Joseph Henry is in the first rank of French makers, and after his teacher Dominique Peccatte probably the most accomplished maker to have emerged from the Vuillaume workshop. Pierre Simon and Grand Adam were equally talented contemporaries, but for my money Henry is the player’s maker. His style is close to that of Peccatte, but with a few rounded off edges here and there – very few later makers have had his command of all aspects of making, including style and substance.
The stick is of round section dark red pernambuco with a strong translucent figure. Mounts are silver and ebony, beautifully preserved and original in all parts including the adjuster screw, even down to the underslide and the original iron screws. Unusually for a Peccatte school bow, none of the silver has been replaced or damaged.
There are no condition issues, the brand is as crisp as the day the bow was made, and there’s no wear on this bow at all.
This bow has everything going for it – rarity, looks, condition, and (most important of all) playability. The tone this bow draws is sublime, and it does it effortlessly.
A great 19th century bow isn’t a Sartory – it works on very different principles, but then demanding soloists don’t use Sartorys. In order to achieve a powerful sound across the frequency range, a top level bow has to have a certain suppleness, and it must have that quality without sacrificing the speed and efficacy of the spring. Not easy! But this is where the early Vuillaume makers come into their own, and this bow is one of the best we’ve come aross.
Anyway, if you’re thinking of buying a Joseph Henry you don’t need me to sell it to you … you need to try this bow for yourself and see if you like it as much as I do. It’s not cheap, even for an Henry, but it’s a first class example from all points of view.
Dimensions: length 74.2cm, weight 61.2 grams
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