William Charles Retford
Probably the greatest bow craftsman of his time, William Charles Retford was initially hired by the firm of W.E. Hill & Sons as an instrument repairer. He began making bows shortly thereafter, and developed a lifelong reputation for exquisite and fastidious workmanship and an irascible personality. He and William ...Read More Napier in particular clashed quite often, but Retford later created a new production model after WWI with Napier's son Frank, whereby fittings were produced by specialized metalworkers.
Over the course a 64-year career at the firm, almost 50 as head of the bow department, Retford worked with Alfred Hill to establish the definitive profile of the Hill bow, which involved the careful study of innumerable fine French bows that passed through the firm's hands. The fleur-de-lys design that appears on frogs of the firm's finest gold and tortoiseshell bows was one of Retford's signature ideas. His bows for the firm are marked by a single dot beneath the mortise. Retford continued to make bows following his retirement in 1956, which bear the stamp, "William C. Retford."
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