This is a very fine early Voirin violin bow made on a Vuillaume model. It’s a powerful, stiffish stick that draws a dense rich sound. Some restoration to the frog but otherwise in very good condition.

I’m sure there’s no need to rehearse the particular genius of Voirin here. Suffice to say that he is one of 3 or 4 makers who really influenced the course of bow-making history.

This example dates from shortly after his time in the Vuillaume shop, and it follows the Vuillaume model quite closely. The head also shows the influence of Pierre Simon, who seems to have been Voirin’s mentor – in fact they both joined up with Gand and Bernardel after the demise of the Vuillaume shop.

The stick is of round section chocolate brown pernambuco of excellent quality, mounts are silver and ebony.

The condition of the stick is very good – some handle wear to the top facet, otherwise nothing to report. The frog has two repairs close to the underslide, professionally done and not particularly visible.

For me this bow is the best kind of Voirin, powerful yet supple, drawing a dense and creamy sound. In terms of conception and playability it might as well be a Simon – it has a very similar feel, weighty yet fast and with a unique rounded focus to the sound.

It’s fascinating to think how far Voirin travelled in his working life from this very successful but essentially 19th century model – the work he did on refining the head, thinning out the graduations and bringing an angular precision to the fittings are really what gave birth to the modern bow.

However, I have more affinity with these older models – they just have such an edge tonally, particularly for soloists who need as much audibility in the musical frequencies as possible, and who are prepared to work with the qualities of the bow to achieve that aim.

All in all a lovely example of this maker in his prime, and a stick with an exceptional tone.

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Martin Swan