A charming English violin by Thomas Cahusac, London circa 1780

Thomas Cahusac was a prolific music publisher and seller of all kinds of musical instruments working at the sign of the “Two Flutes & Violin” opposite St Clement Dane’s Church in the Strand prior to 1785 when he moved to 196 Strand close to the present day Savoy Hotel. It is questionable whether the Cahusac family actually made instruments given the huge range of merchandise that they sold, although Thomas (II) married the daughter of the Salisbury violin maker, Benjamin Banks. Generally speaking, their instruments were made to most ranges of quality but violins specifically indentified with Cahusac tend to be of the cheaper qualities, perhaps as a reflection of the proximity of finer makers such as William Forster.

The violin is of a slightly pinched Amati modelling, with arching that is reminiscent of Banks and Forster’s fine work, but it is made from cheap native woods as is common amongst lower level London instruments of the period. The speed of work means that there is little channelling around the edges, which has caused the inked purfling to almost completely wear off on the back. Nevertheless, the violin is a charming example punching well above its expected quality. Cahusac violins are surprisingly rare, and this one is preserved in a very good overall state.