W E HILL & SONS (1887–1992). Hill Bowmakers and their marks

W E HILL & SONS (1887–1992)

WE HILL & SONS Shopfront

The Bowmakers and their Marks.

W. E. Hill & Sons was a London-based firm that specialized in violins and other string instruments, and bows. It was also known as William Hill & Sons or William E. Hill & Sons.

Many fine craftsmen worked for the firm. They were particularly famous for their bow makers. For much of the 20th century, the Hill workshop employed England’s best bow makers, who created bows renowned for character and consistency.  W. E. Hill and Sons ceased operation in 1992.

Some of these bow makers can be identified by the “makers mark” which they applied to the silver face of the bow, adjacent to the short side of the head mortice. These marks are hidden by the bow hair in normal circumstances but can be seen if the frog is released so this part of the silver tip face can be made visible under the hair.

Here is a list of these makers and their marks.

Sidney Yeoman 1885 single tick
Arthur Scarbrow number 0
William C. Retford 1891 single dot
William R. Retford 1919 two dots
William Johnston 1894 two ticks (vertical before 1904 horizonta; after)
William Napier 1889
Frank Napier 1904 three leaves
Charles Leggatt d.1917 two ticks in center
Arthur Copley 1917 number 1
Edgar Bishop 1917 number 2
Albert Leeson 1919 number 3
Leslie Bailey 1920 number 4
Arthur Barnes 1919 number 5
Arthur Bultitude 1922 number 6
William Watson 1945 number 7
Malcom Taylor 1947 number 8
Ronald Harding 1949 number 9
Arthur Brown 1946 letter x or number 10
Allen Willis 1940 number 11
Garner Wilson 1936 number 12
David Taylor number 13
John Clutterbuck number 14
Brian Alvey 1966 number 15
David Earl 1970 number 18
Stephen Bristow number 16
Ian Shepherd number 17
Matthew Coltman number 19
John Stagg number 20
Derek Wilson number 21
Timothy Baker number 22



W E HILL & SONS fluer de Lys

The BowMakers Section is based on the entries in The British Violin by the BVMA which has been extended.

Thanks to Gerard KilBride & Tim Toft.