This is a beautiful and highly collectable Maline viola bow with ivory mounts, currently in excellent condition – it has a strong but supple stick and a beautifully focused sound.

Nicolas Maline is quite a maverick figure from the Golden period of French bow-making, and the only maker associated with Vuillaume who spent his entire working life in Mirecourt – his work is unique and distinctive, and of the highest quality. Like Francois Peccatte, many of his bows are made from exotic woods other than pernambuco, and many bows of quality have nickel mounts.

The stick of this bow is of round section cherry-coloured amourette with a subtle flame – mounts are nickel and ivory. As the certificate confirms, the condition is very good – the ivory is surprisingly clean, the head is super-crisp, and the handle shows no signs of use. The only issue to report is a small repaired crack in front of the handle mortise on the player’s side.

This is a great viola bow, solid and positive, with an unusually successful combination of flex and core. This must be partly down to the wood, which Millant describes as “amourette”. These days bow-making has become ultra-convservative, but up till the late 19th century many exotic woods were used by French makers, and to great effect.

Viola bows and cello bows seem to positively benefit from woods other than pernambuco, and we see some great bows made from amourette, abeille, even ironwood… in the case of this bow, the stick has a lovely density and roundness to the sound which you wouldn’t normally associate with such a sprightly action.

For its weight the bow feels very easy to manipulate, it’s great off the string, and it’s a lot of fun to use.

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