Yet one more excellent Hill bow, this time a fine early gold and tortoiseshell example with a stick by WIlliam Johnston, the frog bearing marks for Bultitude. Some wear to the stick but generally in very fine condition, and a lovely golden tone.

We have been lucky enough to have been offered some outstanding Hill bows recently, and we are developing a bit of a taste for these more exotic gold-mounted examples.

Since the publication of the recent book by John Milne and Derek Wilson, there’s a lot more interest in exactly who made each Hill bow, and it’s fun to be able to track so exactly when they were made and who was involved. This bow bears William Johnston’s later mark to the face (horizontal nicks in the head mortise) – the bow is not dated, but frog and stick have a matching 6, indicating that the frog was made by Arthur Bultitude. What with the presence of a gold mark to the side of the stick, we can venture to guess at a date between 1935 and 1940.

The stick is of octagonal section light brown pernambuco with a very dramatic flame, mounts are gold and tortoiseshell with the classic Hill fleur de lys inlay.

The condition of the bow is generally excellent – there’s some significant wear to the top of the handle and a small amount of thumbnail wear, but the rest of the stick and the mounts are very well preserved.

This bow is a particularly engaging player – the sound is smooth and full, the stick is quite light and nimble but satisfyingly strong. It’s a well used bow, and it has a certain magic about it; perhaps it just works for me, but it seems to be immediately comfortable and effortless. It has a kind of buttery quality which I associate with great Tubbs bows, and it will make any pokey or harsh instrument sound better…

This would be an ideal bow for an orchestral professional looking for a rounded tone that’s easily controlled, or for someone looking to tame an overly aggressive sounding instrument.

Overall a warm and sophisticated bow with bags of character.

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