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W.E Hill & Sons Violin Bow 4/4 by Frank Donald Napier

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W.E. Hill & Sons Violin Bow Made By Frank Donal Napier

About Frank Donald Napier:

Frank Donald Napier (1885 – 1969) joined the firm of W.E. Hill & Sons in 1904. He was the third son of William Napier, a bow maker and manager of the workshop for 40 years. In collaboration with William C. Retford, Frank Napier devised a new production model for the firm where they began employing specialized metalworkers for bow fittings. Napier left Hill & Sons to start his own workshop in 1930. The bows that he made during his time at the workshop are uniquely marked with three leaves (occasionally Roman numerals instead) on the tip facing beneath the hair.

W.E. Hill & Sons (founded 1880 by William Ebsworth Hill) is a London-based firm that dominated the string instrument and bow market from the late 1800’s and right through the majority of the 20th century. Built on the back of a long family history of violin making since William Ebsworth’s great-grandfather, the workshop was known for its expertise in fine instruments.

The firm had the foresight to restore many important classical Italian instruments, preserving them for years to come while gaining a notoriety for their expertise. They built one of the most notable collections of Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri instruments such at the Messiah Stradivarius, the only Stradivari-made instrument still in like-new condition.

They had many fine instrument and case makers under its employ, but their speciality was their bows. Alfred Hill instituted an established style for the firm’s bows based on the Tourte violin bow, allowing them to unite the work of a variety of individual makers into a uniformly quality product. Some of the most well-known bow makers who worked with the firm include makers such as James Tubbs and William Charles Retford. In the early 20th century at the workshop’s peak, the firm had been awarded many medals and was appointed amongst the violin and bow makers of numerous European monarchs including the kinds of England, Italy, and Portugal.

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