The Nürnberger dynasty produced excellent bows for nearly two centuries. This is a beautiful and rather unusual model from the early 20th century in an exceptional state of preservation.

Franz Albert Nürnberger was the third generation of bow-makers in this family, and before that there were two generations of violin-makers. His work is meticulous and artistic, and quite devoid of the stolid, heavy lines that characterise the better known work of his son Carl Albert.

This bow is a rare Tourte model with a flat face. What gives it away as a Franz Albert Jr (apart from the brand of course, but that’s too easy) is the distinctive throat to the frog, with the overhanging thumb projection.

The brand belongs to Franz Albert Jr. in the period 1910 to 1920 – there’s also a “Saxony” brand behind the frog on the lower facet, telling us that the bow was exported to the US.

The stick is of well-figured orange brown pernambuco, octagonal section – mounts are silver and ebony.

The condition of this bow is outstanding – there are no marks on the stick and the brand is super-crisp. The only issue to report is that the ivory face is cracked – however it’s original, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to chuck it in the bin …!

As with most of the German makers, the reputations of the best makers have been slightly dragged down by their workshop output, and a good Nürnberger is a top level bow. This one is very refined, with a sprightly but easily controlled spring, and a big, bright and open sound.

Off the string is unusually effortless, but you can also draw a big legato tone with just a hint of “coffee grounds”, enough to warm up a slightly plain sounding violin.

Given the condition, this is probably more for a collection than for everyday use, but it’s a serious player’s bow with a lively and willing temperament.

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