John Dodd I
Known as the 'English Tourte' for his leading role in the development of the modern bow in Britain, John 'Kew' Dodd was initially employed as a fine metalworker. Proximity to this trade afforded him the tools and expertise to develop the screw mechanisms being pioneered in Paris around the same time, and Dodd probably took up ...Read More bow making in the 1770s–80s. He is first listed in the trade directories in 1794, and the earliest example of his work bears the brand of Norris and Barnes. Details about his working life are limited, but he seems to have been active in the trade and in the communities of Lambeth, and later Kew, until the beginning of the 19th century. Dodd supplied some bows to the Betts, Forster and Banks workshops, which bear their brands, though his other bows are stamped 'Dodd'.
The evolution of Dodd's model is indicative of the great changes bow making underwent during the second half of the 18th century. His earlier work features the rounded heads, narrower ivory frogs and straighter sticks of classical bows. Over the course of his career Dodd helped to establish the definitive characteristics of the modern English bow, including the upward-tilting ivory face, large chamfers, 'top-hat' shaped mortise, and frog of ebony or tortoiseshell.
Dodd was a heavy drinker, and it is likely that his business declined steadily after 1820, perhaps in part due to the death of his agent John Norris in 1819. In his last years he was brought to a workhouse in Richmond, where he died in 1839. He is, along with James Tubbs, considered the most important maker in the history of the English tradition.
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