This is a very fine Joseph Henry in excellent condition. I have a particular soft spot for Henry, and this bow doesn’t disappoint in looks or in playability. It’s a top level bow for a serious professional.

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 orange-brown pernambuco with a very strong figure, mounts are silver and ebony. The condition is of the stick is outstanding – the frog has some very small dunts to the underslide and tiny bit of ebony loss at the rear top on the player’s side. The ebony ring of the adjuster has a shrinkage crack, otherwise it’s beautifully preserved.

This bow has everything going for it – rarity, looks, condition, and (most important of all) playability. The tone this bow draws is intense, complex and solistic.

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 a good Henry such as this one is hard to beat …

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 you will know immediately if it’s what you are looking for.

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Martin Swan