Bows bearing the WE Hill & Son brand are always classy, but the finer stick received the best mounts. Silver and tortoiseshell is quite a rare combination for Hill, but that’s what we have here – the maker’s mark (a single nick in the lower edge of the head mortise) tells us that the bow was made by Sydney Yeoman, and the absence of a date stamp puts us before around 1925.
Yeoman fought in the First World War, and the experience took its toll on him, to such an extent that his friend William Retford used to finish his work. Yet this particular bow shows a very confident and artistic hand, and it seems most likely that it was made before 1914. The handle shows some minor wear but otherwise the bow is in great condition. The round stick is of very beautiful dense red pernambuco with a slight flame – the mounts silver and very dark tortoiseshell.
So many professional players have a Hill in their case – it’s probably no exaggeration to state that the string sections of most UK orchestras are powered by Hills! Of course there’s a big range of quality, but the better Hills are pretty unbeatable.
This bow would give any Sartory a run for its money – it has a supremely powerful stick, but it’s still nervy enough to give excellent feedback. The tone is clean but not acerbic, the spring is strong and responsive, and there’s a rare feeling of opulence that comes through the fingers. Maybe it’s just the tactile quality of tortoiseshell, but I think it’s more in the quality of the wood.
All in all an unusually good Hill, very strong for its weight, effortless and assured.
Dimensions: length 74.7cm, weight 58.2 grams
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