Ref :   0871

A very good cello bow by
Jacobus Jan van de Geest
(1899 - 1974)
Johannesburg, circa 1970

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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.

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.

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, but 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 qualities, 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, who passed away recently, confirmed to me that Van de Geest very seldom made bows and only on commission - and that he stamped his bows as described above.

This bow is a superb testimony of J.J. van de Geest's skill as bowmaker. It was made on commission for a lady cellist. This stick, cut round, is from one of the most beautiful pieces of pernambuco I have seen in a long time - with perfectly straight grain and noticeable flame. The bow is lighter than standard yet very firm, somewhat reminiscent of Tubbs - a fine amalgam that allows for dexterous bowing techniques. The previous owner also had several other fine bows, but confessed to preferring this bow by Van de Geest to all the others.

This bow can be considered a serious piece of Afrikana for any collector. This is the only cello bow by this maker that I have encountered. It would be desirable to keep this bow in South Africa.

Weight : 76.6 g

The Stick :
  Pernambuco cut round.

The Nut :
  Ebony with parisian eye. Plain silver adjuster button.

Mountings :

Lapping :
  Silver lapping. Brown leather thumbpad.

Tip Slide :

Condition :
  Impeccable condition. Freshly rehaired with Mongolian Stallion hair.

Provenance :
  Made on commission for the previous owner.
Now the property of Johan Grobbelaar.

Price : P.O.A.
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