This is a remarkable and beautifully preserved viola bow by Joseph Henry, one of the greatest French makers of the 19th century.

We are big fans of Joseph Henry – in fact this rather blingy desk from his Paris shop takes pride of place in our customer space.

The desk of bowmaker Joseph Henry

Of the various makers who worked for Vuillaume, Joseph Henry seems to have been the most consistent – his bows are modest, you might even say unadventurous, but they are always just right in terms of weight, balance and stiffness. This attention to the fundamentals brought him great success with musicians, and his bows are still venerated today.

Aside from the outstanding condition this bow is very typical – a round stick of superb pernambuco, thick at the handle, a massive adjuster with a slightly oversized collar, a plain and rather square frog (the mounts are silver and ebony).

There’s very little to say about the condition – the pearl has been replaced, there’s a tiny bit of wear to the handle, but otherwise the bow is in perfect condition. Peccatte school viola bows are as rare as hen’s teeth, but it’s even rarer to find one that’s so well preserved.

I’m no great shakes as a viola player, but even with my limited skills I can say that this is a top level bow. It’s a strong bow without being overly stiff, the spring is alive but controllable, and there’s plenty of grip.

Excellent balance, an ideal weight, and a youthful quality that belies the bow’s age.

All in all a very fine bow suitable for a soloist or a collector.

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