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Question about auction trends re: a specific maker


PhilipKT
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Lloyd Liu died recently of Covid, but he left bow-making 30 years ago to go into a new field.

But now every auction has Lloyd Liu bows, so far all in apparently unplayed condition. Tarisio has at least three.

If he were an active maker, I could see his passing causing a run on his stuff, but he left bowmaking decades ago and had a shop, so his quality is variable(although the Liu bows I’ve played were all outstanding.)

So is the sudden interest in Liu bows solely du to his passing?

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I don't think he left bow making completely, and certainly not thirty years ago; he was still teaching and making the occassional bow. Maybe you say that because he left Salchow? He went off on his own. About 2 years before, he had completed a cello that he brought out here (west coast) to sell.  I met him quite a few times, and he was very active and still showing an acquaintance proper bow making technique.  From what I know, he left a fairly complete workshop that he was in the process of selling off, so perhaps some bows came from there? Also, he had at least 3 different grade levels - one from his students, two, from his hand, but were not bench copies, and three, bench copies signed under the wrap only. 

My acquaintance had two unplayed pearl tip Lloyd Liu bowsthat are drop dead gorgeous.  Fairly unusual design, but...Wow. I have a Voirin copy he made, about 15 years ago.  Superb bow. Just a little worse for the wear; it had been heavily used. 

 

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2 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

I don't think he left bow making completely, and certainly not thirty years ago; he was still teaching and making the occassional bow. Maybe you say that because he left Salchow? He went off on his own. About 2 years before, he had completed a cello that he brought out here (west coast) to sell.  I met him quite a few times, and he was very active and still showing an acquaintance proper bow making technique.  From what I know, he left a fairly complete workshop that he was in the process of selling off, so perhaps some bows came from there? Also, he had at least 3 different grade levels - one from his students, two, from his hand, but were not bench copies, and three, bench copies signed under the wrap only. 

My acquaintance had two unplayed pearl tip Lloyd Liu bowsthat are drop dead gorgeous.  Fairly unusual design, but...Wow. I have a Voirin copy he made, about 15 years ago.  Superb bow. Just a little worse for the wear; it had been heavily used. 

 

Thank you. The article I read said he left bow making to go into the textile  industry after suffering an injury.

“LIU, Lloyd b. China, Worked circa. 1970-1980 USA. Bow maker and jeweller in New York. Established a bow making factory in Old Bennington, Vermont. Moved to Arlington, Vermont 1975, producing 30 bows per week in various grades. The shop closed in 1977 and he retired from bow-making 1980 following an accident. Moved to Hong Kong. “[Wenberg]

I got the textile bit from another article I found, but can’t locate now.

thanks for your additional info.

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4 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

Also, he had at least 3 different grade levels - one from his students, two, from his hand, but were not bench copies, and three, bench copies signed under the wrap only. 

A colleague has a superb cello bow that I posted photographs of earlier this summer I think. It came from an auction house and is such a good bow that I am possibly interested in acquiring with myself. That bow has no stamp at all underneath the frog, so I’m assuming it was one of the shop bows, but If that’s his shop bow then he had every reason to be very proud of his output. Do you know how to tell the difference between his levels of Bow?

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@PhilipKT 1) By the quality 2) By where the stamp is located..

AFAIK, he lived in New York (upstate), not Hong Kong. He had a large stash of wood, and lots of industrial wood working tools, which he was in the proces of selling. So on that, Wenberg is not up to date. When he was young, he was hit by James Cagney's chauffer, and badly injured; and went to HK, to recover.   His family busines was textiles... Then he joined Salchow, and later left to do his own thing, IIUC.  Bench copies weren't signed in a visible location and were sometimes unsigned; unscrupulous people later would add the stamp of the copied bow maker, and apparently in a few cases, fooled the experts. Many of the nominal stamped Liu bows are from his workshop, not directly his hand.

He made many spectacular cellos; there are 2 Montagnana copies, that are for sale in LA currently. PM if interested. 

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3 hours ago, l33tplaya said:

@PhilipKT 1) By the quality 2) By where the stamp is located..

AFAIK, he lived in New York (upstate), not Hong Kong. He had a large stash of wood, and lots of industrial wood working tools, which he was in the proces of selling. So on that, Wenberg is not up to date. When he was young, he was hit by James Cagney's chauffer, and badly injured; and went to HK, to recover.   His family busines was textiles... Then he joined Salchow, and later left to do his own thing, IIUC.  Bench copies weren't signed in a visible location and were sometimes unsigned; unscrupulous people later would add the stamp of the copied bow maker, and apparently in a few cases, fooled the experts. Many of the nominal stamped Liu bows are from his workshop, not directly his hand.

He made many spectacular cellos; there are 2 Montagnana copies, that are for sale in LA currently. PM if interested. 

I have a wonderful Cello, However I have a colleague who is looking, and looking hard.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It is a sad fact, that people look to profit as soon as a maker dies.

I have a colleague who is doing exactly this at the moment, with something they never really got on with. Since the maker is now both old and seriously ill, they are essentially waiting for them to die, to stick it an auction that month, and are expecting to make a handsome profit.

Personally I hope their plan fails, as their morbid behaviour shows the worst traits in humanity.

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7 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

It is a sad fact, that people look to profit as soon as a maker dies.

I have a colleague who is doing exactly this at the moment, with something they never really got on with. Since the maker is now both old and seriously ill, they are essentially waiting for them to die, to stick it an auction that month, and are expecting to make a handsome profit.

Personally I hope their plan fails, as their morbid behaviour shows the worst traits in humanity.

Sounds like a wonderful colleague.......

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

It is a sad fact, that people look to profit as soon as a maker dies.

I have a colleague who is doing exactly this at the moment, with something they never really got on with. Since the maker is now both old and seriously ill, they are essentially waiting for them to die, to stick it an auction that month, and are expecting to make a handsome profit.

Personally I hope their plan fails, as their morbid behaviour shows the worst traits in humanity.

One of the reasons I love the Reverend Morrises book on British violin makers is that all through the book you get a strong sense of the quality of this person, the integrity he brings to everything he does, and his shock and discussed at the Richard morals of some of the famous Violin dealers of the British past, like Betts and Fendt.

That book is a joy to read, and he also singles out makers who excel in the qualities of integrity and hard work. He mentions one old maker who attributes his longevity to never having touched a drop of alcohol or tobacco.

Anyway, your story is sad, and I can ask you, “who is this of whom you speak?” And you could quite honestly answer, “almost anybody…”

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What did Mr.  Liu price his stuff at? The estimates on these items seem pretty low for hand made violins/bows of the time. I dont see anyone profiting in a big way, unless the prices blow way past the estimates.

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44 minutes ago, deans said:

What did Mr.  Liu price his stuff at? The estimates on these items seem pretty low for hand made violins/bows of the time. I dont see anyone profiting in a big way, unless the prices blow way past the estimates.

That’s my thought exactly, brand new bow, well-made of good materials by an established maker, or even buy an established maker’s shop, should be worth more than these things are selling for.

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

One of the reasons I love the Reverend Morrises book on British violin makers is that all through the book you get a strong sense of the quality of this person, the integrity he brings to everything he does, and his shock and discussed at the Richard morals of some of the famous Violin dealers of the British past, like Betts and Fendt.

That book is a joy to read, and he also singles out makers who excel in the qualities of integrity and hard work. He mentions one old maker who attributes his longevity to never having touched a drop of alcohol or tobacco.

Yes, he was certainly the product of a more "righteous" age. Re the violin maker William Walton (no relation), in his first edition Morris writes at complimentary length of Walton's skill and even goes into details of his family, making it unnecessarily clear that Walton's three children all retain their mother's surname. Just to make sure the sins of the father...  I don't think Ben Hebbert (who edited a new imprint of Morris's second edition) will mind my reporting that he shares my opinion in spades, and isn't too impressed with his knowledge of violin makers either.

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7 hours ago, matesic said:

Yes, he was certainly the product of a more "righteous" age. Re the violin maker William Walton (no relation), in his first edition Morris writes at complimentary length of Walton's skill and even goes into details of his family, making it unnecessarily clear that Walton's three children all retain their mother's surname. Just to make sure the sins of the father...  I don't think Ben Hebbert (who edited a new imprint of Morris's second edition) will mind my reporting that he shares my opinion in spades, and isn't too impressed with his knowledge of violin makers either.

I’m not sure whether you are being sarcastic or dismissive or not, but doesn’t change my thoughts about Reverend Morris.

He was not at all being “holier than thou” his attitude is clearly mournful rather than vengeful. He was lamenting the frequent quality of people he came in contact with. His story about the Betts Strad, where he took advantage of a poor worker’s ignorance, and paid(paraphrasing) ”thirty shillings for an instrument worth a hundred times as much,”  Illustrates that well. Whether his comments about The quality of a given maker have stood the test of time or not is kind of irrelevant to me, given that my own goal is not to find the best English violin but to learn about British violins.

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1 hour ago, PhilipKT said:

I’m not sure whether you are being sarcastic or dismissive or not, but doesn’t change my thoughts about Reverend Morris.

He was not at all being “holier than thou” his attitude is clearly mournful rather than vengeful. He was lamenting the frequent quality of people he came in contact with. His story about the Betts Strad, where he took advantage of a poor worker’s ignorance, and paid(paraphrasing) ”thirty shillings for an instrument worth a hundred times as much,”  Illustrates that well. Whether his comments about The quality of a given maker have stood the test of time or not is kind of irrelevant to me, given that my own goal is not to find the best English violin but to learn about British violins.

You seem to put a lot of store in this book, but I really have no idea why. It is far from a scholarly work, and Morris wasn’t even that old when it was written.
A lot of the “info” contained within, is a mix of rumours, heresay and conjecture about peoples character. None of that is really relevant to the violins, but carries some unfair weight coming from a reverend.
Fortunately for reverends, they had the power of the church to help hide their “character flaws”, and move them onto a new area, to save them becoming the subject of rumours.

If you really wanted to learn about British makers, there are far, far better books to refer to, which focus on the history, social changes and lives of the makers. Presented in an open way, along with detailed pictures of their work, and not judged by their social standing, from an idealised Victorian viewpoint.
 

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3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

...

He was not at all being “holier than thou” his attitude is clearly mournful rather than vengeful. He was lamenting the frequent quality of people he came in contact with. His story about the Betts Strad, where he took advantage of a poor worker’s ignorance, and paid(paraphrasing) ”thirty shillings for an instrument worth a hundred times as much,”  Illustrates that well. ...

I'm confused. The Reverend took advantage and ripped off the seller - but blamed the seller for being ignorant? No wonder the mother of his children didn't want them to have his surname!

Er...were they even married? Given the times? :blink:

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Is it possible Lloyd Liu had these items on consignment at various shops and his estate decided to liquidate them? I think that something like this is more likely than someone trying to 'cash in'. (BTW I don't know anything about maker agreement with dealers)

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

You seem to put a lot of store in this book, but I really have no idea why. It is far from a scholarly work, and Morris wasn’t even that old when it was written.
A lot of the “info” contained within, is a mix of rumours, heresay and conjecture about peoples character. None of that is really relevant to the violins, but carries some unfair weight coming from a reverend.
Fortunately for reverends, they had the power of the church to help hide their “character flaws”, and move them onto a new area, to save them becoming the subject of rumours.

If you really wanted to learn about British makers, there are far, far better books to refer to, which focus on the history, social changes and lives of the makers. Presented in an open way, along with detailed pictures of their work, and not judged by their social standing, from an idealised Victorian viewpoint.
 

You’re missing my point, but that’s OK. I think you are being unfair to the Reverend Morris, and I am not giving any additional credence to his standing because he is a Reverend. History is littered with crummy people who were at church affiliated.

I will again reiterate, which is a redundancy, but oh well, that he seems sincere and genuine and he’s approaching his subject as a true amateur, someone who loves what he’s doing.

I have no problem with you being blunt, I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts.

Edited by PhilipKT
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13 hours ago, matesic said:

Yes, he was certainly the product of a more "righteous" age. Re the violin maker William Walton (no relation), in his first edition Morris writes at complimentary length of Walton's skill and even goes into details of his family, making it unnecessarily clear that Walton's three children all retain their mother's surname. Just to make sure the sins of the father...  I don't think Ben Hebbert (who edited a new imprint of Morris's second edition) will mind my reporting that he shares my opinion in spades, and isn't too impressed with his knowledge of violin makers either.

I have the 1920 edition of the Morris book, and maker that you mention is not listed. At least I did not find it when searching the W section.

Edited by PhilipKT
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13 hours ago, Rue said:

I'm confused. The Reverend took advantage and ripped off the seller - but blamed the seller for being ignorant? No wonder the mother of his children didn't want them to have his surname!

Er...were they even married? Given the times? :blink:

It was William Walton's three children who were given their mother's surname, for what other reason than that they were born out of wedlock? Morris in his "integrity" thought it necessary to announce this to the world in print, apparently lamenting Walton's moral degeneracy while at the same praising his violin-making. Later it seems Walton did legitimise his family, probably not with this good reverend officiating.

8 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I have the 1920 edition of the Morris book, and maker that you mention is not listed. At least I did not find it when searching the W section.

Not on p.249? My copy of the 1920 edition is in Ben Hebbert's enlarged reprint with a very informative Foreword, generally complimentary although regretting Morris's "unbalanced nationalist agenda". It can be useful as well as entertaining to read how older generations viewed makers whose reputations have either soared or plummeted in the interim.

It's hardly relevant but this weekend I'll be playing a Walton violin in public for the first time, in celebration of my longtime cellist friend and quartet colleague who died suddenly a few months ago. Dvorak's Terzetto of course.

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