This is an interesting early Hill bow, probably the work of William Napier. The condition is excellent and the playability very typical of early Hills, strong yet supple.

The engraving on the ferrule and the back plate tell us that this bow was one of the Basil Althaus Memorial series, and presented in 1913. These bows were awarded at the Guildhall School of Music – Basil Althaus was a prominent English violinist and composer who died in 1910.

There is no maker’s mark on the face, and since Napier was the only maker from this period who didn’t use a mark on the face, this bow must therefore be his work.

The stick is of octagonal section mid brown pernambuco, mounts are silver and ebony. The bow retains its original whalebone lap and silver face, and the overall condition is exemplary, the only issue being a small amount of wear to the audience side of the handle.

Hill bows are much loved in professional orchestral circles – they are incredibly reliable, they produce a good usable sound without effort, and they are great value for money. The early Hill bows all play superbly, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It has a full rounded core, the stick is smooth and supple without being lazy, and the quality of tone is warm and velvety.

It’s always nice to find an engraved or dedicated example, but ultimately a bow such as this should be judged on its musical merits, and in this case I can’t find any weaknesses.

An ideal weight, good balance, fine condition – just a very solid all-rounder for a dedicated player.

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