Here’s another very fine early Hill bow in silver and ebony – it’s a Tourte model with a round stick, the condition is great and it plays beautifully.

This bow dates from the earliest days of the Hill workshop – in this period the Hill style hadn’t yet become established, and there’s a lot more variety and flair on show. The head of this bow owes a lot to later FX Tourte, and the wide figure in the wood really shows it off. The mounts are very delicate – a tight and perfectly carved throat, a short ferrule and a stylized adjuster with a wide ivory ring, and a full pearl slide and back plate.

The stick is round section, light brown pernambuco of exceptional quality – mounts are silver and ivory.

The condition is remarkable – there’s some heavy discoloration to the ivory of the adjuster and a small green spot on the audience side of the frog, the silver face is a bit rough on its bottom edges, otherwise there are no issues.

It’s true that there’s a certain snobbishness about Hill bows – the later workshop production is rather stolid. But everyone is prepared to concede that Hills enjoyed something of a golden age before 1914, with great makers such as Sam Allen, William Johnston and William Retford busily re-inventing the English bow.

This bow is a long way from the clunky sharp-edged Hill bows of the late 20th century – it’s a light and elegant stick with a lot of personality, strong, crisp and nimble. Very easy to control, great off the string, and with plenty of resistance – you can really dig in with this bow although it’s quite slender in cross-section. But it’s also very comfortable in the pianissimo passages, and it’s rare to find a bow that will work across such a wide dynamic range.

This one really stands out for me, and not simply for its appearance – there’s just something about it, a happy combination of positive qualities that makes everything easier for the player!

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