Jean Joseph Martin is one of the select group of makers who worked for the Vuillaume shop (1858-1863). His work is very individual, and this is an unusually well preserved viola bow of his from around 1870.

This is the exactly the kind of bow we love – beautifully made, in a very pure state, and good enough to serve as a reference example for the maker. This particular bow is made from outstanding dark red pernambuco – round in section and with a wide irregular flame. The head is perfectly preserved, the chamfers of the handle are still crisp, and the thumb projection is unworn.

The mounts are silver and ebony.

The only condition issues are a split to the ebony ring of the adjuster and a very small crack in the thumb projection on the audience side, barely visible without magnification.

Martin bows tend to play well, and this one is very good indeed – supple and elastic yet strong enough to really bite on the C string. It has a very controllable spring and an easy, crisp staccato – it feels effortless in the hand. The sound is exceptional – at once clean and warm, smooth in legato but super articulate in staccato. It’s always a joy to find a bow that’s light enough to fling around yet still has power and a strong core – everything suddenly becomes so much easier!

So a highly collectable Martin but also a great player’s bow…

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