Ref :   0676

A very good silver-mounted violin bow by
J. J. van de Geest
(1899 - 1974)
c. 1955

J. J. van de Geest's work as violinmaker is well-known - 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.

What is less known is that he was also a bow maker of very high order. For some reason he made very few bows, but those that do exist are testimonies of deep insight into subtle dynamics that make up a good bow. Musicians who are fortunate enough to own a Van de Geest bow attest to the superb quality of his work, not only in finish and physical appeal, but also in playing properties. The are really good bows.

J. J. van de Geest stamped the bows made by himself simply J J v.d. GEEST, at the usual place, upside down. This is in contrast to the many trade (commercial) bows he imported from Germany, Holland and elsewhere, which where invariably stamped J J v.d. GEEST & SON. It is a common misconception among musicians that bows with the latter stamp is Van de Geest's personal work. It is not. All such bows are trade bows of varying degrees of quality, mostly silver-mounted, and turn up commonly throughout South Africa. This information was born out by the maker's daughter-in-law, Dorothy van de Geest, in conversations I had with her prior to her death some years ago - she worked in the Van de Geest shop for many years and was familiar with his practices; also by Dale Walton - Van de Geest's principal studio craftsman for many years. Mr Walton, now elderly, confirmed to me that Van de Geest very seldom made bows and only on commission - and that he stamped his bows as described above.

Jacobus Jan van de Geest came from a long line of violinmakers. After learning his craft with Eugen Eberle in Rotterdam from 1914 onwards, he joined Hart & Son in London in 1921 - then the most important violin firm in London. He became their studio's master craftsman in charge of all work, until the company closed in 1938. In 1939 he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, and there he soon became a formidable 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.

This bow is a superb testimony of J.J. van de Geest's skill as bowmaker - evidently he was adequately pleased with it to go the further step of embellishing the silver work on the frog and adjuster button. It was made especially for a foremost South African violinist during the 1950s, who went on to use it as principal bow for many years or recitals, concertos and recordings. This musician is now retired and this superb bow is on offer.

Weight : 59.2 g

The Stick :
  Good pernambuco, cut to octagonal.

The Nut :
  Ebony. Original

Mountings :
  Silver, engraved

Lapping :
  Silver wire lapping - probably original. Black leather thumbpad is recent.

Tip Slide :
  Mammoth ivory. Recent

Condition :
  Excellent condition. Slight wear on the back at the grip

Provenance :
  Made in the 1950s for a foremost South African concert violinist, recording artist and academic and used as principal bow for many years.

Price : P.O.A.
This bow could be seen as an important piece of Afrikana - it would be desirable to keep it in South Africa.
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