Bought a Hill bow

Edited: February 20, 2018, 8:03 AM · Bought a 1955 W. E. Hill and sons tortoise shell bow on ebay for $800. 14 day return policy if there is anything wrong with it but I've had 3 experts look at pictures think its a real Hill. I know tortoise shell is a bit of a liability especially for international travel but its still quite legal within the USA. Here's the listing;

Replies (85)

February 20, 2018, 7:53 AM · Interesting. I've never seen a Hill bow with an ivory tip. Only silver.
February 20, 2018, 8:09 AM · Hills are usually silver, but ivory is not unheard of I've been told, but in this case I think the silver was replaced to alter the balance.
Edited: February 22, 2018, 1:39 AM · I suspect you are posting this here as you are not sure of its authenticity. In my opinion, the button does not look right and I don’t think the head is correct, but the frog may have come from a Hill bow. You’ll know when you get it in your hands...

Cheers Carlo

Edited: February 20, 2018, 8:23 AM · Ive been told by three experts that it looks genuine, Ill know for sure when I show it to one of them in person, I wasn't looking to authenticate it here, I was just excited that it was possible to pick up what is probably a Hill bow for this price, and if it turns out to be a fake I can send it back for a full refund minus $30 in shipping charges.

I should point out it is stamped on the stick 55 for 1955 which is late for a Hill and may be different from classic 20s Hill bows.

February 20, 2018, 8:35 AM · How funny... The one advocate against buying from eBay is now boasting his eBay purchase.
Edited: February 20, 2018, 8:49 AM · Hopefully you'll have access to a for-sure-genuine one to compare its performance? Your tip is a worry, it's the main identifier.

Yeh Y Cheng, but he can send it back.

Edited: February 20, 2018, 5:34 PM · I advocate against amateurs buying off ebay as most stuff is overpriced junk, however if you have access to expert advice there are some rare bargains on ebay. In this case I had an expert friend look at the ad and recommend that I purchase it, I would not be able to identify a genuine Hill bow on my own.

And no the tip is not the main identifier of a Hill bow, the tip does have the makers mark, though, you may not know the maker who worked for Hill without the tip being original. Or by tip where you referring to the head, which would be a major identifying factor.

February 20, 2018, 8:59 AM · One of the main identifiers for genuine Hills are the stamps on the slide and underside of the stick matching.
February 20, 2018, 9:23 AM · A friend of mine had a couple of Hill bows - too bad this one has lost the silver tip, since this is where the "maker's mark" was placed:
February 20, 2018, 9:30 AM · A couple of more thoughts:

$1000 for a Hill bow, even a lesser one, is so little that whether it's genuine is besides the point. I'd be more concerned that it played well and had no poor repairs. If you bought it to resell as a Hill (and thus charge a lot more) than you have a problem with identification unless your customer is uneducated and will take your word for it.

In my experience, it doesn't matter whether three "experts" looked at the bow in person, let alone the photos. It matters whether they will put their opinion into written form, and few appraisers with any national reputation will rush to do that. Yes, there are any number of "experts" who will, but people with an actual reputation, like Salchow, won't without some supporting evidence. They might give an oral opinion, but that's meaningless. I once knew a guy who bought and sold instruments, and his justification for selling a Guadanini or something was that "Moennig took it in the back room for two hours, and when they came out they didn't say it wasn't genuine...."

That kind of justification deserves a middle finger from the customer. If it's not in writing, it doesn't matter.

"in this case I think the silver was replaced to alter the balance." I think you're guessing, and maybe even rationalizing a purchase after the fact. Yes, it could have been replace for balance...or it may be original. There's no way to know.

I noticed a Morizot-like track on the frog (which is unlined). If it were me, I'd do some research and try to find out which Hill maker used 55 and also used the frog track on other bows. You may be able to satisfy yourself, but hopefully you won't be getting someone to pay $5000 or something for it. It's simply an old bow marked "Hill."

Edited: February 20, 2018, 5:57 PM · 55 is the year it was made, I've been told, the W might refer to Watson one of the Hill makers, since the expert told me to buy it I plan on giving him first option to buy it for a wholesale price, he says it would be worth 5-10,000$ if its not repaired and is genuine. I'm hoping to get $2500. I wholesale a lot of stuff and leave it up to the expert to sort out the authentication. You don't need a Raffin or Salchow certificate to sell a Hill bow, I don't think, there's plenty of information available on how to recognize a genuine one.

The frog does not have a liner, you are right, and the Hill stamp is in the tortoiseshell indicating it was not meant to have a slide, but one expert says this is not unheard of, for tortoise shell frogs not to have liners and is actually how Tourte did it.

February 20, 2018, 11:36 AM · Congrats on the find. I won't even begin to guess how authentic it is or isn't. You seem to have done a fair share of investigation into it. Some things in life are a calculated risk. Actually lots of things are like that.

Ebay is a place where anyone can put anything up for sale. It is never a given that it's all a place full of fakes and forgeries. One would be unwise not to look there with a trained eye.

Anyways. Congrats!

February 20, 2018, 11:57 AM · Interesting purchase Lyndon

I am not in the market for another bow but I would be willing to have paid 2k for it if it played good.

February 20, 2018, 3:59 PM · Don't forget that there are excellent bow-makers around who learnt their craft at Hill's and have since set up their own businesses. John Stagg of Bristol, England is an example.
Edited: February 20, 2018, 5:40 PM · Well a fourth expert has responded and agreed with Carlo, the button does not look like Hill, the frog does , but the head doesn't look like Hill unless it has been reworked or the stick spliced so that only the frog end of the stick is original, this would be a problem as the splice may well be invisible under the wrap, unless the wrap is removed, and removing the wrap would void the warranty. Its going to be up to my expert in LA to decide, but I will definitely be on the look out for any evidence of a stick graft.
February 20, 2018, 6:21 PM · Of course if its a repaired spliced stick, I have already told the seller I will be returning it for a refund
February 20, 2018, 7:32 PM · We're left with the fundamental question for these situations. The seller could have easily researched "Hill Violin Bow" and realized that it would be very valuable if it was as authentic. Given that, why would they be willing to let it go at such a bargain price, if they thought it might be real?
Edited: February 20, 2018, 7:45 PM · You would think that, but I've picked up plenty of bargains on ebay that the seller could have researched and didn't.

In the case of an experienced dealer that would of course be the case, but this is not, low feedback(but 100%), only 7 sales to her name.

February 23, 2018, 6:19 PM · It's not a Hill bow...
February 23, 2018, 10:03 PM · If we took your word for appraisals, we'd soon be out of business!!
February 23, 2018, 10:07 PM · None of the experts are doubting that the frog and the frog end of the stick are genuine Hill, the question is if a broken stick has had a new middle section and head grafted on to an original Hill frog section of the stick, unfortunately because of weather it didn't come today, may not be till monday.
February 24, 2018, 2:17 AM · Congratulations Lyndon! I hope it's the real deal! Keep us posted!
February 24, 2018, 5:29 AM · I do not recall Lyndon ever calling himself an expert in the ten years I have been hanging out on violin sites. There are many luthiers around the world that can accurately tell what an instrument or bow is or give an opinion on what it is likely to be from pictures and Lyndon has said that he has had an opinion from one of these experts before buying this bow.

Lyndon has also previously stated over the years that there is some repairs that he didn't have the training to perform and felt qualified to do but would refer the customer to someone else that could do it.

February 24, 2018, 5:48 AM · Thank you Jeff, that is accurate, I would consider myself knowledgeable on student intermediate grade antiques, but not an expert, thank God I do have friends that ARE bona fide experts.
February 24, 2018, 11:06 AM · well its out for delivery today, UPS, so I have to stay home, the suspense is killing me!!
February 24, 2018, 11:14 AM · Good Luck Lyndon!

Cheers Carlo

February 24, 2018, 11:29 AM · Well the expert that recommended I buy it still sounds pretty excited to hear about it, so here's hoping! Thanks Carlo
Edited: February 24, 2018, 2:18 PM · Well I have the bow, there is no evidence of a graft under the wrap, the stick has the same type of grain on either side of the wrap, the Head looks MUCH better than the picture however there is a crack near the bottom of the head 2mm above the tip running parallel to the Ivory tip on both sides, no where near as bad as a crack higher up on the head but devaluing nonetheless. Both the stick and the frog are stamped W55, I'm assuming Watson and 1955?? There is no makers mark on the Ivory under the hair. I've got a top player coming to test out its playability later today, will check with the expert on the crack situation, next step to drive to LA, about 70 miles, to show it to the expert that recommended buying it in the first place and a possible sale, before the 14 day warranty expires. the button is a cheap replacement.
February 24, 2018, 3:03 PM · well my expert friend says the crack in the head knocks at least 50% off the value
February 24, 2018, 6:58 PM · Head plate looks like bone, not ivory.
February 24, 2018, 7:06 PM · I wonder if there might be some pins concealed under the bone tip plate, inserted to reinforce a repair of that crack (?).
Edited: February 24, 2018, 7:55 PM · Well the player that came over to sample it liked how it played so much she tried to buy it for $1500. I had to tell her that the expert dealer friend who recommended I buy it has to get first option at buying it for $1500, thats down from $2500 I was going to try for if it didn't have the crack. I haven't looked closely at the tip to determine if its bone or Ivory, Eric should know. In any case it needs a new tip as the front end is missing.

Mark, you may well be right.

February 24, 2018, 7:53 PM · I should mention my expert friend and I have an arrangement, I offer desirable high ticket items first to him at moderate wholesale prices and in return, he gives me free appraisals, something he doesn't normally do for customers. Most of the top LA shops have quit doing appraisals due to frivolous lawsuits. Unlike most of my smaller shop competitors, If I actually found a Stradivari, I would have someone to honestly appraise and sell it for me. Most of these shops won't do any appraisals or dealings with competitors.
February 24, 2018, 10:11 PM · Good luck with your bow, Lyndon. So far it has been an interesting story and I hope it plays out well for you. I'm anxious to learn how it goes.
Edited: February 25, 2018, 4:51 PM · This guy says it's real Lyndon so you can be assured it is indeed real...

"It would be nice to see more photos but it looks good...."

February 25, 2018, 8:01 PM · who's "this guy" ??
February 26, 2018, 11:34 AM · Someone you don't know but who has been in the biz for more than half a century, regularly attends the auctions and deals in $$$ and $$$$$ instruments. He says it's good.
Edited: February 26, 2018, 12:09 PM · Well thanks for the support, this time. I've been told in good condition it would be worth $5000-10,000(assuming its genuine) but with this major repair knocking at least 50% off the value, I'm thinking more like $3,000-4000 retail, so to wholesale it I'm trying for $1500, Ill let you know how it pans out, the expert is supposed to see it on Wednesday.
Edited: February 26, 2018, 12:11 PM · Well good luck with it Lyndon. Hope you do well with your ebay find. :- )
Edited: February 26, 2018, 12:34 PM · You may get 50% but I think that's an overestimate. I was bidding on a repaired top-of-the-line Hill with gold fittings from Menuhin's estate at Bromptons last year. I dropped out at £800. I don't think it went for much more. My luthier said I was an idiot! (especially as I already own an intact H&S).

edit: just checked. It was estimated £500 - £800. Went for £1,200 (which is probably a quarter of it's intact value).

February 26, 2018, 3:48 PM · Oof, if Menuhin liked it, chances are it was a pretty good bow...;)
February 26, 2018, 4:19 PM · Bud, I'm assuming that's a bow with the repair well up the height of the head, that knocks about 80% off the value, this repair is only 2mm from the bottom, a much more secure repair and much less likely to come apart, hence the 50% devaluation, not 80%

We've made an appointment with the expert that's interested in buying it for Wednesday, Ill let you know.

February 28, 2018, 3:11 PM · Well? What's the verdict Lyndon? Good luck for you...
February 28, 2018, 3:23 PM · Well the bow made it to the expert a couple hours ago, still waiting.
February 28, 2018, 4:23 PM · Well he hasn't made up his mind, but he's not saying anything bad except the Hill and Son stamp looks smaller than usual, he thought the head looked like it could be Hill, will know for sure by tonight or tomorrow, he's very busy planning a trip out of the country.
Edited: February 28, 2018, 7:28 PM · Well my expert is not sure its a Hill, I asked him on a scale of 1-10 how likely he thinks it is real he says 50/50, at the time he is not willing to buy it, but he might change his mind but he can't spend more time researching it till he gets back from his trip overseas which will be 3 weeks, I'm going to see what offer the player will make for it, and we'll take it from there. He says the stamp is not like two Hill bows he owns, the head looks different, but each Hill maker had there own style, and the endplate in the frog has only one pin instead of two, these are the things that are odd or different. Dissapointing for now, but really we will just have to wait.

He did say $1500 was a good price if he becomes convinced it is a genuine Hill. In its repaired condition.

February 28, 2018, 8:05 PM · How badly was it damaged?
Edited: February 28, 2018, 8:39 PM · The bottom 2mm of the head was clean broken off parallel to the tip plate and reglued quite well but not invisible, the pieces lined up properly. Its possible someone botched removing the original silver tip plate, if it had one,Its hard to imagine a drop of the bow to break in what is probably the strongest supported part of the frog, so its a mystery.
March 1, 2018, 12:22 AM · Re: the broken tip, I wonder if an unskilled person was prying inside the mortise, perhaps to remove a plug, and caught it in a bad way.
Edited: March 1, 2018, 10:12 AM · I'd offer him either $500 or send it back. He seems a bit dishonest to me. Is it that we just get used to that in the trade?
March 1, 2018, 4:07 PM · Seller already refunded almost half the purchase price, they seemed pretty honest about it, they never claimed they were sure it was a Hill.
March 1, 2018, 4:53 PM · Well perhaps it is a good player which would count for a lot with me. Hope you can still make a little jingle on it.
March 1, 2018, 4:59 PM · Well the professional player thinks its a great playing stick, I think its still worth at least double what I payed for it.
Edited: March 1, 2018, 7:05 PM · So you persuaded the seller to refund half the purchase price even though you still think it is worth double what you paid for it?

It was pretty clear from the pictures what that bow is. The damage on the head is easily visible, and she described it fairly. If you did not think it was worth what you paid for it, then you should have sent it back to the seller. She offered 14 day no question return, which is very fair and more than most sellers.

Buyers have an obligation to be honest and fair, too. Asking for half your money back when you think the bow is worth twice what you paid for it isn't very nice. In my opinion, you should have just sent it back to the seller.

Edited: March 1, 2018, 9:07 PM · I didn't ask for any money back, I mentioned to the seller that the repair knocked half the value off the bow and she refunded $425 of the purchase price without me asking, I felt that was too much and refunded $100 of her refund, making the refund $325, and said I would not be asking for a return and left positive feedback(after this all she still said I could return it for money back and I assured her I would not be doing that), this was all long before we found out what we know now from the expert.
Edited: March 2, 2018, 12:51 AM · @George, there was nothing about a break. Replacing the silver with bone/ivory is one thing, but a part of the head breaking off (which surely was obvious? and should have been in the description) is a disaster value wise.
Edited: March 2, 2018, 1:55 AM · The break was very hard to see, and well repaired, this was not a dealer/speculator but rather an individual player that had bought the bow for herself. When I asked her if there were any repairs she said she didn't know, I think she was being honest, at least I would like to think so. If she wan't being honest why did she partial refund my money without me asking??
Edited: March 2, 2018, 2:23 AM · 'I have had a couple of lutiers tell me that it is a genuine Hill bow' and they failed to mention the repair? Oh, come on. Still, you paid the price you wanted and if you can honestly turn a profit (you obviously are honest) good for you.
Edited: March 2, 2018, 4:52 AM · I'm going to have to sell the bow on its playing characteristics, which according to the one player are incredible, that and it might be a Hill worth $3-4,000, So I'm offering it for $1000 for now. Being that it is silver mount, Pernambuco, tortoise shell frog, very nice work etc.
Edited: March 2, 2018, 4:35 PM · Sold for $1000 to the professional player!! I did check with one of the experts that saw the photos and he agreed that $1000 would not be overcharging on the assumption that it was not real, and a real bargain if it was real.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 1:01 AM · this is what I spent some of the money on; Jean Baptiste Colin 1903, whether the label is real or not I don't know but the violin definitly looks French

Lutherie Artistique violin

March 2, 2018, 9:05 PM · They consistently go for almost $3000 at auction, of course it may be a fake but its still a Mirecourt French violin IMHO worth more than I payed so worst case scenario it ends up something like this "Hill" bow
Edited: March 2, 2018, 9:18 PM · From the description of your new acquisition: "Also, within the body of the violin there is a wooden peg or other small object that is loose and can be heard rattling when the violin is moved."
Doesn't that worry you, Lyndon? I just hope it's not too serious of an issue.
Edited: March 2, 2018, 9:56 PM · It does give me the impression the seller is not a shark ebay dealer that stuck the label in himself, and he doesn't know violins, or is he faking??
March 3, 2018, 12:53 AM · That's a piece of junk.
March 3, 2018, 12:58 AM · you think so?? Don't think its french?? Whats your level of knowledge on this stuff??
March 3, 2018, 1:22 AM · My level of knowledge is not very high. I could see a shop sprucing it up and asking maybe $400 or so but it won't be as good as a Chinese at half the price. No dealer here (UK) would touch it. I spend a lot of time at Tarisio, Brompton and Amati's previews. Amati have an only online auction running at the moment. You'd learn plenty going through the pics. Meanwhile, if you post your pics at Maestronet you'll get expert opinions. One of the first violins I bought was similar to this, and I overpaid!
Edited: March 3, 2018, 1:49 AM · Well I can tell its Mirecourt French violin that would sell at my shop for at least $1500 depending on the sound, I don't think your used to seeing how grotty some good violins can look before they're fixed up. I'm showing the pics to two top experts one in Austria, and one in UK, I'll let you know what they say.
March 3, 2018, 2:09 AM · Have you checked out the fingerboard? It doesn't even look like lacquer but black paint.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 2:19 AM · The Austrian expert, Jacob Saunders,says the Colin name was fictitious, and that they are trade violins manufactured in Mirecourt for Beare and Sons in London, and nothing to do with Colin Mezin. They were made in different grades and looking at these pictures he says this would be the medium to lower grade Colin. He says it is a French Trade fiddle, presumably genuine JB Colin worth about 2000EU fully fixed up, although in America his Austrian prices seem to be a bit on the low side of what high end shops might charge. He said definitely Mirecourt, France not Germany. Hows that for a junk fiddle. He also said I didn't overpay for it.

What your seeing on the fingerboard is the shiny section is the raw wood the lighter section near the end is rosin buildup I think, though he did mention the Colin's didn't always have the highest grade ebony for the fingerboards.

March 3, 2018, 2:17 AM · Could he explain the fingerboard? Thanks.
March 3, 2018, 2:21 AM · see my note above, it quite well may need replacement.
March 3, 2018, 2:23 AM · He did say the higher grade models are nicer workmanship, though. And those would probably be the ones going for $3000 at auction.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 2:27 AM · Look on the underside of the fingerboard you'll see the grain. The board is a softwood painted black.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 2:32 AM · I don't really care, if its not ebony I will replace it, Jacob said they often used cheaper fingerboards, by the way that's not grain you're looking at but toothed plane marks IMHO Even when makers didn't use ebony,they always used hardwood stained black. not softwood.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 9:41 AM · Well shut ma mouth! If the label's genuine you've done well. Still looks like crap to me - and weirdly identical to my overpriced Strad Anno 1716 - especially the 1 piece back whose finish is uncannily identical.
March 3, 2018, 10:17 AM · Jacob would know. Looks very much like Mirecourt trade fiddle lower but not lowest grade.
If it sounds good and is in good condition they go for over 2000 + Canadian retail I believe.
I have seen Bretons go for 3000 and that was a while ago.
You could ask Martin what he thinks of it; he would have a good idea about the retail value.
I've e-mailed him in the past.
March 3, 2018, 8:41 PM · What Hendrik said. I could be a terrific "fiddle." Depends on how dark it sounds. Ya did good Lyndon.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 8:51 PM · $650? Ya did good indeed. Clean it up and fool with it, you'll get $1200 easy.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 10:04 PM · Well Bud(keyboard class) posted the ebay Colin violin on Maestronet, Martin Swan though it might even be worth more than 2000EU. Martin thought the fingerboards was ebony,also.
Edited: March 4, 2018, 1:01 AM · ...and Bud(keyboard class) is now quite despondent re: the violin trade. Seems it's all about labels after all, fake or not!
March 4, 2018, 1:42 AM · Jacob clearly said the label wasn't fake.
March 6, 2018, 5:17 AM · lol
I actually considered bidding on that violin, but it got too high for my comfort zone.
Good luck with it! :)
March 6, 2018, 6:52 AM · small world!! it was actually only just below my limit, I put in a bid of $655, I was thinking it was worth $3000 at auction, too. Later I found out that this was a less valuable Colin.
March 12, 2018, 4:36 PM · Well the JB Colin violin arrived today, looks better than in the pictures, no cracks that I can see, the area next to the fingerboard turned out to be dirt, not a crack, the fingerboard is solid undyed ebony but it is really on the thin side and a bit warped so it will probably need replacing. All told a good deal, I think. But quite a job to set it up if it needs new fingerboard and possibly pegs, etc.

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