Viola Bow by W E Hill & Sons – Made by William Grieve Johnston after 1904.
William Grieve Johnston was an apprentice at the celebrated London piano firm of Broadwood before beginning work at the firm of W.E. Hill & Sons, he started in the workshops building the company’s inlaid and veneered instrument cases. Around 1900 he switched to the bow department in and made some very fine bows, some on a Panormo model. From 1910 to 1920 Johnston again worked in the case department, and though he later returned to bow making his work was no longer of the same quality. His bows are marked with sideways nicks, and downward nicks after 1904.
W.E. Hill & Sons, celebrated London violin dealers.
W.E. Hill & Sons one of the most famous companies in the history of violin making, establishing a legendary reputation with its expertise in historic stringed instruments. A Hill certificate of authenticity was considered to be definitive throughout the history of the firm.
Its revolutionary approach to restoration preserved many important classical Italian instruments – the Hill name epitomised expertise.
William Ebsworth Hill (1817-1895), son of an extremely respected family of London violin makers, at the age of 14 began pursuing the family trade by working at the atelier operated by his father, Henry Lockey Hill (1774-1835), and brother. From 1887 onward, after his four sons had joined the company, W.E. Hill established a solid name for himself as an outstanding repairer. He also proved he had a universal knowledge in creating both old stringed instruments and violin bow and other bows of exceptional quality, quickly becoming the leading Stradivari expert of his day. W.E. Hill created a highly successful business in trading valuable historic stringed instruments.
William Henley described W.E. Hill & Sons of London’s New Bond Street premises as the “Mount Parnassus of the art of violin making,” an international venue where musicians, artists and collectors gathered. The Hill workshop employed many excellent violin and bow makers, and also manufactured cases, but their speciality was bows. Some of their most celebrated bow makers are James Tubbs (1835-1921), Samuel Allen, William Charles Retford (1875-1970) and Albert Leeson. Alfred Hill established uniquely British style of uniformly high quality for the firm’s bows which were based on the Tourte violin bow and Voirin cello bow
During the early part of the 20th century, the New Bond Street venue was closed and the family moved to Hanwell, London where Alfred Hill, amongst others continued the family tradition. Then later in the century, in the mid-1970s, the W.E.Hill & Sons workshops were moved to the larger premises at Havenfields in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
In 1992 W.E. Hill & Sons came to an end, as a lasting testament to their skill and knowledge the Hills’ appraisals and publications remain a valid source and valuable reference for research on musical instruments, especially those on Stradivari.
Members of the Hill family (David Hill and Andrew Hill) still run independent instrument brokerages in the UK.
The round stick of pernambuco of a dark chestnut-brown colour, silver mounted ebony frog inlaid with pearl eye, plain silver adjuster inlaid with pearl eye
Stamped H&S on the shaft.
- Weight 72.1 grams