The Hill bow

In 1892 Alfred Hill, of the London violin-making firm W.E. Hill & Sons, got into an argument about Irish Home Rule with one of his employees. The argument escalated until the employee became enraged and walked out.

This confrontation had considerable consequences; the employee was the firm’s only bow maker.

At a loss, Hill took two men from the case-making department and told them to start making bows. William Retford, ca. 1902Neither William Napier nor William Retford (inset) had any experience as bow makers—but they went on to revolutionize the art of bow making, developing the fine and reliably consistent product that the violin world now knows as the Hill bow.

This according to “Industry meets art: The history of the iconic Hill bow” by Philip J. Kass (Strings XXV/4:187 [November 2010] pp. 61–64).

Related article: The Wonder violin


Filed under Instruments

3 responses to “The Hill bow

  1. Here’s an illustration further to educate your readership! courtesy of


  2. Pingback: The Wonder violin | Bibliolore

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