W.E Hill & Sons: a legacy of quality and vision

The auctioneers promote the company for its restoration and scholarship work in the families luthier Stradivarius and Guarneri. And in the field of fine violin cases, there really is no comparison with W.E. Hill & Sons for intricate crafts and beauty.

The fact that the very different perspectives of fine string instruments, from players to collectors and academics, find ways to appreciate, respect and even revere the work of this firm, says a lot. They were experts with levels of experience and breadth that are rarely found under one roof.

To illustrate the attention to detail, this store supposedly made its own tools. It is what allowed them to perform at the top of their game in all other aspects, particularly in the manufacture of the bow. Consider how the market values ??W.E. Hill & Sons bows in recent auctions: in 2017 and 2018, the viola, cello and violin bows sold for between $ 1,298 and $ 18,788 (US). The prices obtained in the auction of instruments were as high as $ 54,000 (cello), $ 26,400 (violin), $ 23,600 (violin), $ 16,851 (violin) and $ 16,571 (violin). Auction houses that handle the manufacturer’s work include Tarisio, Freeman’s Auctions, Bonhams, Skinner and Ingles & Hayday.

Based in London, on the elegant New Bond Street, the violinist was established in 1887, the height of the Victorian era, a time when it was thought that English fine-string instruments had surpassed the workmanship of those manufactured in France.

This was also a time when the Hill organization made elaborate and ornate violin cases, one of which was sold at auction in 2016 for $ 17,220. This particular case was one of the legendary “12 apostles” of the firm, named that way because only a dozen were made over a period of eight years (1887-1895), and he was commissioned to house a Stradivarius. The boxes of this exceptional harvest were embedded with exotic woods in musical motifs, with brass fittings and lined with fine paper.

The violinist was also acclaimed for his work with damaged instruments, as well as for his mastery in the identification and authentication of violins, cellos and bows. The firm handled at least three Stradivariuses (the Alard, the Messiah and the Lipinski).

The legacy of the violin store was honored with a special exhibition in the Bate Collection of the University of Oxford at W.E. Hill & Sons bows in 2016. Titled “Fiddle Sticks, the history of bow making in Hills violin experts,” included 17 signature bows that were made over a period of 75 years. The tools and molds to make arches, a recreated workshop, plus a short film, biographies of acclaimed luthiers employed by Hill and several photographs were also part of the exhibition.

The firm was dissolved in 1992, culminating more than a century of fine craftsmanship, research authentication and restoration work. Today, almost everything W.E. Hill & Sons headdress carries great respect and value.