Understanding that Wilmslow in Cheshire was an important industrial centre of the Arts and Crafts movement gives perspective on the quirky violins produced by Job Arden (1826-1912), which sit apart from the mainstream of violin making as it existed even amongst the vibrant 19th century makers of nearby Manchester and Leeds. Arden worked as a carpenter and made the first of over 500 violins in 1855 as a hobby, rarely selling his work. Upon his death in 1812, mindful of the success they had with the hoarded violins of George Craske, W.E. Hill & Sons in London acquired the remaining violins of Job Arden’s estate. Instruments with a Hill label were reworked in the Hanwell before being sold within their range of reasonably priced instruments as an English alternative to the better class of French violins made in Mirecourt, with a sweet and sonorous sound to contrast with the louder and more focussed sounds found in Stradivari-inspired violins of the period. A wonderful violin for someone looking for beauty and pleasure in their playing without the need for soloistic power.
A good English violin by Job Arden, Wilmslow circa 1900. £6500