THE BOW, ITS HISTORY, MANUFACTURE AND USE.
Printed in Great Britain by J. H. Lavender and Co., 2, Duncan Terrace, City Road, London, N.I.
[Frontispiece: HENRY SAINT-GEORGE.]
"THE STRAD" LIBRARY, No. III. THE BOW, ITS HISTORY, MANUFACTURE AND USE
ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR
London: HORACE MARSHALL & SON, 46, Farringdon Street, E.C.4.
New York: CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, 597-599, Fifth Avenue.
It has always appeared to me a curious thing that the bow, without which the fiddle could have no being, should have received so scant attention, not alone from the community of fiddlers, but also from writers on the subject. I only know of one book in which the subject is adequately handled. Out of every twenty violinists who profess to some knowledge of the various types of Cremonese and other fiddles of repute and value, barely three will be met with who take a similar interest in the bow beyond knowing a good one, or rather one that suits their particular physique, when playing with it. They are all familiar with the names of Dodd and Tourte, but it is seldom that their knowledge extends beyond the names. As for a perception of the characteristics of bows as works of art, which is the standard of the fiddle connoisseur, it hardly has any existence outside the small circle of bow makers. Of the large number of undoubted fiddle experts now in London, but a small proportion profess to any similar knowledge of bows, and of these there are but few who can be credited with real authority in the matter.
It is, therefore, with the object of bringing the bow into more general notice that this little book has been written, and, to drop into the good old prefatory style, if I succeed in arousing the interest of but one violinist in the bow for itself, and apart from its work, my efforts will not have been in vain.
My most hearty thanks are due to those who have so kindly assisted me in my work. To Messrs. W. E. Hill and Sons, Mr. E. Withers, Mr. F. W. Chanot, Mr. J. Chanot, and Messrs. Beare, Goodwin and Co., for the loan of valuable bows for the purpose of illustration, and Mr. A. Tubbs, who, in addition to similar favours, most kindly placed much of his valuable time at my disposal, and very patiently helped me to a sufficient understanding of the bow maker's craft for the purpose of collecting materials for the second part of the book.
The third part, in which I treat of the use of the bow, I have purposely avoided making a systematic handbook of bowing technique, for to handle that subject as exhaustively as I should wish would require a separate volume. As stated in Chapter XIV., that portion of the book is addressed almost exclusively to teachers, and in the few cases where I have gone into questions of technique it has been limited to those points that appear to be most neglected or misunderstood by the generality of teachers.
"Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well" is a maxim that teachers should hold up to themselves and their pupils, and this reminds me of an exhortation to that effect in "Musick's Monument," that quaint and pathetic book of Thomas Mace (1676) with which I cannot do better than end my already too extensive preamble.
"Now being Thus far ready for Exercise, attempt the Striking of your Strings; but before you do That, Arm yourself with Preparative Resolutions to gain a Handsome—Smooth—Sweet—Smart—Clear—Stroak; or else Play not at all."
PART I. The History of the Bow.
CHAPTER I. PAGE ORIGIN OF INSTRUMENTS. FRICTIONAL VIBRATION. THE BOW DISTINCT FROM THE PLECTRUM. THE TRIGONON. BOWING WITH VARIOUS OBJECTS . . 1
CHAPTER II. ORIENTAL ORIGIN OF THE BOW. INDIAN, CHINESE AND OTHER EASTERN BOWED INSTRUMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
CHAPTER III. THE CRWTH. FLEMING'S "ETRUSCAN RAVANASTRON." THE MEDIAEVAL BOW. UNRELIABILITY OF EARLY DRAWINGS AND SCULPTURES . . . . . . . . . 14
CHAPTER IV. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MODERN BOW. ORNAMENTATION. A POSSIBLE STRADIVARI BOW. THE MOVABLE NUT. THE CREMAILLERE. THE SCREW NUT 23
CHAPTER V. VUILLAUME'S FACTS. THE FERRULE AND SLIDE. JOHN DODD . . . . . . 31
CHAPTER VI. DR. SELLE'S RECOLLECTIONS OF DODD. HIS WORK AND POVERTY. DODD AND TOURTE. THE CALCULATION OF FETIS AND VUILLAUME . . . . . . . 36
CHAPTER VII. LUPOT. PECCATTE. SPURIOUS STAMPING. PANORMO. W. J. B. WOOLHOUSE'S CALCULATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
CHAPTER VIII. A LIST OF BOW MAKERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
PART II. Bow Making.
CHAPTER IX. MATERIALS. BRAZIL WOOD. HORSEHAIR. THE ACTION OF ROSIN . . . . . 60
CHAPTER X. QUALITIES ESSENTIAL IN A BOW MAKER. SHAPING THE STICK. SETTING THE Cambre. THE FACES. THE TRENCHES. THE NUT . . . . . . . . . 64
CHAPTER XI. POSSIBLE REPAIRS. SPLICING. RENEWING CUPS. RESTORING THE NUT. RE-FACING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
CHAPTER XII. RE-LAPPING. RE-HAIRING. CHOICE OF ROSIN . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
CHAPTER XIII. THE PERFECTION OF THE MODERN BOW. DR. NICHOLSON'S PATENT BOW. VUILLAUME'S INVENTIONS. SELF-HAIRING BOWS. A FOLDING BOW. THE "KETTERIDGE BOW" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
PART III. The Art of Bowing.
CHAPTER XIV. THE UNDECIDED ASPECT OF TECHNIQUE. IMPORTANCE OF A KNOWLEDGE OF THE ANATOMY OF THE HAND. THE FUNCTION OF THE THUMB. INDIVIDUALITY IN TECHNIQUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
CHAPTER XV. BOWING HISTORICALLY CONSIDERED. THE OLDEST ENGLISH VIOLIN METHOD. SYMPSON'S INSTRUCTIONS IN BOWING. THOSE OF MACE (1676). THOSE OF VARIOUS MODERN MASTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
CHAPTER XVI. THE FINGERS OF THE RIGHT HAND. DIFFERENCES OF OPINION THEREON. SAUTILLE. THE LOOSE WRIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
CHAPTER XVII. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SLOW BOW. THE RAPID WHOLE BOW. STACCATO. BOWING STUDIES AND SOLOS. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
In this new impression of the late Mr. Saint-George's book opportunity has been taken to correct a few obvious errors, such as those occurring in the notices of the three bowmakers named Peccatte; the deaths of those makers which have occurred since the publication of the first edition have been noted, and a few fresh names have been added to the list contained in Chapter VIII. In other respects the text of the work remains practically as the author left it.
INDEX TO ILLUSTRATIONS.
PHOTO REPRODUCTIONS OF BOWS.
PLATE I. Head and nut of inlaid bow probably by Stradivari to face page 32
II. Heads of three English bows showing evolution of design to follow page 32
III. Heads of two violin, two viola, and one 'cello bow, by IV. J. Dodd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . to follow page 32
V. Heads of three violin bows and one 'cello bow, by VI. Francois Tourte . . . . . . . . . . . . to face page 48
VII. Heads of bows by Lupot . . . . . . . . . . . to follow page 48
VIII. Two heads of bows by D. Peccatte and one by Panormo to follow page 48
ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.
FIG. PAGE 1. Locust, showing action of hind leg in producing note . . . . 3
2. Assyrian Trigonon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
3. Crwth bow from the Golden Porch at Freiburg . . . . . . . . 6
4. Ravanastron and bow (Indian) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
5. Uh-Ch'in and bow (Chinese) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
6. Omerti and bow (Indian) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
7. Kemangeh-a-gouz and bow (Arabian) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
8. Rebab-esh-Sha'er and bow (Arabian) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
9. Sitara and bow (Persian) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
10. Sarinda and bow (Bengalese) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
11. Method of hairing some Egyptian bows . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
12. Saw-Tai and bow (Siamese) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
13. Bow of Nyckelharpa (Swedish) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
14. Bow of Saw-oo (Chinese) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
15. Bow of the eighth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
16. Bow of the ninth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
17. Bow of the ninth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
18. Bows of the eleventh century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
19. Bows of the twelfth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
20. Bows of the thirteenth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
21. Bows of the fourteenth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 22.
23. Bows of the fifteenth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
24. Bows of the sixteenth century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
25. Bows of the seventeenth century (drawn actual size from specimens now in existence) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
26. Bows of the eighteenth century (drawn actual size from specimens now in existence) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
27. Showing detachable nut of some early bows . . . . . . . . . 28
28. Heels of early bows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
29. The Cremaillere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
30. Head and nut of ornamented Cremonese bow (actual size) . . . 32
31. Head and nut of Dodd bow (reduced) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
32. Head of Dodd bow (actual size) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
33. Geometrical construction showing gradation of stick (Fetis) 43
34. Bow stick in the rough (greatly reduced) . . . . . . . . . . 65
35. Pattern of bow head (actual size) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
36. Ivory face in the rough . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
37. Gauge for nuts (actual size) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
38. Parts of a bow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
39. Tip of bow showing "cups" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
40. Head of bow showing trench . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
41. Nut of bow showing screw and method of hairing . . . . . . . 75
42. End view of nut showing bow with unequal facets . . . . . . 76
43. Dr. Nicholson's bow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
44. A fifteenth century violist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
45. A seventeenth century gambist (from Sympson) . . . . . . . . 93
THE BOW: Its History, Manufacture and Use.
PART I. THE HISTORY OF THE BOW.
ORIGIN OF INSTRUMENTS—FRICTIONAL VIBRATION—THE BOW DISTINCT FROM THE PLECTRUM—THE TRIGONON—BOWING WITH VARIOUS OBJECTS.
As has been observed by the most talented writer on this subject "the history of the bow is practically that of the violin." It will therefore be readily understood that in the earlier portions of this opusculum it will be impossible to separate them to any great extent; also, I must crave my readers' indulgence for going over a considerable tract of already well trodden ground. My excuse must be my desire for completeness, for, as I propose to deal with the evolution of the modern bow, I find it difficult to arbitrarily select a starting point to the exclusion of all previous details, whether of ascertained fact or conjecture. Therefore I will follow the invariable custom of fiddle literature and go back to the regions of speculative history for a commencement.
Speculative history is, I fear, more fascinating to the writer than convincing to the reader, so I will be as brief as possible in this particular, nor will I, like one John Gunn who wrote a treatise on fingering the violoncello, fill up space with irrelevant matter such as the modes and tunings of the ancient Greek lyres, etc., highly interesting as these subjects may be, although it is a very tempting method of getting over the "bald and unconvincing" nature of the bow's early history.
We of the present generation, having the bow in its most perfect form, are apt to take its existence for granted; we do not think that there must have been a period when no such thing was known, and, consequently, fail to appreciate the difficulties in the way of its discovery or invention. With some other instruments it is different. For wind instruments we have a prototype in the human voice, and one may reasonably suppose that the trumpet class were evolved by slow process from the simple action of placing the hands on either side of the mouth to augment a shout. The harp may have been suggested by the twanging of a bow-string as an arrow left the archer's hand, and a seventeenth century play writer fancifully attributed the invention of string instruments to the finding of a "dead horse head." Here, of course, would be found a complete resonance-chamber and possibly some dried and stretched sinews—quite sufficient to suggest lute-like instruments to men of genius such as must have formed a much larger proportion of the world's population in prehistoric times than is the case to-day; for brilliant as our great men of art and science are, there are few who can be called originators in the simplest meaning of the word.
Thus, then, we have wind instruments, harps and lutes; but the bow eludes us. If we are determined to find a suggestion in nature we must turn to certain insects of the cricket and grasshopper tribe. Many of these, in particular the locusts, are thorough fiddlers, using their long hind-leg as a bow across the edge of the hollow wing-case to produce the familiar chirping sound.
Naturally, the strings are absent, but here is to be found a perfect example of the excitation of frictional vibration. Whether this was actually what suggested the bow is another matter.
For my own part, while admitting that in close observation of nature our early forefathers were probably supreme, I prefer to think that the innate concept of the bow was latent in the human mind and only waited some fortunate accident of observation to start it into being.
I am aware, however, that this is a highly unscientific position to take up.
That there should be so little in the way of adequate record concerning the development of this indispensable adjunct of the violin is not a matter for great wonderment, for, as has elsewhere been shown, the earlier bowed instruments were of such primitive construction, and, consequently, so weak in tone that they were totally unsuited to the purposes of ceremonial or pageantry; two subjects which form prominent features in ancient pictorial representations. And if we come to what we fondly term "more civilized" times, we find such crude drawings of early viols and kindred instruments that we must not be surprised if such an apparently unimportant detail as the bow should receive still more perfunctory treatment at the hands of the artist.
We must also remember that the word "fiddlesticks" is still applied to anything that is beneath contempt in its utter lack of importance.
Undoubtedly the idea of exciting vibrations in a stretched string by means of friction is one of great antiquity; so much so, indeed, that the question of origin becomes merely one of conjecture. True, the majority of writers look upon the bow as a development of the plectrum, but this is a theory that I must confess does not strike me as being satisfactorily probable. To paraphrase a popular expression, "fingers were made before plectra," the latter being an "improvement" on nature's contrivance. And I see no reasonable objection to the supposition that friction may have been used as a means of tone-production prior to the introduction of the plectrum.
The great dissimilarity between the producing of sound by plucking, and that by friction is such that I see no occasion to evolve one from the other and consider their introduction most probably coeval.
When we come to the direct percussion of a string, as in the dulcimer, piano, etc., we at once perceive a possible connection between the hammer of the one and the rod or bow of the other: the accidental colliding of the bow with the strings of its accompanying instrument would soon suggest experiments ending in the forming of dulcimer-like instruments. But if we grant that the art of plucking a string had first advanced as far as the substitution of a plectrum for what Mace calls the "nibble end of the flesh," I fail to see how such an implement could suggest the friction of a string, as, if short enough for manipulation in its original use, it would not be long enough to excite the continuous vibrations characteristic of the bow.
[Footnote 1: The bow is frequently used now as a means of percussion for certain effects.]
I do not accept the theory of a long plectrum used for pizzicato purposes, as I consider, with Engel, that such an implement would have been unmanageably clumsy even for the primitive music of the ancients. Whenever I see a rod, as in the accompanying drawing of the Assyrian Trigonon, I maintain that its purpose was to excite frictional vibrations.
The method of performance readily suggests itself in this case as it will be seen that it would be quite possible and convenient for the player to pass his rod—probably a rough surfaced reed—between the strings. I do not think it could have been used for percussion as, in that case, it would surely have had some hammer like projection at its end; a salient feature hardly to be missed by the artist as were the less obtrusive details of the true bow in later ages.
We are all familiar with the oft repeated anecdote of Paganini's playing with a light reed-stem, and I remember having seen at Christmas festivities in country homesteads, the village fiddler playing a brisk old-time tune with the long stem of his clay pipe; also, quite recently, I read an account of an "artiste" in the States who charmed his enlightened audiences with his performances on the violin by using a variety of heterogeneous objects in lieu of the conventional bow, including a stick of sealing-wax and a candle!
Now I do not wish to prove that the implement held by the benign Assyrian in Fig. 2, is either of the last named articles, but merely to draw attention to the fact that friction-tone is producible without the aid of a "bow" proper.
The use of plain reed stems or other suitable rods for the production of continuous sounds would naturally soon give place to more elaborately constructed implements; although Ruhlmann gives a drawing of a portion of the sculptured decorations that adorn the famous "Golden Porch" at Freiburg which represents a crwth and bow of the twelfth century, the bow being merely a straight rod ornamented at either end with a simple knob (Fig. 3).
He also gives a drawing of a violist of the fourteenth century, sculptured on the cathedral at Cologne, where the bow is even simpler in form. It is, however, impossible to judge how far the sculptor's imagination, or lack of observation, may have been responsible for these representations, so that they can hardly be taken as reliable evidence of the use of such primitive contrivances at so late a period.
ORIENTAL ORIGIN OF THE BOW—INDIAN, CHINESE AND OTHER EASTERN BOWED INSTRUMENTS.
In attempting to trace the use of the bow to its source we are obliged to content ourselves with the generalized statement that it is undoubtedly of oriental origin. Thus, that it had an origin is proved beyond "all possible, probable shadow of doubt."
But whether the first form of bowed instrument became extinct prehistorically, or whether it still survives, as some suppose, in the Ravanastron of India, is not easily determined.
My own personal belief in the extreme antiquity of the bow is such as almost to justify the quaint statement of Jean Jacques Rousseau that Adam played the viol in Paradise.
Of existing bowed instruments the Ravanastron (Fig. 4) most certainly seems to be the oldest, as its structure is more primitive than any other.
Concerning this instrument legend runs to the effect that it was invented by Ravana, who was king of Ceylon some 5,000 years prior to the Christian era. How far this is accurate is impossible to say, for the oldest names for the bow known to Sanskrit scholars only take us back 1,500 to 2,000 years. Of these names it is interesting to note that the Kona was evidently no more than a "friction rod" as, judging from the early descriptions, it would appear to have been without hair. Whether the Garika or Parivadas approached more nearly to the modern idea of a bow I am unfortunately not in a position to state with any degree of certainty.
The Ravanastron was, like the violin in its earliest stages, played only by the inferior classes of India; a fact that, as Engel clearly points out, makes it seem highly improbable that it was a Mohammedan importation, despite some writers' assertions to that effect. Undoubtedly it was introduced with Buddhism, from India into China, where it became modified in unimportant details into the Ur-heen.
A curious point in connection with some oriental fiddles, such as the Ur-heen, Uh-Ch'in (Fig. 5), Koka, etc., is that the hair of the bow passes between the strings.
Whether this circumstance is at all confirmatory of the supposition that the rod of the Trigonon was passed between the strings would be difficult to establish irrefutably; doubtless a logician could do so, but I prefer making a simple statement of facts rather than forcing them into agreement with any special theory; although I have plenty of worthy precedents for such a proceeding, for I have observed that most doubtful or disputed questions—the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, for instance—are handled in this manner.
What strikes one very forcibly on looking into the use of the bow in the East is the great number of bowed instruments one finds. Thus in India we have the Ravanastron in various forms; the Omerti (Fig. 6), the Bengalese Sarinda, etc.
In China, the Ur-heen, Uh-Ch'in, Saw-oo and Sawduang. In Siam, the Saw-tai, etc. In Turkey and Arabia, the Kemangeh-a-gouz (Fig. 7), Kemangeh-roumy, Rebab-esh-Sha'er (Fig. 8), and Rebab-el-maghanny, also the more modern Gunibry.
In Persia there is also an instrument strongly resembling the Omerti and Kemangeh in outline, called the Sitara (Fig. 9). Then there is a primitive bowed instrument with three strings, known to the peasants of Russia as the Goudok, which is no doubt an immediate descendant of the three-stringed Rebab, and, more remotely, of the Ravanastron. Abyssinia too, has its bowed instruments. In fact, the use of the bow is universal in the "glorious Orient," from whence nearly all products of western civilization are derived. In almost all cases great antiquity is ascribed to these instruments. The very name "Kemangeh-a-gouz," ancient in itself, can be roughly translated "ancient-fiddle," thus showing that the Persians [the name is Persian and bears out the Arab records that it came to them from Persia] considered it then a relic of the past, and that it was a survival of some still older instrument inherited, most likely from India. There can be little doubt that Fetis was right in assuming this to have been the Omerti, for, barring the long "tail-pin," the structure of both is almost identical.
The bows of all these instruments bear a strong resemblance to each other, as is only to be expected where all are of the simplest description. In the majority of cases the bow is merely a length of cane with a bunch of horse-hair tied at each end in such a manner as to pull the cane into a more or less pronounced curve. Those of the Goudok and Sarinda (Fig. 10) are short, approach nearly to a semi-circle, and are quite rigid.
Those of the Ravanastron, Omerti, etc., are longer, and being more slender, have a certain amount of flexibility, but it does not appear that this latter qualification is sought for or considered indispensable. On the other hand, the now nearly obsolete Kokiu of Japan had a bow of about forty-five inches in length that was extremely elastic. It was made in sections after the manner of a fishing-rod, and the hair was tightened by the finger of the player, as in some of the early viol bows of Europe.
The method of hairing in most cases amounts to the simplest way of tying the hair on to the stick. Sometimes the hair is passed through a slit and held in place by a knot. In other specimens it is attached to a leather thong, and occasionally it is plugged into the open end of a piece of bamboo (Fig. 11).
The bows of the Saw-tai (Fig. 12), Uh-Ch'in, Koka and a few others show a distinct advance in point of curve and adjustment of hair, and strongly resemble the bow of the quaint Swedish Nyckelharpa in present use (Fig. 13).
The bows of the Sitara (Fig. 9) and Saw-oo (Fig. 14), approach more nearly to the European form. The drawings of the latter, however, were made from highly ornate and elaborate specimens that may have been affected by Western influence. But against this must be set the religious conservatism of eastern nations. In many cases it would amount to gross sacrilege to alter in any way the construction of certain objects in daily use, so that we may take it generally that the east of to-day differs very little from what it was, even several thousand years ago, in such matters.
THE CRWTH—FLEMING'S "ETRUSCAN RAVANASTRON"—THE MEDIAEVAL BOW—UNRELIABILITY OF EARLY DRAWINGS AND SCULPTURES.
Perhaps the most interesting of the primitive bowed instruments is the Welsh Crwth. Unlike the still more ancient forms yet surviving in the East, it is now completely obsolete: unless we may count the Norwegian and Icelandic langspiel and fidla as descendants thereof.
At one time it was considered an ancestor of the violin, but since Mr. Heron-Allen brought his legal acumen and skill in sifting evidence to bear on the subject, we find that it must unquestionably be looked upon as the last of its race, and not as a direct forerunner of anything else. As to its origin, I should say it was two-fold. The oft-quoted lines of that seventh century Bishop, Venantius Fortunatus:—
"Romanusque lyra, plaudat tibi Barbarus harpa Graecus Achilliaca, Chrotta Britanna canat"
prove, however translated, that the Crwth was essentially British. The structure of the instrument strongly suggests its derivation from the Roman and Greek lyres, and I have little doubt that the first Crwth was in fact a lyre in the hands of one of our early British ancestors, who thought he would try thereon the effect of a Rebab or Kemangeh bow, and most probably got himself heartily laughed at for his pains. This is a kind of experiment that has been tried in modern times, as witness the "Streich-Guitarre" and more recent "Streich-Zither."
That the Eastern fiddles should have come to Britain then is not a very extravagant supposition. The distance is not great from northern Africa, through Spain, where a form of Rebab is still played by the Basque peasantry, on through Europe generally and across the Channel to England. Also, it is very likely that there were a number of Orientals in attendance on the Imperial Court of the Caesars who would naturally bring their customs, religions and arts with them.
I do not think the Greeks and Romans made any use of the bow whatever, although, considering the enormous spread of the Roman Empire, and, as I say, the diverse nationalities that surrounded the court, many of the Indian, Persian and African bowed instruments must have been fairly familiar objects in Rome and elsewhere. But being instruments of conquered nations; primitive in construction and strange in tonality; they were probably held in too light esteem ever to be adopted and developed by people of such importance and civilization as the Romans or Greeks.
I say all this with due respect to Mr. Fleming. This gentleman has contributed sundry valuable works to the bibliography of the violin, and in certain places mentions an Etruscan vase illustrated in a catalogue published by Prince Lucien Napoleon of Canino. He describes the decorations of this vase as follows: "The subject is a man seated reading a volume to two youths, who, leaning on knotted sticks, are listening attentively. On a little table or box in front of the principal figure is inscribed the name 'Chironeis.' On each side of the reader is an object which authorities in these matters term 'thecae,' indicating the profession of this principal figure. One of these has a neck or handle, an oval disc, or sounding plane, and a tail piece extending below the disc rather more than half the length of the neck. From the upper extremity of the neck to the lower extremity of the disc are stretched strings, and across these strings at the centre of the disc is placed a bow of as rational construction as anything that has come down to us prior to the days of Corelli. The instrument is indeed almost identical with the Ravanastron." Now all this sounds very nice and extremely convincing, and whether or no Mr. Fleming himself believes the Greeks used the bow, I have no doubt that he is perfectly satisfied that he has proved such to be the case.
As I have seen neither the original vase or Prince Napoleon's catalogue, I feel some diffidence in throwing my half-ounce of doubt on this pound—good, thumping weight—of fact. However, I have seen the reproduction of the drawing as given by Mr. Fleming in his book, "Violins, Old and New," and, since he makes such a feature of this Grecian Ravanastron, I feel safe in assuming that it is accurately copied.
I distinctly remember first looking at that drawing. I gazed at it long and earnestly. I then referred to the text; after which I rapidly searched through the book to see if there was another drawing of a Greek vase. I thought perchance the printers in a playful mood might have transposed them; such things have happened. But it was not so; the drawing on page 250 was the only one. So I returned to it. There were the reader, the box, the inscription, the attentive youths with their knotted sticks, and, lastly, the "thecae." I was not long in doubt as to which of these objects was the one Mr. Fleming attached so much importance to.
Ods catgut and fiddlesticks! as Bob Acres would genteelly have exclaimed. So this was the Etruscan Ravanastron I had dreamed about; this was the Greek fiddle I had discoursed so learnedly of when my pupils with childlike pertinacity questioned me as to the origin of the violin.
That is a useful sort of vase. If ever I come across anyone anxious to prove something, I shall advise him to use that drawing. That Ravanastron would prove anything; in fact it proved too much for me.
The more I have searched for pictorial records of bow in old prints and drawings, the more disappointed I have become. It is extraordinary how artists of genius have literally "scamped" the poor unfortunate "fiddle-stick" in such works. In the small room of prints and drawings at the British Museum is a drawing of a violinist attributed to Corregio. It is merely a slight sketch, but the violin is beautifully drawn; the corners are well expressed and the perspective is good, but the bow would be unrecognisable as such were it not for the close proximity of the violin. Even in more highly-finished productions the same thing obtains. I have found drawings of crowders, violists and fiddlers where every little detail of dimple, crease and nail has been almost photographically rendered in a hand holding what one knows must be a bow, but if the other hand held a shield, or a newspaper, or a child's whip-top would be accepted with equal readiness by the judicious observer as a sword, paper knife or whip respectively.
Occasionally one finds minute representations of bows, but these are more often than not of such a nature as to be impossible of credence as correct representations.
Another thing that stands in the way of a clear exposition of the bow's development is that even the most reliable drawings and sculptures do not show by any means a gradual improvement in the shape of the bow, for it is no uncommon thing to find fourteenth and fifteenth century representations of bows of quite eighth and ninth century type. It is not likely that any of such primitive bows would have remained in use unbroken for so many centuries, therefore I do not think these later representations of early bows can have been copied from actual specimens then in use, but, where not evolved from the artist's inner consciousness, may have been taken from the drawings, MSS., etc., handed down from the earlier periods. On this point Mr. Heron-Allen makes the following very sensible observations:—"The conclusion we are brought to is consequently this: either all representations of bows which have come down to us are unreliable, or, the bow, instead of developing as the fiddle undoubtedly did, remained in a state of primitive simplicity, and bore till a comparatively recent date the same relation to its companion the fiddle, as do the early specimens of Delft ware and the exquisite Sevres specimens, which recline side by side in the cabinets of the delightfully incongruous nineteenth century drawing room. If you ask me to which of these conclusions I incline, I think the two deductions are to one another as three times two are to twice three, and that a combination of the two would probably account for the present misty aspect of the past history of the bow."
One should not lay too much stress on pictorial records; even our contemporary artists are not free from error, and it would be interesting to know what future writers on this subject will say of the nineteenth century violins and bows as represented by popular painters at the Royal Academy and other picture shows. They will find the evidence just as conflicting.
Unconvincing and contradictory as the existing records are, they are all we have, and, such as they are, I give a few selected examples.
A form of bow constantly occurring in drawings, etc., from the eighth to the sixteenth centuries, is Fig. 15. It is only slightly suggestive of the Oriental bows.
In the ninth century we find a bow (Fig. 16) strongly resembling those of the Saw-oo and Saw-Tai. And from the same century we find a miniature representation of a Crwth player with a bow slightly more distinctive in character (Fig. 17).
Similar bows to the above appear to have been pretty general in the tenth century. In the eleventh century a little more variety is apparent, as will be seen in Fig. 18.
Here are to be found the survival of the ninth century form shown in Fig. 17, and a remarkable advance in the form of the one at the bottom, which is doubtless the pattern intended to be shown in the sculptured bow, second from the top. The top one is merely given as an example of the perfunctory work the historian has to examine and yet retain his customary calm exterior.
Fig. 19 gives some examples of twelfth century bows as depicted by the artists of that period. The first two are evidently intended to represent the type shown in Fig. 17. The sculptor probably found the straight line of the hair inelegant. The third (which is from a MS. in the Bodleian Library) and last show a return to the ninth century form in Fig. 16.
This is a form that is found so continually through all the centuries, down to the seventeenth and eighteenth, that I am inclined to the belief that it is fairly accurate. It is very much like the outline of the modern double bass bow. In Fig. 20 are given some thirteenth century bows: the one with the curious sword-hilt is remarkable. In the others we find a return to more primitive lines.
The fourteenth century bows have very little to distinguish them from those of preceding ages, and I give the most noticeable examples I have found in Fig. 21. The second is a very advanced type. Against these must be set those in Fig. 22.
These appear to me as being most probably conventional representations, or copied from older works as suggested above.
Of fifteenth century bows, the pictorial and plastic arts record those shown in Fig. 23, together with the usual atavism or return to earlier types.
This atavism, if credible, is most marked in the sixteenth century as witness those in Fig. 24.
Here are bows that take us back to before the Norman Conquest, drawn by artists who were contemporary with Gasparo da Salo and Andreas Amati. It is quite out of the question to suppose that such bows were used at that time.
The drawings of seventeenth century bows are more convincing. We then get a more definite idea of the nut, which was in most cases a fixture. Also, the head begins to mould itself into something approaching the form of the modern "hatchet."
Although there are cases of bows in drawings as far back as the eleventh century (see Fig. 18, etc.) showing great advances, it is not until reaching the seventeenth century, that one can say with any degree of confidence that the perfect bow is on the horizon.
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE MODERN BOW—ORNAMENTATION—A POSSIBLE STRADIVARI BOW—THE MOVABLE NUT—THE CREMAILLERE—THE SCREW NUT.
I find it a matter for extreme regret that there should be such a large element of uncertainty in what I am able to bring forward of the earlier historical aspect of the bow. Of its primitive use one can do little more than examine contemporary evidence in the East, and then assume, albeit with some show of reason, that the same forms have survived from remote periods. Coming to the mediaeval bow we appear to tread on safer ground; bows are depicted in miniatures, manuscripts, paintings, etc., from the eight and ninth centuries onwards, and in nearly every case we can determine the date of the production and frequently its author. So far nothing could be more satisfactory, but as I have said above, there are very few examples that impress one as being accurate representations.
Proceeding to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I am further frustrated in my attempt to elucidate the obscure passages in the bow's history by a reversal of those conditions. I can now lay before my readers drawings and photographs of bows the accuracy of which I can guarantee, but placing them in perfect chronology is, unfortunately, little more than guess work. Such was the modesty of their makers that the early bows were all sent into the world nameless. Many of them are marvels of workmanship, and, though utterly unscientific in construction and unfit for the requirements of modern violinists, they are for the most part exquisite works of art upon which no pains have been spared.
Some of the fluting and other ornamentation is little short of marvellous in point of design and finish.
To a casual writer like myself the mass of conflicting detail found on examining ancient bows and the records of their use is extremely disconcerting. The practised scientist, however, surveys such things with calmness, for his trained eye immediately selects those details that support the theories he wishes to promulgate, and the rest are quietly consigned to oblivion.
In this way the most charmingly satisfactory results are obtained. Thus Fetis, in his article on Tourte, gives a brief outline of the history of the bow, illustrating the same with what purports to be a "Display of the successive ameliorations of the bow in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." This consists of a series of drawings of bows ranging from Mersenne in 1620 through those used by Kircher, Castrovillari, Bassani, Corelli, Tartini and Cramer to that of Viotti in 1790. Herein is shown how the arched bow gave place to the straight: and this in its turn to that having the inward curve known as the "spring" or cambre. The succession is perfect, and it is only the final drawing of the series (the Viotti bow of 1790) that shows this cambre.
Now, in the collection of ancient bows kindly lent me by Mr. A. Hill for the purpose of illustrating these pages are several bows of a much earlier date, yet having the cambre most pronounced and, in some examples, extremely elegant.
Not being a scientist, I do not know how to omit these evidences of advance at such an early date from my writings on this subject, although I feel that by not doing so I am rendering this section of the work far from clear.
As a matter of fact clearness in what we can ascertain of the bow's history is a quality conspicuous by its absence; a condition doubtless due to the varying capacities of early bow makers, some of whom may have continued to make antiquated types whilst others of greater talent were anticipating in a measure the results of Tourte's genius and observation. It has been observed in other branches of the world's progress that many have groped in the right direction for a space until there came one Genius who grasped, almost by intuition, the various requirements and produced the perfect work beyond which no man could go.
Entering upon the seventeenth century I now abandon the use of pictorial records of bows in favour of drawings and photographs made from actual specimens now in existence.
In Fig. 25 I give the heads of three remarkably interesting bows. I have drawn them the exact size of the originals. The first is most primitive throughout, though having an ingeniously contrived nut of which I shall speak more fully further on. The length of this bow is nearly 23 in.; the distance from the inside surface of the stick at the heel to the hair is 3/4 in., and the width of the hair is 1/4 in.
The second bow is extremely elegant, although useless as a bow: note the grace of the long peak. It is seldom that one finds these peaks so well preserved as many have been first broken and then cut down to remove the unsightly jagged end. The dimensions of this bow are:—Total length, 28-1/8 in.; length of hair, 23-1/4 in.; distance of hair from stick at heel, 3/4 in.; breadth of hair 1/4 in. The nut is on the same principle as the preceding one.
The third bow may be late seventeenth or early eighteenth century work. It is beautifully fluted throughout its entire length, the lower third having an extra raised line between the fluting. It is remarkable inasmuch as it has a movable nut working with a screw as in the modern bow and also a distinct cambre. The inward deviation of the stick from a straight line is a full quarter of an inch in 25-1/2 in.; but this is too low down to give the bow a good spring. Being made, like the others in this figure, of that unyielding material snakewood, the experiment, though in the right direction, cannot be said to have been successful. The full length of this bow is 28-1/2 in.; the length of the hair, 23-1/2 in.
Plate I. is a photograph of an extremely interesting bow. Like the preceding example it has the conventional nut and cambre. In the matter of ornamentation it is probably unique. It is not only fluted throughout, but is inlaid with a minute mosaic of red, yellow and brown woods. In appearance it reminds one of the straw-work so popular at one period. Inlaid on one side of the nut are seen the Arms of Spain, and on the reverse is the Royal monogram. Mr. Alfred Hill procured this bow with some difficulty in Madrid and was able to trace its pedigree in so far as that it was originally with the instruments made by Stradivarius for the Spanish Court. There is just a shadow of possibility that it may be the actual work of that most glorious craftsman of Cremona.
Its length over all is 27-1/2 in.; the playing length of the hair is 23-1/4 in.; the width of the hair barely 1/4 in. This bow has the most scientific cambre as yet found. Its deviation is 9/16 in. in 26-5/8 in. It is also of more flexible material than the others.
The centre bow in Fig. 26 is stamped by Thomas Smith (at last we have a signed specimen), chiefly known for his 'cellos. It was most probably made, however, by Edward Dodd. The head, while possessing a certain elegance, is of a very early type. It is of yellow lance wood and has a very pronounced cambre, the deviation being nearly 1/2 in. in 27-1/4 in. The total length is 28-3/4 in., and from the mortices in the head and nut one would suppose that it was intended to take somewhat broader hair than the preceding examples. The date of the bow is somewhere between 1760 and 1780. The other bows in Fig. 26 are viola da gamba bows; the upper one I use frequently myself in certain pieces for that instrument. It is very elegant and I should say is of French make. It is extremely flexible and most adapted to sustaining chords of three notes, as the great distance of the hair from the stick prevents any "grinding" on the middle string. But like all these early bows the hair is much too narrow. The other gamba bow in Fig. 26 is very quaint and appears to be of much earlier date. It is handsomely fluted through the upper two thirds: the lower third being a simple octagonal. A curious feature is that the distance of the hair from the stick gradually diminishes from 1 in. at the heel to 1/2 in. at the point. It has a slight cambre, but being of snake wood is quite poker-like in its rigidity.
As is it impossible to determine the exact date of these bows, one can arrive at no very safe conclusion as to when the movable nut was first introduced. Fetis thinks this important modification came from the East also, and he mentions a cherry wood bow in his possession, made at Bagdad, which has a distinct head where the hair is inserted, and a nut fitting into a dovetail notch in the stick.
The first and second of the bows shown in Fig. 25 have a curious device. The hair is fixed into the stick at both ends, and the nut, which is quite detached, slips into a slot with a snap, and is held in place by the pressure of the hair. A glance at Fig. 27 will make this arrangement clear. These two nuts are the second and third in Fig. 28, which is reduced one-third below actual size. The ornamental tip to the middle one looks as though it had a screw, but this is merely a decoration to balance a finely fluted design on the stick just above where the "lapping" is usually placed.
A great advance on this was the cremaillere (Fig. 29), which served to vary the tension of the hair in a more or less satisfactory manner. This device is still in use in Sweden.
The actual invention of the movable nut travelling on a propelling and withdrawing screw is attributed to the elder Tourte, but some of the bows in Mr. Hill's collection having this contrivance appear to be too remote for this to be the case. It is a point that I fear will always be shrouded in mystery.
In Plate II. we see a nearer approach to the outlines of the modern bow. These I should say are the work of W. Tubbs, who worked for most of the English fiddle makers and dealers. The first one bears the stamp of Norris and Barnes. This bow is 27-7/8 in. in length, the other two being exactly one inch longer. The hair in the first and third is 1/4 in. in width; in the centre one it is full 5/16 in. The handsome ivory nut of this bow is shown in Fig. 28. They are extremely elegant, and have much of the character of the modern bow in finish and cambre, though the deviation is again too low down.
VUILLAUME'S FACTS—THE FERRULE AND SLIDE—JOHN DODD.
Another example of bow, remarkable not only for its ornamentation, but also as having a well defined cambre together with a nut and screw, is Fig. 30.
This is a Cremonese bow of the seventeenth century. It is fluted in alternate sections, or panels, the lower third having a slight extra complication of the design "thrown in." Truly these grand old craftsmen were not afraid of work. The screw-nut is as perfect as one could wish, saving, only, in the meagre allowance of hair provided for.
These early bows with screw-nuts quite dispel the generally accepted theory that this mechanical contrivance for regulating the tension and preserving the elasticity of the stick was the invention of the elder Tourte. The majority of writers on the history of the violin, and, incidentally, the bow, are content to take their data from that much quoted historian and scientist, Fetis. He appears to have made most of his more important statements on the authority of Vuillaume. How Vuillaume became so versed in the history of his craft does not appear. His talent in the way of producing "genuine" Cremonese and other masterpieces is well known, the most stupendous example being the Duiffoprugcar instruments with which he imposed on the violin world so successfully. May we infer that he had equal facility in the fabrication of historical "facts"? De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but at all cost our history must be made accurate. Better no facts at all than spurious ones.
Having disposed of the screw attachment, the next important points in the development of the bow is the ferrule, which preserves the ribbon-like appearance of the hair, and the slide, which serves as an ornamental cover for the mortice in which the hair is fixed. These additions are commonly attributed to Francois Tourte, but in Fig. 31 I give a drawing of a typical nut by John Dodd, having both these improvements.
Dodd and Tourte were contemporaries, Tourte's birth having taken place only five years before that of Dodd in 1752. When I come to speak more particularly of Tourte I shall show my reasons for thinking it unlikely that Dodd copied Tourte in this respect. The whole matter is shrouded in mystery. In other branches of science, art, etc., we find brilliant thinkers arriving simultaneously at identical results, and I can quite believe that the idea of the ferrule and slide (obvious contrivances when one considers the requirements of a good bow) could have occurred to more than one of the workers then striving after perfection.
[Footnote 1: As a noteworthy example, take the simultaneous discovery by deduction of the invisible planet Neptune, by Adams and Leverrier.]
The characteristic feature I wish to call attention to in the heel shown above (Fig. 31) is the great size of the slide in proportion to the whole lower surface of the nut. It leaves such a very small margin compared with that of other makers. This will be found in nearly every genuine specimen. Unfortunately nuts wear out and become replaced with new ones, so that it is not always possible to obtain a bow that is original in all its parts. Dodd occasionally decorated the face of his bows with mother-of-pearl, as in the example shown in Fig. 31. He invariably stamped the name DODD in large, plain letters both on the side of the nut and on the stick. I have seen some that are stamped J. Dodd, but not many. Fig. 32 shows (actual size) a very early Dodd head, than which nothing, I think, could be more distressingly ugly. It is remarkable that such a caricature should have emanated from the same man who produced those shown in Plates III. and IV. Plate III. consists of photographs (actual size) of two violin bows, and one tenor bow, Plate IV. giving one tenor bow and one 'cello bow by this maker. It would be quite impossible to give representations of all Dodd's characteristics, as his work varies so very much. I have therefore chosen a few only of the best types. These are all exceptionally well finished. In the second and third is to be seen the tendency to arch in the neck of the bow so frequent in Dodds; in the others the sweep of the stick up to the head is perfect. His 'cello bows are his best work, and compare favourably with the greatest Continental makers. The one I have selected is of the finest period. The first of the two tenor bows (third on Plate III.) is the type of head most frequently seen, some have the head drawn backward at a very ungainly angle, and others, again, slope forwards, to an extent greater even than that of the 'cello bow in Plate IV.
Owing to the extreme elegance of Dodd's bows, and the beautiful workmanship of his finest specimens, he has been dubbed the "English Tourte," and amongst the majority of English amateurs the name of Dodd is held in the highest possible estimation. But as a matter of fact very few Dodd bows are worthy of this regard. His best bows, such as he sold for a pound or thirty shillings, are fine, although few of the violin bows are such as an artist would make much use of. The slenderness is frequently carried to excess, and the narrowness of the head prevents a sufficient "spread" being given to the hair in many cases, and a great number are much too short.
It must be remembered that Dodd worked before foreign importation annihilated the English violin and bow making industries, and he turned out a large number of bows at prices ranging from a few shillings a dozen upwards. Thus it will be readily understood that there are many genuine Dodds in existence that are not worth looking at. His tenor bows are often excellent, and, as I said above, his 'cello bows represent him the best.
DR. SELLE'S RECOLLECTIONS OF DODD—HIS WORK AND POVERTY—DODD AND TOURTE—THE CALCULATION OF FETIS AND VUILLAUME.
It has been my great good fortune to be favoured with an interview with the veteran violinist, Doctor Selle, of Richmond. This gentleman, now well on in his eighties, knew John Dodd most intimately, and gave me many interesting details about him. I have endeavoured to obtain a portrait of Dodd, but there does not seem to be anything of the sort in existence. However, Dr. Selle gave me a graphic description of his personal appearance. In stature he was short and of a shuffling gait. As he affected nether garments of extreme brevity, very broad-brimmed hats, and was excessively negligent in the matter of clothing, etc., his habitual aspect was quaint and eccentric to a degree.
He was unfortunately very illiterate, and, according to Dr. Selle, it is doubtful whether he could sign his own name.
In his work—the artistic excellence of which is remarkable under these circumstances—he was very secretive, giving as his reason for taking no apprentice, his desire that no one else should ever know or perpetuate his methods.
It has been said, and, I believe, on good authority, that he was once offered the sum of 1,000 pounds for his "secret," a temptation that, despite his great poverty, he steadfastly resisted.
Doctor Selle tells me that he distinctly remembers seeing Dodd cut out a bow from the rough plank with a curiously constructed double saw.
This is very remarkable as none of the bow makers now working know of such a tool, or can conceive the possibility of using one. Whether this may have any connexion with the much talked of "secret," it is impossible to say. It is probably another of those points in the history of the bow that seem doomed to remain shrouded in mystery.
Doctor Selle remembers seeing Dodd walking home many times with his pockets full of oyster shells begged from various stalls.
From these he used to cut out the pearl for the slides and ornamentation on his bows. This accounts for the characteristic plainness of these features of his work. He was often at a loss for silver for the mountings, and the Doctor says it was highly diverting to him when a boy to hear the old housekeeper soundly rating Dodd for melting down another of her metal spoons.
One great drawback to Dodd's success was his partiality for the "flowing bowl." As the Doctor epigramatically expressed it in the notes he supplied to A. Vidal, "he was very regular in his irregularities." Vidal's translation at this point is worthy of note. One is surprised to find that Dodd would pay four daily visits to "les voitures et chevaux publics"—"the public carriages and horses."
The mind fails to grasp the Gallic conception of the eccentric Englishman whose nationally characteristic love of horseflesh should cause him so frequently to inspect the omnibus of the period.
One shudders to think what Vidal would have done if Dodd's favourite house of call had been the Star and Garter instead of the Coach and Horses!
His last years were spent in great poverty; in fact, he subsisted almost entirely on the charity of a few violinists and amateurs who appreciated his genius. He ultimately died of bronchitis in the Infirmary of Richmond Workhouse, and was buried at Kew; not, as has been elsewhere stated, at Richmond.
I do not think a man of such a taciturn, secretive disposition, would have been likely readily to adopt the methods and copy the work of another maker. As has been shown by the reproductions of bows I have given so far, there has been apparent a converging tendency to the modern design of head all through. The Tourte head is undoubtedly the most beautiful, the most perfect in every way. His was the master hand that did what others had been trying to do. Dodd, working, as I believe, quite independently, came very near it. A comparison of the Dodd bows shown in Plates III. and IV., with the Tourtes in Plates V. and VI., will make clear a very significant fact. Dodd's work—fine as it is—is distinctly earlier in spirit than that of his great French rival. Yet they were contemporaries—in point of fact Dodd was a few years later than Tourte.
Then, as regards the cambre, Dodd followed on in the primitive school and cut his bows at once to the required sweep: Tourte, in addition to perfecting the dimensions and design, instituted an entirely new principle based on scientific deductions. His bows were all cut straight, and the "spring" was produced by judicious heating of the fibres.
Another thing one has to consider in this connexion is the relations that existed between England and France at this period. I think most people will admit that they were "strained," and that there were many obstacles in the way of free intercourse between the two countries. The war with France commenced when Dodd was twenty-one years of age, and though Tourte was five years older he had spent his youth firstly in the pursuit of a vocation entirely removed from bow making, and secondly in experiments lasting some considerable time before he commenced producing the perfect work that has made his name one to be extolled and reverenced by all wielders of that magic wand, the "fiddle-stick." When one thinks of the roundabout way such a thing would have to travel from Paris to London at this period, it seems highly probable that Dodd may not have seen a specimen of Tourte's work until he was about sixty.
What a marvellous thing a fine Tourte is! What a revelation the first time a player handles one! When I have an opportunity of playing on a Strad with a Tourte I can never decide which causes me the most delight. There is an indefinable something about a Tourte that seems to increase the player's dexterity of manipulation to an extraordinary extent. No matter how used one may be to a certain bow: no matter how expert one may be in the execution of staccato and arpeggio passages, the first time a Tourte is tried one realizes that hitherto there has been an effort necessary for the adequate production of such effects, whereas now the bow seems endowed with a consciousness quite en rapport with that of the player, and difficulties vanish magically. It seems voluntarily to carry into effect the player's wishes without any physical interposition whatever.
It is like riding a thoroughbred in the "Row" after driving a donkey across Hampstead Heath. Not that I or any of my readers would think of indulging in any such distressingly vulgar exercise as the last named. It may serve, however, to conjure up in the mind a sufficiently forcible simile.
Apart from their many wonderful qualities as bows, they are quite exceptional as works of art. Study the four heads shown in Plates V. and VI., and note the tender sweep of the outer line; full of force and delicacy combined. See, too, how it is supported by the harmonious inner line, a thought more rigid, and yet full of grace. To become an expert in bows requires years of continual observation, for the slight differences in line are too subtle to be apparent to those who are not constantly looking for and studying them. But I think anyone, even "ye meanest capacitie in ye world"—to quote good old Roger North—will be able to appreciate the contrast between the bow heads in Plates III. and IV., and those in Plates V. and VI. It is in the two 'cello bow heads that the greatest resemblance is seen. But even here one can easily note the unwonted massiveness, almost amounting to clumsiness, in that of Dodd; while the Tourte is full of lightness, strength and vigour. There is more or less of sluggishness observable in most of the preceding bows, but the Tourte is awake; it lives!
It is at times of great interest to note by what slender threads of chance great consequences may be suspended. Take the family of the Tourtes for instance. We find the father a worthy craftsman making bows as good, and possibly better, than those of his contemporaries. He, obeying a natural law of custom, educated his eldest son in his own craft, and probably looked to him to perpetuate those excellencies in design and finish that had brought him fame. Francois, the younger son, was not forgotten though, and the father bethought him of some useful industry at which he might earn a living, and decided on clockmaking as the most suitable. Now mark the erratic workings of fate. The eldest son, from whom so much was expected, proved a comparative failure, inasmuch as that, instead of progressing, his work was distinctly inferior to that of his father. Francois, on the other hand, became tired of clockmaking after eight years' ill-remunerated grind, and turned his attention to the family trade.
[Footnote 1: The few fine bows by "Tourte-l'aine," as he was called, I should think were made after his brother's success in this direction.]
He, like Dodd, was totally uneducated, but had great gifts of perception and judgment.
At this time violin playing was becoming every day more distinctive and prominent. Great players were beginning to understand the chiar oscuro of music. They were learning expression.
There was in general amongst violinists an anticipation of the grand, yet simple law set forth by De Beriot in his Violin School that the human voice was the pure archetype upon which all played music should be modelled.
It was found that the violin was capable of simulating all the subtle inflexions of song, whether of passion or tenderness, and players sighed for an ideal bow that should be tongue-like in its response to the performer's emotion. A bow that should at once be flexible to "whisper soft nothings in my lady's ear"; strong—to sound a clarion-blast of defiance; and, withal, be ready for any coquetterie or badinage that might suit its owner's whim. This is what Francois Tourte, the starving clockmaker, gave them.
We fiddlers have to be very thankful that the master clockmakers of Paris were not more liberal to their employes!
Illiterate as he was he at once grasped all the points of art and physics involved, and commenced diligently experimenting with a view to solving the various problems that presented themselves to his consideration.
To gain facility in the manipulation of his tools, he made countless bows from old barrel staves; he could not afford to make his first attempts on anything better. When he had attained sufficient skill in the actual workmanship, and had satisfied himself as to the most suitable form, he set to work investigating the question of material. He tried all kinds of wood, and at last decided that the red wood of Pernambuco, then largely imported into Europe for dyeing purposes, was the best. To obtain this in sufficient quantities was no easy matter, for the Anglo-French wars were interfering seriously with international commerce; a circumstance that rendered this material unusually expensive. Then the nature of this wood is not by any means a bow maker's ideal. Billets and logs amounting to several tons in weight may be examined before a piece is found sufficiently free from knots and cracks, and of straight enough grain to be suitable for the purpose. However, genius and a capacity for taking infinite pains overcame all difficulties, and we now have bows worthy of the greatest masterpieces of Cremona.
How little are the workings of genius understood by the "painstaking" ones. They cannot conceive the suddenness of inspiration—the almost instantaneous grasp of essentials that precedes the plodding mechanical work necessary even to genius.
The results of "infinite pains," or of genius alone are equally unsatisfactory. It is only where these qualities are combined in perfect balance that true greatness can be achieved.
In the case of Tourte we have a remarkable example of this combination. His genius made him grasp spontaneously the qualities required, and his capacity for taking infinite pains helped him to produce the perfect bow. He it was who determined finally the length and weight of a bow, its equilibrium, the angle of the hair necessary for a good "attack," the length and breadth of the hair and sundry other points that, prior to 1775, had been quite undecided.
The mean length of a violin bow as fixed by Tourte is from 74 to 75 centimetres (29.134 to 29.528 inches English); that of a viola bow is 74 centimetres (29.134 inches), and a 'cello bow 72 to 73 centimetres (28.347 to 28.740). Many people imagine that the plates of silver or gold with which the nut of a bow is inlaid are nothing more than mere ornamentation. But their first purpose is distinctly one of utility, which is as it should be in a work of art; superfluous decoration has no beauty for an artist. It is by means of these metal "loadings" at the heel that the weight of the head is counteracted and the exact point of equilibrium determined. The centre of gravity in a violin bow should be at 19 centimetres (7.48 inches) from the nut; in a 'cello bow at 175 to 180 millimetres (6.89 to 7.087 inches) from the nut.
Concerning the geometric proportions of the Tourte bows, I cannot do better than quote Bishop's able translation of the explanation given by Fetis in his notice of A. Stradivarius.
"The medium length of a bow, to the head exclusively, is 0^m, 700 (27.56 inches).
"The bow comprises a cylindrical or prismatic part of uniform dimensions, the length of which is 0^m, 110 (4.33 inches). When this portion is cylindrical, its diameter is 0^m, 008-6/10 (.34 inch).
"From this cylindrical or prismatic portion the diameter of the bow decreases up to the head, where it is reduced to 0^m, 005-3/10 (.21 inches). This gives a difference of 0^m, 003-3/10 of a millimetre (.13 inch) between the diameters of the extremities; from whence it follows that the stick comprises ten points where its diameter is necessarily reduced by 3/10 of a millimetre (.012 inch) reckoning from the cylindrical portion.
"After proving by a great number of Tourte's bows that these ten points are not only found always at decreasing distances on the same stick, but also that the distances are perceptibly the same, and that the situations of the points are identical on different bows compared together, M. Vuillaume sought to ascertain whether the positions of the ten points could not be obtained by a geometrical construction, by which they might be found with certainty; and by which, consequently, bows might be made whose good condition should be always settled a priori. This he attained in the following manner. At the extremity of a right line A B, equal to 0^m, 700 (27.56 inches), that is to say the length of the bow, raise a perpendicular A C, equal to the length of the cylindrical portion, namely 0^m, 110 (4.33 inches).
"At the extremity B of the same line, raise another perpendicular B D, of the length 0^m, 022 (.866 inches) and unite the upper extremities of these two perpendiculars, or ordinates by a right line C D, so that the two lines A B and C D, may lie at a certain inclination to each other.
"Take the length 0^m, 110 (4.33 inches) of the ordinate A C with the compasses, and set it off on the line A B, from A to e: from the point thus obtained, draw another ordinate (parallel to A C and perpendicular to A B), until it meets the line C D.
"Between these two ordinates A C and e f—the latter of which is necessarily less than the former—lies the cylindrical portion of the bow, whose diameter, as before stated, is 0^m, 008-6/10 (.34 inch).
"Then take the length of the ordinate last obtained, e f, and set it off, as before, on the line A B, from f to g, and at the point g draw a third ordinate g h, the length of which must also be set off on the line A B, to determine thereon a new point i, from which to draw the fourth ordinate, i j: the length of which, likewise, when set off on the line A B, determines the point where the fifth ordinate k l is to be drawn. The latter, in like manner, determines the sixth m n, and so of the others, to the last but one y z.
"The points g i k m o q s u w y so obtained, starting from the point e, are those where the diameter of the bow is successively reduced 3/10 of a millimetre (.012 inch). Now, these points have been determined by the successively decreasing lengths of the ordinates drawn from the same points, and their respective distances progressively decrease from the point e to the point B.
"If we subject these data to calculation, we shall find that the profile of the bow is represented by a logarithmic curve, of which the ordinates increase in arithmetical progression; while the abscissae increase in geometrical progression; and lastly, that the curvature of the profile will be expressed by the equation
y = - 3.11 + 2, 57 log. x;
and, in varying x from 175 to 165 tenths of a millimetre, the corresponding values of y will be those of the radii (or semi-diameters) of the transverse circular section of the bow at corresponding points in the axis."
LUPOT—PECCATTE—SPURIOUS STAMPING—PANORMO—W. J. B. WOOLHOUSE'S CALCULATIONS.
I have spoken at length of Dodd and Tourte—two names that stand out in the history of the bow with remarkable prominence—and before proceeding with the general list of bow makers, great and small, I propose to speak of Peccatte and Lupot, whose genius was inferior only to that of Tourte in that they were followers rather than originators.
Francois Lupot was a brother of Nicolas Lupot the violin maker. He, however, devoted all his energies to the manufacture of bows, and, in his best work, is considered by many to nearly equal Tourte. But unfortunately the standard of excellence in Lupot's bows varies to a considerable extent, and, while some are truly magnificent others are very inferior. This is a fact that cannot be too widely made known in the interests of intending purchasers. The guarantee of genuineness alone is not sufficient for anyone desiring a bow for use, and, unless he has the requisite knowledge and experience himself he should always first submit a bow to a professional man of repute for his judgment as to its qualities for a player. Many of Lupot's sticks are stamped "LUPOT," sometimes in two or three places, but it has been doubted whether he did this himself or not. In general it is thought that it was done afterwards by dealers. This is certainly the case with the few Tourtes that are stamped with their maker's name, for it is an ascertained fact that the Tourtes never stamped their work. There are only two instances on record of Tourte marking a stick, and in each case it consisted of a minute label glued into the slot bearing the following inscription: "Cet archet a ete fait par Tourte en 1824, age de soixante-dix-sept ans." (This bow was made by Tourte in 1824, aged 77 years).
An important addition, said to have been instituted by Lupot, was the metal plate which lines the groove in the nut and prevents the wearing away of the nut by friction with the stick.
In Plate VII. I give two examples of Lupot's work. Here will be seen all the tenderness of line characteristic of Tourte, albeit that they lack somewhat of his force. The workmanship in these two bows is superb, and they are also delightful to play with, being well balanced and of controllable flexibility. This is a point in a bow that is frequently overlooked. Many imagine that flexibility alone is the chief desideratum, and bows have been shown to me almost indiarubber-like in their pliancy; the owners expecting me to wax enthusiastic over this—to my mind—serious defect. As a matter of fact, flexibility and pliancy are not correct definitions of a bow's chief quality, as they amount to weakness. What is really meant is elasticity, by which is conveyed not only the property of yielding to pressure but also that of speedily recovering its normal state. We sometimes hear a player in testing bows say that such a one has too much "life" in it; thereby implying that its action is largely out of the performer's control, a condition usually attributable to an excess of flexibility.
As a contrast to the Lupot bows in Plate VII., I give two examples of Dominique Peccatte, Plate VIII. Here we have forcibleness and energy to a most marked extent, yet there is a certain grace withal, the extreme squareness of the outer line does not offend the eye as in those of Dodd.
Peccatte, like Francois Tourte, started life in an occupation far removed from that which made him famous. His father was a barber at Mirecourt, where Dominique was born 1810. Wielding the razor not proving congenial, he adopted the prevailing industry of the town and became a maker of violins and bows; in the latter he became exceptionally expert. In the year 1826 J. B. Vuillaume was in want of a talented workman and wrote to his brother, who was established in Mirecourt, to find him one. The result of these enquiries was that Dominique Peccatte came to Paris and remained for eleven years with Vuillaume. In 1837 Francois Lupot died and Peccatte took over the business. Ten years later he returned to his native place, though retaining his business connexion with Paris until his death, which took place in 1874. Many of his bows are unstamped, or bear the stamp of Vuillaume, but great numbers of them are stamped "PECCATTE," occasionally with the word "PARIS" on the opposite side of the stick.
Much confusion has arisen from the fact that in some specimens the stamp has only a single "T," the result, probably, of illiteracy on the part of the maker.
The third in Plate VIII. is a bow by Panormo. His work is quite distinct from that of any other maker; but one must not run away with the idea that he affected an unjustifiable singularity, for the flat sides and angular facets of the Panormo heads have a logical basis, being in point of fact the natural continuation of the octagonal stick.
Indebted as we are to the makers and scientists of France for bringing the indispensable "fiddlestick" to such a degree of perfection, we must not overlook the claims of certain of our own countrymen for recognition in the same field of art.
The late mathematician and musical amateur, W. S. B. Woolhouse, no less than Fetis, contributed greatly to a full understanding of the essential properties of a bow on the part of those whose office it is to produce the actual instrument. Woolhouse laid great stress on a point overlooked by many other students of the subject, the same being that the success of a bow depends quite as much on its purity as a vibrating body as does the violin.
Unless the bow is so adjusted in its weight and proportions that it vibrates with absolute uniformity throughout its entire length it is useless to an artist.
Bows are "false" frequently in the same way that strings are. Inequalities of finish, imperceptible to our ordinary senses, will render a perfect "staccato" from end to end impossible, just as it is impossible to obtain true fifths in every part of a violin's compass if one of the strings be slightly wanting in absolute cylindricity. I speak specially of "staccato," as that form of bowing suffers perhaps more than any other from faulty bows; but any form of bowing that calls for special dexterity will betray the inefficiency of a bow.
It is of great interest to compare the calculations of Woolhouse with those of Fetis, and I will here quote the results obtained by the former.
"If measurements be taken in inches, and parts of an inch, and h denote the distance of any part of the bow from the head, the diameter of the stick in that locality, supposing the bow to be round, may be readily calculated from the following formula:—
Diameter = .2 [log.(h + 7.25) - 9.8100]
"From this formula the numbers given in the last column of the following table were calculated."
+ + -+ Distance from Head of Bow in Inches. Diameter + + + + in parts of Violin Viola Violoncello an inch. + + + + -+ 0 .210 2 0 .230 4 1-1/2 0 .247 6 3 1 .262 9 5 3 .280 13 8 5-1/2 .300 18 11-1/2 9 .318 23 15 12 .333 19 16 .348 23 20 .360 24 .370 + + + + -+
These measurements, of course, only extend to the commencement of the cylindrical portion.
Woolhouse made a small gauge of ivory, based on the above measurements, which proved of great practical value in examining bows. The measurements he obtained by the above calculation apply to wood of medium density. He says, "For close and dense wood the dimensions should be somewhat diminished, or, what amounts practically to the same thing, the distance from the head should, for dense wood, be increased by half an inch, or an inch, as the case may be, before applying the gauge." He then gives a table of inclusive weights of violin, viola and violoncello bows.
+ -+ Weight of Bow for + -+ -+ -+ Violin Viola Violoncello + -+ -+ -+ grains grains grains Light 850 1,000 1,150 Medium 900 1,050 1,200 Heavy 950 1,100 1,250 + -+ -+ -+ -+
In speaking of the adjustment of the spring or cambre, Woolhouse gives a means of obtaining the exact curve that does not strike me as being sufficiently reliable for the purpose. He suggests that "an auxiliary bow be made of the proper dimensions, but so as to be quite straight; then, on being haired and screwed up in the ordinary way, it will show, in an inverted position, the exact curve to which other bows should be set." But "screwed up in the ordinary way" appears to me to admit of too much latitude of application: it is not possible to divine to what extent this auxiliary bow is to be screwed, and if this is left to the judgment of the maker, why not set the cambre by judgment and save the trouble of the straight auxiliary bow?
I will now proceed to give an alphabetical list of bow makers which I trust is as complete as possible. I have endeavoured to leave out all purely factory makers in favour of those who are personally engaged in the manufacture of bows. There are some in the list who are not actual makers, but who carefully supervise all the bows issued under their name. Such work is always distinctive and differs greatly from that issued by firms who order bows by the gross from foreign factories, and then stamp their own name on the stick. This is a class of bow that usually looks very pretty and tempting to the young lady amateur, but is sadly lacking in balance and spring; what little there may be of the latter at first soon disappears, for it is quite impossible for any firm to turn out thoroughly efficient bows at the extraordinarily low prices one sees quoted. One must remember that for a bow to be of any real utility, the material, the workmanship, and the fittings must be of the very best possible description.
A LIST OF BOW MAKERS.
A noticeable feature in the following list is the great preponderance of French makers. Curiously enough the list of bow makers commences with:
ADAM, JEAN DOMINIQUE. He was born at Mirecourt in 1795, and died at the age of sixty-nine. He is said by some to have been the son of one Jean Adams, a bow maker of the eighteenth century. How far this may be true is impossible to say. The difference in the spelling of the name may not be a great matter, but there is no explanation forthcoming. The majority of his bows are very commonplace, but occasionally he "made an effort" and produced something out of his ordinary run, and these he invariably stamped ADAM. Of these the octagonal sticks are most highly prized.
ALLEN, SAMUEL. Born in Cornwall in 1858; was originally intended for a schoolmaster. Worked at several mechanical trades and being musical, he naturally turned his attention to fiddles, and ultimately, bows. Messrs. W. E. Hill and Sons employed him as a bow maker for several years. Although he held a high position in their workshop his independent nature was not satisfied until 1891, when he set up in business on his own account as a violin and bow maker and repairer.
BAROUX, Paris. Early half of the present century. Occasionally made some very excellent bows, but the general average of his work is only moderate.
BAUSCH AND SON, Leipsic. Middle of present century. The bows issued by this firm are valued highly in Germany. They are well made and, as a rule, strong.
BAZIN, GUSTAVE, Mirecourt. A very capable workman, some of his 'cello bows are excellent.
BETTS. Born 1755, died 1823. Worked in London as a violin maker and dealer. The bows bearing his name were made by Edward Dodd and W. Tubbs.
BRAGLIA, ANTONIO, Modena. Beginning of this century. I have not seen any of this maker's work.
BROWN, JAMES (Junior), London. Born 1786, died 1860. A clever maker, worked much for the trade, but turned out some good sticks, stamped with his name.
CHANOT, ADOLPH, Paris. Brother of the late Georges Chanot of Wardour Street. Born about 1828. Worked with Henry of Paris and has turned out some magnificent sticks. His death, which took place suddenly, at the age of twenty-nine, was due to an aneurism. Had he lived he would undoubtedly have taken a high position in the esteem of bow wielders.
DARBEY, GEORGE, Bristol. Died March, 1921.
DODD, EDWARD, London and Sheffield. Born 1705, died 1810. One seldom finds a bow bearing his name as he was mostly employed by others, such as Betts, Forster, Norris, etc.
DODD, JAMES. Worked in London in 1864; it is doubtful if any of his work can be identified as he almost invariably worked for others.
DODD, JOHN. Born in 1752, died in 1839. This was the English bow-maker par excellence. For fuller details of his life and work see Chapter VI.
DODD, THOMAS, London, 1786-1823. He differed from the others of this name inasmuch as he did not make for others but employed others to make for him.
EURY, Paris. Early part of the present century. His bows are universally esteemed, some of them being exceptionally fine. He did not always stamp his bows, but when he did it was generally under the "lapping" or, as some say, the "whipping."
FONCLAUSE, JOSEPH. Born in 1800, died in 1865. He was an excellent maker. He first learnt the art of bow-making from Pajeot at Mirecourt, and ultimately worked for J. B. Vuillaume at Paris. Later on he started on his own account. His bows from this period are usually marked with his own name.
FORSTER, WILLIAM. A noted English violin maker who was born near the middle of the last century. One now and then meets with a bow bearing his name. These are all the work of E. Dodd, W. Tubbs, or some other skilled workmen in his employ.
GAND AND BERNARDEL, Paris. A modern firm whose staff make some remarkably fine bows. They are mostly stamped with the name of the firm; but as they make bows to the order of various other firms there are many examples of their work either unstamped or bearing fictitious names.
HARMAND. Worked in Mirecourt about 1835. Made some fairly good bows.
HENRY. Born in 1812 at Mirecourt where he first learnt his craft. He worked there till his twenty-fifth year, when he went to Paris. Here he was employed by Chanot first, and later, by Peccatte. When Peccatte left Paris, Henry entered into partnership with Simon, another workman in Peccatte's employ who had succeeded to the latter's Paris shop. This partnership lasted till 1851. He then worked alone. He was a magnificent workman and has produced some splendid bows. I have in mind a 'cello bow of his shown me by J. Chanot that is a marvel of strength and elasticity. He died in 1870. Sometimes his bows are stamped "Henry, Paris."
HILL, W. E., AND SONS, London. Contemporary. This firm issue some very fine bows which are made in their own workshops by expert workmen trained under the personal supervision of Mr. A. Hill.
JOSEPHS. American, contemporary. A very clever maker and repairer of violins and bows. I have seen some of his work that was excellent.
KITTEL, St. Petersburg. Modern. I have never come across a specimen of this maker's work. Fleming states that they "are about as nearly equal to Tourte's as those of any maker that has lived since his day." It is a pity they are not more plentiful if this is the case.
KNOPF, HEINRICH, and KNOPF, LUDWIG, Berlin, contemporary. Fairly good bows made chiefly to the order of other firms.
LAFLEUR, JACQUES. Born at Nancy in 1760, died in Paris 1832. One of the best of the old makers. Some continental authorities place him on a par with Tourte. Those of his make that I have handled are certainly very fine indeed.
LAFLEUR, JOSEPH RENE, Paris. Born in 1812, died in 1874. He was the son of Jacques Lafleur and inherited much of his father's skill.
LAMY, ALFRED JOSEPH. Born in 1850 at Mirecourt. He was an excellent maker. An interesting feature is that he learnt his craft at a remarkably early age. He worked first with Gautrot at Chateau-Fleurry. He went, like the rest, to Paris in 1877, and worked for Voirin for some eight years. At Voirin's death he started in business for himself.
LUPOT, FRANCOIS. Born at Orleans 1774, died at Paris in 1837. For fuller particulars of this maker see Chapter VII.
MAIRE, NICOLAS, Mirecourt and Paris. Was a pupil of Jacques Lafleur but never did any work of great distinction.
MIQUEL, EMILE. A contemporary Mirecourt maker.
NURNBERGER, KARL ALBERT, Markneukirchen. Contemporary. A most finished workman and a clever imitator of the styles of various well-known makers. Has worked much for the trade. His best examples are frequently stamped with his name, and amongst these will be found bows which are fit to rank with some of the finest productions of the French school. There are other makers of the same family engaged in bow making.
PAJEOT. Worked in Mirecourt in the early part of the present century. An excellent maker. He taught Joseph Fonclause who is known to have made some of the finest bows bearing Vuillaume's stamp.
PANORMO. The quaint faceted bows of which I have given an example in Plate VIII. were made, as far as I have been able to ascertain, by George Louis Panormo, in the early part of this century. Details concerning this family are neither plentiful nor clear, but it is fairly certain that this bow maker was a son of Vincent Panormo of Palermo, Paris, Ireland, etc., who first made the name famous in the fiddle world. A description of the characteristics of his work will be found in Chapter VII.
Fleming mentions a George Louis Panormo as a modern maker in London, but I do not know of such a maker. I am informed on excellent authority that all the Panormo bows were made in Paris.
PECCATTE, DOMINIQUE. Born in 1810 and died in 1874 at Mirecourt. Details of his life and work are given in Chapter VII.
PECCATTE, FRANCOIS ("PECCATTE JEUNE"), Paris. Born Mirecourt, 1820, died Paris, 1855. A good workman, whose best bows, though not well known in this country, are of nearly equal merit with his brother Dominique's. He worked for ten years with Vuillaume. Some of his bows are stamped with his name, the lettering of the stamp differing slightly from that employed by his more famous brother.
PECCATTE, CHARLES, Paris. Son of Francois. Born Mirecourt, 1850. A good workman, but not equal to the other makers of the name.
PELLEGRI, Italian, modern; neat workmanship.
PERSOIT. Worked in Paris about 1828 to 1841. He was employed largely by Vuillaume and most of his bows bear the latter's name, but he occasionally worked on his own account and then his work was stamped P.R.S.
PRICE, London. Contemporary, excellent maker. Pupil of Tubbs.
PFRETSCHNER, Markneukirchen. Contemporary makers, whose best work is of high merit and finish, though not quite equal to that of A. Nurnberger.
POISON, Paris. A really magnificent workman. He was employed largely by the firm of Gand and Bernardel, and the majority of his bows bear their stamp. One occasionally meets with a bow by this maker bearing his own name.
PUPINAT, Swiss. Middle of the present century.
RAKOWSCH, Paris. Modern.
RAU, AUGUST, Markneukirchen. Born 1866. A first-class workman. Worked much for Weichold of Dresden.
RONCHINI, Italian. Modern.
SCHWARTZ, GEORG FRIEDRICH, Strasburg. Born 1785, died 1849. Made some excellent bows marked "Swartz, Strasburg."
SIMON, P. Born at Mirecourt in 1808. Worked for D. Peccatte in Paris in 1838. After this he worked for Vuillaume for seven years. He then set up on his own account for some two years, and when D. Peccatte left Paris he took over the business in partnership with Henry. Three years later and he was again alone. His workmanship is always good and betrays Peccatte's influence.
SIRJEAN. French. Early part of the present century.
SUSS, JOHANN CHRISTIAN, Markneukirchen. Born 1829. Died 1900. One of the best makers Germany has produced. Imitated the style of Tourte.
TADOLINI, IGNAZIO. Born at Bologna in 1791, died at Modena in 1873. Was established with his brother at the last-named town. Made some very fine bows but was not equal.
TOURNATORIS. French. Latter part of last century.
TOURTE. Eighteenth century, Paris. One of the best bow makers of the older type, chiefly known as the father of Francois Tourte.
TOURTE, SAVERE. Eldest son of the preceding and called "Tourte l'aine," Paris.
TOURTE, FRANCOIS, Paris. Brother of the above, the greatest of all bow makers. Born 1747, died 1838. For fuller particulars of his life and work see Chapter VI (Plates V. and VI.).
TUBBS, W., London. Early nineteenth century. Worked for Forster, Betts, Norris and Barnes. He was taught bow making by Edward Dodd.
TUBBS, JAMES. Son of the preceding. Born 1835. Died April, 1921. Many of his bows are graduated according to a system based on the calculations of W. S. B. Woolhouse, the mathematician (see Chapter VII). The Tubbs bows have qualities distinctly their own and when a player becomes thoroughly used to a "Tubbs" he rarely feels comfortable with even the finest bows of another make. Conversely, a player in the habit of using constantly any other bow experiences a slight feeling of strangeness on first trying a "Tubbs." The workmanship in a Tubbs bow is almost unique in its perfection. And there is a characteristic English solidity about the secure way in which all the fittings are adjusted. I have been an eye witness of the care and attention paid by his son, Mr. A. Tubbs to the work of repairing a bow that to the casual observer would seem past all treatment. His brother, C. E. Tubbs, was a good bow maker, but somewhat erratic.
VIGNERON, A. A modern French maker who turns out some extremely high class work.
VOIRIN, NICHOLAS FRANCOIS. Another of the great Parisian bow makers. Learnt the craft in his native town, Mirecourt, where he was born in 1833. At the age of twenty-two he was employed by Vuillaume, with whom he worked for some fifteen years. It is believed that the finest bows bearing Vuillaume's name were made by Voirin. Some of his bows that were exhibited by Vuillaume in the Paris Exhibition in 1867 received honourable mention. I should say his work is more equal than that of any other maker. Of course, as with other popular makers, there are to be found plenty of worthless bows bearing the forged stamp, "N. F. Voirin, a Paris." His death, which took place in Paris in 1885, was very pathetic. He was walking along the Faubourg Montmartre on his way to the abode of a customer to whom he was taking a bow newly finished, when he suddenly fell down in an apoplectic fit. Fortunately his name and address, "Bouloi 3," was on the parcel containing the bow, and he was thus able to be taken home without delay. But how sad a home-coming! brought home in a dying condition to his wife whom he had left but a few minutes before in apparently good health. He died the same night.
VUILLAUME, J. B., Paris. This strange mixture of cunning and ability will be ever remembered as the craftiest of craftsmen. An undoubted genius as a violin maker, yet with all the tricks and subterfuges of the veriest charlatan. Concerning the real value of the historical details furnished to Fetis by Vuillaume I have spoken in Chapter V. Though it is possible that he had considerable practical knowledge of bow making, I do not think he actually made any bows. He exercised great judgment, however, in the employment of skilled workmen, whom he kept as a rule for a number of years—a fact that is sufficient to stamp him as a good and considerate employer. The most noted makers who worked for him were Fonclause, Peccatte, Persoit, Simon and Voirin. It will thus be seen that the majority of the bows bearing Vuillaume's name are of the best possible workmanship and quality. Unfortunately there are in this case also a number of forgeries on the market. The most noteworthy features in connexion with Vuillaume, as regards bows, are his curious inventions—the steel bow, the fixed nut, the curved ferrule, and the self-hairing bow. Of the steel bow, Mr. Heron-Allen says he has "never met with a specimen of so ponderous an eccentricity" except the one in South Kensington Museum. I have come across a number, and as they are tubular they are not at all as ponderous as the name of the material suggests. In fact I remember one that was very pleasant to play with. They are nearly always lacking in balance. The fixed nut was the result of an idea that the player should always have the same length of hair at his service. The curved ferrule was also a mistake, the idea being that it would be good to get a broad surface of hair on the string at the heel. The self-hairing bow was ingenious but of no practical value. These patents are detailed more fully in Part II. Vuillaume was born at Mirecourt on October 7th, 1798, and was the son of the carrier between that town and Nancy. He died at Paris in 1875.
WEICHOLD, Dresden. An excellent firm, who put their name on a superior class of "trade bow."
WILSON, JOHN JAMES THOMPSON, London. Born March, 1864, worked in his youth with James Tubbs, and later with C. E. Tubbs. Has worked much for the trade.
With this list of bow makers ends the historical section of these papers. As I have already explained, a perfect history of the bow is quite impossible to obtain, and all I have attempted has been to lay before my readers the facts I have accumulated. I have carefully abstained from promulgating any theories of my own with regard to the evolution of the bow (save in such cases where certain conclusions have been forced upon me by the evidence found) as from the conflicting nature of the records, I consider no one theory to be sufficient. There seem to have been a number of separate influences at work, the ultimate convergence thereof resulting in the production of the perfect bow as we now know it. If I have been unable to make a clear exposition of the bow's progress, I trust I have succeeded in showing the unprincipled elimination of contradictory details resorted to by earlier writers in order to achieve this desired end. And I hope it will be understood that this has not been done in the spirit of the small boy who, disappointed in his attempt to build a sand castle, derives an alleviative gratification from the destruction of the more imposing erections of his playmates.