximately R 93 000)

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Ref. 0182
A Good Violin by
Boris SVERDLIK

New York, 1989



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This violin was for several years the principal instrument a leading South African concert violinists and was used for numerous public performances, concertos and commercial CD productions. It is a thoroughbred solo instrument made in 1989 in New York, by Boris Sverdlik.

It is in excellent condition. The broadly flamed maple back is in two pieces, with matching ribs and scroll. The table is of medium grained spruce.

This would be an excellent acquisition for a serious professional violinist seeking a responsive instrument suitable for all genres of performance.

Price: R90 000

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Ref. 0364
Violin by
J. J. VAN DE GEEST
(1899-1974)

Johannesburg, 1956


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The great Dutch violinmaker, Jacobus Jan van de Geest (1899-1974), established himself in Johannesburg in 1939. There he soon became a formidible force in the music life of that country, not only as a remarkable craftsman producing violins, violas and cellos, but also as a brilliant restorer and expert, and as an importer of many fine violins. In his own instruments he mainly copied the work of Stradivarius and Guarnerius, which won praise from some of the world’s leading violinists, including Carl Flesch. In 1949 he won the highest award at the International Competition for Violinmakers in The Hague, and again in 1954 he was awarded the two highest diplomas for a String Quartet he had made for the Competition in Liège.

This violin dates from that same period, when Van de Geest was at the peak of his powers. Made in 1956, it has a splendid one-piece back of well-flamed maple, matching the ribs and scroll. The top is of finely-grained tone spruce and the violin in it’s entirety is in mint condition. The varnish is a deep wine-red – characteristic of his work from that period. Throughout the workmanship is superb – from the finely traced purfling to the handsome scroll.

This violin is well-toned and is a pleasure to play on. It is responsive, speaks easily with strength and penetration throughout the whole register. It is even and balanced on all four strings and stable in the high positions. All over it displays the tonal characteristics one would expect from a violinmaker of Van de Geest’s stature.

It is rare still to find Van de Geest’s violins in South Africa. They are mostly bought up by Dutch and other collectors.

Price: R50 000

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Ref. 0423
An Interesting Violin
Unknown Origin

Circa 1740


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This has for many years been the principal instrument of a leading soloist who has used it extensively for concertos, solo recitals, chamber music performances and for several commercial CD recordings.

This violin is unlabelled. Although largely made in the German Tyrolean style, its origins are unknown. It was originally acquired in Russia where it was used professionally for many years before being brought to South Africa.

It has a one-piece back of nicely curled maple. The sides are of a finer curl and top is of finely grained tone spruce. The neck and scroll are of plain wood. Wingcracks are common in old violins and in this case they have been nicely repaired, as have been some cracks in the top. The arching is somewhat less pronounced than what is typical in Tyrolean instruments, which contibutes much to the power of this violin’s tone.

This instrument was recently completely restored, all cleats inside were reviewed and replaced where needed. A new bass bar was fitted. There is also a thin wedge under the fingerboard to lift it slightly. It is structurally stable and in good condition. The instrument has all the characteristics of a very old violin – the corners and scroll are worn. The neck graft is well done.

This violin has often been used comparatively with other solo instruments, and very few violins matched this one in power and beauty of tone, which makes it easy to understand why it was used so extensively for professional solo work. The tone is very mature, rich throughout and with carrying power. It has none of the mild sweetness one associates with instruments of high arching, but has penetration and volume. It is even, speaks easily and combines warmth with brilliance.

Price: R 50 000

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Ref. 0359
Violin labelled
Michel Ang. BERGONZI
(1722-1770)

Cremona, 1763



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Everyone who has examined and played on this fascinating violin can find no plausible reason why this should not be the work of Michel Angelo Bergonzi (1722-1770), as is indicated by the label. The latter conforms to extant examples of this maker’s labels and reads: ”Michel Angelo Bergonzi. Figlio di Carlo fece in Cremona l’anno 1763”. This violin was only recently discovered from an obscure background.

It satisfies every examination and criterion from an superficial perspective – the choice of material is unusually good throughout. The back is of a splendid single piece of beautifully curled maple, matching the sides and scroll. The top is of exceptionally finely-grained spruce. Furthermore, it bears every sign of age and wear one would expect in a violin from 1763. It has a superbly executed neck-graft and the rebushing of pegs is done in a superb manner, displaying great attention to detail. What is particularly appealing is the amber-orange varnish which appears to be original. The somewhat singular shape and positioning of the f-holes correspond to representations of instruments known to be by M A Bergonzi. Dimensions: length of back: 362mm; upper bout: 171mm; inner bout: 114mm; lower bout: 208mm; string length: 330mm.

Some restoration has been carried out: a soundpost crack and two wing cracks have been repaired expertly, as is a crack from the bottom of the left f-hole to the lower left edge.

The violin has the nobility of tone and tonal maturity that comes with time. The lower register is rich and the top end bright and sonorous.

Price: This violin has not been sold, but is withdrawn from this website.

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Ref. 0327
Violin attributed to
Richard DUKE

London, 1772


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It is true that Richard Duke’s violins have been more copied , imitated and forged than those of probably any other English violinmaker. Hence, when confronted with a violin that purports to be a Duke, one’s instinct is, by default, to view it as a fake.

However, everything about this violin conforms to the textbook descriptions of the work of Richard Duke, who was active in London from 1750 to 1780: Duke modelled his work on Stainer, Amati and at times on Strad’s long model. This violin is in the style of Stainer – prominently arched, among other things.

The scroll is beautifully made, full of refinement, character and elegance. The neck-graft is so well done that it is virtually indiscernable – the work of a superb craftsman. Ribs are somewhat shallow and the margins around the outline are small. As is typical with Duke, the one-piece back lacks distinct flame and appears almost dull, yet with superb tonal quality.

The 18th century violinmaker, A. Stannard, in a very old handwritten label, attributes the violin to Richard Duke. The label reads: “No. 146. Repaired by A. Stannard, April 11th 1794. Made by R. Duke 1772. Jan 15th.” However, this label is stuck partly over another more recent label which reads: “Repaired by H. Eisenmann, London 1882”. This could have come about in several ways. At any rate, Eisenmann was a very respected craftsman in London in the late 19th century. Evidently Stannard, who first repaired the violin in 1794, knew that the violin was the work of R. Duke, although Duke’s label is no longer in it.

On the button is stamped Duke, and just below the button, on the back, is stamped Duke, London. The word Duke is also stamped on the rib, just to the right of the end pin. (See photos) Furthermore, the number 92 is stamped into the back edge of the pegbox, below the nut. There is no number on the end of the fingerboard, as was customarily done by Hills, but it appears that the fingerboard and nut is relatively new. In its present configuration, the violin was set up by the Danish violinmaker, Amon Bilmark.

The condition is good – no cracks are discernable other than a small wing crack on each f-hole. Both have been repaired. The back is free of any cracks and the top has the usual “character” marks and flaws one would associate with a really old violin. However, this violin has had a major repair carried out to the top in that the central section, in it’s entire length, including part of the left f-hole, has been replaced by an inlay, about 4 cm wide. This has been so superbly done that at first glance it is hardly discernable – expert workmanship. It may have been done to repair structural damage or weakness. There are other minor repairs, but cosmetic rather than structural in nature. I believe all these repairs, and the new fingerboard, were done by Amon Bilmark.

This instrument’s tone is very pure and clean, warm, responsive and very mature, yet with fair strength and penetration. It’s a real pleasure to play on, particularly music from the 18th century, for which clearly the violin was made in the first place.

Price: R48 000 (US$ 4 500)

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Ref. 0391
Violin by
Heinrich STAUBER

Germany, 1902


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This attractive instrument is modelled on the Stradivarius pattern – beautifully proportioned from every perspective.

The rich red-brown varnish shows the wood off beautifully. The one-piece maple back is of unusual beauty – with a clear and interesting waving flame, also repeated in the scroll. The top if is finely grained spruce. The scroll is really well-cut – balanced and elegant. A crack from the lower end of the right f-hole to the edge has been expertly repaired and is stable. Throughout this violin shows the hand of a true craftsman.

This tone is pleasing – a mature g-string and the rest of the register speaks with clarity, right into the high register.

Owner’s price: R45 000

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Ref. 0525
Violin by
Peter POTS

Scurano, Italy. 2007


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After several years of apprenticeship, violinmaking and restoration work in Cremona, Peter Pots settled in the small mountain village of Scurano, not far from Cremona. For the past number of years this is where he constructs his instruments, and from where he supplies to leading dealers and musicians throughout Europe, notably in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and elsewhere. Today Pots commands considerable respect and regularly has musicians travel from abroad to visit his studio to acquire an instrument from him - notably his cellos and violas are much in demand by principals in European orchestras.

Pots’s craftmanship is considered Italian. He received his early schooling in Cremona, where his father (also named Peter Pots) apprenticed and worked as violinmaker. After university studies in South Africa (in Entomology), Pots returned to Cremona to study violinmaking under maestro Vanna Zambelli. After completion of the 5-year course in 3 years, he worked for the renowned restorers Bruce Carlson, Fausto Cacciatori and Bernard Neumann, where he had daily contact with some of the world’s finest instruments.

Peter Pots has always worked independently on his own instruments, often discussing critical points of design and sound production with his father. He also pursues direct contact with the musicians that would eventually use the instruments, considering their input and comment on his work. In this way he has maintained contact with some of the finest musicians in the world, such as Heinrich Schiff, Valentin Erben, Gerhard Schulz, Thabea Zimmermann, Thomas Riebl and many others who today own and perform on Peter Pots’s instruments..

With this violin Pots departs from his own individual design to follow the standard Stadivari model in all detail. Nevertheless, he always pays particular attention to playing comfort: the neck is shaped carefully to suit most hands. Furthermore, as with all his instruments, the back is particularly thick, ensuring that the violin will have a long period of improvement, and it adds that particular solid and noble sound which is a characterisc of all of Peter Pots’s instruments.

The top is of medium to fine-grained tone spruce with straight grain. The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of maple with a medium curl and mild flame. The scroll is nicely balanced and strong. Peter Pots manufactures his own purfling, which is normally quite narrow. The purfling is very well traced and the corner work very accurate and detailed (see photos). The reddish golden varnish give an attractive touch to the violin and greatly compliments the materials. All round this is a beautiful instrument.

This violin already has excellent tone – a responsive and rich g-string with good balance over the 4 strings and good response in the high positions. And it will only get better.

The last photo shows Peter Pots working on this instrument in his studio in Scurano, Italy.

Price: R 40 000

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Ref. 0153
Violin by
Ch. J. B. COLLIN-MÉZIN

Paris, 1889


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Based on a Stradivarius pattern, this attractive violin shows fine workmanship by this prolific violin maker.

The instrument is in very good condition and is of the same good responsive tone normally associated with the work of Collin-Mézin. It is suitable for any discerning professional looking for a violin to be used in a wide variety applications.

Price: R40 000.

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Ref. 0239
A French Violin by
Charles COLLIN-MÉZIN

Paris, 1924


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This violin is not the work of Charles J-B Collin-Mézin the elder (1841-1923), but that of his son, Charles Collin-Mézin (1870-1934). (Compare it to ref. 0246 on this page.) The violin is dated 1924, the year after the father’s death, and is numbered as 24. The label reads: “Ch. J. B. Collin-Mézin, Luthier, Grand Prix – Exposition Universelle 1900, Paris”, followed by the maker’s acronym. It is signed by Collin-Mézin in black ink on the back in the inside, next to the soundpost.

This violin has an unusually beautiful one-piece back of well-flamed finely curled maple (see the photos). The scroll is very attractive and shows skill and attention. Other than a repaired crack in the top, running from the lower end of the right f-hole to the bottom edge and which has been expertly repaired, the violin is in very good condition with no other cracks or repairs evident.

The sonority is very pleasing and very refined. This is a instrument that would serve well in professional context.

Price: R35 000

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Ref. 0407
Violin by
Luigi MARUCCHI

George, South Africa. 2004


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This Italian violinmaker who works in George, South Africa, is rapidly establishing himself as a maker of really good violins. Following the standards set by an earlier instrument of his, (see below), this violin shows all the characteristics of a solo instrument of high quality.

This violin, specifically a copy of a Nicola Amati of 1666, shows a maturing of Marucchi’s hand and technique, which has become confident and steady, displaying great skill, not only on the structural and aesthetic side, but also tonally. The back is from one piece of finely curled maple with matching sides. The top is of exceptionally good quality, finely grained tone spruce. The scroll is strong and beautifully cut. Purfling is superb throughout with excellent beestings cut right to the edge – nice work. The f-holes are elegant – finely cut. The golden brown oil-based varnish shows the materials off beautifully. All round lovely work.

This violin was highly considered by both Prof. Jack de Wet and Prof. Dereck Ochse who both remarked on its excellent tonal properties.

This is a brand new instrument, and yet it already has most of the attributes one would like in a good violin – tone is strong and incisive, with good penetration, yet easy to play to on with good clean and fast response to the left hand, even in very quiet passages. It is capable of very good powerful playing. It should be in the hands of a serious violinist

Price: R35 000

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Ref. 0370
Violin by
Luigi MARUCCHI

George, South Africa. 2002


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Luigi Marucchi is an Italian violinmaker who has settled near George in South Africa. His instruments are characterized by purity and volume of tone and fine craftsmanship in execution. His work by all standards is excellent.

This violin, completed in 2002, is really well made. It shows a steady hand in the purfling and scroll. The arching is beautifully executed and the attractive golden-brown oil-based varnish beautifully compliments the boxwood fittings. All round this is an appealing instrument of very good quality.

This particular violin is now in professional use and has already been used for recitals and concerts by various musicians, all of whom commented on its fine tonal properties and strong projection – all qualities desired by solo artists.

This violin is not for sale, but the maker, Luigi Marucchi, accepts commissions and will produce similarly fine instruments on demand. The price is to be negotiated directly with the maker.

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Ref. 0424
Violin by the
SCHUSTER Company

Germany, 1930


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The label shows this instrument to have been produced by the Schuster company in Germany in 1930. It is a meticulous copy of Stradivari, and represents the very best of this company's work, aimed at professional musicians. No effort was spared in its construction – the materials are superb and the workmanship faultless.

The one-piece maple back is truly beautiful with a distinctly flamed medium to narrow curl. The ribs, neck and scroll match this superb quality and is probably from the same block of wood. The table is of excellent tone spruce with a narrow grain and the varnish is golden brown. The purfling is superb and the scroll and general workmanship of the violin is immaculate. What is impressive is that, after some 76 years, this violin is in virtual mint condition with no repairs or cracks anywhere.

This instrument was for several years used by a leading South African violinist for solo and chamber music recitals. It is characterized by a big soloistic tone, with penetration and carrying power. The g-string in high positions speaks easily with a warm open tone and the balance throughout is good, with plenty of power in the high register.

Price: R30 000

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Ref. 0428
Interesting Violin

Unknown origin, possibly Italian

Circa 1680


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This unlabelled violin has all the characteristics of age one would expect from a violin from well before 1700. The wear patterns, both of the wood, varnish, corners and scroll attest to real age. Those who have examined it (including two reputable violin makers) feel that it dates from some time before 1700. One person’s view is that it is of German origin (probably due to a slightly high arching), but consensus indicates there is a strong chance of it being old Italian. At any rate, it’s origin will probably remain unknown (unless subjected to real expert scrutiny elsewhere), hence it’s appraisal must be based only on it’s merits as instrument, which remain considerable.

At first glance there are no discernable repairs done to it. The top, of medium-grain spruce, is totally free of obvious cracking anywhere. It is only with the closest scrutiny that a repair can be seen to a small crack on the table, running from the top of the left f-hole opwards – it has been meticulously cleated, is vitually invisible and poses no threat to the structural integrity of the violin. The ribs are of somewhat plain maple – two small age cracks in the ribs have been repaired. The two-piece back is likewise of plain maple An inlay was made all around the edge on the inside of the back, probably as structural reinforcement due to the instrument’s age - this is so well done as to be virtually invisible from the outside – it can only be seen from the inside. Also, some reinforcement has been made to the inside of the back, around the button.

Although somewhat roughly made, the scroll is interesting and with a degree of finesse. The neck-graft is so well done as to be virtually invisible. Two pegs have been rebushed. The purfling is generally good, but at times a bit rough. The f-holes, although nicely balanced and well-cut, are quite unusual and interesting, and may be a clue to the violin’s origins. Length of back: 35.6 cm; across lower bout: 20.2 cm; testatura: 32.3cm.

The inside of the back has a maple patch grafted in under the soundpost. Only the closest examination will show a small soundpost crack in the back. The repair has been done to the highest standard, and I believe that it is stable with no risk of recurring.

The violin was purchased in Venice, Italy, by its last owner, about 40 years ago. All work done to it must have been executed in Italy, prior to being brought to South Africa – it shows the very highest standard of craftmanship one could wish for in restoration work, and is certainly of the best I have seen. The only clue the craftsman left is a small ink inscription directly on the inside of the back, towards the rear, which simply reads Jul. 1925, probably the date of the work.

The most impressive part of this violin is its tone. It has an unusually powerful tone, with carrying power and penetration. Although very even and responsive throughout the higher positions, it tends to favour the high register. It is a very rewarding violin to play on, if you like brightness, and all those who tried it (all professionals) got very excited over the ease of response and natural projection of the instrument.

Price: P O A

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Ref. 0408
Violin by
Walter H. MAYSON
(1835-1904)

England, 1883


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Although Mayson (1835-1904) worked in Manchester for most of his life, the label in this violin bears a handwritten inscription – “Made in Windermere”. It is dated 1883. Mayson, who gave all his instruments individual names, called this violin ”Adeste Fideles”. (See photos)

Finding an instrument such as this one in near mint condition and saving it from relative obscurity in Africa, is exciting. William Henley’s great Dictionary refers to Mayson in superlatives, ascribing him the quality of Genius. In his relatively short productive period of 31 years (1873-1904), he produced around 810 instruments.

The two-piece back and sides of this violin is of beautiful broadly-flamed matching maple. The top is of medium-grained spruce. The scroll is somewhat narrow but nicely proportioned. One sees a steady hand in the very clean tracing of the purfling. Somewhat long f-holes but nicely cut. Mayson’s varnish is known to be somewhat soft and brittle, and it appears that this violin may (or may not) have had a thin coat of varnish applied over the original (certainly long ago) probably more as a light touch-up and protection than as a replacement. I don’t regard this as a revarnish. The lower bout is somewhat wide at 21.2 cm and the length of back is 35.3 cm. The only discernable repair is a small one done to the button, but this does not seem to threaten the structural intergrity of the violin.

It seems that this violin was in amateur and student use for most of its life and was never played to the full of its potential. It has a beautiful tone – mature and rich and unusually responsive in all registers – a warm strong G-string to a clear and incisive E string. I believe is will benefit from a fresh setup to unlock its full potential. It has all the hallmarks of a really fabulous violin made by a fine craftsman who merited all the glowing reports about his work by Henley and Vannes.

Price: (Eventual Sales Price withheld by buyer.)

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Ref. 0147
Violin attributed to
Petrus Sanctus
MAGGINI


Brescia, ca. 1670

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This is a rare and interesting relic of the 17th century art of violin making. There is no doubting its age and it is generally accepted to be the work of Petrus Sanctus Maggini (1630-1680), as is indicated by the label. The exact date is illegible.

This violin is made of fine materials, with a particularly attractive maple back and double purfling throughout. The neck graft is expertly done. Other than an old repair to a crack in the lower left bout of the top, the instrument is in unusually sound condition, considering its age.

It is a pleasure to play on this responsive violin. It has an unusually big tone with a clear, open G and a bright E string. The sound is mature, as one would expect after 330 years, and is well-balanced through the full range of the register. Then tone is stable in high positions and the quality of the high positions on the E string is particularly attractive.

Not only is this a fine old collectors violin, but, depending on one's own taste in tone, it could be suitable for most work.

Price: US$5 000 (Sold via the internet to an American buyer.)

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Ref. 0586
A French Violin by the Firm of
JEROME THIBOUVILLE-LAMY (JTL)
Labelled "Buthod"

Mirecourt, circa 1890


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This label in this violin is misleading (as it was intended to be) – this violin is not the work of Charles Buthod, but is of the top-end range of instruments from the firm of Jerôme Thibouville-Lamy (JTL), made probably around 1890.

The reason for the Buthod label becomes more understandable when we consider that Charles Buthod (1810-1889) was one of the three founder members of JTL and was eventually its director. (The other two were Husson and Thibouville-Lamy). The firm’s annual output was 800 violins, 400 violas and 50 cellos, produced in three distinct grades, which were affordable alternatives to expensive handmade violins, and which brought violins into the hands of many excellent but less priviledged young musicians. The JTL firm was still operating in 1930, maintaining its same high standards.

The JTL fare is always good – they are well-made solid instruments of excellent materials and with good tone. I have not yet seen a JTL instrument that was not appealing to the eye – the backs usually are very attractive and the varnish pleasing.

This violin represents what one would normally find in a good JTL instrument – a beautiful one-piece back, well-flamed in medium curl maple, The sides, neck and scroll are not of the same wood, the sides being less markedly flamed, but attractive nontheless, and the scroll is well-flamed. The scroll is good but lacks the finesse one would associate with good handmade work of a masterworker investing himself, and the f-holes are somewhat functional and ponderous. However, what impresses is the purfling and the cornerwork – very good throughout. Varnish is characteristic red-brown – nice on the eye.

The tone is pleasant and responsive, as is the case with all JTL’s top-grade violins. After some 120 years, this violin has matured well and is in excellent condition. It would be a worthy acquisition for an advanced student, with entry-level professional possibilities.

Price: R28 000

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Ref. 0160
Violin by
Ernst Heinrich ROTH

Markneukirchen, 1928

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In 1928 Roth produced several violins based on a Stadivarius from 1725. These were exact replicas, meticulously reproduced in the finest detail, right down to the wear patterns on the varnish - all of which apparently made them difficult to distinguish from the original. This is one of those instruments.

This instrument was used for many years as principal instrument of a first violinist in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, but has been largely unplayed for the past number of years. It is in excellent condition. It shows really beautiful choice of wood and excellent artistic workmanship. It's very attractive to the eye.

This violin speaks easily. The tone is robust, bright and open with strong penetration. It is currently in London and the price available on demand.

(Sold to a buyer in London.)

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Ref. 0236
Violin by
Joannes Georgius LEEB

Ca. 1810


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This violin's label identifies it with the work of Johann Georg Leeb (1779-1817) and not with that of his father, who had the same name. Generally the son's work is preferred to the father's, with whom he learnt his craft.

This violin is based on the Amati model. The one piece back is of maple and the top of medium-grained spruce. The very dark brown varnish is typical of the younger Leeb's work. The instrument has a beautiful scroll, but lacks a neck graft, consequently it is doubtful whether the neck and scroll are the original. The varnish on the scroll however matches that of the rest of the violin.

Two cracks in the top have been expertly repaired by a craftsman called Lange, in Görlitz in 1889, and are stable. Furthermore a black ebony insert has been made in the right inner bout to repair probable damage by the bow's nut during performance (see photos). Other than this, the violin is in superb and sound condition and displays admirable craftmanship by this violin maker who died so young.

The tone is warm and pleasant and is capable of power and penetration. This violin was for many years the principal instrument of a well-known South African concert violinist who used it on many occasions for solo performances.

Price: R26 000

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Ref. 0369
Violin by
Antonio RICORDI

Rome, 1913


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This very attractive violin labelled Antonio Ricordi sounds as good as it looks. Made in Rome in 1913, it follows the Stradivarian pattern.

It is made of beautiful materials – the two-piece back and ribs are of well-flamed maple and the top of good quality medium-grained spruce. What is unusually impressive is the fine tracing of the purfling, particularly the way in which the corners are done. The scroll is attractive and well balanced. This violin is in mint condition without a crack or repair. The oil varnish is of attractive amber colour and is well-worn.

The tone is big and of good quality, well-balanced and even, right into the upper register. It speaks easily and with projection.

Price: R25 000

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Ref. 0488
Violin stamped
"Conservatory Violin"

Germany
Ca. 1890


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This violin is testimony of the very high quality of the “trade” output of some of the serious studios at the end of 19th century, when excellent materials were still easily available and affordable and when quality of workmanship superseded commercial imperatives.

A characteristic of the violin is the name “Conservatory Violin - Straduari” stamped into the back of the scroll (see photos). I have seen three other similar violins and all three were of excellent quality with beautiful tone. However, no amount of internet and printed research gave me conclusive answers as to the manufacturer of these violins, other than they being of German origin. The first mention of them anywhere was in some old catalogues of the main violin dealers in the USA. They are mentioned in catalogues from around 1890 through around 1910, but then seem to disappear off the scene. Which means they were produced over that period. All these catalogues make mention of the excellent materials, workmanship and tone.

Blatantly following the Stradivari pattern, this violin is of superb materials: The two-piece back and ribs are of truly attractive and excellent quality maple with a distinct medium curl. The neck and scroll are more plain, but the scroll is beautifully cut. The purfling is very nicely traced and tidy in the corners. The oil-based varnish of golden-brown colour. This violin is in mint condition.

The tone is bright, open and with carrying power. What makes it a pleasure to play on this instrument is the extreme lightness of touch and the ease with which the violin responds. All who try it out don’t want to put it down again.

Price: R25 000

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Ref. 0331
Violin by
J. H. ZIMMERMANN

Markneukirchen
Circa 1908


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Julius Heinrich Zimmermann (b. 1851) initially worked in St Petersburg, but eventually set up his studio in Markneukirchen where he used the finest craftsmen available to make his instruments, which were always superbly finished and beautifully varnished.

This violin bears one of the labels associated with his work, being the initials J.H.Z., set within a heart which in turn is contained within a circle (see photo). It is undated, but bears the signs of workmanship typical of Markneukirchen and other large German violin studios, so it can be safely said that the violin dates from soon after 1908 – the year in which he established a studio in Markneukirchen.

Although evidently well-used and appreciated by its previous owners, this violin is in mint condition and a superb example of Zimmermann’s output. The front is of broadly grained tone spruce; the back, ribs and scroll of medium-curled maple. Above all, the instument is varnished in an attractive, warm orange-brown oil-based varnish. Arching is somewhat flat, which contributes to its good strong tone. The present tail-piece and pegs are probably original – the former being elaborately embellished with mother-of-pearl inlays, and the latter also having small inlays. Throughout the violin is beautifully crafted with superb tracing of the purfling.

It is well-toned – clear, warm and responsive and is a pleasure to play on. The tone is stable throughout the full register, high into all positions.

Price: R22 000

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Ref. 0297
Violin by
Joseph ETTERSHANK

Leith, 1897.


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Joseph Ettershank lived and worked in Leith, England, at the turn of the 19th century. This violin, dated 1897 and numbered 14, is one of two of Ettershank’s violins known to be in South Africa.

Based on the Stradivarius model, this instrument is in superb condition with no cracks or repairs. It is characterized by a very reddish oil-based varnish. A peculiarity is that the back appears to be of poplar, or of a similar type of wood, cut on the slab, but definitely not of maple or sycamore. However, the ribs are of good maple, and the top of a finely grained spruce. The scroll is attractive, balanced and finely cut, but the purfling lacks refinement.

This violin is well-toned – it has a refined sound, balanced and pleasant, quite open and even throughout, right into the high positions where it responds well.

Price: R22 000

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Ref. 0403
Violin labelled
Carl Friedrich LIPPOLD

Neukirchen, 1786 ?.


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This is a fascinating violin, full of individualism and character. It bears the label of Carl Friedrich LIPPOLD, dated either 1780 or 1786 – difficult to discern. Since this violin maker was born in 1772 (d. 1854), this would make him extremely young when the violin was made. One would assume that 1786 is more correct, which would mean this violin is the product of his student days, but then one would hardly expect in it the label of the mature C F Lippold. It’s origins, in my view, remain unclear.

The top is of tone spruce, but the two halves are not in mirror, evidenced by divergent grain lines. The back is in one piece, cut on the slab – a somewhat dull wood with no flame. The scroll is nicely made and shows more refinement than the rest of the instrument – which leads one to think that it is by another maker. Purfling is nicely traced, but not with great refinement. The high arching – almost tyrolean – is not in character with descriptions of Lippold’s work. F-holes somewhat ponderous. The neck graft is well executed and the pegs have been rebushed.

This violin doesn’t have its original varnish, but has been revarnished at some stage with a pleasant golden-brown varnish. It is nevertheless an attractive instrument in exceptionally good - almost mint - condition.

The tone is robust and mature – a rich g-string and clear high register, even on all strings and positions – a worthy instrument. It was in professional use for a long time, and with reason.

Price: R22 000 (This violin was not sold through this website and has been withdrawn from sale.)

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Ref. 0138
Violin by
Léon BERNARDEL

Paris, 1932


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This violin is an attractive instrument. The two piece back and ribs are of deeply flamed maple and the top of well-selected spruce.

The label reads: "Léon Bernardel, Luthier. 40bis Faubourg Poissonnière, Paris. No 6382"

A bass bar crack has been expertly repaired and doesn't detract from the fine, clear and responsive tone one normally associates with a good French violin.

This violin has been withdrawn from sale.

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Ref. 0241
Violin by
Rolando RINFRESCHI

Italian,
Made in Durban, 2001


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This is the finest example of Rinfreschi's work I have yet come across. Although he now lives and works in South Africa, he apprenticed as violin maker in Pistoia, Italy, where he worked for a considerable time. All his wood and other materials are imported from the finest tone wood sources in Europe.

The back, in two parts, is of richly flamed maple. The top is of medium-grained spruce. The purfling is beautifully laid and reflects the quality of craftmanship evident in the rest of the violin. The reddish brown oil-based varnish is particularly attractive, giving real luster to the wood.

This instrument has a rich and satisfying tone, and considering that is has only just been made, one can expect the tone to develop to real excellence. The G-string is clear and open in all positions, and the high register is strong and penetrative. This violin should become an excellent solo instrument.

Price: R20 000

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Ref. 0233
Violin by
Johann Georg JAEGER

Markneukirchen
Ca. 1780


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Johann Georg Jaeger was active in Markneukirchen around 1780. The label in this violin corresponds exactly to those known to be of this German violin maker.

Although the violin has a double purfling, it is not a copy of Maggini – neither do the dimensions correspond to Maggini's, nor does the scroll have the extra turn normally associated with Maggini. The work appears to be of Jaeger's own originality and the double purfling was no more than an indulgence by Jaeger for reasons of embellishment.

This violin is in superb condition with no cracks or discernable repairs whatsoever. The top is of medium grained spruce and the many marks on the table are merely superficial. The one-piece back is of maple and the few dark lines across the wood are natural blemishes within the wood. It has a superb neck graft and an attractive scroll. It seems that the instrument was revarnished a long time ago; it is not clear for what reason, but it was expertly done and is not discernable at first glace.

The violin has a big and pleasant tone with a lot of penetration. It would be suitable for solo work.

Price: R18 000

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Ref. 0332
Violin by
Joseph ETTERSHANK

Leith, 1894


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There are two of Ettershank's violins in South Africa - this one and no. 0297, elsewhere on this website. They were formerly in the private collection of Dr. Ralph Palmer, and, following his death, have become available. This violin, with serial number 9, is signed by the maker, and dated 1894.

This instrument differs somewhat from the other one in that it is based on the Guarneri model. The plates are thicker and the varnish is an attractive golden brown, whereas the other instrument is quite red. The back is in two pieces, of mildly flamed maple, and the table of medium-grained spruce. This violin is in excellent condition with no cracks or repairs evident.

The tone is clear, pleasant and responsive. Considering that the instrument has not been used for probably 50 years, one can assume that it will develop well, once it is in regular use.

Price: R18 000

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Ref. 0429
Violin by
Edmund AIRETON
London, 1738

With Certificate
by Beare & Son (1925)


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The handwritten label in this violin simply states Edmund Aireton. Maker. London. 1738. There were two Edmond Airetons – father and son. The son (b. 1727) surpassed the father, but in 1738 would have been only 11 years old, so we can safely assume this violin is the work of the father, Edmond Aireton senior, who worked for the great English violinmaker, Peter Wamsley around 1735. The violin comes with a certificate from Beare & Son (1925).

The top is of broadly grained tone spruce and the sides of finely curled maple. The scroll is nicely cut from a somewhat plain maple and grafted onto a neck of splendid, nicely curled maple. The graft is masterfully done and all the pegholes have been rebushed. All this work has been meticulously executed and are of high order. The most attractive aspect of this violin is it’s two-piece back – of perfectly mirrored Bird’s Eye Maple with beautifully articulate curls (see photo). The corners are of the long Amati pattern, and the f-holes are well-cut, with strong character.

This instrument could pass as a “Lady’s Violin” – the dimensions are somewhat reduced. It is possible (given the attractive back) that it may originally have been made especially for a lady. The length of back is 35.1 cm. Across the lower bout it’s 19.3 cm. (- the norm being around 20.5 cm.) However, at 32.6 cm the testatura (vibrating length of the string) is normal.

Some repairs have been executed to the top, but are stable, with no other structural repairs evident anywhere else. It appears that this instrument may have been revarnished in a dark brown oil-based varnish, quite long ago, but this is not certain. This is neither obtrusive, nor mentioned by Beare, and may have been a light touch-up of the original varnish. This doesn’t detract from the charm of this old violin, which is full of character.

The last owner played professionally until his death. This violin was well appreciated for its warm, rich tone.

Price: R25 000 (This violin was sold to a London buyer)

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Ref. 0526
A German violin by
The SCHUSTER COMPANY

Markneukirchen
Circa 1875


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The Schuster family of violin and bow makers is vast and its history goes back deep into the 18th century. Some 30 makers of this family left their mark as excellent instrument makers and some excelled as bowmakers. By and large the name Schuster commands respect.

In 1824 Karl Gottlob Schuster founded a very important workshop which commercially produced string instruments. Ulrich Schuster and his brother Raymond joined this company in the late 19th century and for decades they dominated the German output of good quality trade instruments. They largely worked in contest with studios in Mittenwald and even Mirecourt, France. As a manufacturer they excelled in their choices of materials – always good and attractive woods, nicely crafted and varnished and with healthy good-quality tone. Raymond withdrew from the company in 1913 and Ulrich died in 1921. The company was then taken over by Nicolaus Schuster who became the sole owner. The company was still operating in 1951.

This Schuster company had different labels at different times : the label in this violin was used specifically during the 1870s and 1880s, which would agree with the fact that the original owner of the violin received it as a gift in 1876.

The violin is appealing on the eye – a really attractively flamed two-piece maple back, ribs, neck and scroll carries a good tone spruce top, the whole instrument being varnished in a red-brown varnish that compliments the materials well. The violin is in impeccable condition. Through the years it sustained some scratches and wear patterns, but these are strictly superficial and add to the character of the instrument.

The tone is of good quality, as is most of the violins produced by this company - clear and bright and speaks easily, with good penetration and carrying power.

Price : R 19 500.

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Ref. 0027
Violin by
Rolando RINFRESCHI
Italian, made in Durban
1999

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Rinfreschi's violins are widely used by professional orchestra musicians and advanced students throughout South Africa and elsewhere, and are generally recommended by leading South African soloists and academics.

He did his apprenticeship as violin maker in Pistoia, Italy, and has for the past number of years been living and working in Durban. As much he works in South Africa, his violins are nevertheless viewed as being essentially Italian.

For his instruments he imports top grade tone wood and fittings from Europe. Himself having been a professional principal violinist for many years, he has the advantage of being able to make his instruments in such a manner as to produce a fine tone.

This violin was made in 1999. As with all Rinfreschi's instruments, the materials are well selected and carefully crafted. The two piece back shows attractively flamed maple.

This instrument has a warm tone and speaks easily, with the refined tonal quality normally associated with Italian instruments.

Price: R18 000

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Ref. 0234
Violin by
Mathias NEÜNER

Mittenwald
Ca. 1865


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This violin is almost certainly the work of Mathias Neüner (1831-1890), grandson of the great violin maker of the same name, both of whom worked in Mittenwald. He freely used his grandfather's labels in his instruments and also at times dated violins to well before his own birth, passing his instruments off as those of the elder Mathias. This violin is one such an example, being dated 1816. However, the deep red varnish is associated with the work of the younger Mathias and the lack of a neck graft places the instrument's true date of production at around about 1865.

This violin is beautifully made and in superb condition without any cracks or apparent repairs. It appears that some alteration has been done to the varnish. It is my view that the deep red varnish is the original, but that someone has at some stage attempted to thin it down, possibly in an effort to enhance the tone, but that is speculative. I don't believe that the violin was revarnished. The varnish is very thin at places, but it still remains an attractive instrument.

The tone is pleasant and strong with fair penetration. This instrument would be a worthwhile acquisition for a violinist looking for a good violin that could be used for a wide range of applications.

Price: R18 000.

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Ref. 0310
Violin labelled
L.C.C. DOSI

Durban, 1922


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This violin bears a hand-written label with the name L.C.C. Dosi, dated in Durban, South Africa, in 1922. However, an calculated guess would be that Dosi is not the maker but may have executed some repairs on the violin. (Any information about L.C.C. Dosi would be appreciated, and if you know anything about this person, please share it with me.)

The violin’s back and scroll show traces of French workmanship. The two-piece back and ribs are truly beautiful – a lovely maple with a well-defined medium flame and light, golden brown varnish with a superb finish. The top, however, has been revarnished. As much as the top seems to differ from the back, the quality and style of work on the purfling seems to suggest that the top and back is after all by the same maker, particularly in the purfling’s tracing in the corners – quite nice work.

The top is of medium-grained spruce – very even and of good quality. Two cracks have been expertly repaired with cleats on the inside. The instrument is in very good condition.

The tone is big, clear and incisive with penetration and definition, particularly on the G-string, with power on the E string. The balance is good and even and generally this is quite a seductive violin to play on, since it is very responsive and speaks easily.

Price: R17 000

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Ref. 0311
Violin by
Ralph PALMER

London, 1952


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Ralph Palmer (1915-2000) had a successful violin business in Chelsey, London, before he moved to South Africa in 1974. Apart from his work as violinmaker and restorer of old instruments, and as Museologist (in which a held a Ph.D from the University of California), he was also an internationally renowned sculptor.

Palmer signed this violin in 1952 and his handwritten label indicates that it was made in Chelsea, London. He adheres closely to the Stradivarius pattern. This violin’s materials are better chosen than that of the other Palmer on this site (no 0314) - he used a finely grained spruce for the top; the two-piece back, sides and scroll are of medium-flamed maple and fittings are of ebony. (The chinrest in the photos have since been replaced by an ebony Guarnerius-model chinrest.)

The violin is in perfect condition with no repairs or cracks in it. The varnish is light brown and the purfling is very neatly traced. The scroll is well-cut.

The tone is clear and it speaks easy. It is well-balanced throughout the register and the high positions are stable. It’s a pleasant instrument to play on.

Price: R16 000

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Ref. 0443
Violin by
Albertus BEKKER

Johannesburg, 2005


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The South African violinmaker, Albertus Bekker’s work has already impressed to the extent that he now receives commissions from professional violinists. Whilst working towards the refinement of his instruments, it can be said that he has the tonal aspects well in control and seems to understand the tonal response of wood and how to get the best from it – his instruments tend to a dark tone and speak easily and with power.

The violin displayed in the accompanying photos is based on the Conte di Fontana Stradivari of 1702, which was used by the great Russian violinist, David Oistrakh and which served as main inspiration for Bekker. The materials are well-chosen – the two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of medium curled maple with a mild flame – this is Bosnian maple, the preferred maple for violinmaking. The top is of medium-grained tone spruce, which had grown in the Val di Fiemme district in Italy (from where it is said that Stradivari also sourced his wood). Purfling is well traced and the scroll nicely done with good balance. Throughout the violin is well made, the arching a little higher than the original model, and the F-holes elegantly done. This violin is the result of some 200 hours of work - all by hand.

Bekker makes his own oil-based varnish – in this case a gentle golden brown with a lovely shade of red. It is a very soft and delicate varnish that will allow the instrument to age gracefully. In this aspect he was inspired by the Cremonese love for red, gold and rusty tints in their instruments.

This particular violin has already been sold, but is left on this webpage for reference purposes as an example of Bekker’s work. The price of a commission is to be negotiated directly with him.

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Ref. 0235
Violin Labelled
"Joseph Sattler"

Probably German,
Circa 1800


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It is probable that this violin dates from around 1800. Although it bears a label of Josef Sattler (b.1866) from the period when he was working in Graslitz (up to 1915), this is definitely not Sattler's work, since the violin has every sign of being very much older. It is likely that Sattler worked on the instrument at some point, or simply sold it from his workshop, and hence put his label in it, not as maker, but as dealer.

The top is of medium-grained spruce and the back of a single slab of maple. The varnish is dark brown. Considering the reasonably well-cut scroll, it is surprising that the purfling is less successful.

The instrument is structurally in mint condition with no repairs, cracks or damage evident anywhere. It bears numerous superficial marks and some scratches that add to its character, but more interestingly, is has some inscriptions scratched into the varnish on the back and the front. Although these are quite clear, they are not readily legible and may even be in Cyrillic. The date "1801" is clearly discernable on the back (see photos).

The instrument is slightly under-sized at 35.5cm along the back, and could be rightly called a "Lady's violin". It has the main attribute that comes with advanced age – maturity of tone. It really has an appealing tone, less in volume than in refinement and quality – it speaks easily and with strength and is quite stable in the higher positions, notably on the G-string. Everyone who has tried out this violin, immediately liked playing on it.

Price: R16 000

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Ref. 0314
Violin by
Ralph PALMER

London, 1956


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The English violinmaker, Ralph Palmer (1915-2000), had a successful violin business in Chelsea, London, before he moved to South Africa in 1974. Apart from his work as violinmaker and restorer of old instruments, and as Museologist (in which a held a Ph.D from the University of California), he was also an internationally renowned sculptor.

This violin was made in London in 1956 and bears Palmer’s hand-written label. It follows the Stradivarian model. The two-piece back is of broadly flamed maple and the top of medium-grained spruce, with a few interesting figures in the wood. The varnish is golden brown and oil-based. The scroll is nicely cut, but the tracing of the purfling is somewhat rough and lacking, as is the working of the f-holes. The dark brown Rosewood fittings are very attractive – matching pegs, chinrest, tailpiece and endpin.

The violin is in perfect condition with no repairs or cracks.

It has a pleasant warm tone, is responsive and open, even throughout the register and clear and stable in the high positions.

Price: R12 000

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Ref. 0361
Violin labelled
J. B. Schweitzer

Germany, circa 1880


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Although bearing a label of Johann Baptist Schweitzer, with the date 1813 on it, this violin has all the hallmarks of the trade violins from the large studios in Saxony and the Tyrol. These instruments were aimed at the student market. This one was made probably around the end of the 19th century. William Henley confirms in his famous Violin Dictionary that this particular label was freely used by those studios. I have been contacted by several people in South Africa who own violins with precisely the same label and characteristics.

This violin is of fine materials – a medium-grained spruce top and an attractive one-piece maple back. The reddish-brown varnish is well-worn. All round the work is good. It is clearly quite an old instrument and is in particularly good condition with no cracks or repairs evident.

The tone is pleasing and some attention to the setup will greatly enhance the quality, which has good potential.

Price: R12 000

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Ref. 0119
Violin by
Arnold VOIGT

London, 1914

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This violin is consistent with Arnold Voigt's high standard of craftmanship. The materials are well chosen – a fine spruce top and well curled maple for the two part back and ribs, which have an unusually attractive flame. It's visually an appealing instrument.

A crack in the top was expertly repaired before 1940 and doesn't detract from the instrument's good condition.

The tone is warm, open and responsive. The G string is rich, right into high positions, and high register is stable.

Price: R11 000

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Ref. 0094
Violin by
Joan LUCA
& Stéfan OLAH


Romania, circa 1997


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This violin, with its clear and robust tone, was jointly produced by one of Rumania's foremost violin makers, Joan Luca, and Stéfan Olah. It is made of well chosen materials, and crafted with attention to the instrument's tonal properties, which are good. It speaks easily and is very even throughout its register. The tone is stable in the high positions.

It is of red varnish and is in excellent condition.

Price: R10 000

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Ref. 0516
Half Size Violin by the
Jérôme THIBOUVILLE-LAMY Co.

Branded "Nicolas Duchêne
à la Ville de Padoue"

Mirecourt, France
Circa 1920


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During the early 19th century, the family of Thibouville-Lamy established a large workship in Mirecourt, and for many years they set the French standard for high-quality trade instruments. Known as Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy Pty Ltd, the company was commony referred to as “JTL”. In 1908 they were joined by Hugues-Emile Blondelet, initiating their zenith period between the years of 1908 and 1928, the year of Blondelet’s death. Instruments from that era are greatly respected, not only for the excellent materials used in their production, but also for the fine workmanship displayed in the majority of their output.

This halfsize violin is branded “Nicolas Duchêne à la Ville de Padoue” on the inside of the back. That was one of the brand names registered for use by JTL and there can be no doubt that this is the work of the JTL company, dating from around 1920.

In keeping with the JTL tradition for using fine materials, this little violin has a stunning one piece back of distinct well-flamed maple with a medium curl. The neck and scroll appear to be of the same material with an attractive flame. The top is of medium to finely grained tone spruce. The violin has reddish brown spirit-based varnish that shows the wood off beautifully.The fingerboard and other fittings are of ebony. Throughout the violin is in virtually perfect condition. The length of back: 30.6 cm.

This violin would suit a talented child. It has very good tone which would greatly assist in making good progress. (Too often financial expediency takes precedence over quality, only to stint the rapid progress of a beginner, which becomes a discouragement for the child. Even children appreciate good tone and it is gratifying for them to hear the results of their efforts, which is made possible by a good violin. Many teachers of beginners know that no amount of effort will make a poor quality chinese factory violin sound good – what discouragement for the child!)

Price: R8 000

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Ref. 0169
Half Size Violin of
Unknown Origin

Probably German

Circa 1920

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This is one of the finest half size violins I have seen in a long time. It is made with unusually attractive materials, particularly the back, which is of well flamed maple; the top, of finely grained spruce, is carefully crafted and quite flat – which results in a strong tone that doesn't sound like a half size at all. The purfling is nicely done.

This violin shows the hand of a skilled craftsman, as is evident in the tone: it has a "big violin" sound that should please any talented youngster (or teacher, for a that matter) and would help a student to work on good tone production, even at young age.

(Note: on the accompanying photos the violin was fitted with a full size bridge, but it has since been redone with a proper half size bridge.)

Price: R 8 000

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Violas
 

Below are some violas sold in recent times. I have also left these instruments displayed on the Viola page of this site, marked "Sold".

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Ref. 0300
Fine Viola
Unknown Origin. 'Ex-Karl Hermann'

Probably Italian, ca. 1740


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This viola was always believed to be the work of David Tecchler (1666-1748) and is thought to have been made around 1740. However, this is no longer considered to be the case. The Cremonese authority, Bruce Carlson, pointed out that Tecchler made only three violas in the 40 years up to 1730. How do we know this? Because in his third viola he actually wrote the words “Third Viola” in Italian on the label. In the 18 years that followed to his death (1748), it is unlikely that he made more violas, and if so, he would almost certainly have numbered them similarly. All three his violas up to 1730 are accounted for. Furthermore, this instrument doesn't ressemble Tecchler's work very much, particularly not in the overall shape of the instrument and in the form and positioning of the f-holes.

The neck graft is masterfully executed (see photo), work worthy of this instrument. A crack from the lower end of the left f-hole downwards has been expertly repaired and is the only discernable repair in an otherwise superbly preserved instrument.

With a length of back of 39.5cm, it is considered a small viola. The upper bout measures 17.7cm across, the inner bout 12cm and the lower bout 22cm. The closest point between the f-holes is 37mm across and the diapason is 362mm. Height at the endpin (surface to surface) is 46.5cm and next to the shoulder 43mm.

The tone is exceptionally beautiful and explains why the viola was for the past one hundred and twenty years in the hands leading viola soloists.

This viola’s history is almost as impressive as the instrument itself: During the 1880s it was the main instrument of Karl Hermann, the young principal violist in the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, probably the most important violist of his day and a close associate of the aging Richard Wagner. Hermann was also principal violist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, but more importantly, he was violist to the Gewandhaus String Quartette, at that time the leading string quartette in Germany. There he played next to the most influential cellist of his day, Paul Klengel. (See the photos of this quartette, with Karl Hermann holding this same viola, standing next to Klengel.)

Hermann’s co-principal in the Bayreuth Orchestra, a certain Busowski, expressed his desire to Hermann to obtain this viola one day. After Hermann’s death and with the events of the Second World War, the instrument disappeared in Eastern Germany. Busowski was then a principal violist in the North German Orchestra in Hanover, West Germany. Soon after the war, someone smuggled the viola across from East Germany in a box of clothes, where it narrowly escaped being found by the border guards, and brought it to Busowski. How it was known after all those years that Busowski wanted the instrument, remains a mystery. When Busowski reached retirement he sold the viola to its present owner, who at that time himself was co-principal violist of North German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

This viola remains in high-level professional use to this day, in concerto, recital and chamber music performances. One would hope that it would continue in the tradition of excellence of which this great instrument has been a part for the past century and more.

(This instrument was eventually purchased by the principal violist of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Gareth Lubbe - the position that Karl Hermann once held. The purchase was made possible with the financial assistance of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.)

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Ref. 0548
Viola by
Vincenzo POSTIGLIONE

Naples, 1880

Certified by a
German Authority
(Berlin, 1973)


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This viola is a concert instrument of the hightest order and has been the principal instrument of a leading international soloist and academic. It has been used in performance in recitals and concertos throughout the world and also for numerous recordings and broadcasts. It was used in the premiere performances of several concertos dedicated to its owner, notably in the United States and Russia. Previously it was in the Kreuzberger String Quartette.

Vincenzo Postiglione (1831-1916) made 60 violas in his lifetime. Along with 278 violins, 115 cellos and 29 basses his total lifetime’s output in the violin family is a mere 482 instruments, of which this viola is numbered 97, made in 1880. This attests to the fact that he was concerned with quality of workmanship rather than with quantity. Today his instruments are accepted to be a benchmark in refined standards of craftmanship and superb tone, sought after throughout the world by leading performers, collectors and investors.

This viola demonstrates every aspect of Postiglione’s excellence to a superlative degree: Postiglione had a penchant for the Guarneri model which, in this viola, he traces immaculately, demonstrating his very best workmanship. The outline is perfectly drawn, choice of materials is superb and the orange red varnish is of the same colour, transparency and texture one would find in his finest instruments. Postiglione spent his life closely studying the work of the great masters, feeding on the traditions of Cremonese school and his scholarly approach is evident in his own work, to the intense satisfaction of all musicians who have the privilege of owning and working on a Postiglione.

The overall impression of this instrument is one of an elegance of outline not always associated with violas. The top is of superb tone spruce with a medium to very fine grain. The back is of well-flamed maple with a distinct medium curl. The instrument has a neck graft and the pegs have been rebushed. The length of the back is 41.1 cm, the upper bout is 19.4 cm, the middle bout 13.2 cm and the lower bout 24.2 cm. The viola is in excellent condition - free from cracks and from any evident repairs.

This viola is a proven concert instrument with a traceable record. It comes with a certificate by a leading authority.

High Resolution photos can be supplied on request.

Price: R 700 000 (Approximately USD 90 000, GBP 46 000, Euro 57 000, subject to exchange rate fluctuations.)

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Ref. 0522
Viola by
Peter POTS

Scurano, Italy. 2005


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After several years of apprenticeship, violinmaking and restoration work in Cremona, Peter Pots settled in the small mountain village of Scurano, not far from Cremona. For the past number of years this is where he constructs his instruments, and from where he supplies to leading dealers and musicians throughout Europe, notably in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and elsewhere. Today Pots commands considerble respect and regularly has musicians travel from abroad to visit his studio and to acquire one of his instruments.

Pots’s craftmanship is considered to be Italian. He received his early schooling in Cremona, where his father (also named Peter Pots) was apprenticed and worked as violinmaker. After university studies in South Africa, Pots returned to Cremona to study violinmaking under maestro Vanna Zambelli. After completion of the 5-year course in 3 years, he worked for the renowned restorers Bruce Carlson, Fausto Cacciatori and Bernard Neumann, where he had daily contact with some of the world’s finest instruments.

Peter Pots has always worked independently on his own instruments, often discussing critical points of design and sound production with his father, who specialized in the construction of violas. He also pursues direct contact with the musicians that would eventually use the instruments, considering their input and comment on his work. In this way he has had contact with some of the finest musicians in the world, such as Heinrich Schiff, Valentin Erben, Gerhard Schulz, Thabea Zimmermann, Thomas Riebl and many others who today own and perform on Peter Pots’s instruments..

This viola is small (length 39.4 cm) and was especially designed to be easy to play on without having to compromise sound. Pots pays particular attention to playing comfort: the rib height tends to be low, the neck is shaped carefully to suit most hands, similarly the neck projection is optimized for maximum bowing room at the bridge. The model was worked out especially with the purpose of getting the strongest and richest tone with the smallest possible size. This is obtained with a very wide middle bout and short c cuts together with rather short f holes, which assist in increasing the volume in the low range. The archings are low, which contribute to impressive tonal projection. The back is particularly thick, ensuring that the viola will have a long period of improvement, and it adds that particular “nutty” sound which is a characterisc of all Peter Pots’ instruments.

This instrument is made of excellent materials and is characterized by a beautiful golden amber varnish, thickly applied, but which maintains transparency throughout, allowing one to admire the beauty of the woods used. The purfling is impeccably traced, the corners are superb (see photos). The scroll is magnificent.

The doyenne of South African violists, Jean-Louise Moolman, considered this to be one of the finest instruments she has ever played on, and she particularly admired the tone quality and projection. This is primarily an instrument for solo performance.

Price: P O A

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Ref. 0354
An Interesting Viola
Venetian School

Circa 1790


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In a certificate from Oct. 1950, Dykes & Sons of London attributed this viola to a maker of the Venetian school at around the end of the 18th century.

It is an attractive instrument in an exceptionally good condition – no cracks are evident and a minor repair to the upper edge of the top is virtually invisible and shows masterly craftmanship. The two-piece back and ribs are of medium-curled maple, and the top of medium-grained spruce. The dark brown oil-based varnish is well-worn, particularly on the back, to a lighter-coloured under-varnish.

The same certificate attributes the head to another Venetian hand. Although the varnish on the scroll perfectly resembles that of the rest of the instrument, it could well be by another maker. The scroll is well-balanced and well-made, but it doesn’t display the same character as the rest of the intrument. It could well date from somewhat later – no rebushing of pegs or neck graft is evident.

Although in excellent state of preservation, a fresh setup, tailpiece, chinrest etc. would greatly enhance the appearance and appeal of the instrument. It has been in professional use for the past period of time and should hopefully continue within that context.

Dimensions: Length of back – 41.5 cm; Upper bout – 19.8 cm; Inner bout – 13.3 cm; Lower bout – 23.7 cm; Diapason – 36.7 cm.

Price: R125 000 (This instrument was eventually withdrawn from sale)

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Ref. 0484
Viola by
Fernando SOLAR GONZALES

Madrid, 1977


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This beautifully made instrument is unusually large with a Length of Back of 42.6 cm. It has been in professional use from its being made until now. It bears the maker’s label with the serial number 47.

The two-piece back is of maple with a narrow curl and feint flame. Parts of the rib components (and also the neck and scroll) appear to be of the same wood, but some of the rib elements could be of other wood, though matching, tending to be more plain. The top is of tone spruce with a medium to fine grain. The purfling is superbly traced with excellent work on the corners. The scroll is truly beautiful – bold, yet with elegance and nice balance. The golden red-brown oil varnish is attractive and shows the wood off nicely. The instrument is in mind condition and has no cracks or evident repairs.

This viola is superbly toned – the low register being much enhanced by the large size of the instrument. The tone is balanced and even and it speaks easily.

Price: R75 000

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Ref. 0295
Viola by
Amon BILMARK
(1894-1961)

Durban, circa 1945


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Amon Bilmark was born in Copenhagen in 1894. After competing his studies in Rome under Sacconi, he established himself in Durban, South Africa in 1929, where he lived and worked until his death in 1961. All Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, particularly those of Vannes and Henley, describe his work in glowing terms, especially praising his craftmanship and the superb tone of his instruments.

In recent decades, Bilmark is being viewed increasingly as probably the most important Danish violinmaker of the 20th century; his instruments are now virtually unobtainable, most of them apparently having made their way back to Denmark, where they are viewed as national treasures.

This viola is no exception to the high quality of his work. The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of a finely curled maple with a well-defined flame. The top is of very evenly grained spruce and the varnish of a light golden colour. Purfling is superbly traced and the scroll shows real mastery of the craft. Throughout this is a very attractive instrument.

With a Lenth of Back of 43cm, this is a large instrument with a big and robust tone.

The viola doesn’t have a label, but has Bilmark’s crest on the inside. Furthermore, current owner’s father bought this instrument directly from Bilmark.

Price: R70 000 (Approx. US$ 8 500)

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Ref. 0355
Viola by
Henry Richard KNOPF
(1860-1939)

New York, 1894


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Henry Richard Knopf was born in Markneukirchen in 1860. After completion of his apprenticeship under Bausch and later under Adam, he established himself in New York in 1880, at the age of 20. In his lifetime he produced 450 violins, 50 violas and 50 cellos. He died in 1939.

William Henley, in his famous Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers, speaks glowingly of Henry Richard Knopf’s work: “Workmanship most delightfully well finished. Scroll has that fine grace arising from a devotion to beauty – sound-holes also. Used the finest wood procurable. Orange red oil varnish of own compounding. Tonal quality very responsive and of fullest power.” That is an accurate description of this instrument, in every respect. The present set-up was by J J van de Geest, but I believe the instrument would benefit from a fresh setup and a new tailpiece, chinrest, etc.

This viola is virtually in mint condition with no cracks or repairs apparent. The two piece back and ribs, neck and scroll are of maple with a well defined medium curl. The top is of medium-grained spruce, all varnished in an amber-orange oil-based varnish of great appeal.

Dimensions: Length of back – 40.5 cm; Upper bout – 18.6 cm; Inner bout – 13.3 cm; Lower bout – 23.7 cm; Diapason – 36.4 cm.

Price: R65 000

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Ref. 0514
Viola by
Dawne HADDAD

Cape Town, 2005


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Dawne Haddad is one of South Africa's leading luthiers. She obtained a diploma in violinmaking in Cremona in 1982, where she worked and studied for 13 years, under the illustrious maestro Francesco Bissolotti. Dawne also specialised in instrument restoration under the guidance of Bruce Carlson. She returned to Cape Town in 1991.

She has made numerous violins, violas and cellos and is currently making cello number 60. Her instruments are played worldwide, from Anchorage to Adelaide, in orchestras like the the Berlin Philharmonic and the Lyric Opera in Chicago.

Internationally acclaimed musicians such as David Geringas, Janos Starker and Maria Kliegel have praised her work. In the words of Marian Lewin, the doyenne of cellists in South Africa: "My cello 'Maestoso' is going from strength to strength. It has given me hours of pleasure in practise and performance. Thank you Dawne."

This splendid instrument is based on the Stradivarius viola of 1650. The belly is made from fine-grained 30-year-old spruce from the Dolomite Alps. The scroll, back and ribs are from deeply flamed curly maple. The workmanship is exquisite, the fine handmade purfling creating a lovely overall impression.

The sound of the viola can be described as warm and responsive, with a deep sonorous bass. The eminent South African concert violinist and teacher, Prof. Jurgen Schwietering, owns a similar viola made by Dawne in 2004.

Price: R65 000

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Ref. 0546
Viola by
Thomas KENNEDY

London, After 1840


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This viola was for some time thought to be of Italian origin and ascribed to Busan, although nothing about it resembles Busan’s work, or even looks like Italian workmanship. However, only recently the very faint handwritten ink inscription on the back, just below the button, was decyphered as reading ”Thomas Kennedy, London”. Kennedy (1784 – 1870) commonly signed his instruments in this manner and since this viola largely resembles other known work of Kennedy, there can be almost no doubt that this is his work.

Thomas Kennedy was a student of the great English violinmaker, William Foster. He eventually set up a studio in London and became a prolific and respected maker who built some 2000 instruments in his lifetime, earning him a place among the most important English violinmakers of his time. He was known and appreciated in particular for his violas and cellos. His best work is from before 1840, whereafter the refinement of his workmanship went into a decline commensurate with his personal life, which spiralled into problems, bad business management and heavy drinking. However, he always remained in firm control of the tonal quality and standard his instruments, and so they always sound good and are to this day much in demand by professional musicians who appreciate the fine tonal properties of a good Thomas Kennedy.

A peculiarity of Kennedy is that he seldom used labels and almost never dated his instruments. He commonly signed them in ink on the back, just below the button, as is the case with this viola.

This viola certainly dates from a time, probably around 1850 or thereafter, when Kennedy ostensibly didn’t care much for the niceties of finish and preferred to concentrate on tonal quality. Although the scroll on this viola is really handsome and very well cut, the work on the purfling is rough and careless with no effort to disguise poor workmanship, leaving much to be desired. This is made up for by the quality of tone and choice of good materials, something in which Kennedy was very consistent.

The top is of medium to fine-grained tone spruce. The ribs, neck and scroll are of maple, but the one-piece back is of somewhat lacklustre wood cut on the slab and lacking any flame or curl or other character. It appears to be maple, but could also be pear wood, which was often used to make instrument backs. (The back of Jacqueline du Pré’s famous “Old Brown Stradivari” cello is of pear wood. It now belongs to Lynn Harrell.) The length of back is 41.6 cm.

The viola is in excellent condition, free from cracks or evident repairs, but the varnish is not the original. It appears that the revarnishing was done a considerable time ago. The varnish on the scroll (dark rich red-brown) may be the original, and if so it gives an idea of what the reset of the instrument may have looked like.

It is a deserving and well-toned viola.

Price: R50 000 (Approximately US$ 6 400 or GBP 3 200, depending on exchange rate fluctuations)

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Ref. 0449
Interesting Viola

Probably English

Circa 1730


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This interesting viola is very old, dating from probably around 1750. It is unlabelled, but its history, style and materials point at its possibly being English.

The materials, although attractive, are largely unmatched – the two piece back is of bird’s eye maple, but the ribs are of an identified wood. The table is of broad-grained spruce and the purfling is nicely traced. The scroll could be more refined and seems to be more generic and functional than a work of art. The neckgraft has an unusual cut and configuration, but is nevertheless well done. The neck is of lovely flamed maple. The f-holes are strong, attractive and full of character. Some minor repairs are evident in the table, but nothing obtrusive. The instrument is structurally sound and in good condition.

This viola seems to have been produced more for functionality than as a work of art. Yet, it is a charming instrument, with beautiful elegant lines. It’s beauty of tone is immediately apparent – it speaks easily and has a strong mature voice.

With a back length of 39.6 cm, it is a small instrument, and would be suitable for someone who plays the violin as well.

Price: R45 000

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Ref. 0116
Viola by
Vassil VALTCHEV

Bulgaria, 2000

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Valtchev is viewed as one of the most important violin makers in Bulgaria and is its leading maker of violas.

This particular instrument was brought from Bulgaria earlier in 2000. It is characterized by exceptionally fine selection of wood and immaculate workmanship. Valtchev supplies a certificate along with each of his instruments, in which he states precisely where the wood comes from that was used in the instrument.

This viola, like all his violas, are noted for its big and robust tone. It speaks easily and is clear and even throughout the register.

This instrument is presently being used professionally.

Price: R22 000

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Ref. 0114
An Interesting Viola of
Unknown Origin

Circa 1830


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This viola was for many years the principal instrument of one of South Africa’s leading viola players, and prior to that, it formed part of a private collection.

The length of the back is 42.2 cm. It may be either of German or English origin, is made of fine materials, particularly the top which is of finely grained spruce. The back was cut on the slab has an unusual curl. The neck graft is exceptionally well done and virtually invisible.

This is an old instrument and it is in entirety very well preserved with only minor repairs having been necessitated to two small ‘age’ cracks one normally finds in such old instruments. It was entirely revarnished in 1966 (except for the scroll) and this job seems to have been well done.

It has a warm and responsive tone.

Price: R17 500

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Cellos
 

Below are some of the cellos which were displayed on this site and which eventually got sold.

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Ref. 0373
Cello signed
Dr M GROSSMANN

Berlin
1909


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Max Grossmann authored the book, “Theory of harmoniously attuning the resonance plates – Secrets of the Old Cremonese Masters”, and also managed the annual publication (from 1904 onwards) of ”Critical observations on the various new systems of violin building”. He spent more than twenty years studying accoustics and evolved a new method of attuning violin backs and fronts. He claimed that his “New Cremona Violins” series (of which this cello is a product) were equal in responsiveness and tone to the old Cremonese instruments.

This cello bears the label of Grossmann’s company, and is signed by him, dated 1909. Further handwritten information on the label is lost, due to age (see photo).

This cello is from a superb background. Throughout it shows excellent craftmanship, with unusually beautiful tracing of the purfling and corners. The materials are excellent – a finely curled well-flamed two piece back and sides combined with a finely-grained spruce top carry a light-brown golden varnish. The scroll is well-proportioned and balanced. A crack in the top has been expertly repaired and the instrument is in very good condition. It would benefit from a new bridge and a fresh setup.

Price: R115 000

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Ref. 0301
Old cello labelled
Ant. et Hier. AMATI

Italian, circa 1600


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There can be no questioning this fascinating instrument’s age. The label - very old and not easily legible – reads: Antonius et Hieronymus Fr. Amati, Cremonen. Andrea fil F 1580. And indeed this cello has every sign one would expect of an instrument that claims its origin in 1580. It is well-used and not without some repairs. The instrument has been in the hands of experts such as J J van de Geest and Dawne Haddad and although not certified, the general concensus seems to be that this is not the authentic work of the great Amati brothers.

Interesting speculations have been proffered, suggesting that the instrument is largely composite and may have been constructed around an original Amati back. The f-holes don’t seem to be in character with the work of Amati, and suggests a post-Stradivarian design. But that remains speculative and the opinion of an internationally recognized expert would be interesting.

More recent assessments by two leading Cremonese authorities seem to concur on this not being authentic Amati, but the opinion was put forth that the cello is almost certainly Italian, possibly Viennese, or from another 17th century Italian violin making centre.

Whichever way you look at it, this instrument has fabulous character and is representative of an era of lutherie of which very few good examples are still at hand, particularly in South Africa. From its extraordinary and beautifully elegant scroll to the stunning one-piece back, it speaks of fine workmanship and age. It has had repairs to it, all apparently expertly done and appears to be in superb condition.

This cello is in the hands of one of South Africa’s principal cellists, and has been used extensively for solo recitals, concertos and recordings.

Price: Available on request.

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Ref. 0573
A Good Cello of
Unknown Origin

Circa 1880


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This cello has an interesting history in that it belonged to a French cellist, a certain Lamont, who was a pupil of Pablo Casals. Casals reputedly selected this cello for Lamont and he used it till his death in a car crash in 1938. His widow sold the cello to a cellist in Sofia, Bulgaria from whom the present owner obtained it.

It is unlabelled and its origin is unknown. Consensus is that it was made around 1880. It follows the Stradivari pattern and has very low arching on the top.

This instrument is notably a solo cello and was used as such. The last two owners were both principal cellists and soloists and this cello was used extensively for recitals and concertos. It has beautiful tone with carrying power, yet plays very easily. It is a very good instrument by all standards.

An attractive feature of this cello is its one-piece back with a narrow and distinct curl. The top is of fairly broadly grained tone spruce. The scroll is nicely made with deep fluting. The varnish is dark brown and a Fleur-de-lys emblem has been added to the centre of the back, probably later.

The cello has been subject to some repairs, all professionally done, and is structurally sound and stable.

Price: R110 000

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Ref. 0529
Cello by
Peter POTS

Scurano, Italy
2005


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After several years of apprenticeship, violinmaking and restoration work in Cremona, Peter Pots settled in the small mountain village of Scurano, not far from Cremona. For the past number of years this is where he constructs his instruments, and from where he supplies to leading dealers and musicians throughout Europe, notably in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and elsewhere. Today Pots commands considerable respect and regularly has musicians travel from abroad to visit his studio to acquire an instrument from him - notably his cellos and violas and in high demand by principals in European orchestras.

Pots’s work is considered Italian. He received his early schooling in Cremona, where his father (also named Peter Pots) apprenticed and worked as violinmaker. After university studies in South Africa (in Entomology), Pots returned to Cremona to study violinmaking under maestro Vanna Zambelli. After completion of the 5-year course in 3 years, he worked for the renowned restorers Bruce Carlson, Fausto Cacciatori and Bernard Neumann, where he had daily contact with some of the world’s finest instruments.

Peter Pots has always worked independently on his own instruments, often discussing critical points of design and sound production with his father. He also pursues direct contact with the musicians who would eventually use the instruments, considering their input and comment on his work. In this way he has maintained contact with some of the finest musicians in the world, such as Heinrich Schiff, Valentin Erben, Gerhard Schulz, Thabea Zimmermann, Thomas Riebl and many others who today own and perform on Peter Pots’s instruments..

This cello follows the Montagnana model, but not strictly, since Pots made some modifications to the original model, incorporating his own innovations which most impact on the musician's comfort during performance, and on the tonal properties of the instrument. This instrument is marginally shorter. As with all his instruments, the back is particularly thick, ensuring that the instrument will have a long period of improvement, and it adds a particular focus and richness which is a characterisc of all of Peter Pots’s cellos.

The top is of high-grade fine-grained tone spruce with a very straight grain. The two-piece back, ribs and scroll are of maple with a medium curl and distinct, well-defined flame, notably on the ribs. The scroll is bold, yet elegant and well-balanced. Peter Pots manufactures his own purfling, which is normally quite narrow, particularly for a cello. The purfling in this case is superbly traced and the corner work very accurate with great attention to detail (see photos). The varnish has very high degree of transparency, showing the beauty of the materials to great advantage.

This cello now belongs to the Austrian cellist, Regine von Schlichting. It is being displayed here for information purposes, since Peter Pots accepts commissioned work. The waiting list is impressive.

Note: High resolution photos are available on request.

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Ref. 0509
Fine Cello of
Unknown Origin

Circa 1780


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This fine cello was brought to South Africa from the United States 15 years ago as a gift for its present owner. Although it had been repaired by the violinmaker, Joseph H. Stamps in Fort Worth, Texas, in February 1948, it eventually became part of a private collection of fine instruments belonging to a Californian collector. In spite of its unusually big and beautiful tone, it has hardly been played on over the past number of years.

There is divergence in opinion as to the origin of this cello. Whereas the general opinion was that the instrument is Italian, at least one leading South African violinmaker felt that the purfling and corners were reminiscent of Southern Tyrol. Jimi Glenister, a maker and restorer in the Cape, who has had years of exposure in London dealing with old instruments, also feels that this is a German instrument. It’s origins will probably never be known for certain.

The two-piece back is of excellent maple with a distinct flame and medium to narrow curl. The top is of medium grained tone spruce. The ribs throughout match the back in curl and aspect. The purfling is steady, but the edges are narrow and the corners tapered into unusually narrow points. The f-holes are elegant and well proportioned in the instrument, making for an appealing top. It is doubtful that the neck is the original, as it is very well-flamed as opposed to the lack of flame in the scroll. The scroll appears to be the original grafted onto a new neck. Some inlays have been made to the sides of the peg box, evidently to reinforce peg cracks. All the pegholes have been rebushed. The pegbox is structurally sound and not compromised. The varnish, although well worn, appears to be the original – an attractive red-brown oil-based varnish.

The top of the cello has had cracks repaired, mainly three cracks running from the bottom edge upward, but only for around 20 cm and one running from the top right edge down for about 10cm. They have been repaired and cleated on the inside, along with some cracks in the ribs, but the work could have been tidier. Repairs to the corners on the top is not as neat as could have been, and there is evidence of wood filler used on the lower edge and some of the front corners – a pity, as it reflects poorly on whoever worked on the cello. The cello is nevertheless structurally completely secure, as was established recently when it was opened for some minor repair to the base of the neck.

This instrument has an unusually big and rich tone, speaks easily and projects well. All leading cellists, both principals and soloists, who have tried out this cello, was very excited by it, as it is not only a very appealing and attractive instrument, but principally a solo instrument of high quality.

Price: Available on request.

Note: High resolution photos are available on request.

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Ref. 0374
Cello by
NEUNER/HORNSTEINER

Mittenwald
Circa 1890


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This cello is likely the product of the collaboration between Johann Hornsteiner (1863-1952) and Neuner, who had his studio in Berlin. The undated label indicates that it is a copy of Stradivarius, and made in Mittenwald. Although Hornsteiner worked in Berlin during his association with Neuner, it is conceivable that this cello was produced in a workshop in Mittenwald, for the studio in Berlin. This would not be one of the 15 cellos that Hornsteiner made in his life. He moved to Chicago relatively early in his life and one can reasonably conclude that this cello dates from around 1890.

The cello is of good material: two-piece maple back and good quality spruce for the top. Workmanship is good, particularly on the scroll. The varnish is a nice red-brown, showing some wear. The instrument shows signs of having been well used. Pegs have been rebushed and the scroll reinforced. This is a sign of an instrument that has worked a lot, and consequently one can conclude with confidence that its properties were appreciated by its pervious owners of the past 110 years. A crack in the top was repaired in Cape Town in 1996. This is an attractive old cello with a lot of character. It is in good condition, but could do well with a fresh setup.

Price: R65 000

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Ref. 0436
Interesting Cello
Unlabelled

Prob. English or American
Circa 1880


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This interesting old cello dates from around the end of the 19th century. It has no maker’s label in it, but has a small label, possible a old dealer’s sticker, which reads: “Horne, Thompson & Co., La., Burton.”. This would imply that it’s origin is probably more American or English, than continental. (If anyone has information about that label, I would be happy to know more about it.)

It is intriguing that the materials for the different components of the cello are all completely unmatched: the top is of good quality medium-grained spruce. The two-piece back is of maple with a fine curl, but the two halves are not fully matched – the right half has some interesting knots in the wood (see photo). In turn, the ribs are of attractive Bird’s Eye maple with strong patterns and curls. The neck an scroll are of plain maple. The scroll is attractive and nicely cut. The pegs seem to be of Yellow Wood – old but functional and attractive. The varnish, oil-based, also varies in colour and consistency over the front, back and sides. The cello has no real purfling – the lines are drawn in ink.

This instrument was recently discovered and retrieved from a state of delapidation and neglect. It has since been fully restored. The top has some small cracks – not of significance and all repaired. The back is free of cracks, but the ribs has a few “character” cracks (often associated with Bird’s Eye maple which doesn’t bend well) which have all been repaired and reinforced from the inside. Some inlays had to be made around the corners (see photo). It appears that some damage to the joint between neck and scroll was roughly repaired. The option was to separate the two and redo the work, but the craftsman in question felt that, although somewhat rough in appearance, the repair is stable and solid with no risk of failure. In all the cello is structurally sound and in good condition.

The best part of this instrument is it’s tone – it has the maturity associated with older instruments, speaks easily and is even in its range over all the strings. It is very pleasant to play on. All professional musicians who has so far played on it (Boris Kerimov, Lubin Gadev, Tilla Henkins and Arend Brink) really liked it.

Price: R65 000

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Ref. 0381
Cello labelled
Wilfried Leonhardt

Mittenwald/Karwendel
Germany, Circa 1950


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This cello shows very good workmanship in all aspects. Whether Wilfried Leonhardt himself is the maker of this instrument, or whether this cello was constructed under his supervision in his studio, is not clear. The maker himself would normally date the instrument and in most cases give it a serial number. This cello is undated and bears only the label, which indicates that it was probably produced under his oversight.

This is really a fine instrument in excellent condition. No cracks or repairs are evident. The materials throughout are well-chosen – the top is of very even medium-grained spruce and the two-piece back and ribs are of nicely-flamed maple with medium curl. The scroll is particlarly well-cut and the purfling is quite meticulous, showing the hand of a superb craftsman. The back bears the same crest as the label, branded into the wood. (See photos) This cello would benefit from a more expert setup and it is my view that the bridge needs replacing.

The tone is very satisfying – open, even and responsive throughout.

Price: R60 000 (This instrument was eventually sold for slightly less.)

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Ref. 0387
Cello by
Vasile GLIGA

Reghin, Romania, 2001


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Vasile Gliga is currently one of the leading violinmakers in Romania. This cello was made in 2001 and is modelled entirely on Montagnana’s famous cello of 1739, dubbed “Sleeping Beauty”. This beautiful instrument was brought to South Africa recently by the cellist of a Romanian ensemble that toured here. It was subsequently left here and offered for sale.

The cello is made of a superb choice of materials – the back, sides, neck and scroll are of well-flamed maple with a small, clearly articulated curl of exceptional beauty. The top is of finely-grained spruce. The scroll is splendid and the purfling very well traced. The cello is varnished in a golden reddish-brown oil varnish that greatly compliments the natural beauty of the wood. Throughout this is a cello of great appeal.

Price: R55 000

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Ref. 0014
Interesting Cello of
Unknown Origin

Probably French or English
circa 1880

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A fine cello of unknown origin, probably French or English.

It has larger dimensions than is normal (Length of back 760mm: Across lower bout 435mm: Across upper bout 335mm), which is characteristic of the Stradivarius "large" model. The back is in two halves. There is no neck graft. It has a very flat table of broad grain wood. Varnish very dark reddish brown. Ribs somewhat lighter in colour. Good purfling and elegant corners. Attractive well-cut scroll.

The cello was brought to South Africa from England about 20 years years ago. In England it was used by a gifted amateur, who bought it from Beares in 1947. A peculiarity is that the great English conductor and cellist, Sir John Barbirolli, often used this cello as practice instrument during the 50's.

This cello has been on loan to several South African cellists for professional work. It was recently on loan to a participant in the prestigeous South African String Players Competition.

This instrument has an exceptionally big and open tone that speaks very easily. Powerful C-string and open A, with generally a darkness to the sound. This cello is suited for solo work, more that tutti orchestral work. Three principal South African cellists who played on this instrument supported this view. There's no doubting the superiority of the tone, both in beauty and volume.

Reference numbers appear on the lower left bout and just next to the tail pin. These correspond to the referencing system used by Beares at that time. Furthermore, the general feeling is that the instrument dates from about 1860 to 1890.

Price: R30 000

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Considering the very high turnover of bows this site has generated,
this Bow section is far from comprehensive, but here are some of the bows sold through this site in recent times.
Below are listed firstly Violin Bows, followed by Viola, Cello and Double Bass Bows. You'll have to scroll - no shortcuts to the sections, sorry...

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Ref. 0501
Violin bow by
James TUBBS
Silver Mounted


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It is universally accepted that James Tubbs (1835-1921) ranks among the five or six most important bowmakers in history. The authority, Henley, calls him “this champion” and places him alongside Tourte, Pecatte and Voirin. String players generally regard his bows as extremely desirable, and will often go to great lengths to obtain one and collectors may pay huge amounts to own one.

Henley says this about Tubbs, who was also appointed bowmaker to the Duke of Edinburgh: ”Intimately acquainted with the minutiae or perfect balance, familiar with the diversified style of celebrated predecessors, trained by long study of all the laws, wisely assimilated suggestions from various violinists, brought a refined and mature tact in seizing all the bearings couched under strength and elasticity, imbued with a sincere love of artistry and profound reverence for its dictates, and withal, endowed with a natural gift of manipulative skill. Possessed every qualification peculiarly fitting him to produce everything replete with perfection.”

This bow, stamped ”JAS TUBBS”, has a round stick of very dark brown Pernambuco – his preferred type of stick. The tip is silver-mounted and all other fittings are of silver. The ebony frog with a simple mother-of-pearl eye, seems to be the original. Although it has obviously been used a lot, it is in excellent condition, free from repairs.

The stick is characterized by unusual lightness, combined with strength and truly perfect balance. I can safely say it is one of the finest bows I’ve ever played with.

Price: P.O.A.

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Ref. 0561
Violin bow by
Eugène SARTORY
Silver Mounted


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Eugène Sartory was born in Mirecourt, France, in 1871. After initially studying bowmaking with his father, he worked under Peccatte in Paris and later with Lamy until he opened his own workshop in Paris. He died in 1946. The bows of Eugène Sartory are universally admired by all string players as being among the most desirable.

This bow is of pernambuco, cut round. The silver-mounted plain ebony nut and silver adjuster it is currently fitted with, are not original, however, I believe the black whalebone lapping and thumbpad may be by Sartory. The stick itself is exquisite with a deep vertical flame, is in impeccable condition with no repairs and is perfectly straight.

The playing properties are consistent with what you would expect of a good Sartory.

Weight: 66g

Price on application.

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Ref. 0129
Violin bow by
W. E. HILL & SONS
Silver Mounted


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This silver-mounted bow, stamped W. E. HILL & SONS, is almost certainly the work of Sydney Yeoman (1876-1948), who on some occasions used ivory for his frogs. The letters “Y Y”are stamped into the ivory slide surface and into the shaft, next to the lower mortise. Furthermore, the bows Yeoman made for Hill had the number 6 on the silver tip facing under the hair, and this bow bears the number “VI” (6 in roman numerals) below the top mortise. Another bow by Yeoman, identical to this one (also with an ivory frog), similarly has the Hill name stamped upside down into the shaft.

The stick is octagonal and the lapping of whalebone with a leather thumbpad. The frog has a minor crack in the ivory on the far side (see photos), but according to bow maker, Jimi Glenister, this doesn’t threaten the structural integrity of the frog. There are also two minor cracks in the ivory of the button.

The tip has had 5mm of wood grafted onto the head, into which the top mortise is cut. This is an impeccable graft, which doesn’t threaten the bow’s security. Glenister, two other violinmakers (and I) believe that he graft was probably executed in the Hill workshop, soon after the bow was made.

This bow has been in full-time professional use for the past 40 years. It is one of the finest bows I’ve ever played with and I regard its properties from the perspective of a violinist, as extraordinary.

Price: P.O.A.

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Ref. 0154
Violin bow by
Albert NÜRNBERGER


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This appears to be the work of Karl Albert Nürnberger, who was born in Markneukirchen in 1906. He was of a long line of Nürnbergers which goes back all the way the the mid 18th century, and worked closely with his father in their studio. He produced bows of extreme refinement and exceptional quality.

This is one of several Albert Nürnberger bows in South Africa. They were imported into this country by the great Danish violinmaker, Amon Bilmark, who was based in Durban, and who recognized the exceptional quality of Albert Nürnberger’s work. During the Second World War Nürnberger and his family were hard hit by food shortages and lack of materials, and Bilmark used to send him food parcels and other necessities in exchange for his bows. Most of the Nürnbergers we in have in South Africa, are here as a result of this exchange Bilmark had with this great German bowmaker.

The bow is of high-grade Pernambuco or a deep wine-red colour, cut round. The nut is of unembellished plain ebony.

This bow has exceptional qualities that put it in an advanced league. Balance and smoothness of performance is immediately noticable. The stick is firm, making for very good string contact and control. It was in professional use for years and was some five years ago aquired by one of South Africa’s leading concert violinists who used it in virtually all his solo recitals and concertos. He has since aquired other bows and now wishes to sell this bow.

Price : R25 000

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Ref. 0131
Violin bow by
W. E. HILL & SONS
Silver Mounted


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This octagonal bow with its silver mountings and whale bone winding is in excellent condition.

It has all the qualities one would want in a silver mounted Hill.

Sold to a buyer in the USA.

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Ref. 0481
Violin bow by
Louis BAZIN
Silver mounted

Mirecourt, France.
Ca 1920


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Of the highly esteemed Bazin family of bowmakers operating in Mirecourt, France, from around 1840 onwards, Louis Bazin (b. 1881) is considered the most important and has achieved the highest standard and reknown in his craft. He started making bows from the age of 12. During the 20th century Louis Bazin’s bows were widely acclaimed by French virtuosi. The great authority, William Henley, simply states of Bazin’s work: ”No better bows made by any contemporary maker.”

This silver-mounted bow is of a perfectly straight Pernambuco stick, cut round. The screw is of plain silver, and the ebony nut - mounted in silver - has a Parisian eye and a rounded heel. The tip is mounted in bone.

This bow’s properties are impressive. It is light, but firm, allowing for very direct control of the string. It has superb balance and marvelous weight distribution, making play comfortable. Excellent spiccato. Without reservation, this is one of the finest bows I have yet played with.

Price: R25 000

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Ref. 0466
Violin bow by
Alfred NÜRNBERGER
Silver mounted

German, ca 1940


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This bow, stamped *Albert Nürnberger* would be the work of Karl Albert Nürnberger, who was born in Markneukirchen in 1906. He was of a long line of Nürnbergers which goes back all the way the the mid 18th century, and worked closely with his father in their studio. He produced bows of extreme refinement and exceptional quality.

What makes this bow of unusual interest (and a potential collector’s piece) is that it was recently retrieved from obscurity and oblivion and appears to have been virtually unused since it’s making. It is truly in mint condition, as if made only yesterday. The bow is of high-grade Pernambuco, cut octagonally. The unembellished plain ebony nut is mounted in fine silver. The plain screw is of silver and the tip of bone. The bow is perfectly straight.

Several of this maker’s bows are today in South Africa. They were imported into this country by the great Danish violinmaker, Amon Bilmark, who was based in Durban, and who recognized the exceptional quality of Albert Nürnberger’s work. During the Second World War Nürnberger and his family were hard hit by food shortages and lack of materials, and Bilmark used to send him food parcels and other necessities in exchange for his bows. Most of the Nürnbergers we in have in South Africa, are here as a result of this exchange Bilmark had with this great German bowmaker.

A further note of interest is that during the difficult war years Nürnberger could not obtain silver or mother-of-pearl to mount his better bows in, and many of his finest sticks were mounted in nickel and plain ebony frogs, often with inferior mother-of-pearl. Yet, this particular bow is mounted in silver with fine mother-of-pearl. This would signify that the bow was either made well before the outbreak of the war, or some time after the war. I opt for the period before the war, because apparently Bilmark stopped imported these bows soon after the war was over.

Price : R25 000

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Ref. 0537
Violin bow by
Emilio SLAVIERO
Silver-mounted Hawksbill nut
Cremona, Italy. Ca 1995


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Emilio Slaviero was born in Cremona, Italy, and still lives there today. He considered one of Italy’s truly great contemporary bowmakers and commands great respect in the violin world, not only in Italy, but throughout the world. His bows are featured in some leading international catalogues and have been reviewed in the world’s leading violinmaking and bowmaking publications.

Slaviero has made bows using various names at different times and for different purposes. This bow, stamped “J. LABLANCHE”, was used professionally for many years. This fine pernambuco stick is cut round and fitted with a light coloured silver-mounted horn nut, bearing a single mother-of-pearl eye. The lapping is of whale-bone and the thumbpad of leather. The stick is very firm, yet light, making the bow very responsive and allowing for very direct control over the string. It has excellent balance and its lightness makes for ease of play without loss of articulation or tone in rapid passages. It is in excellent condition.

The bow truly has excellent playing properties that have been noted by all who have used it or tried it out.

Slaviero’s bows are offered on this site at a fraction of what they would normally cost in Europe or in a reputable outlet. Documentation of authenticity is available by Slaviero himself and will accompany any of his bows featured on this site.

Price: R20 000

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Ref. 0571
Violin bow by
Adolph C. SCHUSTER

Markneukirchen, ca 1920


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Despite being born into one of the most prolific families in the violinmaking traditions of Germany, Adolf C. Schuster (1890-1947) early on recognised the merits of French bows and spent his entire life studying and emulating the work of particularly Voirin and Tubbs. There is very little about his work that is German and in many ways he is more “un-German” than his best French counterparts. Playing with an Adolf C. Schuster bow is similar to playing with a Tubbs, the properties of which he copied with an extrordinary degree of success – they have the same light suppleness that is so sought after and appreciated in good French bows, yet with just the right degree of firmness and balance not to detract from the suppleness but yet which gives more direct control over the string whichout becoming hard or weighty. In my own experience I found that the A C Schusters I have used in fact at times superseded the Tubbs bows I have tried in their control, balance and general response to what the player intends and asks for. These are excellent bows.

This bow has been well used and was recenly completely cleaned up and serviced by Svend Christensen. The octagonal stick is from a beautiful piece of dark red pernambuco and the nut is original, bearing the maker's brand on the flank. Is is free from cracks, but has a minor repair to the right side of the tip, which poses not structural threat.

This bow, which was purchased in Leipzig in the 1950s, has excellent playing properties which have been positively commented on by several professional vioinists.

Price: R 18 000.

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Ref. 0475
Violin bow stamped
C. A. HOYER
Silver mounted

German, ca 1930


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This bow was initially thought to be the work of the great O. A. Hoyer, but close examination conclusively shows the stamping to read C. A. Hoyer. It dates from around 1930.

The octagonal stick is of excellent Pernambuco, beautifully straight. The ebony nut has a single mother-of-pearl eye and is mounted in silver. The tip appears to be of ivory.

René Vannes’ famous French publication on Lutherie refers to C. A. Hoyer as being of the Hoyer family’s commercial output. However, this bow has excellent properties that any serious and professional violinist would value greatly. I consider it to be one of the finest bows I’ve played with in recent times.

Price : R18 000

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Ref. 0474
Violin bow by
H. R. PFRETZSCHNER
Silver mounted

German, ca 1890


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Of the large Pfretzschner family of violin and bowmakers, René Vannes singles out Hermann Richard Pfretzschner (1857-1921) as follows: ”Pfretzschner is considered as one of the foremost German bowmakers whose work has universal reknown.” Henley writes of his work: ”He attained a world-wide reputation, possibly second to none. Beautifully balanced affairs, strong yet full of elasticity, backed up by the neatest workmanship. (…) All harmony in perfection and nothing wanting to complete the fascination of the whole.”

Although German, H. R. Pfretzschner went to Paris to study with Vuillaume. As it turned out he was Vuillaume’s last pupil. He afterwards established himself in Markneukirchen, in 1880. In 1901 he was appointed by the King of Saxony as bowmaker to the Royal Court of Dresden.

This bow, of pernambuco cut into a round stick, shows the characteristics of about 100 years of use. A very slight degree of wear in the wood is evident at the grip and along the shaft, and the thumbpad is somewhat worn, but for the rest the stick is sound and perfectly straight. The ebony nut has a simple mother-of-pearl eye and the metal fittings are in silver. The tip is ivory.

The bow has excellent playing properties.

Price: R18 000

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Ref. 0452
Violin bow by
Wilhelm DURRSCHMIDT
(1863-1937)
Silver mounted

Copy of Dodd

Markneukirchen, ca 1930


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This bow is a copy of the work of Dodd, and is stamped “Dodd” where the name of the maker normally would appear. However, the maker's name is stamped on the other side of the stick.

Wilhelm DURRSCHMIDT lived and worked in Markneukirchen throughout his life. Although principly a bowmaker, he established a studio in 1887 which also produced various stringed instruments.

This silver-mounted bow is of pernambuco, cut into a round stick. The nut is of plain ebony, withoug an eye. The silver screw, likewise, is plain. The bone mounting on the tip is damaged, but could easily be remounted by a good craftsman.

The bow is reminiscent of some German bows from the years between the two World Wars, when mother-of-pearl and silver were difficult to obtain, and bowmakers (eg. Alfred Nürnberger) opted for a plain ebony nut. Considering this, I would guess that this bow dates from the latter part of the maker's life. The stick and fittings are in excellent condition and the bow appears not to have been used much, which means that the winding and thumbpad - after some 75 years - may still be the originals.

It has excellent properties – fine balance and with an unusual smoothness.

Price: R 18 000

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Ref. 0465
Violin bow by
Richard WEICHOLD
(1823-1902)

German, ca 1890


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Richard Weichold was born in Dresden in 1823 and studied bowmaking under Pfretzschner in Markneukirchen – then the leading bowmaker in Germany. He moved to Hamburg, but later returned to Dresden where he remained until his death in 1902.

Weichold was considered to be one of the leading bowmakers during the late 19th century. He was the preferred supplier of bows to the foremost virtuosi of his day – Henley refers to some “magnificent” bows that contributed to the comfort and skill of leading soloists of the 19th century.

This bow, stamped R. WEICHOLD, (and refurbished since the photos were taken) is of pernambuco cut octagonally. The ebony nut has a simple eye and metal fittings seem to be of high grade nickel silver.

This bow is perfectly straight and has truly excellent properties that any serious violinist would appreciate.

Price: R 18 000

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Ref. 0154
Violin bow by
Albert NÜRNBERGER


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This is unusually beautiful Pernambuco. Its deep, wine-red and slightly flamed aspect, makes this an exceptionally attractive bow. The stick is round and the bow is in excellent condition.

Its qualities yet supersede its appearance – it is exceptionally well balanced and smooth. It's one of those bows which does everything for you and which makes the most difficult passages easy. Some of South Africa's leading violinists have tried it out and without exception all have praised its quality and expressed the desire to own it.

It is arguably one of the finest bows currently available in South Africa and should be in the hands of an accomplished soloist.

Price: R16 000

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Ref. 0539
Violin bow by
Emilio SLAVIERO
Silver mounted

Cremona, Italy


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The Cremonese bowmaker, Emilio Slaviero, is today considered one of Italy’s truly great contemporary bowmakers who commands great respect throughout the world. His work is featured internationally by leading dealers and has been reviewed in the world’s leading violinmaking and bowmaking publications.

This used bow, bearing the stamp of Slaviero’s personal workshop, has a silver mounted ebony nut with a double Parisian eye. The reddish pernambuco stick is cut round. The lapping is of nickel-silver wire and the thumbpad of leather. This is one of Slaviero’s heavier bows, with a firm stick. It has excellent balance and articulation and is a pleasure to play with.

Documentation of authenticity is available by Slaviero himself and will accompany this bow.

Price: R15 000

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Ref. 0055
Violin bow by
E. M. PENZEL

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A round stick of dark Pernambuco, this bow combines lightness with considerable firmness.

Well-balanced, smooth and a pleasure to use.

Price: R15 000

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Ref. 0469
Violin bow by
F. C. PFRETZSCHNER

German, ca 1910


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Neither the French authority, René Vannes, nor William Henley lists F. C. Pfretzschner. However, this bow has all the characteristics of excellent workmanship associated with the Pfretzschner family, and the catalogues of some leading auction houses and dealers offer this maker’s bows.

This bow is old, probably dating from the beginning of the 20th century and shows some wear of the wood at the grip, which is charcteristic of a bow that was well-used and appreciated. The excellent pernambuco stick, cut octagonally, bears an ebony nut with a somewhat small mother-of-pearl eye. The fittings are of nickel and the tip appears to be in ivory.

When using this bow it is immediately apparent why it was so well used – it has excellent playing properties for any discerning violinist : light yet firm, allowing for good string contact; well-balanced with excellent and easy spiccato.

Price: R 14 000

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Ref. 0218
Violin Bow by
Adolf C. SCHUSTER

Circa 1930


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This pernambuco stick is cut octagonally and stamped Adolf C. Schuster. It also has the maker’s crest branded into the ebony nut. The nut is silver-mounted and the tip is in ivory. It was made around 1930 and is in excellent condition.

The bow is somewhat heavy and very steady. It has a fine spiccato and is stable in legato playing. It is good quality bow suitable for very advanced playing.

Price: R9 500

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Ref. 0155
Violin bow by
Albert NÜRNBERGER


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An octagonal cut from fine Pernambuco, this bow has been well used professionally and is still in excellent condition. The nut is probably not the original.

It is very smooth and well balanced and is a pleasure to use. It would be most suitable for a professional violinist.

Price: R9 500

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Ref. 0103
Violin bow by
CUNIOT-HURY
Mirecourt, Circa 1930
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An excellent Pernambuco stick, cut round.

This bow is quite old and is a fine example of the French art of bow making – tapered nut set into grooves in the stick, which makes for great lateral stability of the nut. The mountings at the nut are in silver, as is the winding.

This bow has been well-used, and with reason – it is very smooth and well balanced with excellent weight distribution thoughout its length. It is still in excellent condition and is a pleasure to play with, as all fine French bows are.

Price: R6 000

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Ref. 0156
French Cello Bow by
CUNIOT-HURY

Mirecourt, circa 1920

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Made of excellent Pernambuco, this bow was used professionally for many years. The stick is round. As is evidenced by the photos, the nut needs repairs or needs eventually to be replaced entirely.

It has recently been rewound in silver and leather and also rehaired.

It's a worthy bow, and as it is presently it's good for playing with. If acquired, it would be worth the investment of having a new nut fitted.

Price, as is: R7 500

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