Are the Hill bows genuine or fake? Please help!

December 3, 2016 at 01:54 AM · Dear knowledgeable violinists, I am an amateur and can only afford $2000 for a nice bow! To be able to acquire a Hill bow is my dream. Though I know it's risky to buy on eBay, the price is much lower than shop price.

Please help me identify the following eBay Hill bows which are at my affordable budgets!


1. Genuine or copy

2. Maker?

3. Year of make?

4. Which would be less risky to buy if both priced at $2000?

The first bow is marked H27 and the 2nd one marked F on frogs

Replies (24)

December 3, 2016 at 02:16 AM · Sorry! This is my first post and I couldn't post the links properly! Here again: The first one title is: Hills and Sons Violin Bow needs repair underfrog marking H27

The second bow title: Original W. E. HILL & SONS violin bow silver mounted rare Antique soloist c1930

December 3, 2016 at 02:50 AM · you're best chance to be ripped off is to buy such on ebay

December 3, 2016 at 02:52 AM · If they knew their bow was real they wouldn't be selling it for much less on ebay, would they???

December 3, 2016 at 03:47 AM · Hmm. What problems are you having with your current bow, and what qualities are you looking for in a replacement other than the brand name Hill? A bow branded Hill that you've never tried or even seen might or might not be an improvement, whether 'genuine' or not. Advice: get out and try some bows.

December 3, 2016 at 06:46 PM · I have a few Hill bows, and they can give you fantastic bang for your buck - but you gotta try 'em first! Same with any bow...they are all so very different. Buying a high end bow on ebay is very problematic...go to a shop or find an auction house where you can try them first. My favorite one has a splined head...amazing playing bow. If a bow is repaired well, you can get a great deal. But you need to find a trusted dealer, luthier to look at it...

December 3, 2016 at 06:55 PM · "If they knew their bow was real they wouldn't be selling it for much less on ebay, would they?"

I agree with this. If I were selling a genuine Hill bow in good condition, I would't be putting it up for pennies on the dollar on ebay. I'd be selling it for full value. Since it's easy to find auction listings online that list Hill bows selling for thousands of dollars, I think it's safe to assume that a budget "Hill" bow from ebay is not the real thing.

December 3, 2016 at 06:55 PM · double post sorry

December 3, 2016 at 07:02 PM · Lots of Hill bows on the market are not great bows--I'm not sure why someone would

"dream" about Hill bows in a general sense. I've played some really good ones, but they always seem to be owned by someone. Most I've seen on the market are mediocre. They tend towards some extreme or other: heaviness, too flexible, poor balance. That's why they've always been second in demand behind French bows, and now, like them, overpriced.

December 4, 2016 at 01:32 AM · Thanks for all the good and knowledgeable advices! I understand that physically trying a bow is the best option in buying. But usually the really nice one that I tried is not affordable or the owners didn't want to sell.

The reasons that I want a Hill bow on ebay 1. is my best friend's one ($8000) is fantastic. 2. And isn't it true that great names/makers made great bows or violins and can keep the value. So reselling a genuine bow/violin is easier if I need to. 3. Also I am a "little" bit addicted to Ebay buying and had got some good and bad experiences.

That is why I raised the questions about these two particular Hill bows (other ones are too expensive or too fake). It could be risky as you all had told me! However if it is GENUINE and at a BARGAIN price, then I might be able to fulfil my little dream. ?!

The first one I mentioned relisted at $2000 but need repair; The second bow had the seller added: made by William Retford c1891. This seller sogo731 had some good feedbacks. And if the price is UNDER $2000, I think I will bid for it. I know you are probably not agreeable with me.

December 4, 2016 at 05:32 AM · Check what their return policy is, and if you do get the bow, have it authenticated immediately. If it's not genuine, ask for your money back.

December 4, 2016 at 05:51 AM · Don't do it. The first is a fake and the second, if it is real, is considerably devalued if the tip has been repaired. Do not trust any bow being sold on ebay.

December 4, 2016 at 06:04 AM · There is zero reason for a player who owns a genuine Hill to sell it for a bargain-basement price on eBay.

There is also zero guarantee that even a genuine Hill would either be the right bow from you from a playing perspective, or that it would sound good with your violin.

December 4, 2016 at 06:12 AM · I wouldn't go through this risk. Alway you have to pay the right price for the right one. Many times even bows with proper certificates turn out to be fake.

December 4, 2016 at 09:07 AM · Except for student instruments and carbon fiber bows from major companies, I wouldn't buy them online without being able to play them first and/or a reasonable return policy. There's just too many variables that cannot be controlled...caveat emptor.

December 4, 2016 at 05:07 PM · I had a look at both bows. The one for $2000 looked like a piece of junk. It was hard to tell anything by the poor photos.

The second, the Retford, is more interesting, and if you got it for $600 may actually be worth the risk. To me it does look like an English bow--it does NOT look German, especially with the frog construction. In this price range, it really doesn't matter if it's fake. As an older bow, it's likely to have better wood than anything available now anyway.

I just love this statement by the seller:

"This violin bow is in a perfect state of preservation. The only repair is a very old one at the head"

---that's like saying "the Porsche I'm selling is in perfect condition--just needs a new engine." (but I guess that in this political season, the assumption is that such BS statements are perfectly reasonable...)

It's hard to tell exactly what that repair is. Did the stick actually break at the tip? Often, this will be at the thinnest part just behind the head, but that is not visible. This alone

can kill the value of the bow, but can also enable one to get a steal. I know a couple of people happily playing on repaired Sartory bows. A splined head may kill the value--but not the playing characteristics or sound if done well.

If you are a professional player with an advanced technique that will require a very certain type of sound and handling, then I'd avoid it. If you are an amateur with a little extra cash and are willing to take a risk, I'd probably be willing to spend $600 or even $800 for the Retford. It's a paltry amount for a bow. You don't need to have it authenticated if you spend $600 or so. It just doesn't matter.

December 4, 2016 at 06:21 PM · A well done spline puts the player at the advantage...assuming the bow is amazing and normally very expensive. I've used a bow with a splined head for years, and I'm so grateful I was able to afford it... Many shops won't sell these bows, and I get why - but I think it's silly. I agree with what Scott Cole says...good luck!

December 5, 2016 at 04:33 AM · Regarding bow number two, as I write this the price is over $1000, with 45 bids and four days still to go. The poor photos make it difficult to tell (especially on my 4" iPhone screen), but I think I can see the spline, and it seems to extend some distance back into the stick from the head. If so, it's an incorrectly done repair, and I wonder if the bidders understand that.

December 6, 2016 at 03:37 AM · I wouldn't buy either of them. The second listing's description contains some language which makes me suspicious.

1. "must sale" on Ebay.

2. "Soloist bow" I'm not sure what that means.

3. "Stamped F in both stick and frog" Why is this important? Why is it mentioned?

4. "Owner bought bow in London in its present stage about 40 years ago". How is that possible? Why is London mentioned and not Singapore or New York City? Was that intentional?

5. "She has been using it professionally". Does that matter?

6. "Postage and handling within Australia is US$30" Australia uses the Australian dollar not the US dollar.

December 6, 2016 at 05:05 AM · Regarding #3, the F indicates the bow and frog potentially match, which is how they did things in the Hill workshop...and #4, the implication is that the repair has held for 40 years. I don't know if any of that is true, but the language in general seems like typical ebay hype. I think with all this talk about this bow here, the price is just going to get higher...;).

December 6, 2016 at 05:26 AM · I just want to point out that I own a really horrendous, extremely cheap CF bow which I could truthfully advertise as having been "used professionally" since I use it for outdoor weddings.

December 7, 2016 at 03:39 PM · $500 might be tempting, but not $1000.

The fact that the frog and stick are stamped with a certain letter would, by the way, make it more probable that this is a Hill bow. (not guaranteed, just higher probability along with the rest of the characteristics).

December 7, 2016 at 10:20 PM · I had a look at bow 2, I think it's a genuine Hill bow. My favourite bow is a splined head Nurnberger. It is invaluable to me and prefer it to my other French bows. The fact that it has a spline devalued the bow, it could be a good chance to acquire a player Hill bow at an affordable price. Good luck!!

December 8, 2016 at 12:32 AM · Just keep in mind:

Dealers may by just such a bow at auction for $500-600, and mark it up to $4000-6000.

Only difference: They're taking the risk.

December 8, 2016 at 11:51 PM · Stephanie,

The provenance on violins is difficult to determine. Bows are even more difficult. While on-line purchases seem enticing it is much better to go to a reputable shop and spend a day trying bows till you find that one that your violin loves. You will probably find one for less than the $2000 you are planning to spend. That is how I got my "Good" Bow.

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