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A trio of French Bows for your delectation


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Before we get too far along on this... I'm having a bit of trouble with frog #2. May not be correct for that bow. Button on # 3 is suspect, although it may be OK... or maybe from another bow by the same maker.

I assume everyone can read the stamps?

How they relate: Each maker worked with the previous maker at one point. The change is styles goes hand in hand with the changing playing styles of the time.

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I must say, you all must have very good eyes too notice all of these suttle differences. Though I saw the different "bottoms" of the S' on the tips, everything else had to be pointed out to me before I noticed it.

Well then, for the frogs, there's the blatantly obvious here. Frog #2 (or whatever frog it's supposed to be) has a rounded bottom corner rather than a sharp one like the others. Also, the shape of the "thumb-holes" (is there a proper name for that?) are different for the bows. The end of the top portion (on the left side) does not reach as far out as the frog #3 (if you were to draw a line perpendicular to the stick where the ebony ends, it wouldn't reach as far out as the others). Also, #2 has a rounder cutout, with a straighter top-side. It also curves a bit more sharply than the other two bows.

Also, #2 seems to be more used (not necessarily older) than the other two. The wood seems to be slightly worn down where the fingers would be if someone was holding the bow.

Maybe everything I'm seeing wont really help identification. I'll wait to see what some other people say.

I can see the stamps, I just can't read them. o.O

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Hi Guy. I have a Mac laptop. Nice monitor. I can read the stamps on # 1 & 3 without difficulty.

The frog on #2 does seem to be the one shown with the bow from your source... but it 's throwing me. If it's correct, it's not what I'm used to seeing.

For those with less luck reading the stamps;

#1: Voirin. Check out the movement of the angle and line of the chamfer (it seems to broaden slightly at the throat) and the way the bend (camber) of the stick starts directly behind the head.

#2: Lamy. I have no trouble with the head, just the unusual frog/button. The head is very "Voirin like" to me, but with less movement of the chamfer and slightly less definition at the nose. Lamy worked with Voirin (Alfred Lamy is probably responsible for some of the later Voirin bows).

#3: Sartory. I would guess this one dates from the early 1900s (maybe 1910?), but is showing some of the chunky-ness of the post 1920s heads. Less curve showing in the stick behind the head, but still some there. Sartory worked with Lamy among others. Some of his earlier bows have heads very similar to Lamy.

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I can read the top stamp, maybe the bottom, but not the middle.

I think the usual name for the "thumb hole" is throat. As I see it, the curve of the throat is symmetrical on the top and bottom frogs and assymmetric on the middle one.

The tongue projects noticeably beyong the thumpiece in the top frog, but they're about even in the lower two. The tongue is thickest on the top and thinnest on the bottom. The end of the thumb piece is rounded on the middle frog and squarer on the other two.

The rounded heel of the middle frog is an obvious difference, but I'm guessing that it's not a significant identification indicator unless one knows that a certain maker always (or never) rounded the heel. I think it's just a different style, and many makers made both types. Round heels are unusual on violin frogs and normal on cello frogs.

I see these details, but I'm still pretty much at a loss for how they go together to indicate the maker.

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Brad; I added to my post just above... Might help you a bit. Re-read it if you haven't...

One of the characteristics particular to Voirin at the time was the bend (camber) of the shaft starting so close to the head.... and the delicate look of his bows (the shaft is rather thin directly behind the head as well). Start with that, then it's simpler to see where the following (later) bowmakers went with the style.

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JH, isn't it correct that the chamfer on the Sartory starts at the base, is more pronounced (that is the corners of the ivory are more chamfered) than the other two.

The first two seem "deeper" as they round into the shaft. A subjective description: it's almost as if the curve of the back of the head surprises the shaft in the Voirin and Lamy. While the Sartory approaches smoothly, gently melding with the shaft.

I also find the S of the Sartory more unified. The nose following the same subtle turning as the forehead.

As for the frogs, the only remark I feel I can make is to note that the throat of the Sartory is more balanced than the Voirin. The ferrule of the Voirin extends past the top edge of the throat, giving it a proportion similar to some open trench frogs I have seen.

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They are different approaches, aren't they. They function differently as well. I guess what is more appealing depends on your point of view.

To me, the Voirin is the most elegant of the trio. The way the chamfer flows into the stick seems to have a bit of a flourish. The Lamy is less dramatic, but still delicate. The Sartory is a departure. Beautiful engineering and design... maybe less elegant (from my point of view), but more useful in terms of modern playing. Interesting thing that a really fine bow by the "father" of the group (Voirin) costs about the same as a fine bow by the youngest member of the group (Sartory) these days.

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Yes, those are the ones, thank you Guy. With such a drastic difference, how can the 2nd one be attributed unless there is just strong documentation from the maker to the current owner. I 'thought' I was beginning to understand identification(even when I could not recognize some details) but, these large difference leave me at a loss.

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