This is an exceptional bow by Alf Tubbs, dedicated to the 1900 the winner of the Stainer Prize, Dora Robins. Slightly short and light, what was described at the time as a “ladies’ bow”, nonetheless a terrific player and a uniquely collectable Tubbs.

Alf Tubbs was son and apprentice to James Tubbs, and his own work is largely unknown since for the majority of his life he made James Tubbs bows! However in this bow we see some minor variations, as if slightly let off the hook by the idea of making something to commission. The throat of the frog is unusually artistic, and the adjuster is shorter than normal. And of course, the stick is octagonal – almost unheard of for a Tubbs.

As mentioned this bow was made for the 1900 winner of the Stainer Prize, and is conveniently dated October 27 1900. The engraving on the frog and button are classic Tubbs.

The stick is of mid-brown pernambuco with a very decorative fleck, mounts are gold and tortoiseshell. Generally the condition is outstanding – however, the original engraved gold face plate is lost, and has been replaced with ivory. The nose of the bow has been marginally shortened.

Not only a thing of rare beauty, this bow plays like a dream. I was very surprised to put it in the scales and find out how light it was – I had no sense of that in playing, nor indeed of the shortness of the stick.

The tone this bow produces is refined and luminous, with no impurity and yet still full and carrying. Plenty of power even in the middle of the stick, and a great staccato too.

This would be a tremendous bow for classical repertoire – tailor made for a smaller player, but it works even for a lanky fellow like me.

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