This is a near mint violin bow by Claude Thomassin, still one of the most under-rated of 20th century makers. It’s a highly collectable example but also a great bow for a musician.

Claude Thomassin bows are finally enjoying the recognition they deserve – it’s ironic that one of the most distinctive makers of the period has been regarded as a “trade” maker, simply because so many of his bows were made for Gand & Bernardel or sold unbranded to violin-makers. Thomassin made innumerable bows for Paul Jombar, Paul Serdet, HC Silvestre and many others – however, this bow carries his own brand.

When you look closely at a Thomassin it’s clear that he was a unique artist. The heads are tall, thin and elegant, really pared down to a minimum yet still appearing strong and classical. The frogs are beautifully proportioned, and in this middle period the tell-tale “catfish ferrule” with its heavily rounded front edge isn’t too exaggerated.

This bow has a gorgeous stick – octagonal section warm orange pernambuco with a random figure. Mounts are silver and ebony.

The condition is extraordinary – there are no signs of use other than a tiny nibble to the top of the stick at the head, and ivory face is original.

We are very selective about the bows that we choose to acquire, and they all have to play very well – so I’m afraid our descriptions get a bit repetitive. However, every now and then a bow stands out and this is such a bow.

It has a very pure and projecting sound with just the right amount of colour, it’s agile and nervy without being overly stiff, and it feels great in the hand. It’s unusually sensitive, and you can feel all the way along the stick – all those minuscule adjustments that make the music tell a story are just so easy with this bow.

Definitely not a blunderbuss of a bow, but hard to match in its precision and elegance, and probably the cleanest Thomassin you could hope to find.

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