The violin maker Walter Hamma was one of Germany’s great 20th-century violin experts and was also a collector of fine instruments and bows. His collection included an exceptional assortment of contemporary decorated bows mounted in tortoiseshell or ivory, 13 of which are presented here.
Bow makers have traditionally used tortoiseshell and ivory mounts for bows of the highest calibre, which were often made for prestigious clients. Many, like these ones, found their way into collections. They have therefore been kept under optimal conditions, providing definitive examples by which other bows from the same maker can be judged.
With the exception of an ivory-mounted cello bow made by Émile August Ouchard for the 1937 Exposition Internationale in Paris, the rest of these examples are tortoiseshell-mounted. A late-19th-century French violin bow made for Chanot & Chardon is the earliest, while the remainder were made in Hamma’s lifetime and were probably bought by him or his father as new. As such they are still in mint condition today.