This is a beautifully preserved Claude Thomassin made for Paul Jombar – it has a big buttery sound and it’s a real eye-catcher.

Claude Thomassin bows are finally enjoying the recognition they deserve – it’s ironic that one of the most distinctive makers of the period has been regarded as a “trade” maker, simply because so many of his bows were made for Gand & Bernardel or sold unbranded to violin-makers. This example is branded Paul Jombar a Paris – Thomassin made innumerable bows for Jombar, as well as Paul Serdet, HC Silvestre and many others.

When you look closely at a Thomassin it’s clear that he was a unique artist. The heads are tall, thin and elegant, really pared down to a minimum yet still appearing strong and classical. The frogs are beautifully proportioned, and in this middle period the tell-tale “catfish ferrule” with its heavily rounded front edge isn’t too exaggerated.

This bow has a gorgeous stick – round section warm orange-brown pernambuco with intense and random figure. Mounts are silver and ebony.

The condition is excellent – the stick is pretty much unblemished, though the frog has a minor crack in the thumb projection and the original ivory face has a small split. Neither of these issues are of consequence for the integrity of the bow.

I’ve never felt that Thomassin had an ideal bow in his head when it came to the mechanical properties of the stick. They are all very different, yet always successful, and I think he “followed the wood” in the manner of the earlier 19th century makers, adapting the graduations and cross-section of each bow to get the most rational result out of that particular stick.

This bow has something of the qualities of a Mercedes – great suspension, a smooth ride, and brilliant cornering! The sound is creamy and opulent with just a hint of granularity – the bow sticks to the strings, and the overall sensation is one of imperturbable confidence. And yet it works beautifully off the string and is in no way lazy or slow…

Definitely a dark sound overall, this would be a great bow for getting some body into a wiry or overly bright violin.

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