One of Germany’s great 20th-century violin experts, Walter Hamma also collected bows of the highest standard by contemporary makers. His collection included an exceptional assortment of decorated examples mounted in tortoiseshell or ivory, 13 of which are presented here.
Bow makers have traditionally reserved tortoiseshell and ivory mounts for bows of the very highest calibre made for their most prestigious clients. Many have found their way into collections and have been kept under optimal conditions, often providing definitive, unworn examples by which other bows from the same maker can be judged.
With the exception of an ivory-mounted cello bow, a superb exhibition piece by Émile August Ouchard for the 1937 Exposition Internationale in Paris, the rest of these bows are mounted in tortoiseshell. A late-19th-century French violin bow made for Chanot & Chardon is the earliest example, but the remainder were made in Hamma’s lifetime, and were probably bought by him or his father as new.