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Instrument & Bow of the Month – August 2023

William Prior ( Born 1690 Gateshead, died 1759 Newcastle, County Durham UK) is an extremely interesting and rare UK maker.

I have seen a few violins by him but this is the first viola. Who did he learn off? no idea? how many instruments? no idea.

You see what I’m up against!

Certainly he must have known the other great British maker of the time, Daniel Parker as this viola show too much skill to be a self taught or at least someone whom has a deep understanding of making (that Parker had).

The main thing to get excited about with this viola is it’s size. No baby 15″ back like you see in so many early English instruments. This is a full, grown up instrument.

The last great English viola by Parker sold at auction for £220 000.

I think I’m being reasonable at half this price £110 000.

The viola will come with a letter from John Dilworth.

LOB 41.7cm

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James Tubbs (1835-1921)was one of the finest and most prolific bow makers in the history of British violin making. His work rivals that of the finest French makers, and he is said to have made thousands of bows in his lifetime. Initially Tubbs trained with his father William before starting his own business in the 1850s. He collaborated with William Ebsworth Hill starting around 1858, but never appears to have been officially employed by Hill or the Hill firm. In fact, after their relationship deteriorated steadily and eventually foundered in 1870, whenever Tubbs came across an example of his own work bearing a Hill brand, he stamped his own name on top of it, either ” J. Tubbs” or “Jas Tubbs.”

Tubbs’ work is widely sought-after and has been copied and forged by makers ranging from French and German trade workers and Bazin families. The sticks of his bows are usually round and the metal parts are of generous thickness.

This bow is a very fine example of his “own style” work. Perfectly balanced, strong and excellent condition, for less than half the price of a Sartory you will find a bow that produces more colours and a better tone on your viola.

We have 3 Tubbs viola bows in stock

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