James Dodd Violin Bow, London circa 1850

On trial, £6,000

James Dodd Violin Bow
When it comes to English bows, there’s Dodd and there’s Tubbs – these two families dominated bow-making in the 19th century, and have exerted a profound influence over English makers ever since. Here we have a kind of “ideal English bow”, old enough to be really interesting, modern enough to be suitable for a contemporary player.

The English bow came of age with James Dodd, and this is an excellent example of his work. Characteristic features are the strong square head with a silver face, the exquisite silver work, and the absence of a bottom or back plate. The stick is octagonal section dark red pernambuco with strong markings in the head – we’re not so far from Pajeot here. The stick is branded, as is the bottom of the frog on the audience side.

The condition of the bow is relatively good – there’s a neat repair to the stick above the frog (bushed internally), and there’s a bit of a chip to the bottom corner of the frog.

This is the kind of bow that people simply can’t make nowadays. It has beauty of tone, with a gorgeous legato and a slightly spooky precision off the string. It’s a very different concept from the post-Retford broomsticks that people use these days to eke every possible decibel out of their cranked up fiddles. It’s a real bow, expressive, subtle, very controllable – every inch of it is usable, and it offers a massive range of colours and techniques. Because of the repair it’s heavily reduced, but if your plan is to use the bow rather than just stare at it, it’s exceptional value for money.

74.5cm, 58.4 grams

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James Dodd Violin Bow James Dodd Violin Bow
James Dodd Violin Bow James Dodd Violin Bow

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Ref: 4989

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