François Peccatte was the younger brother of Dominique, and their work shares many points of style. The exact working relationship isn’t documented, but François was 11 years younger, and it’s assumed that he apprenticed with Dominique in Paris.

François produced large numbers of bows in exotic woods other than pernambuco, and a surprising number of his bows have nickel mounts. His workshop was quite successful and employed 7 staff in all, and although the general output doesn’t show the quality of his elder brother’s work, the bows are generally great players.

This example is deemed a “workshop” bow – I don’t think anyone would pretend to know who exactly made any particular bow, but this one is rapidly made and uses quite humble materials. The stick is of round section ironwood, very dark in colour, mounts are nickel and ebony.

The condition is very good – there’s a glued crack in the thumb projection of the frog, but that’s it. The bow is original in all parts, and the screw, brass eye and underslide are all original too.

The cost of a pernambuco bow by the Peccatte school makers has risen to dizzying heights, so the exotic woods – amourette, abeille, ironwood etc – represent an affordable route into this world. These woods can make great viola bows, and it’s a bit surprising that they have fallen out of favour with modern makers.

The wood of this bow is very dense, which gives a lot of intensity in the sound while retaining elasticity. Generally there’s more damping than you would get from pernambuco, so the tone is rounder with less noise, and the feeling is smoother and more elegant.

Great weight and balance, a sweet legato and a nervy staccato, all somehow wrapped in velvet…

We see a lot of these exotic wood bows in the hands of professional players, and they can be a valuable tool in the endless quest for the holy grail of viola sound.

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We also welcome customers by appointment to our showroom in Wells, Somerset, and we make regular trips to meet clients in London, Brussels, Cologne, Munich and Vienna.

Martin Swan