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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Who to restore old bows?

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Aaron Smith - Posted - 03/21/2011:  08:18:39

Greetings all. Thanks to the good advice I recieved from the kind folks here, I got my grandfather's old violin over to Fred Carpenter in Nashville to be repaired/ set up. The violin was made by Victor Carroll Squier in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1904. I've been learning diligently for the past two months, and I must say it's going pretty well.

The bows that were in the case were pretty messy, so rather than get them restored I got a new student-grade brazilwood bow. It has been fine to learn with.

This weekend I got the old bows out and gave them a good look. Here is what I found:

Bow #1 is pretty straight, seems to have good camber. Missing the knob, and the frog fittings are pretty tarnished. I can barely see the word "Germany" stamped on the side, pretty faint from long-ago play wear. (The knob in the picture actually came from the other bow- I wanted to see if it would fit).

Bow #2 has been repaired with a piece of metal tubing. Straight but not as much camber. Frog assembly seems to work well. I found the word "Dodd" stamped on the side. (Again, the metal stem in the picture is from the other bow; This bow came with a working knob).

I Googled "Dodd violin bow", and got a lot of hits. Apparently he was an English bow maker and his bows seem to be sought after. Of course with the repair I'm guessing it's probably not worth much, but it might make a nice player?

So- I have what appear to be two very nice bows, that may questionably have some historical value, that are in need of restoration/repair. Who are the best people to send them to for restoration? They are family heirlooms and I have no intent of selling them, I would just like to get them back to good playing health without de-valuing them in the event that they're worth something.

Thanks in advance!

dogwalkin - Posted - 03/21/2011:  09:12:34

Fred is also a expert in bows. You need to ask him.

coelhoe - Posted - 03/21/2011:  11:05:30

V. C. Squier is / was a major American maker. One of the best. His father, Jerome Bonaparte Squier, worked after the Civil War was known in the 1890's as the American Stradivarius, and V.C. learned from him. I've seen several articles about the son. His violins were in great demand in the 1940's and are highly regarded. When you get it back, I'd have the instrument professionally appraised and insured. Lots of info on the net. Congratulations!!

Aaron Smith - Posted - 03/21/2011:  14:26:16

Thanks for the feedback Dennis. My grandfather was a concert violinist in Pennsylvania in the 1940's, so your comments would make sense. Despite the fact that it had been sitting under a bed in my aunt's house for 50 years, it was in surprisingly good shape; a few cracks but nothing serious. My grandfather was not a wealthy man and the violin had some long-ago repairs including a neck repair, probably before he owned it.
Fred and his team did a great job bringing it back to health (I'll post some pics later). He knew I just wanted the whole kit set up so I could play it, rather than a full historical restoration. He quickly looked the bows over and said that for half the price of a repair I could get a brand new bow that would be fine to learn on; that seemed good enough for me. Only since then have I looked at the bows carefully and found that I might have something really good. Honestly, I'm such a green player that I probably wouldn't even know the difference.
Nonetheless the instrument has great sentimental value to my mother and aunts, and they are really happy that someone in the family is actually playing the thing. I probably do need to get a formal appraisal, but I don't even know where to start.

Edited by - Aaron Smith on 03/21/2011 14:27:33

woodwiz - Posted - 03/21/2011:  18:21:46

The bows have silver buttons, but the rest of the hardware is nickel (German silver). Probably not worth getting excited about, but you might want to run it by Fred next time you are close by.

Fancy makers names are stamped on all kinds of factory bows, however in the light of your Grandfather's background, they might be good players.

Aaron Smith - Posted - 03/21/2011:  18:48:48

Thanks for the advice. I probably should have guessed that if they were worth getting all lathered about, Fred would have picked up on it.

At any rate, here are some pics of the fiddle that came with the bows.

fiddleiphile - Posted - 03/22/2011:  03:22:14

It must be a very special feeling to play a fiddle your Grandfather loved. I am sure he would be thrilled that you are making music with it again. Enjoy!

Edited by - fiddleiphile on 03/24/2011 04:18:32

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