This is a very fine violin bow by Nicolas Maire in near mint condition, and one of the best playing bows that we have come across by this maker.
Nicolas Maire is one of the most interesting makers of the early 19th century. He worked initially in the style of Etienne Pajeot, absorbing his master’s aesthetic so totally that the two makers’ work is often confused. His later work is much more influenced by the Peccatte school, to the extent that his style often overlaps with that of Pierre Simon.
This bow is from his second period, and it has the square forehead and curved chamfers that we can happily describe as “typical Maire”.
The stick is of round section mid-brown pernambuco of exceptional quality with a light figure, mounts are silver and ebony.
The condition is remarkable, and the bow has had very little use – there are a few tiny scratches on the head and a minuscule chip in the handle at the nipple, otherwise the bow is in mint condition with absolutely no wear to the handle or the thumb projection.
Sellers of tired and tatty things like to claim that wear and tear is an indication of quality, and that perfectly preserved instruments or bows stay that way because “people must have thought they were no good”. It sounds plausible, but it’s simply untrue.
It turns out that the world is full of awful sounding violins and noodle-soft bows that have been worn away to within an inch of their lives – equally there are many reasons why great instruments and bows get put away in a cupboard and forgotten for generations.
This is such a bow – beautifully preserved AND a tremendous player. It looks very much as it would if you went along to Mr. Maire’s shop in 1845 to pick up your new bow, and I’m sure it plays as it did then too.
The sound is big and broad in a way that no modern bows seems to achieve – all the frequencies are there, and with just the right amount of colouration.
The stick is strong but supple and it has excellent adhesion. Great feedback in the hand, and a sort of turbo-charged intensity to legato playing which is extremely addictive. It sails through technical challenges, it’s beautifully balanced and has absurd volume for a bow that’s under 60 grams.
All in all, a superb historic bow for a player or a collector.