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Thoughts re: 1920s amateur UK Maker – S.H. Sirrell

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Hello from Canada!

I had picked up this lovely full sized instrument, locally, about a year ago.  A local luthier got it set up for me, and I am really enjoying playing it.  It's proportioned well, is fairly light,  is quite 'easy' to handle and sounds excellent (to my ear....).   From what the seller told me, it found its way to Western Canada at some point in the 1940-50's.  I’m not that familiar with the various styles/influences of UK makers, and would be interested in hearing thoughts about this particular instrument.   The Interior has a label (and pencil-marking-on-wood just south of the sound post) stating:

  • S.H. Sirrell . Maker
  • Stratford on Avon
  • Anno 1921. L.G.B.P.

(What does L.G.B.P. mean?)   Having some spare time, during quarantine, I tried to find some information on this particular individual. So far, I have been able to piece together:

  • Stephen Henry Sirrell
  • 1877 – 1953
  • Born in Felton, Herefordshire
  • Died in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire


Of interest, I found out that he advertised in STRAD magazine in 1909 and 1910.  He had a shop at 9 Scholar’s Lane, Stratford-on-Avon (Shakespear’s Town).  He indicated that he would do ‘Repairs of every description carefully executed at Moderate Terms’.

I haven’t found many auction results, nor references in any of the maker archives. The only few I was able to locate were from:

  • ·         1988 Strings Magazine auction result ($675)
  • ·         2008 Campbell’s auction for a 1938 instrument ($360)

I know my instrument wasn't made by a known maker, but I would like to know more about him, given he had a shop in Stratford-upon-Avon and was active as a maker from at least 1921 to 1938.    I know it isn't in perfect condition, but it is solid and does play nicely. 

What are individual's thoughts on this instrument (images below) or the maker? Are there other references I should be checking?





















Edited by CAS
Missing word

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The F-hopes look clumsy to me but overall it looks like a very nice violin. I wonder if he made his own varnish( a lot of makers back then did not.)

I hope you learn something.

Edited by PhilipKT

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I think the violin looks at least partly revarnished, especially the top. There are a lot of small dings on the top that look not touched up, but much rather as if the varnish soaked in (which would be the result of not being properly sealed there). That is unusual for a first application of varnish, and doesn't look that way on the rest of the instrument. The varnish has soaked in more in the  open end grain parts of the top, a typical mistake for novices in varnishing, again showing a lack of proper sealant.  Also, the treble f hole looks as if it had some damage and was repaired? If so, then the revarnishing might have taken place after that. Apart from the damage and the unlucky top, I quite like the appearance, nice outline. The work is not perfect but has charm, and the back wood is spectacular.

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4 hours ago, baroquecello said:

I think the violin looks at least partly revarnished, especially the top. 

This looks to me more like a typical English varnish - probably Whitelaw's Oil varnish - that has lost its colour over the last 100 years ...

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Thank you, all!  I really appreciate the input and information.  The research has been fun, and I am waiting for my local library to bring in a copy of Plowright. I am always amazed at how robust the interlibrary loan network is.

The treble f-hole does have some repaired damage, and the back varnish has some ugly areas.  The back plate has a wonderful pattern.  I'll keep reading and learning.   Thanks again.



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