Thomas Smith

St James Square in Piccadilly was home to a vibrant community of violin makers for much of the eighteenth century beginning with John Barrett who first arrived around 1714 at the Harp and Crown. From the 1720s Peter Wamsley was…

A good English violin by Thomas Smith circa 1750

 

Richard Brueckner

Richard Bruckner was chiefly a restorer of violins, and consequently his instruments are rare and very little is know of his life. From around 1880 he and his brother Franz established a workshop in Berlin, and by 1900 Richard had…

A good English violin by Richard Brueckner, London 1902.

 

Spur Violins

A conversation between a Jazz musician and a luthier sparked the beginning of a quest to produce an ideal violin for on-stage performance more than twenty years ago. The luthier in question was Paul Davies from Australia, the violinist was…

The Spur Semi-Acoustic Violin

 

Johann Christian Ficker

There are three Johann Christian Fickers working in Neukirchen, and about 20 members of the family who made musical instruments recorded in total as well as other makers in Neukirchen who worked with them, so as with Klotz violins in…

A good German violin by Johann Christian Ficker, Neukirchen circa 1790.

 

Hawkes & Son

Hawkes & Sons (Boosey & Hawkes after 1930) were a very successful company selling orchestral sheet music and specialising in military band instruments, established in 1865 and setting up an instrument factory in Edgware, North London. Violins sold by Hawkes…

A good violin for Hawkes & Son, Piccadilly, circa 1910. £4,500

 

Joseph Panormo

A very fine English violin by Joseph Panormo (circa 1768 – 1837) worked alongside his father for almost all of his career, but his individual style becomes more apparent, as does that of his brother George after the early 1800s.…

A very fine English violin by Joseph Panormo, London circa 1820

 

Steffen Nowak

Steffen Nowak’s violin is an interpretation of Carlo Bergonzi’s work taking it’s inspiration from work of the late 1730s. Bergonzi’s own work is incredibly experimental and varied within the context of classical Cremonese making of the Golden period. Steffen’s violin…

A good contemporary violin by Steffen Nowak, Bristol, 2014 after Carlo Bergonzi

 

Padraig Barden

Padraig Barden is one of several contemporary makers whom I enjoy representing. This particular violin is based on Yehudi Menuhin’s 1734 Guarneri del Gesu, the “Lord Wilton”. Padraig’s personal style tends to leave his instruments slightly lightly built. The effect…

A good contemporary violin by Padraig Barden after the 1734 "Lord Wilton"

 

Henry Jay

Henry Jay worked meters from Thomas Chippendale’s legendary workshop and there may be more than simple coincidence to this. His works are some of the most detailed and fastidious of late eighteenth-century London. This example takes a Stradivari pattern of about 1680 as it’s origin, with the same strong and low Amatise arching and stridently angular soundholes. A powerful violin with enviable colour and versatility.

A fine English Violin by Henry Jay, London circa 1760

 

Auguste Delunet

Auguste Delunet was amongst the legendary French violin makers recruited by W.E. Hill & Sons in 1880 to work under the direction of Charles-François Langonet. Delunet’s violins are rare, but his technique for antiquing can be found on various repairs…

A fine Anglo-French violin by Auguste Delunet, London circa 1890

 

William Taylor

There is considerable speculation that William Taylor was a pupil of Vincenzo Panormo. His most distinguished specimens, of which this is a good example, adopt a good Golden-period Stradivari pattern. The violin is a very charming violin with a rich, dark sound with plenty of power.

A good English violin by William Taylor, London circa 1800

 

Gagliano Family

A very fine sounding composite violin with a clear and direct tone that is very typical for instruments of this calibre, but a real “player’s instrument” affording an excellent opportunity to own an example of classical period Italian making at a fraction of the normal cost.

A composite violin, the front by Giuseppe Gagliano and other parts by later family members, Naples c.1770 and later

 

George Craske

George Craske was a prolific and reclusive violin maker, whose enormous stock of unfinished instruments was eventually purchased by W.E. Hill & Sons after his death. He worked to varying standards with his instruments selling for a broad range of…

A fine English violin by George Craske circa 1860

 

George Craske

One of the finest violins by George Craske that I have seen in a long time, the overall design harks back to the later period of Stradivari’s long-pattern in the second half of the 1690s. However, mannerisms in the soundholes,…

A fine violin by George Craske, Birmingham circa 1840.

 

George Craske

This is a rare example of George Craske’s work, from his early period in Bath, made around 1820 or slightly before. The model is very close to the Stradivari violin of his patron Sir Patrick Blake (bequeathed to him in 1815 by J.P. Salomon, and sold following Blake’s death in 1819). The narrow pattern is Stradiari’s shorter long pattern, exemplified by violins such as the ‘Baron Knoop’ of 1698.

A fine violin by George Craske, Bath, circa 1820 after Stradivari

 

George Craske

After Craske’s legendary meeting with Paganini in 1832, he moved towards making Guarneri inspired violins, of which this is an early example. The instrument is made to his standard enlarged form, with characteristic flat arching and stylised del Gesu soundholes. The violin is unusual for having a scroll made by Craske, who later abandoned head carving in favour of buying in ready-made parts. A very fine and characteristic example with a strong and powerful tone.

A fine violin by George Craske, Snow's Hill, circa 1835 after Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu

 

Perry & Wilkinson

Although Perry & Wilkinson were closely associated with both Richard Tobin and Vincenzo Panormo during their periods in Dublin, Perry & Wilkinson’s work tends to be predictable and formulaic adopting a flat arched model. In the 1820s there is a sudden revival in their work, with delicate Amatise instruments appearing. Although Richard Tobin moved to London around 1810 and remained there, the cause of this change in Irish making appears to be accountable to him. Perhaps he returned briefly to Dublin, or an associate travelled between the two cities. Whichever way, these late Perry & Wilkinson instruments compare strongly to Tobin’s London work, and are some of the finest instruments built on classical models to come out of Ireland.

An Irish violin by Perry & Wilkinson, Dublin 1824.

 

Bela Szepessy

Bela Szepessy came to London in 1881 becoming one of the most influential London makers of his time. His apprenticeship had taken him through the great workshops of central Europe – Engleder in Munich, Nemessanyi in Budapest and Zach in Vienna. His most celebrated violins are finely observed interpretations of Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, of which this is an example, and retains many of the characteristics of the finest central European craftsmanship. A very fine and clear sounding violin in excellent condition.

A fine Anglo-Hungarian violin by Szepessy Bela, London 1889

 

Andreas Hellinge

In 1998 Yehudi Menuhin consigned the fabled 1742 “Lord Wilton” del Gesu for sale with Hug & Co in Zurich. Whilst it was for sale, the company invited the Swiss maker Andreas Hellinge to produce two ‘bench copies’ of the violin. This is one of those copes and was intended for presentation to Menuhin as a memento of the sale. However, Menuhin died before the violin was finished so that paradoxically as a precise copy of the “Lord Wilton”, it is arguably amongst the most important contemporary violins commissioned for Menuhin, but also one that he neither saw nor knew of. The violin has superb playing qualities, and is both musically and technically one of the best modern del Gesu copies I have come across.

A fine contemporary violin by Andreas Hellinge, Geneva, 1998.

 

Neil Ertz

Amongst connoisseurs of Cremonese violins, Peter Guarneri ‘of Mantua’ is spoken about as the one violin maker who excelled above Stradivari. The only problem is that he was called to the ducal court at Mantua for his skills as a musician in 1685, and was able to make few violins after that point. I’ve had the pleasure of handling several original instruments by this maker, and Neil’s copy, based on a violin of 1704 proves to be a masterly interpretation of the key points of Guarneri’s style. The violin has had a distinguished playing history since it was made and has come to us as the last owner was looking to upgrade. My experience of instruments of this bolder pattern is that they tend to give a slightly more mature sound than a straightforward flat-arched Stradivari or del Gesu copy.

A fine contemporary violin by Neil Ertz, after Peter Guarneri of Mantua, Cambridge 2008.

 

George Wulme Hudson

George Wulme Hudson used the pseudonym Giovanni Baptista Pallencia for violins made as an amalgam of different styles. In this example, the fictional Pallencia is stated to be a pupil of Gagliano working in Milan. The violin takes it’s inspiration from Nicolo Gagliano’s work, especially in respect of the soundholes and overall boldness of the arching, but he appears to have opted for a Guadagnini (though probably of the Turin period, not from Milan) to inspire the edgework, choice of wood and overall form. The result is a violin that sits between different schools, and to an extent is the ‘perfect fake’ because it is plausibly Italian without requiring too much comparison with any particular maker. However, it is signed inside, and discretely on the label. An exceptional English violin with a powerful projecting sound.

A fine English violin by George Wulme Hudson, Chessington, circa 1900 ascribed to Giovanni Baptista Pallencia.