John A. Bolander bows

September 15, 2006 at 11:24 PM · I have a violin bow made by John A. Bolander with a mountain mahogany frog that I bought for way too much money, but that I really like. Does anyone else of a Bolander bow or know anything about him?

Replies (4)

September 16, 2006 at 02:44 PM · they are quite "underwhelming" if you know what I mean.

The current crop of Award Winning Makers are by far more superior.

September 17, 2006 at 02:50 AM · My wife and her mother both bought Bolander bows when living in the San Francisco Bay area. His bows were quite popular there at one time - you could spot them easily in an orchestra from the characteristic mountain mahogany frogs.

Typically, he put serial numbers on both the inside of the frog and the tip, I think. My wife's is #1140. She paid $200 for it in 1976, buying it from Hank Lanini (see below). Ah, the good old days ... -)

My wife says he worked closely with the violin maker Hank Lanini from San Jose (son of Alfred Lanini, also a violin maker). My memory is that he lived a long life, but I can't quickly find information on how long he lived.

A net search for his name yields the name of an archive:

John A. Bolander Bow-Making Archive (San Mateo, California)

Perhaps you could find out more there.

He wrote a booK:

"Bow Making: 1000 Bows and a Tribute"

which is well-respected from what I hear. Still very available; do a net search and it'll turn up.

Tarisio's archives have some auction results, I think.

Enjoy the bow!

Larry Samuels

Addition: If you can get the journal for the Violin Society of America, Volume 4 #2 from Spring 1978, there's an interview with Bolander by Salchow, on pages 43-65. My local university library has the VSA journal, so look around. I recall reading it and enjoying the interview.

August 1, 2016 at 03:36 AM · Mine is perfectly good! I'm no expert and not a professional player, but it's good in the hand.

August 1, 2016 at 09:29 PM · I have a Bolander bow also, made in the 1960s, which I like very much. I bought it about 15 years ago. It's a heavy looking octagonal bow, but actually weighs in at 61 grams, plays beautifully, and draws a rich warm sound. Sounds especially good with my 1880 German violin. The mountain mahogany frog with silver mountings is striking and stands out from the crowd. Ivory tip and genuine whalebone winding with excellent quality pernambuco. These bows have real historical interest, since Bolander was the first American-born bow-maker. His work has been considered somewhat eccentric in appearance, but Jaak Liivoja-Lorius, an authority on the history of bow-making, believed that that Bolander would eventually be better recognized for his role and the undeniable originality of his work. Bolander who was born in 1890, acted in vaudeville before turning to bow making, and lived to be over 100 years old.

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