The Making of a Historically Informed Bow
Dipper Restorations, being museum restoration specialists, sometimes has the opportunity to work with the collection of the National Music Museum on the campus of The University of South Dakota. One of the benefits of this became apparent in a commission we recently received to build a viola d’amore bow.
The bow we chose to build was based on bow number 3470 in the Museum’s collection. This very interesting bow is part of the ex-Arne Larson collection. This bow dates from around 1720 and has French or Italian characteristics.
As originally designed it had a clip-in frog, but later a screw-adjustable frog from a different bow was adapted to this stick. The frog shown in the picture is clearly not the original one for this bow, as you can see the slide recess doesn’t fit the matching recess in the bow stick.
The butt end of the stick was cut off and an iron ferrule was added to reinforce cracks in the stick.
The bow we built has a snakewood (Piratinera guianensis) stick based on NMM 3470 and frog like one that was originally used on that bow. Viola D’Amore bows are usually considerably longer than violin bows from the same period and have a higher tip. This bow weighs 59.4g and is 71.4cm long.
This maple Antonio Stradivari cello frog template is located in the Museo Del Violino in Cremona, Italy. Our frog was made using a copy of another Stradivari template that matched the recess in the NMM_3470 bow.
Andrew made this frog of Sonoran Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota), chosen for its grain and figure which resemble tortoise shell. The new bow plays wonderfully and has an even response over the entire length of the stick.