Everyone is familiar with the quality of Hill bows – here we have a very early silver and ivory example from around 1900 bearing the maker’s mark of William Johnston (first mark with vertical nicks). The sound is first class and the condition is unusually good.
For an entire century the Hill workshop produced fine bows at various levels of affordability. The best sticks are branded WE Hill & Sons, with precious mounts or special details reserved for the most successful of these.
Here we have a very fine early Johnston bow – the stick is of octagonal section mid-brown pernambuco of unusual translucency. Mounts are silver and ebony. Aside from some minor wear to the handle the bow is beautifully preserved – minimal discoloration and wear to the ivory and only a few minor marks to the stick.
We’ve come to expect Hill bows from this era to be good, but this one is really good – a powerful but supple stick reminiscent of a fine Tourte. The tone is focused and rounded, and the bow sits easily in the strings and just does the work. There’s nothing fussy or shouty about this bow, everything is where it should be, and maybe at the first stroke you won’t be that impressed. But use it for two minutes and then go back to any other bow, and its personality will become clear – it has soul! Very few bows have this sort of concentrated or distilled warmth while retaining power and grip.
If you’re looking for a mature, warm sound and a controllable stick with plenty of bite, look no further!