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A trio of French Bows for your delectation


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We have a Villaume-labelled bow, the head of which looks very much like the bottom bow, so I will be very curious to hear some opinions. Ours is most definitely from V's shop, though the specific maker is not known to us. (Joseph Grubaugh saw it at "Players Meet Makers" & got all excited & claimed it was a Simon. Another dealer said Martin--?). I wish I could post a picture to add into the mix.

Someone left the bow on my mother-in-law's piano about forty years ago, where it remained for a couple of decades (no one caring much about such things back then). My husband eventually grabbed it to use as a back-up bow--didn't like it much (very light) compared to his Lamy. But now my oldest daughter loves it. It is in near-mint condition--original wrap and all.

How fun.


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OK... Bow profiles are difficult if you're not used to looking at them... and then there's the "compared to what" thing. In other words, if you haven't seen a ton of bows, picking the out the profiles is that much harder.

I suggest the following:

We know they are French, as Guy has provided that information in the title. Try to determine the following:

Are they the same maker?

If they aren't the same maker, what are the differences?

Are there similarities (are the bows related)? If so, what are the similarities?

They all look to be in fine shape, but which bow do you think might be the oldest one? Why?

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"What similar features do you find connect the first two bows and what is the departure in style for the third?"

I first noticed the upturned noses of the first two, most pronounced in the first, that is lacking in the third. But perhaps this is too insignificant a detail. Then I looked at the angle between the ridge (at the front end of the head) and the shaft. The angle is closer to a right angle in the third photo, and greater than a right angle in the first two.

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The last one looks a bit more "rough" compared to the upper two. The stick with the joint is perhaps thicker and I feel that the head itself is more massive.. like bold or clumsy :-)

(compared to the other two. I wish I had such a beautiful bow)

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Anne, Brad and Regis;

You are all noticing important details... Guy; nice tip (no pun intended... well maybe a small pun intended). Erika; chime in! I want details!

Brad; how do the tips "hang" on the stick (what angle do they have in relation to the shaft... and how is the shaft shaped just behind the head)? Does this have something to do with the "upturned nose" to your eye? If the third bow's head was at the same angle, would it relate slightly more to the first or second bow? If so, which one?

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Another way to say what I think JH is getting at.

Two things strike me about the three. Firstly, how the tail end of the S -- that is, the upturned nosed, relates to the top of the S (what is coming out of the shaft), And then secondly, how the entire feel of the S shape relates to the back of the head.

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@falstaff: I meant the shaft just behind the head. Sorry for the confusion!

Aha, looking at the shape of the shaft behind the head, bow 1 and 3 are more similar. They have broad, accentuated edges while bow two is more round or smooth.

Good teachers here :-)

Regarding the

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1. Alfred Lamy, given the longer tip or I couldn't tell the difference between 1 and 2

2. FN Voirin, full tip but not so elongated as 1.

3. Andre Vigneron, given the round and full shape of the head, smooth curve to the head; I was going to guess Voirin or Sartory but the tip is too short and chunky for even early Sartory i think...

Those are my guesses...

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First, be careful the flair of the ivory face at the nose isn't throwing you off. The first two bows have quite a "swoop" in that area.

To me, bows 2 & 3 have a slightly different, but related, character in terms of how the back lines of the head work... The first two have are more related in the general shape of the head and the arch of the stick just behind the head.

Big hint: I see these three bows as related in terms of general influence, but they are not by the same "maker". It's an interesting progression... So which one is the oldest bow??

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