Just the other day another Strings reader wrote inquiring about the value and authenticity of his violin. Like most readers who write to us, trying to eek out information about a mystery fiddle, he carefully transcribed the faded, dusty label visible through the f-hole on the bass side: “Joseph Rocca fecit Premiato di Medaglie alle Esposizione di Torino,Genova,Londra Parigi Taurini anno Domini 1858 IHS.”
Some of the words may be misspelled, he added, as the label is kind of faded.
The last pupil of William Retford, William Watson worked for the firm of W.E. Hill & Sons from 1945 to 1962. He continued to make exemplary bows after leaving the firm and built a reputation as an authority on the history of British bow making.
The auction record for this maker is $9,164 in Feb 2005, for a violin bow.
You never know what you’ll find opening up an old stringed instrument.
Players may know that their violin, viola, cello, or double bass has a lot of old, repaired cracks, but they usually have little idea of what it looks like on the inside. While the ideal for a collector may be an instrument in “as-new” condition, decay is inevitable, and there’s a certain beauty in the repair work itself.
Ah, the romance of the violin. Over the centuries, through the good times and even more the cataclysms that have shaken the world, a violin (provided it survives intact) gathers a past, accruing stories—some even true—until it acquires an almost semi-mystical glow. A lot of that is due to hard use and polishing, of course, but over time the violin comes alive, with a character and voice all its own. It takes craft to play it, and craft to make it, but beyond all that lies the art of the violin.
Good news for bowmakers and anyone traveling with bows: new revisions to U.S. rules on African elephant ivory will allow musicans to buy and sell instruments with a small amount of ivory and to carry them on international flights, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday.