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Violin Bow Value?

Instruments: I found an old case and bow at an estate sale. Is it just an old bow or somwthing special.

From Kent Dunder
Posted April 3, 2009 at 01:28 AM


If this is the wrong place for this, I appoligize and you can send me on my way.   I have looked around on the web and haven't found  much information.  

I found an old violin case and bow at an estate sale.  There was no violin.  The case is wood.  I think they call it a coffin case.   I realize the case is nothing special , but may help to date the bow.   I guess I would like to know is this just a wall hanger or something special.

I have pictures for anyone that wants them.  The bow is 28 inches long. There is still hair on the bow. The wood looks to be in good shape. The wood is a dark reddish brown.   I have looked it over and can not find any maker's markings.   On what I believe is called the frog; Is a very dark wood.  One the sides of the frog it looks as if there is a peg through it.  on the top of the frog there is inlay.   The inlay is damaged.  It has a iridescent look. I think it is abolone.   The bow is hexagon shaped on the frog end  is rouns after about 6 inches.

On the end of the bow it looks like there might be sometihng missing. There is a small square piece of metal sticking out.   I assume this is to move the frog.  Is there something missing here or was there a small wrench?

Thank you in advance, I hope one of your members can help me.


From bill platt
Posted on April 3, 2009 at 01:44 AM

Very nice description. If I were an English-speaking Martian, I'd have a very clear picture of your bow.

Unfortunately your description also fits a Tourte, a Peccatte, a Sartory, and a $20 bow from a factory somewhere west of California...so, no, not much you can do to find out without taking it to an expert for an appraisal.

Regardless of all that, does it play well? Even if it isn't "valuable," if it is playable, somebody might find it useful.

The small piece of metal sounds like the button broke off the end of the screw that runs the frog back and forth to tighten/loosen the hair.

From Kent Dunder
Posted on April 3, 2009 at 02:03 AM

Thank you for your reply.  I have no idea how it plays.   I do not have a violin and if I did  I wouldn't know how to play.   I could go get a wood saw and see what happens. . . .

I do want  to sell it,  I could either bring it into a local shop or put it on Ebay. I just wanted to go into it with as much knowledge as possible.  Both for my benefit and the buyers.


From Josh Henry
Posted on April 3, 2009 at 02:55 AM

Hi Kent,  At 28" long, it sounds like you have a bow made for a 3/4 sized violin (full sized bows are usually around 29 1/2" long). From your description, it does sound like the button used for tightening the frog is missing, but unfortunately, the rest of your description doesn't give enough information to ID the bow. Your description, "One the sides of the frog it looks as if there is a peg through it." leaves me with a very disturbing mental image of the bow. And by the way, your bow is most likely octagonal (8 sides) rather than hexagonal (6 sides). As far as the value, cost to restore, and playability of the bow, there is no way to comment on that. Perhaps you could post your pictures somewhere and link them to this discussion thread, and then we could comment at that point to give you advice that is meaningful. Perhaps you have a violin shop near you--take it to then and see what what they say, otherwise, post it on Ebay (with good pictures!) and let the bidders decide what the bow is worth.

Josh Henry, Bow Maker & Restorer

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 3, 2009 at 04:13 AM

I have a friend who likes to buy violin bows and everything else at second hand stores.  He intends to rehair the bows some day.  I've looked at the bows and told him not to bother.  You can buy good beginner bows at low prices now.  He says that he is going to rehair them anyway, just for fun.  My guess is that your bow is not a very good one.  The screw needs to be repaired.  The bow needs to be rehaired.  Who knows what environment it's been stored in?  Was it treated well by those who played it?  I suggest taking it to a luthier and asking his or her opinion.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on April 5, 2009 at 01:14 AM

Hi Kent,

Let's let Bill describe some device foreign to him, and see if he covers the important parts :)

Weeell, chances are it's a German bow from the 19th Century, not worth a whole lot monetarily, but only an expert seeing it in person could tell for sure.  So pay absolutely no attention to what I just wrote.

I think it's great when people without a violin, for example, background take an interest in it for some reason.  I'm intrigued by peoples motivations, there's a story in it, especially when it's a motivation to something good like an interest in violin or some other instrument.  When the whole thing isn't driven by thoughts of stars and professionals and superkids and talent and hot chix.  Hope you don't get beat up for it.  Well, hot chix are ok on second thought.

From Kent Dunder
Posted on April 7, 2009 at 12:47 AM

Thank you to all who gave me some input.  The bow is octogone shaped not hexagon.  When I said there was a peg through the frog I think I was misunderstood.   It does not looked altered,  I would say  it is original.  It is flush with the sides of the frog.  Could it be part  of what holds the frog to the bow?  I also didn't mention the hair.  There are a few loose stray hairs. Most of the hairs are tight.   The width of the bow hairs is 5/16  of an inch.   You would know more than I if this makes it playable.  There are a couple shops in the area I will check.   After that  it will probably end up on Ebay.

Thanks again for you help.


From Sue Bechler
Posted on April 9, 2009 at 05:27 PM

Taking your bow into a couple of shops make sense. You want to ask what it's value might be compared to the cost of making it playable. I've bought a handful of violins at sales (for between $20 and $75) over a number of years. I use a couple of the bows that came w/them, and have traded in a couple of others for $100-250 off something I was buying. I know something about the subject and knew the folks, so I was comfortable w/that, (plus reference cost of outfit.)There is a collector value to those wood cases. You can get a sense by looking those up on eBay. Sue